Saturday, February 22, 2014

The cost of protecting cargo ships just got higher.

I hate to sound like a tinfoil-hat conspiracy wingnut, the type who has the theme song to Coast to Coast AM as a ringtone and has an autographed picture of Art Bell on his desk. However, I'm really beginning to be alarmed by the number of current and former Navy SEALs who keep ending up dead.

Sad to say, it's happened again. This time the fallen are former SEALs Jeffrey Keith Reynolds, 44, and Mark Daniel Kennedy, 43. They were employed by the maritime security firm Trident Group, who hires former SEALs as private security contractors aboard client's ships. In fact, to be hired by Trident it is mandatory for you to have spent at least six years as a SEAL and have worked in an operational capacity as a SEAL within the past two years. The firm gets its name, I would wager a guess, from the trident insignia that sailors receive upon graduation from the Basic Underwater Demolitions/SEAL (BUDS) training.

The two men were found dead in their cabin aboard ship by a member of the 24-man crew of their ship as it was moored in Port Victoria in the Seychelles Islands off Madagascar. Autopsies are being conducted to determine cause of death. The mens' deaths were "not related to vessel operations or their duties as security personnel", according to Kevin Speers, a senior director for Maersk Line Limited.

Maersk, you say? why, yes. You've heard of Maersk, the multi-billion dollar Danish shipping company.It is considered the largest container shipping company in the world by revenue and employs approximately 25,000 people. Maersk Line operates over 600 vessels and has a capacity of 3.8 million TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units). Maybe you've heard of their ship Maersk Alabama?

Yeah, that Maersk Alabama. The one hijacked by Somali pirates in 2009, and featured in the Tom Hanks film about it called "Captain Phillips".

The Maersk Alabama transports food aid to East Africa in support of the U.S. government’s 'Food for Peace' program, according to the company. Crew members also help support the Bee Hive Children’s Home in Mombassa, Kenya. She also acts as a feeder, meaning she picks up and drops off containers from smaller ports to and from larger ports for bigger ships to take.

Maersk's subsidiary company Maersk Line Limited operates 33 vessels under the US flag, under contract for the US government. That's kinda how the Maersk Alabama hijacking made the news in the first place;  because it was a US-flag vessel involved. The Skinnies have been jacking and pirating ships for years, centuries really. It's a sort of bizarre tradition there and they still jack ships but it's not sexy headline news anymore, and while they just recently really stepped it up to capturing mega-vessels for ransoms the past few years, they’d never screwed with a US-flagged ship before the Maersk Alabama. They just happened to hit the wrong ship at the wrong time. I guess they just saw "Maersk" and didn’t know any better. That’s mostly because there are damned few US-flagged ships making cargo runs anymore; it’s too expensive to register your vessels here. The cheap way is to register it and flag it out of Panama. Evergreen Line (the conglomeration of what used to be four branches of the same tree: Evergreen Marine Corp. (Taiwan) Ltd., Italia Marittima S.p.A., Evergreen Marine (UK) Ltd. and Evergreen Marine (Hong Kong) Ltd.) rolls into port in Charleston, SC pretty much daily in these huge 955-foot bright green container ships with PANAMA on the ass end under the ship's name.

The Panamanian-registered M/V Ever Racer, sliding by my old warehouse. The Maersk Texas (see below) was moored on the right side of the pier in the above picture, Veterans Terminal's Pier Zulu.
International law requires that every merchant ship be registered in a country, called its flag state. A ship's flag state exercises regulatory control over the vessel and is required to inspect it regularly, certify the ship's equipment and crew, and issue safety and pollution prevention documents. As of 2006, the United States Bureau of Transportation Statistics count 2,837 container ships of 10,000 long tons deadweight (DWT) or greater worldwide. Panama was the world's largest flag state for container ships, with 541 of the vessels in its registry. Seven other flag states had more than 100 registered container ships: Liberia (415), Germany (248), Singapore (177), Cyprus (139), the Marshall Islands (118) and the United Kingdom (104). The Panamanian, Liberian, and Marshallese flags are open registries and considered by the International Transport Workers' Federation to be flags of convenience. By way of comparison, traditional maritime nations such as the United States and Japan only had 75 and 11 registered container ships, respectively. Gee, I wonder why? Because they are expensive as hell to operate under.

As I said before, Maersk Alabama is operated by Maersk Line Limirted out of Norfolk, Virginia. MLL handles the US-flag operations for Maersk. With the largest U.S. flag fleet in international trades, MLL supports military and humanitarian missions through the transport of cargo on its container, tanker, dry-bulk, multi-purpose and roll-on/roll-off ships. That means that when you run into a Maersk ship under a US flag, it’s full of governmental goodies. And that means when you jack one, you can expect to get drilled in the forehead with extreme prejudice.

At the time of the hijacking, another MLL ship, the Maersk Texas, was just about to leave the port of Charleston. She was bound for, if memory serves, Kenya with a stop in Pakistan. Now, in 2009 a trip to Pakistan meant the ship was loaded with military supplies especially since the ship hadn't loaded at one of the container terminals but upriver at the Goose Creek Naval Weapons Station.

Until the situation off Somalia could be resolved, Maersk Texas (which is homeported these days in Majuro in the Marshall Islands and not Norfolk as it used to be) was moored behind the warehouse I was working in, under guard 24/7 by two Rigid-Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) manned by the US Coast Guard. Each RHIB had a pintle-mounted 7.62mm machine gun in the bow and another at the stern. The ship stayed buttoned up, and the only crew member I saw was the same guy on a daily basis out for a run. After a few days, the runner came & paid me a visit & asked if he could trouble us to use our forklift to move a pallet from one end of the pier up to the ship. I sized the dude up carefully. Young, maybe 30 or so, fit and athletic but not some gargantuan hulking behemoth, concerned enough with his fitness to run daily. The pallet he asked me to move was loaded with sandbags. I may be a college dropout but I quickly did the math and asked him simply, "You were with The Teams, weren't you?". He smiled & nodded. I then said, 'You're using the sandbags to build a hasty fighting position as a just-in-case.". I didn't make it a question. I was stating fact, and he didn't contradict me. He just gave me a look that said he was re-appraising the guy standing in front of him and realizing I wasn't just some Joe with a forklift. I grinned & said "None of this ever happened and you were never here." Then he grinned too and we shook hands, and told him I was a former Army cop. We chatted a little as I rolled his pallet down the pier and the we parted ways.

A Coast Guard RHIB with both guns mounted.

By and large, shipping companies traditionally did very little to protect their ships from attack. They were told to use their fire hoses on full blast to ward them off. Kids, Uncle Steve is here to tell you that a water spout does diddly shit against AK-47s, RPK light machine guns, and RPG-7s. Like I said before, hijacking attempts still occcur with alarming frequency over there. In fact after the April 2009 attack the ship was attacked again just six months later. Pirates attempted to hijack the vessel in March 2011, and then again in May of that year. Our friends on Maersk Texas fought off a hijack attempt in May of 2012 by a number of skiffs in the Gulf of Oman. Maersk Texas activated defensive measures per the U.S. Coast Guard-approved Vessel Security Plan. Despite clear warning signals, the skiffs continued their direct line toward Maersk Texas and the embarked security team fired warning shots. The pirates then fired upon Maersk Texas, and the security team returned fire per established U.S. Coast Guard rules of engagement. Like I said, Uncle Sugar takes a dim view as of late of Skinnies trying to jack US Government assets.

Now, maybe some of the shipping companies in the world are okay with paying ransoms and encouraging these Skinnies to keep on taking their ships, when instead they should be arming their crews, or hiring out some security. I know there’s an assload of currently underemployed and bored Blackwater guys (oh, wait...Blackwater got a black eye after some of its people went off the reservation & did Very Bad Things, and they changed their name to Xe Services and then again to Academi) who need some gainful employ after being kicked out of Iraq. Perhaps instead of selling off all our older Perry-class frigates to foreign navies we should transfer them to the US Coast Guard and let them escort US-flag cargo ships in and out of certain Third World shit holes where pirates lurk, especially since the USCG is in sore need of some deep-water assets to replace some seriously aging cutters. It’s hard to guard the coast with 40-year old cutters in need of drydock and stuff that shouldn’t operate more than 20 miles offshore.

Look, the Coasties get the shitty end of the stick and we all know it. Move them back under Department of the Navy where they belong, instead of being under Transportation until wartime. They have ships and guns and uniforms and ranks; they’re military. Treat them as such. Give them some decent gear though. The two cutters assigned to Charleston are the biggest ships the USCG has, but they’re also a year older than me and really need replacements. Oh, wait. make that HAD. Both cutters have been decommissioned. The Dallas was sold to the Philippine Navy and the Gallatin is going to the Nigerian Navy. This leaves approximately ZERO heavy assets to patrol Charleston's shipping lanes, because all that's left to protect the 8th busiest port in America is a buoy tender, some inflatables and harbor patrol craft, and a single 87-foot patrol cutter with two .50 caliber machine guns.
USS Rodney M. Davis, a Perry-class frigate.
The Perry-class frigates that we keep selling off to Poland and Pakistan and Egypt and Turkey and Bahrain could be transferred to the Coast Guard instead. The Navy already removed the missile launcher and magazine from the few remaining ships anyways, leaving them no better armed than the current cutters the Coast Guard possesses, but they’re on average 20 years newer than the 7 remaining Hamilton-class cutters and more capable for deep water operations than the Bear-class. It could provide a stop-gap until more Legend-class cutters can be built and then you can sell them off. Charleston will be receiving the fourth ship of the Legend class  in September of this year.

One of the new Legend-class cutters

But I digress.

Until someone; i.e.: the spineless gutless UN (Useless Nations) puts together a multinational force to float the hell over there and take out the pirate bases and mother ships, they’ll just keep coming back. And compared to sitting around in your own filth in a country with no government or economy, chewing khat weed and waiting to die in between calls to prayers, a life of piracy is a pretty good-looking alternative unless we make it less lucrative and fulfilling. And while retrofitting your 800-million-dollar cargo ship and multimillion-dollar cargo with a rather inexpensive ($50,000 to $70,000 each) set of four Minigun stations is a no-brainer, the brains are in remarkably short supply in shipping, it seems. Cargoes are insured and people are cheap to replace, I guess. And security contractors? Well, they knew what they signed up for so to the companies the human cost is a moot concern.

Pirates tend to disintegrate at 3,000 rounds a minute. Fifty-eight rounds a second. 'Merica!

So far, the best idea that I’ve heard  wouldn’t really be that far off from what I mentioned before about guys from Blackwater and other contract guns for hire.One of the powers of Congress, little used, is to issue Letters of Marque and Reprisal. A letter of marque is an official warrant or commission from a government authorizing the designated agent to search, seize, or destroy specified assets or personnel belonging to a foreign party which has committed some offense under the laws of nations against the assets or citizens of the issuing nation, and as such would be pretty handy for dealing with pirates. You keep the military out of it and hire people to go after them and destroy them with extreme prejudice. What's the difference, you say? Using the military incurs the wrath of the sniveling assclowns in the UN but the Marque & Reprisal route is rooted in international diplomacy. Semantics, I know... but simpering suits in squirrel-cage offices love to think diplomacy solves everything but we all know who gets called when diplomacy inevitably fails.

The formal statement of the warrant is to authorize the agent to pass beyond the borders of the nation ("marque" or frontier), and once there to search, seize, or destroy an enemy's vessel or fleet. It is considered a retaliatory measure short of a full declaration of war, and, by maintaining a rough proportionality, has been intended to justify the action to other nations. As with a domestic search, seizure, arrest, or death warrant, to be considered lawful it needs to have a certain degree of specificity to ensure that the agent does not exceed his authority and the intent of the issuing authority. In the past, a ship operating under a letter of marque and reprisal was privately owned and was called a "private man-of-war" or "privateer." The French sometimes used the term lettre de course for its letters of marque, giving rise to the term corsair. So we can just issue a letter of marque against the pirates and turn out the high-dollar mercenaries (um, I mean government contractors) to ventilate their skulls and ribcages with many large-caliber holes. Then again, getting the current dunces in Congress to actually do it is another matter.

But unless & until we go that route of chasing them down and wiping them out, we're left with just the option of companies being responsible for their own security and having to hire contract personnel to fend off attackers. Which is how we ended up with two former SEALs dead in a foreign port. Police have issued a statement saying that drugs & drug paraphernalia were found in the cabin; ie: narcotics traces and syringes. I'm a bit dubious of this. It smacks of a set-up, like they were killed and the drugs were planted to cover the trail. What makes me say that? These guys are professionals, in general above reproach. The Special Warfare community tends to weed out shitbirds and dirtbags early on, and these guys had each served over ten years in the military. And the frogman community is pretty small and incestuous (in a good way); if these guys were bad seeds the word would have gotten around and they would likely never have been hired by Trident. If you make your living based upon the bona fides and credentials of the former US Navy SEALs under your employ, you tend to make pretty deep looks into your prospective and current employees, lest your contracts dry up from lack of confidence and credibility.

Jeff Reynolds

Mark Kennedy

Kennedy enlisted in 1995 and completed his final tour of duty in 2008, according to a summary of his record provided by the Navy. Kennedy was assigned to an East Coast-based special warfare unit, according to the record. Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base, adjacent to Trident Group's home in Virginia Beach and Maersk Line Limited's home in Norfolk, serves as the home of the Navy's East Coast SEAL teams. He had medals for serving in campaigns in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. Reynolds enlisted in 1990. He was assigned to a West Coast-based special warfare unit at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, California until he was discharged in 2000.
Mark Kennedy on active duty

The company drug tests its employees and has a zero tolerance policy. I just have a  hard time believing that two professional warriors, former Special Operations types with good records, guys in their forties, would jeopardize their presumably lucrative careers and sully the reputations of the SEAL community by being smack junkies. I'm not sure what Reynolds' situation was, but Kennedy had a wife and son at home. In my experience, both as a soldier and as a cop, neither fits the profile of an intravenous drug user.

Any idiot with a laptop can log into any number of websites and track virtually any commercial vessel in the world and determine their port call schedules. Many ports have websites that broadcast what ships are coming & gioing and if a port is small enough, the knowledge of a ships' arrival &departure is like to be common knowledge all around. Some bribes to local officials in a remote port in the second or third world to gain access to a vessel isn't that far-fetched a concept.. Where do you think most of the world's heroin base comes from? The poppy fields of Afghanistan, home of Al Qaeda and the Taliban, neither of whom are big fans of SEALs these days. This simply does not, in my estimation, come across as two guys getting high for shits & giggles. This smells like a hit, either by Islamists or by a rival security company to discredit Trident. The former scenario makes me mad, the latter makes me sick. Probably something slipped into their food to render them incapacitated, maybe some ether piped into their cabin...and then someone tied them off and injected them with heroin before making their way out.

Tinfoil hat? Maybe, maybe not.

Either way, two families have lost loved ones who served our nation in time of war and I, as an American veteran, want answers. I'm sure families do, too.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Surplus Giraffes and Obamacare Death Panels

Marius the Giraffe, days before he was killed.
About a week ago, on the 9th, the Copenhagen Zoo in Denmark slaughtered a 2-year old giraffe named Marius. In front of a crowd of spectators, including children. And then dissected the carcass. And then fed chunks to lions.Why? Because he was, in their words, surplus.

The zoo was concerned that as part of an international breeding program, inbreeding could occur. And thousands of people petitioned to save Marius' life, an appeal that fell on deaf ears. A CNN anchor asked the zoo's scientific director, Bengt Holst, if Marius could simply be neutered or moved to another zoo to avoid killing him. The reply was cold and clinical. "If we just sterilize him, he will take up space for more genetically valuable giraffes." Several zoos volunteered to take Marius in, including Yorkshire Wildlife Park in England, which has a state of the art giraffe house and the capacity for an extra male. Male giraffes mature at around age four but do not mate until around seven, so there was on average a good five years to determine his disposition before the situation of breeding (or inbreeding) would become problematic. However, that's five years of being fed and housed. Besides, as the good Bengt pointed out, there were rules and regulations and protocols to adhere to. (Where have I heard that before?)

So a bolt gun ended his life in a public spectacle. A lethal injection would have tainted the meat, thus spoiling the second half of the event.

When asked if the children in the crowd watching cried, Holst said, 'Just the opposite. The crowd was very enthusiastic and the kids asked good questions." .

After Marius was carved up in front of the crowd, some of him was used for research and the rest was fed to lions, leopards, and tigers. "In this case we would never throw away 200 kilograms of meat.", Holst said.

Holst added that on average, 20 to 30 animals, including goats, antelopes, and wild boar, were culled for the same reason every year at the zoo. "This is the first giraffe. I do not understand the outrage; we are all used to on a current basis of animals being culled in the wild.". 

Look, I understand culling herds in the wild when populations get too large for their local food supply or what not, but this wasn't a wild animal. It's a giraffe (estimates are that as few as 80,000 giraffes of all species are in the wild) in a zoo, and not a simple farm goat (millions everywhere), antelope (hundreds of thousands), or wild boar (a breeding machine nuisance animal in many areas with a shoot on sight order in some). It was killed in front of a throng of people like a vanquished foe in the Roman amphitheater and then carved up in front of kids to be tossed as snacks.

They used a bolt gun to shoot Marius in the head.

The masses gather for the bread and circuses

Carved up like beef at the market.

Casually holding up a hunk on a dead giraffe. Alles in Ordnung.
I understand the circle of life and no one boo hoos over cows that get the same treatment, but cows are bred as food and are a lot more plentiful than giraffes and no one kills them in front of kids before feeding the lions.
Hey, y'know...panda bears are a pain in the ass to breed and serve no real function so why not kill them and feed them to zoo carnivores? Oh, yeah; the Chinese own them all and would lose their minds and do something rash like call in all our debts.

Herr Doktor SS-Hauptsturmfuehrer Josef Rudolf Mengele.

Someone else used to do research experiments and carve up what he considered surplus animals. Dude's name was Josef Mengele. Did lots of experiments on captive Jews. Maybe you've heard of him?  He worked for some guys who had a nifty euthanasia plan called the T-4 Program that saw upwards of 275,000 people murdered by physicians, people judged incurably sick mentally or physically, and therefore not worthy of being a burden on the Volk, and certainly not to be allowed to breed and taint the pure Aryan bloodlines of the Reich. In their eyes they were enforcing "racial hygiene". Either way, someone made decisions on who would live or die based on whether they were of any value to the state. Hey, they were just following orders. There were rules and regulations to follow. and the people in many cases, were happy to see them go, and were just as happy to see the Jews rounded up too.

Fast forward to today, and Obamacare. Government functionaries with little to no regard for the people they are judging are going to determine whether you're going to receive any care at all, and if so, how much. The state is slowly taking over all healthcare and will ration it based upon your value to the state. Too young to work for the good of the state? Don't expect anything. Too old to be of use? Go die, oldster. We'll ration out the care instead to those in their 20's and 30's, those strapping laborers in the proletarian ranks who, ironically, generally are the healthiest segment of the population and require the least medical care.

You think Death Panels are a myth? You think I'm talking out of my ass? How about last year and the ten-year old girl in Pennsylvania with weeks to live who was being denied a lung transplant because of an age policy that said she had to be 12 to receive the lungs? Even the Reichsminister for Health, Kathleen Sebelius, was denying the request to give the girl a chance to live. A government functionary who allegedly works for the people and the good of the people, was deciding to deny care to this child. That, friends, is a DEATH PANEL. A one-person panel, but a panel in practice as well as theory.

The Left and their media puppet cronies are adamant that Death Panels are a hoax, a myth, a fallacy, a flight of fancy created by lunatics like Sarah Palin to smear the Almighty Obama and His Holy Healthcare Edicts. They flood the Internet with article after article denying anything of the sort exists. Hell, do a Google search on "death panels" and all the top searches are from left-controlled propaganda sites like Salon and Media Matters, as well as  the New York Times and Washington Post (come on, the mouthpieces of the Reich Propaganda Ministry?). There's an article at Slate proudly proclaiming that Canada has Death Panels and That's a Good Thing. I read it and I failed to see how it's a good thing for a panel to be able to overrule a family's decision to keep their loved on on life support after doctors said he was beyond saving. I can see reasoning with a family to argue quality of life and suggesting they let their loved one go, but not forcing the issue if the family wants more time and getting a government panel to overrule the family and pull the plug anyways. Then again, in Canada, it's the government taxes through the nose of the citizens that pay for health care, so a burden on the state needs to die. Of course, like any good citizen in a gun-controlled semi-socialist society that takes a huge chunk of your income to pay for everyone's free bandaids, the author had to bring up gun rights and how barbaric we are for having thrown off the British yoke in 1776 rather than just subserviently live under it until receiving a level of independence while still being part of the British Commonwealth and therefore not needing guns. (Yeah, I said it. And I'm half-Canadian to boot, eh?)

Waiting 168 days for breast cancer MRI's? mom had hers done within a few days when she was diagnosed. Her lumpectomy and followup chemo & radiation took less than 168 days. And when she was diagnosed with a cataract & had to have it removed it was a couple weeks, not 141 days. Ironically, my mother was born in Ontario. Maybe that's why people duck across the border to Buffalo rather than wait. People DIE when they have to wait.

By pricing private insurance beyond the reach of consumers to afford and employers to provide, the Feral Government is slowly forcing the nation towards a government health system. Kinda like the one bankrupting economies like, say, Germany and England. The Brits are trying to get out from under national socialized healthcare while we're headed into that abyss pell-mell. And once we're all beholden to our kind & benevolent masters, they and they alone will determine who lives and dies based upon their value to the Collective.

And you and me will eventually end up as surplus giraffes, with a bolt to the skull our end reward for our faithful service to the state, because rules must be followed.

Oh, yeah, before I forget...there's a second giraffe in Denmark also facing death soon. And who has stepped up to try and offer the animal a home? The President of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov. In case you're unfamiliar with Chechnya, it's a dangerous and violent breakaway Russian province filled with Muslims who commit acts of terrorism against Russia (and probably us too) with alarming regularity and astonishing brutality, earning astonishingly brutal reprisals from Putin & Company. The dude owns a lion and a tiger already and swears the giraffe will be well taken care of. Fly, meet spider...How bad do things have to be when a jumped up warlord in one of the most dangerous places on earth is your best chance at survival?

Sounds legit.

Monday, February 17, 2014

My annual Black History Month article, because I'm so racist

Me in April  '11 with Tim Scott, now a Senator from South Carolina. The NAACP hates him even more than they hate me.

I graduated high school almost 27 years ago, from a small high school in coastal Maine on the New Hampshire border. Admittedly, there wasn't exactly a lot of racial diversity there, but I spent my life prior to high school in a very diverse environment. As an elementary/middle school kid in the Maryland suburbs around Washington, DC we covered Black History Month pretty well every year. It was covered less in high school in Maine, probably in part due to the fact we had maybe 4 black kids in the school. Of course, we always covered the standard figures one expects to find in Black History Month, the George Washington Carvers, the Martin Luther Kings, the Frederick Douglasses, the Harriet Tubmans...

Nowadays, it seems that instead of decent role models from American history, American kids in general and black kids in particular are cleaving towards thug-life rappers and sports figures.

Three years ago I did a blog series where I wrote an article a day every day for Black History Month. Three years ago I challenged myself to daily highlight an inspirational black American that I felt needed to be showcased, not just as a role model for kids but as historically significant Americans who were being overlooked by the left-leaning educational system that indoctrinates our kids. Because as far as the left is concerned I'm just a racist.

Here are links to the ones you missed from February 2011.

Black History Month, my way.

The Tuskegee Airmen

Robert H. Jenkins

Lawrence Joel

Joe D'Acosta

Oscar P. Austin

Clarence Sasser

Charles Rogers

Riley Pitts

Vernon Baker

Carl Brashear

Dorie Miller

Milton Olive

Jesse Brown

James Anderson

Ruben Rivers

Russell Honore

John Warren

John Fox

Freddie Stowers

Quincy Green

Ron McNair

Charles Thomas

Cornelius Charlton

Webster Anderson

Ralph Johnson

Garfield Langhorn

And my wrap up open letter to Black America.

And in 2013 I added a few more:

Henry Lincoln Johnson

Alwyn Cashe

Clifford C. Sims

And because I just can't let it go without highlighting another great American and inspirational black man during Black History Month, today I also honor Corporal Isaiah Mays.

Mays was born into slavery in Virginia in 1858. He joined the Army from Columbus Barracks, Ohio, and by May 11, 1889 was serving with the Buffalo Soldiers as a Corporal in Company B of the 24th Infantry Regiment. On that day, he was part of a small detachment assigned to protect a U.S. Army pay wagon, which was caught in an ambush by a band of bandits. A gunfight ensued and almost all the soldiers were wounded or killed in what later became known as the Wham Paymaster Robbery. Mays was shot in both legs. The bandits made off with $29,000 in gold coins.

Despite his wounds, Mays managed to walk and crawl two miles to a ranch to seek help.The next year, on February 19, 1890, Mays was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the engagement.

After leaving the army in 1893, Mays worked as a laborer in Arizona and New Mexico. He applied for a federal pension in 1922, but was denied. He entered the Territorial Insane Asylum, now known as the Arizona State Hospital, in Phoenix, which housed not only the mentally ill but also people with tuberculosis and those living in poverty. He died at the hospital in 1925, at age sixty-seven, and was buried in the adjoining cemetery. His grave was marked with only a small stone block, etched with a number. In 2001, the marker was replaced with an official United States Department of Veterans Affairs headstone which stated his name, service history, and his status as a Medal of Honor recipient.

Eight years later, in March 2009 under the care of the Old Guard Riders Inc., Corporal Mays' remains were disinterred, cremated and placed in an urn designed especially for him. On 29 May 2009, in a ceremony befitting a Medal of Honor recipient, Corporal Mays was interred in Arlington National Cemetery.

The Honor Guard folding the flag at the Arlington interment of Mays.
 Born a slave and died not just a free man, but a Medal of Honor recipient. Neglected by his country but in the end, certainly not forgotten. Young black Americans could certainly have worse role models. In fact, you willingly choose worse role models on a daily basis. Stop looking to spoiled overpaid sports figures and talentless hack rappers. Pull up your pants, get an education, and believe in yourselves. Don't dishonor the legacy and memories of good men who came before you and had it much, much worse than you ever will. But you don't have to believe me. What do I know? I'm just a middle-aged white conservative male, the man that the Democrat Party and the Unions, and the NAACP would have you believe is your enemy. Feel free to believe the unions, run by rich white guys who just want your money while you bust your ass, believe the NAACP who wants you to remain a subservient victim while taking your money and blaming everything on Whitey, and believe the Democrats on the left who gladly manipulate you and keep you down while taxing you to death. The same party that has unemployment among black teens at 38%. But do believe in yourselves and your ability to rise above whatever obstacles life throws at you. That's what great Americans do. It's not just Black History, it's American History. The history of us as a nation and a people. Be somebody. Make your mark on history. Be a positive inspiration to some kid down the road.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Racist Racists Racistly being Racist Racists...

The Interwebz is all abuzz over the rally that the NAACP held in my neighboring state of North Carolina last weekend. The rally was to protest those evil laws enacted by Whitey that require you to show a valid photo ID when voting. Seemingly voter ID is racist, but I don't see how. It protects you from voter fraud, unless voter fraud is your true intent or you're hiding from Johnny Law.

The kicker: they were requiring all of their rally participants to bring PHOTO ID. Yeah, seriously. Digest that morsel and ponder the idiocy.

Democrats and their puppets, like the National Association of Always Complaining People, try to call everything that negates their plans and schemes as being racist. You show a photo ID to drive, to apply for benefits, to write or cash a check, to buy alcohol or smokes if you don't look over 40 to a teenaged cashier, to buy a firearm, to establish a bank account, to buy and register a car, to get on a plane, to apply for credit or a loan or a mortgage or to rent a place to live, to rent a car or a hotel room, to get on a plane or take a cruise, or to get a freakin' library card. So please, just shut the hell up about how people don't have a photo ID or can't get one.

But I ain't gots me no car!
Then how do you get your ass to work? Or to go get groceries? Take a bus, take a cab, ask someone who has a car to politely carry your ass to the DMV and get one.
I can'ts afford me no ID!
Really? That's a nice iPhone. Those are nice Air Jordan's. That's a nice handbag. Here in South Carolina the cost to obtain a simple state issued ID card is five dollars. That's a latte at Starbucks. That's a pack of smokes. That's a couple Philly blunts or a couple Icehouse Tallboy cans. That's a scratch ticket. Give up one of your crappy habits for a day. You can't drop FIVE BUCKS on an ID? That's why states have a provision to give a FREE ID CARD to those so financially strapped in the Obama Economy to get an ID.

Don't feed me that crap about disenfranchising people. That's a BS cop out. What the bloody hell is so disenfranchising about making sure that the person who is voting is who they say they are and ensuring their single vote is counted?

The above cartoon seriously pisses me off. They require a photo ID, not necessarily a driver's licence. Some people just don't drive, and that is why there are state-issued photo ID cards. Or you could use a passport or even a military ID. Lemme guess; as far as the Left is concerned only rich white people have a passport and only southern redneck white crackers join the military to kill oppressed peaceful brown people?

But racism is only racist if directed against black liberals. If directed against black conservatives it's okay, and if it's directed against white people of any political stripe it's not just okay but encouraged.

Black conservatives like Thomas Sowell, Dr. Ben Carson, Allen West, Herman Cain, all of them are lambasted continually by the Left and are called Uncle Tom or a puppet of the Right by the NAACP. My own Senator, the Honorable Tim Scott, is a particular target of the NAACP, who label him a ventriloquist dummy because he's a Tea Party Republican who refuses to play the black victim race card like the liberal left wants.

The white limousine liberals and union thugs who control the Democrat Party expect all blacks to subserviently vote Democrat and get really pissed when they don't. That in itself is racist.

If I disagree with Obama, it can't possibly be because of his failing liberal socialist policies. It has to be because he's black, (Oh, wait, I'm sorry, he's HALF BLACK but he hates whites so much that he never acknowledges the white woman who birthed him or the white grandparents who helped raise him after his black father split). However, it's perfectly acceptable and natural for black voters to say they voted for Obama just because he's black. They knew or cared nothing of his politics; he was black and therefore he was The Chosen One.

Samuel L. Jackson even admitted it. In an interview in 2012, Jackson said his decision to vote for Obama had nothing to do with his political beliefs.

'I voted for Barack because he was black. 'Cuz that’s why other folks vote for other people — because they look like them,' , adding 'That’s American politics, pure and simple,' he said. [Obama’s] message didn’t mean shit to me."

Well, no US President I voted for has ever looked like me. They were all a lot older than me and none were bald, bearded, tattooed guys with earrings. They may have superficially resembled me by simply being white men, but that's it. And how does that explain how women vote? Fellow blogger Southern Keeks said it quite well when she said that no one in the Oval Office had ever looked like her so that argument was moot.After all, how was she to have ever voted for someone who looked like her?

No, it's the Left obsessed with race, because they use race and racism as a crutch and a weapon and a method to control their uninformed voter base. And if you disagree with them, you're a racist. Because they said so.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Well, the Coke ad sure got people talking...

It'll rot your teeth and make you a fat obese slug in multiple languages and 200 countries.

Frankly, I'm kinda embarrassed that so many people who call themselves conservatives flooded social media with a torrent of negativity after Coke's Super Bowl ad aired. At best, you gave the Left more ammunition to use against Conservatives. Some of the comments generated were purely vile.

CLUE HAMMER: Not everyone here in this country started with English as a first language.

I'm the product of legal immigration. On my father's side, his father was conceived in Poland but born here, the last of at least ten kids. His parents asked to come over and came in legally. He married a girl from Wales during the war and brought her back in '45 after getting the proper permissions. My mother was born in Canada, and her parents asked for permission to emigrate and brought their four kids with them. Two of those kids served in the US Army as non-citizens. My mother eventually got her citizenship and I helped her study for the test.

Compared to some other folks I know whose families have been here since the 1800’s, I’m not that far removed from my immigrant roots. That said, I think it’s safe for me to sound off on immigration.

I have nothing against legal immigration. I perfectly understand the need and desire of people to come to America to build a better life for their families. Many of our immigrants come here from places with poor living conditions, civil war, wanton violence, oppression and corruption, and negligible healthcare. So hey, if you want to come here and start over, that’s great. But there’s gonna be some strings attached.

Ask. Yeah, ask if it’s okay. Apply for a visa. Get a green card. Register. Don’t sneak in here like a criminal. Don’t live under the radar, working under the table, not paying any taxes. If you want to live like an American, pay taxes like an American. Giving an inordinate amount of your hard-earned wages back to the government so they can waste it on $400.00 toilet seats is what makes our country great.

Try to assimilate into American culture. Learn the language. Like it or not, everyone, America is an English-speaking nation, and has been for the past 231 years. While I agree that more Americans should be multilingual and that it would certainly make your assimilation into our culture easier if more of us could communicate with you, don’t expect us to speak your language simply because you refuse to learn ours. I’m not saying to give up all semblance of the culture you grew up in; I celebrate aspects of my ancestral culture now and again, but I don’t live it every day. Don’t expect the United States to make Spanish our official second language just because half the country of Mexico has decided to come here looking for jobs. You could just as easily have emigrated to Spain; they have a vibrant economy too (or did until socialist policies effed it all up), and you already speak the language.

Don’t just expect to be handed American citizenship. Study a little, learn about the country, and pass the test. And when you do, I will proudly throw my arm around your shoulder and congratulate you as a fellow American citizen. My mom got her citizenship in 1993. Her only child was a US Army veteran, her husband was at the time still an officer in the US Navy, and she had spent the past 33 of her 41years living as an American, and she still had to be interviewed and pass a test before she could become a full citizen.

Perhaps we should make it a bit easier to become a citizen once you get here? I can see maybe dropping the time requirement to 3 years instead of 5 to apply for citizenship, but the rest of the criteria sound rational to me. These are the criteria, taken from

•you have lived in the United States as a lawful permanent resident for at least five years (with exceptions for refugees, people who get their green card through political asylum, spouses of U.S. citizens, and U.S. military personnel)
•you have been physically present in the United States for at least half of the last five years
•you have lived in the district or state where you are filing your application for at least three months
•you have not spent more than a year outside the United States
•you have not made your primary home in another country
•you are at least 18 years old
•you have good moral character
•you are able to speak, read, and write in English
•you are able to pass a test covering U.S. history and government, and
•you are willing to swear that you believe in the principles of the U.S. Constitution and will be loyal to the United States

NOTE: Serving in the US military does not grant you automatic citizenship. I think that should change. If you serve in our military, especially right now during times of war, you should be granted your citizenship automatically. People who are willing to fight for this country have proven themselves as far as I’m concerned, especially when so many of our own native-born citizens would rather occupy parks than serve the nation. And hey, it might actually boost recruiting numbers a bit. Serve at least 2 years and get citizenship. That sounds good to me. Two of my Canadian uncles served in the Vietnam War in the US Army as Canadian citizens. They weren't granted citizenship for their service. Neither of them opted to gain their citizenship afterwards, but both received full military honors at their funerals when they passed.

Despite our best efforts there’s always going to be people who want to come in illegally. When found, a hearing should be done to determine if they should be deported. There could be legitimate mitigating circumstances as to why this person had cause to fear authorities. But if you have no good reason for being here illegally, don’t let the doorknob hit you on the way out. And don’t expect to just apply to come back in; if you came here illegally, and we catch you, you’re banned. And I guarantee that instead of a fence along our borders, if we started sowing landmines and started shooting at people sneaking in, they’d take us a hell of a lot more seriously. Like I said, ask us if you can come over. Otherwise, you risk losing a leg or maybe more.

Yes, this sounds cold & harsh. I know I sound like a terrible person. But it’s also terrible to just let every swingin’ Richard cross into our borders at will. Lax, open immigration is why we have illegals sucking up our tax dollars, using up healthcare that causes my insurance rates to go up, and in some cases receiving scholarship grants that should go to legal immigrants and citizens. Why the hell are illegals able to get a driver's license and in-state tuition? Because unscrupulous governments and liberal learning institutions want their money. Illegals or not, it's revenue.

Am I against illegal, undocumented immigration to my country? Absolutely. Am I in favor of legal, documented immigration? You bet. I welcome you with open arms and I’ll even help you study for your citizenship test the way I helped my mother study for hers. Down the line, we all came here from somewhere else, except for the native Americans tribal nations.

But back to the Coke commercial. It was indeed weird to hear America The Beautiful being sung in languages other than English. I know that the CEO of Coke, a Muslim fellow who grew up partly in terrorist-sponsor hotspot Iran and partly in the same country as Barry Sotero (Um, I mean Barack Obama), in Indonesia, is in favor of blanket amnesty for illegals. This commercial is a blatantly political statement to gain favor with the immigrant population...or is it? It could be just a simple celebration of the Great American Melting Pot... geared to lure conservatives into making rash statements all over social media and hurt our cause.

I know full-well what it’s like to be in another country where you don’t speak the language. I lived in Germany for two years. I got by as best I could while making an honest effort to learn the language. Of course, I was there as a temporary guest of the German government and the locals made very courteous allowances for the language barrier. It really helped that most of the locals spoke excellent English. I realize that very few of us Yanqui gringoes habla Espanol. Mierda Resistente , ese.

Had I been planning on staying there in Germany as a local beyond my tour of duty, they’d have been fully within the right to expect me to spreche Deutsche and learn better German instead of expecting them to cater to my lack of fluency. So by the same token, if you’re gonna live here, make an honest effort to learn English and fit in instead of expecting all of us to just cater to you.

Of course, the Hispanic community creates that Catch-22 situation where it’s easy to skate by, having so many Spanish-language radio stations, newspapers, and TV stations that it becomes easy to slip between the cracks and maintain the underground existence.

I’m not saying you have to abandon your heritage and ancestry. Hell, look at me; I own a kilt. But face it. This is an English speaking country. That’s how we roll.

 And for you immigrants from the Muslim countries, this is also a predominantly Christian country where women can do pretty much whatever they want. We don’t do Sharia Law, we don’t wear burkas, and we don’t kill our women over perceived slights to our honor. Get over it.

And please, save the story about how the white Anglo-European invaders stole half of Mexico to make California, Arizona, and Texas, and then stole the rest of America from the native tribes. That story is a couple hundred years old now and frankly, I can’t change what people did generations before my people showed up here. This country was already well established before my people got off the boat from Poland in 1914, got off the plane from the UK in 1945, or drove here from Canada in 1960. While it's shameful what was done to the indigenous peoples of the Americas, I can't change it.

I think Coke could have avoided all the controversy by adding a simple sentence to the end of the ad. You spent four million bucks to place the ad, and who knows how much to produce the ad, and it takes me, a blue collar college dropout, to  figure out the missing piece to the puzzle. You should have added this:

The Beauty of America: We have many first languages, but only one first country.


The Great Snowmageddonpocalypse of 2014

Headed out to get milk and bread to make milk sandwiches
NOTE: As I post this article it is 72 outside. A week ago at this exact moment it was about 22.

I live in South Carolina, in a small town about 50 miles west/southwest of the great city of Charleston. However, I am not from here. I'm one of those dreaded types referred to politely by most as a transplant and derisively by others as a Damnyankee, because I moved here from Up North. I moved here 13 years ago from central Maine because in part I was sick of long brutal winters.

I don't miss the snow, the slush, the ice, the subzero cold, the scheduling of deliveries of heating oil, the chipping away every morning with an ice scraper, dodging snow plows, clearing the driveway with a snowblower (or worse just a shovel), the salt & sand...I simply don't miss it. I remember it all too well.

There's a reason that so many of us moved south, and it wasn't just for the sweet tea and grits.

Many of my southern born & bred lifelong residents of Dixie are funny about winter. They loathe the cold and at the first sign of temperatures dipping below 55 break out the UGG boots and ski parkas and yet get all excited with a giddy glee at the thought of snow. To them, snow is this beautiful thing seen on TV but seldom if ever experienced except for an occasional stray flurry. As such, a couple of interesting things happen when the threat of winter weather looms on the horizon. Some of them hope & pray for it while others fly into an absolute sheer panic and scramble pell mell to empty the shelves of the local stores in a mad dash for milk and bread, ostensibly to make milk sandwiches. Transplants howl with laughter and snort in derision, citing the grand litany of storms they've survived and how people here wouldn't know what to do in a real winter situation.

Well, we just found out.

As a prelude, we had what the media puppets parroted all over TV and radio, the new two-word catch phrase purposely contrived for sound bytes: POLAR VORTEX. How is it I've lived damn near 45 years, most of them in cold weather climates, without ever having heard of an arctic blast of air called a Polar Vortex? Well, this jetstream of frozen air hit my area and I admit that I'm guilty of having laughed when the local schools were on a two-hour delay because it was simply going to be cold. No snow, no sleet, no ice, just cold. Yes, it was indeed mother-effing cold, but my first thought was that the very notion of kids shivering in the cold waiting for the bus was too much for tender sensibilities, despite the fact that maybe 5% of kids actually stand at the bus stop. The rest either are driven to the bus stop by their parents where they sit in a warm car till the bus arrives, or the bus stops in front of their house and they make a mad dash for it, exposed for maybe 20 seconds to Mother Gaia's harsh embrace.

Turns out the school system was actually worried their decrepit fleet of school buses either wouldn't start in the cold or that the frigid air would have frozen the condensation in their brake lines. And since we pile 60 kids at a whack into a box with no airbags or seat belts, well I guess brakes had best work.

And now two weeks later, that pesky Vortex was back, colliding with a front out of the south to create Snowmadeddonpocalypse, or so the meteorologists would have us believe. They called for snow and ice and freezing rain and sleet and polar air. They early-released or just plain canceled schools not just for Tuesday, when the storm was set to reach us after 3PM, but also for Wednesday and at the very least had delays into Thursday. Naturally, transplants scoffed and locals panicked. My cousin in North Carolina posted a picture of empty shelves at a local store. Even I got in on the humor and made my own meme picture poking fun. I still didn't think anything was going to hit us.

My cousin posted this on Facebook

Yes, it was perhaps unkind of me to do this.

Then it started to rain. And it started to freeze.

Like I said, I've been through this sort of thing before. Back in January of  '98 the northeast was hit with an ice storm the likes of which I'd never seen. We lost power and didn't get it back for 56 hours. That's a long time in January in Bangor, Maine with no power. My inlaws who lived outside the city didn't just lose power, because with no power their water pumps to their wells froze so they had no water either. My neighbor had a 3,000 watt generator and once he ran a cable to his breaker box to give himself heat and lights, he ran one to his upstairs neighbor's furnace and over across the driveway to the breaker for my furnace. Thus, I had heat. And I was on city water, not a well, so I had running water, and my hot water heater wasn't electric. It was gas, as was my stove. So, while I had no lights or TV I had running hot water and I could still cook hot food. My house became the emergency shelter for family with no other options. Some people didn't get power back for nearly 3 weeks. It was insane.

Less than a mile from my house in Bangor, Maine during the Ice Storm of 98

So, when I poked my head out the door a couple hours into the night and found my stairs and railing frozen over I became concerned myself, because this was actually happening here and I knew that our local infrastructure, while not completely unprepared, simply wasn't designed for severe winter weather. We have plows & spreader trucks and salt and sand, but not in the vast quantities you take for granted up north. Our power lines aren't made to handle the extra weight of ice. Hell, our tree branches snap under ice weight. I was seriously worried about power loss, and my heat & hot water is all electric here.

The people of Austin, Texas and the people of Florida took the storm with a dash of humor. I loved it.

Turns out that the greater Charleston area fared rather well with the relatively small amount of ice and snow we got. I initially joked about closing the schools but it was actually a very shrewd move, because when the precip hit, the kids were already at home and most businesses had already shut down and sent their people home early. People judiciously stayed off the streets and hunkered down. All in all, the local minicipalities successfully weathered the storm. Not so in other locations. Not so by a long shot.

Atlanta traffic sucks on a good day. This was NOT a good day.

Abandoned vehicles littering an Atlanta area highway

Stranded kids sleeping on a school gym floor

Stranded people sleeping on the floor at CVS drugstore

Stranded people at a Publix grocery store

It took approximately 2.3 inches of snow to shut down a city of four million people. As the capital of Georgia, Atlanta is the 9th largest metro area in the country and is certainly no stranger to occasional winter weather, but this storm absolutely gridlocked and stranded hundreds of thousands. It took some people 7 hours to go 30 miles, and they were the lucky ones. People up and abandoned their vehicles and walked to relative safety. Others weathered the storm inside their vehicles. There were kids trapped in school buses and parents trapped in their cars. Some kids and teachers remained trapped in their schools overnight. People slept on the floors at grocery stores. Reports compared the roadways packed with abandoned cars & trucks to the opening credits of The Walking Dead, with the accompanying internet memes.

The Mayor of Atlanta, Kasim Reed, and the Governor of Georgia, Nathan Deal, are being crucified for the deterioration of the situation into something that looked like the mass exodus scenes in The Day After Tomorrow. The Governor should have had the National Guard already deployed, and the rest of it as far as I'm concerned falls on Reed and other local  municipal wonks who sat on their thumbs in much the same manner that Ray "Chocolate City" Nagin sat on his thumb until it was too late in New Orleans for Katrina. Oh, and  Governor Kathleen Blanco, who sat on her thumb instead of having the National Guard in place. Actually, Governor Deal shouldn't have really needed to deploy the Guard if Atlanta hadn't immediately melted into a goatscrew. You call out the Guard in blizzards, not for less than three inches of snow that you knew for a week had been coming. You learned NOTHING from Katrina.

What do I mean? I mean that you morons knew the storm was coming. You had ample warning. But instead of doing the judicious thing and closing schools and keeping those thousands off the roads, they all let out at once. Seemingly, every door in Atlanta, both school and business alike, opened at the same second and spewed forth millions into the storm. That was just stupid. The smarter plan would have been to just close the schools early and advise everyone else to just stay the hell home.

If we had a Republican in the White House they'd be blaming him (or her) for the Atlanta gridlock like they blamed Bush for Katrina when it was squarely on Nagin and Blanco's shoulders.

The Democrat Governor of Louisiana (Kathleen Blanco) and the Democrat Mayor of New Orleans (Ray Nagin) screwed up Katrina. Bush sent in FEMA afterwards, like he was supposed to do, and FEMA had to pick up the pieces the idiots in charge left behind. FEMA is a small, low-staffed group that MANAGES the emergency afterwards...

And really, let's take a longer look at Katrina, shall we? FEMA, whom I did criticize afterwards for their bad handling of the relief trailers, is a MANAGEMENT agency not a direct action group. Y'know, the best way to explain this is to directly quote author John Ringo from his most excellent book The Last Centurion:

There were not tens of thousands of dead. There were no riots or rapes in the Superdome and people were neither starving nor "out of water." They were being rationed, which the fuckers that were complaining thought was starving, but that's not the same thing. But let's look at the Evacuation Plan.

Okay, Nagin was a total fuck-up and never even tried to initiate it. He'd never looked at it, despite a fucking hurricane being headed for his city which, by the way, was below sea level. So calling him a fuck-up is insulting fuck-ups. But there was a Plan.

The Plan was to use school and city buses to evacuate all those who were "transportation challenged." Whether Nagin used it or not was sort of a moot point, though. People had forgotten little details. Such as, there was no emergency call list for the drivers.

In any group that does emergency response, from the military to cops and even including child services, there is a call list. Generally it's a call tree. Person at the top gets a call. He or she calls three people, then starts getting ready to head in. Those people call two or three people lower than them and start getting ready. Assuming more or less equal transportation distances, the bosses get to work first, which helps in most cases.

There was no such phone tree for bus drivers. So there was no real way for anyone to get ahold of them in an emergency. Oops.

Drivers had never been told that they were supposed to drive people out in an emergency. So they weren't exactly sitting by the phone if there had been a phone tree. They had jobs and cars. They were packing to leave or already gone.

And that was the last point. The order to get out was sent out before any thought was given at all to the "transportation challenged" plan and even the evacuation order was more of a bow to reality; the roads out of New Orleans were packed (by among other things the bus drivers) when it was given…

… Look, in a local major disaster like that, FEMA wasn't even supposed to be up and running for seventy-two hours. Three days. That was after they were requested by local authorities. But on day two, hell with the skies barely clearing, people were asking "Where is FEMA?"

FEMA doesn't actually have all that many full-time employees. Disasters, by their very definition, don't occur all the fucking time. So most of its response specialists are contractors who do other things, or are retired and hang out, waiting for the next response.

They had to be called in. People had to go in and find areas to set up. It takes time. Even then, they don't do most of the work. They coordinate the work. More contractors, and military, and local government do the actual work. Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Asking "where is FEMA" in a disaster is like asking "Why aren't the managers here?"
The managers are important, don't get me wrong. But they don't get the bodies cleared.

So the lesson here really should be early prep and choosing to err on the side of caution if indeed you're errant. Maybe the Charleston area could be called overly cautious, but after being whacked hard in 1989 by Hurricane Hugo they tend to be pretty cautious about weather around here. And in this case, it worked successfully. Yes, bridges were closed and that stranded some people who couldn't cross over between Charleston and Mount Pleasant, but the numbers of stranded people were infinitesimally smaller than those stranded in Atlanta, even on a per capita percentage basis. We saw it coming, and we hunkered down early.

Fingers are, of course, being pointed and rightly so. I simply don't get how Deal can say with a straight face that the storm came unexpectedly, when I knew five days previously that snow was coming and where it was coming from. Maybe no one bothered to tell him it was coming?

"I've gotten the message loud and clear and I'm going to act like it and do something about it," Mayor Kasim Reed told reporters. Reed said he would be more aggressive in handling any future events, even if that means using his bully pulpit to persuade others not under his authority to act. "I'm going to publicly say that the city of Atlanta is closing and we believe everybody in the city should close right away..."

At a Thursday news conference, the director of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency acknowledged having made "a terrible error in judgment" in not opening the emergency operations center six hours earlier than he did.

Charley English said he first talked to the governor about how serious the situation was becoming, particularly around metro Atlanta, as the forecast shifted at 9 or 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. This was some six hours after meteorologists upgraded to a winter storm warning.

"I got this one wrong," he said. "I made the decision not to do anything until later that morning."

Yeah...sounds like no one was telling the guy at the top what was going on, but I'd also like to think this dude occasionally watches the news and weather.

 "I accept responsibility for the fact that we did not make preparation early enough to avoid these consequences," Deal said. "... I'm not looking for a scapegoat. I'm the governor, the buck stops with me."

Speaking later Thursday with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Deal said "we all made errors in judgment" and that "the major lesson is we have to be more proactive." According to the governor, that means taking action like declaring a state of emergency earlier on -- even if it ends up being a false alarm, relatively -- and making sure the resources are available to deal with such a crisis.

I'll believe it when I see it.