Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round...

Kenneth Melson, acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (which ought to be a convenience store) refuses to fall on his metaphorical sword.  Rather than resigning and giving the Justice Department some red meat to throw to the Congressional investigators he has decided to remain as acting director until they come and pry his fingernails from the carpet.

Melson is refusing to be the "fall guy" for Operation Fast & Furious, mentioned previously on this blog, that resulted in 1,700 semiautomatic weapons (including the infamous .50 Barrett rifles) being illegally purchased and presumably smuggled into Mexico.  The ostensible purpose of the operation was to track the weapons and tie them to high-level narco-terrorists in Mexico.  The problem, however, was that BATFE was unable to track the weapons and at least two have turned up at the scene of a murder of a United States Border Patrol agent.

The official spin on the operation was that it was conceived and executed by regional BATFE supervisors in Phoenix, AZ and that the national-level suits knew nothing about what was happening.  Well, as it turns out, Mr. Melson knew enough about the operation to request access to the realtime surveillance camera footage of the straw purchases taking place.  Ooops!

My personal suspicions from months ago were that the operation was at the very least authorized by high-level persons in the Justice Department as a means of running up the trace numbers out of Mexico to justify calls for additional gun control laws.  Recent events appear to be bearing this out.  Mr. Melson has not yet received "permission" from the Justice Department to testify under oath about his role in the operation and I suspect that it will be a cold day in Hell before he does. 

The question remaining is this; if Mr. Melson refuses to jump in front of the bus, who else will he drag kicking and screaming on to the pavement with him?  Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

What We Did On Our Summer Vacation

When we moved to the Texas Panhandle I promised my wife frequent green vacations.  She grew up in the Midwest and high desert just doesn't cut it for her.  We often argue about whether a mesquite qualifies as a tree.

This year we decided to return to Estes Park, Colorado.  I found a great rate on cabins just days before the summer season rates kicked in.  Here is the view from our back porch:

This year we brought Murphy the dog.

I was able to find him a nice boarding facility in Estes Park where he exhausted himself romping with other dogs and generally ruining the excellent work the groomer did just before we left.  He was fine on the roadtrip, even offering to take a turn at the wheel.

The campground had horse-riding available so the girls each got to ride a real horse.  I kept the ride to an hour so the girls wouldn't make the acquaintance of that famed eighteenth-century cavalry commander, Major Assburns.

Estes Park is the home of The Stanley Hotel.  The hotel is just over a century old and was originally built as a giant guesthouse for the back-East friends of the Stanleys so the friends could come and visit all summer.  The Stanley Hotel also provided the inspiration for Stephen King's novel THE SHINING after he spent a night here the day before the hotel was due to close for the winter.  The Kubrick film was not filmed at this hotel but the 1996 ABC serial was 96% filmed on location.

Not being stupid, the operators of The Stanley Hotel have capitalized upon this and offer ghost tours.  Of course I signed up for one!  So one Wednesday afternoon the girls and I gathered with the rest of the herd in the basement of the hotel.  The tour lasted 90 minutes and was a mixture of local history and ghost stories.  Most of the ghost stories were fairly benign, such as Mrs. Wilson, who worked as the head chambermaid until the day she died, took a weekend off, and came right back to work.  The fourth floor and a particular staircase are alleged to be haunted by the ghosts of children who grew up, died, and returned to the hotel to spent their afterlife.  Only one ghost allegedly died in the hotel; from a case of appendicitis.
The ghost story part of the tour was guided by a delightfully creepy young lady named Cassie.  I personally did not witness any paranormal phenomena.  My cellphone camera functioned just fine and I would have appreciated a phantom chill on the fourth floor as it was decidedly on the warm side.  Elder Brat experienced a ghostly child tugging on her shirt tassels.  Several people confirmed this.  Younger Brat was very skeptical of the whole event.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

RIP Joel Rosenberg

I returned home from a vacation this week to read that father, author, and all-around fine guy, Joel Rosenberg had passed away. 

I first discovered Joel Rosenberg's "Guardians of the Flame" series in middle school.  From "The Sleeping Dragon" onward I was hooked.  Then I learned that Joel also wrote darned good military science fiction in "Not For Glory".

I suspected that Joel may have been a gun-guy after I read his incredible "Keepers of the Hidden Ways" series.  There were too many accurate little details for someone just working off of research notes.  Then back in 2004 I ran across Joel on one of the larger firearms-related online bulletin boards; The High Road, I believe.

From there I learned that Joel was a concealed carry instructor and a 2nd Amendment activist.  Better and better!  It wasn't until I found Joel on Facebook that I began following his online work more closely.

Joel and I had quite a bit in common both in interests and life events.  Joel wrote about some family struggles that my family also deals with.  We shared a similar sense of humor and political views.

When I said that Joel was an activist, he really was.  Late last year Joel tested the letter of Minnesota's firearms laws by openly wearing a handgun into a police station.  Joel complied with all legal requirements to do so but the incident resulted in a series of events that placed Joel in very real danger of a jail sentence and permanent loss of his right to own a firearm.  Joel was literally making himself a test case for Minnesota gun rights.  I don't believe that I would have the courage to take the same kind of risk.

Felicia, Judy, and Rachel, my thoughts and prayers are with you.