Howdy All, a few Interesting Items for your information. Enjoy –
In this issue –
3. Mauna Kea
1. Uvalde. The Texas House of Representatives released their 82-page report on the Robb Elementary shooting last week. The report was a damning indictment of local, state and federal police inaction, allowing a single gunman who apparently had never fired a weapon before, to systematically murder 19 children and 2 adults over a period of 77 minutes before he was finally rushed and killed. The report is the first of what will be an extended finger-pointing session after the (in)action during the shooting. At the end, some 376 officers were on site at the end of the event, nearly twice the number that defended the Alamo from Santa Ana in 1836. Note that this is a preliminary, interim report. Medical, autopsy, and investigation into the background of the shooter is still in process. But it is a start. Biggest takeaway? Apparently, nobody was in charge. No strong leader took control of the law enforcement. Just as bad, all the contingency plans at all levels were ignored. As such, law enforcement did not react in a timely manner. The school itself comes under no small amount of criticism, from multiple locked to unlocked doors, to lack of physical security for the building. As an aside, physical security of a building is a double-edged weapon. If it is difficult to get in, it is also difficult to get out, something used by the perp to his advantage. Notable was the frequency of bailout alarms at the school. A bailout in a border community is a warning that a human trafficker is trying to outrun law enforcement, usually ending with a vehicle crash and passengers fleeing in all directions. The school had 50 of these alarms Feb – May, about one every other day. If everything is an alarm, nothing is an alarm, which ends up with a relaxed initial response to an actual shooter. Responding police did not set up a command post. The Uvalde Police Chief was on scene almost immediately. Response plans have him as the On Scene Commander, something he did not do. The Uvalde school district police chief likewise did not follow their incident response plan. Plans and responsibilities mean little if you ignore them.
2. Charter. The leftist majority on the Anchorage Assembly passed an ordinance allowing them to remove the Mayor from office. The ordinance was introduced in May as a vehicle to allow the 9-3 union-elected majority to remove him from office on any of 12 fairly nebulous grounds after an “investigation” by someone appointed by the Assembly. It also has provisions for replacing the Municipal Attorney by the Assembly attorney during the festivities. Public reaction to the first reading in May was pretty ugly, with multiple people being removed from the Assembly meeting. They finally passed it July 12 to equally ugly public comment. Note that if the public is telling you not to do something, you probably ought not to do it, a lesson not yet learned by this Assembly majority. It is up to us to educate them on the error of their ways. Only took Mayor Bronson a couple days to veto the ordinance on separation of powers grounds. Bronson was elected 15 months ago, a shock to the Assembly majority that had foisted one of their members as their chosen candidate. Bronson won a close race and runoff, shocking local media, the Assembly and their backers. Both sides have been in a grenade throwing exercise ever since. Bronson’s rationale for vetoing was that the ordinance is a violation of the Municipal Charter, equal protection under that Charter, a power grab in replacing the Muni Attorney with Assembly counsel for purposes of reviewing allegations made against the mayor. The ordinance also changes the vote to submit an accusation from two thirds to a simple majority. The Assembly has for 47 years ignored provisions of Section 7.01 (b) Determining Vacancies. The section is written to remove elected officials, generally members of the Assembly and School Board. Section 7.01(b) calls for the Assembly to establish by ordinance procedures for removing elected officials for breach of the public trust. It has been 47 years since the Charter was adopted and no such procedures have ever been moved through the process. Note finally that Section 7.01(b) does not mention the mayor or give any Assembly the ability to remove a mayor. Final point is that this ordinance attempts to rewrite a provision of the Municipal Charter, something that will normally involve an actual campaign and approval by the voters. The majority is hoping to slide this one through the Alaska courts and get some judge to approve their actions. Given the active anti-right hostility by the Alaska courts today, they might be right. On the other hand, the Assembly lost a court case last week when a judge tossed their Equity Officer hire on the grounds that the Equity Officer was not a direct hire and report to the Assembly, but instead was head of a newly created Muni department, which puts the mayor directly in charge. The ordinance is intended as a threat, one that I don’t think Bronson will cower to. It is only a matter of time before the Assembly overrides the veto.
3. Mauna Kea. Hawaiian natives have long railed against things that are non-native, blaming whites for all their difficulties. I ran across this in 1976 when their big Cause Celebre was shutting down a naval gunnery range on Kaho’olawe, the smallest of the 8 main volcanic islands of Hawaii. They were paddling to the island to disrupt naval exercises, eventually shutting down the naval range in 1990. The Clinton administration transferred the island to the State of Hawaii in 1994. Today, it is managed exclusively as a reserve exclusively used for native Hawaiian cultural, spiritual and subsistence purposes. Not being content with their big win with Kaho’olawe, Hawaiian natives always in search for the Next Big Haole Insult turned their attention to the Maunakea observatories, on top of the Mauna Kea volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii. High ground acceptable for location of world class observatories is fairly difficult to find in the US. Mauna Kea was tabbed for astronomy as early as 1901. Federal interest in building an observatory on Mauna Kea grew during Apollo with the first building started in 1967 and first light through a telescope in 1970. The observatory was built on the second highest point on the volcano in deference to local designation of the highest point as holy. By 2012, the science reserve has a total of 13 observation facilities operated by 11 nations. There are plans to build a new 30-meter telescope, which was the straw that finally got locals the leverage they needed to shut the entire operation down. Using environmental concerns as leverage (funny how environmental concerns are primary on top of a volcano), Hawaiian natives just got themselves legislation that would put management of the scientific facilities under a newly established Maunakea Authority. It was previously managed by the University of Hawaii under a 65-year lease starting in 1968. The lease is up, so apparently is future astronomy in Hawaii. Among other things, the authority will have 11 members, one of whom must be an active practitioner of Native Hawaiian cultural traditions, one of whom must be a descendent of a cultural practitioner who is associated with Maunakea. There are also seats for astronomy, education, land management, and politics. At this point, the future of astronomy in Hawaii looks grim. And there will be most certainly no new construction of new instruments. Democrats are firmly in control in Hawaii and eat the racial foolishness of Hawaiian natives like candy, pandering for all its worth.
4. Recruiting. What happens when you actively try to identify and purge half of the political world from your massive organization? Generally, you end up with a manpower shortage. Such is the case with the US Army and Marines, facing some real ugly recruitment numbers. The people who normally would step up to serve, conservatives from parts of the nation that are not on the coasts, are no longer stepping up. Apparently, the ongoing purge of “white supremacists” directed by the SECDEF, the inclusion of CRT, personal pronouns, and the trans hysteria is not encouraging anyone to sign up. Worse, the ongoing purge of military members who refuse to vax and boost is also helping the ongoing purge. When you end up purging enough people, those who would sign up, or even recommend the military to any young person, they tend to take their talents elsewhere. For their part, the Harris – Xiden DoD is nor acknowledging anything associated with purges, CRT, woke, trans or vax with the self-created problem, instead blaming it on the economy. Their response? Throw money at the problem. Army budget documents plan on 473,000 on active duty. They are now expecting to miss that by 20 – 30,000 people. Marines are in similar difficulty. No official numbers from the USAF, USSF or Navy, though they are expected to be doing a bit better. Looks like the next Commander in Chief is going to have an easy time with housecleaning and rebuilding the force. Purging the wokesters promoted during this time, particularly the General Officers corps is going to be a bit more difficult, but ultimately necessary. Remember all the Generals who bedeviled Trump moved into those ranks during the O’Bama years. They are the ones leading the current purge, gleefully. Happily, we know who they are. Only concern is that we better pray there is no war between now and then. I shudder having to fight with the newly purged and woke force.
5. Cadence. SpaceX broke its annual launch record last week, with its 33 launch this year. Previous record was 31 in 2021. And we are still in July. Their cadence is not decreasing. Previous international highs for yearly launch rates were held by the Soviet Union 1967 – 1991. Their high years were 1976 and 1982 with 99 and 101 launches respectively. SpaceX is also increasing flight rates of recovered boosters and payload shrouds. Their original thinking was a booster could only be reflown 10 times. They are up to 13 on at least two boosters. Their next bet the business step will be getting Starship and the heavy booster flying successfully. I do expect them to lose a few of them. I hope those losses will be survivable from a corporate standpoint. Launch takes place 1:08:00 into the following video. First stage recovery takes place 8 minutes later.
6. Deceit. One of the things that self-congratulatory swamp creatures do after they leave public service is write a self-congratulatory book. Such is the recently published 525-page exercise in self-delusion by Dr Deborah Birx. Birx was one of the three leaders of the WH response to COVID under President Trump. And from her own words, she describes a how-to guide in subverting a democratic superpower from within. A review by Brownstone Institute’s Michael Senger was devastating. OTOH, the CCP liked it a lot. Birx was the part of the team that brought us the lockdowns that quickly stretched from 2 weeks to 2 years. She writes about her deceit, believing that disastrous full lockdown in Italy was the most important thing to do without telling anyone in the Trump administration that was what she wanted to do. She knew at the beginning that 2 weeks was not the full lockdown. Rather it was a start. She convinced the administration to lockdown and immediately after it was adopted, started figuring out how to extend it, all without any data to support a longer lockdown, though she told Trump the data existed. Her scientific expertise is best captured by a remark drawing an analogy between masks for COVID and condoms for HIV/AIDS. This was the depth of her thinking. Nothing more than a simple analogy. It took Trump about a month before he figured he had been had and lost confidence in Birx. She spent the rest of her time in the WH subverting all attempts to reopen the economy. He would say one thing on the campaign trail while at the same time there was nothing but regulations and disease panic porn pouring out of the bureaucracy. Birx had a hand in this too, reinserting and rearranging bullet points deleted by pre-publication review in weekly reports to the states. She is proud of giving the states permission to escalate public health mitigation in the fall and winter. Her top cover during all this was VP Pence who apparently did not understand the subversion Birx and the rest of the public health apparat was committing. Neither she nor any of her team were ever in contact with anyone who disputed their response. And the only one brought in by the Trump team (Dr Scott Atlas) was actively undermined and quickly run out of Washington. Birx goal was lockdowns as long as humanly possible, ignoring over a century of studies warning against that sort of reaction. She was convinced she was right and acting on behalf of people who would keep her safe from prosecution or persecution. The rest of us, not so much.
More later –