Aurora Shootings, Federal Money and the 5 Stages of BS

As more tragic details came out this weekend about the Aurora murders, we learned more details about the perpetrator, James Holmes.

After more information was revealed about his weapons, gear, and supplies, I wondered, “where does an unemployed med student get the big cash to buy stuff like this?!”  Other folks wondered, too

According to Mike Adams the editor of, a decent AR-15 rifle costs $1,000 or more all by itself and the shotgun and handgun might run another $800 total. He said spare mags, sights, slings, and so on would have cost at least another $1,000 across three firearms. A bullet-proof vest is easily another $800, and tonly one can guess he cost of the bomb-making gear. With all the specialty body gear, ammunition, booby-trap devices and more, Adams guessed that this is at least $20,000 in weapons and tactical gear, much of which is very difficult for civilians to get in the first place.

We knew very early that he was the recipient of some sort of National Institutes of Health federal grant (an agency of DHHS) for his schooling. Now, more information has been released about this grant…

It gave the graduate student a $26,000 stipend and paid his tuition for the highly competitive neuroscience program at the University of Colorado in Denver. Holmes was one of six neuroscience students at the school to get the grant money.

Specific project information about the program he was involved in can be found on NIH’s site. And there is more exposition from USAToday

Doctoral students receive free tuition, and most get federally sponsored 12-month grants of $26,000, about $500 a week. Holmes, who was not employed, bought an assault rifle, shotgun, two semiautomatic handguns and 6,000 rounds of ammunition in the months leading up to what police called a methodically planned shooting spree.

So, there’s at least one possible source of funding. Not sure if his housing was paid for through this program, but even half that weekly $500 could put quite a dent in one’s budget-for-destruction.

Regardless, the pattern that emerged after this tragedy followed the trajectory I typically see, and perfectly described, by a commenter at, described as the 5 Stages of Bullsh*t

1. The crocodile tears. This includes the False Moment of National Unity, during which people proclaim that events like this bring us together, even as they sharpen their partisan knives for the next step.

2. The blood libel. With no data, motive is assigned to some conservative group or belief. This proves false 100% of the time, but like a tattoo, the accusation can never be entirely removed.

3. The Rorschach test. Every politician and pundit on earth pens an editorial explaining how this one isolated event has a much broader meaning that proves everything he’s been saying for the last 20 years.

4. Something Must Be Done. A national debate ensues on how to make sure that something like this never happens again. This event was a wake-up call and a game-changer. Everything must be on the table. We must not allow a 200-year-old piece of parchment to prevent us from Acting Right Away.

5. Suzy’s Law. Congress vomits forth a bipartisan bill that no member dare vote against. For precisely that reason, the bill includes a litany of unrelated pork and policy for both parties that could never otherwise pass. In exchange for a few billion dollars and a bit of your liberty, the president, surrounded by beaming legislators, offers a few cloying words about “what this town can do when people put their differences aside” and ostentatiously signs “Suzy’s Law”, a new set of rules that, had they been in place before the tragedy, would have made absolutely no difference.

Brilliant, Jeff.

Here is one of the more thoughtful responses to the various one-liners from the pro-(gun)control crowd:

We Won’t Be Fooled Again — Oh, Hell; Yes We Will

When there is a tragedy like the Aurora shooting we as a society make the same mistake as when there’s a terrorist attack; we focus on the capability.  In particular, the tools used to carry out the attack, and where the attack took place.  We look for bad stuff, and we want to make the bad stuff go away.
The problem isn’t the capability; the problem is the intent.  I could kill every person in a crowded movie theater.  So could you.  But, I don’t want to do that.  I presume you don’t either.  Most people don’t.  It’s not bad stuff that makes people do bad things, it’s bad people using stuff to do bad things.

More to come, I’m sure.


Obamacare: Now the Largest Tax Increase in US History

Representative Jeff Landry pointed it out simply and best

…speaking on the steps of the Supreme Court after a 5-4 ruling upholding the individual mandate as a tax, told a crowd of protesters and counter protesters that the individual mandate is now “the largest tax increase” in U.S. history.
“They basically have said Congress has no limit to its taxing power,” Landry said after the ruling. “This is the largest tax increase on the poor and the middle class in the history of this country . . . it was sold to the American people as a mandate and not a tax.”

And not just a tax, but now a precedent where the Federal government may now levy a special tax on you if you do not comply with their specific directives about what you should buy, or do.

So how should have SCOTUS ruled?  I defer to a friend, rdbrewer, on this..

The prudential, reasonable thing to do would have been to strike down the ACA and tell Congress “We don’t however rule today on the constitutionality of ACA as a tax,” thereby leaving open that issue for Congress to try again if it wanted. What Roberts has done is re-write the law.

This is truly a good example of judicial activism; rather than striking down the impermissible, it was rewritten for the legislature. Hardly pragmatic.

Remember: it wasn’t a tax!

If you didn’t feel like the election was going before, it’s definitely on today!

They’re boxy, but they’re good!

Happy New Year!

Turns out carefully designed edges are more aerodynamic than overly-rounded edges and corners. Maybe we were going in the right direction all ready in the late 80s and early 90s?  Ha.

Wayne Koester was pleasantly surprised. Koester, who was a Ford aerodynamicist at the time, had been assigned to turn the popular boxy Fairlane design study that was introduced at the 2005 Detroit Auto Show, inspired by the woody station wagons of the 1940s, into the production Flex crossover. But he had to produce a shape slippery enough to provide acceptable fuel mileage, and he feared the boxy show car would have to be radically revised.

To his surprise, in hundreds of wind-tunnel tests the original edges produced less drag than curved ones. In the bumper, headlights and hood, in fact, aerodynamics were improved by carefully designed edges.

Usually, aerodynamic shapes are rounded forms that slip through the air. But the wind tunnel is proving that counterintuitive, edgy shapes can reduce the drag coefficient and save fuel or battery power.

Reminds me of this clip from Crazy People..

Test Your Firearms Knowledge

So now that Obama has reinstated his Urban Policy which again contains the reference to a permanent and more onerous ban on scawy-wooking black rifles, et al, Ragnar @ The Arsenal has a quiz for you

If you’re like most gun owners, you probably have at least one anti-gun friend who can’t understand why gun owners opposed the federal “assault weapon” ban originally, or why we oppose it now. 

What I’ve generally found is that the vast majority of those individuals know next to nothing, if anything at all, about what the so-called “assault weapon” ban actually was.  What they generally know is that they don’t like guns that much in the first place, and they sure don’t like any gun specifically designed for “assault.”

So, hop on over and take his quiz; post your answer there and/or here, as well.  I’m genuinely interested to see people’s responses.

Paul Ibrahim: No Permission Needed to Hope

obama_nopeLebanese born Paul Ibrahim comments on the election of Barack Obama:

Did Americans, including the poor and minorities, sincerely believe that success was limited by anything other than their own initiative? Did we Americans truly need Obama’s election to finally start believing that we could be anything we wanted to be? Did we not hope, did we not think that “we can,” before Obama told us that we should?

So far I’ve made it from Middle-Eastern bunker to American attorney and nationally syndicated columnist, and my ambitions are far greater still. Not bad – and it was all possible even before The One came along to tell me that “I can”!

Read it all.

Eric Mabius says Gitmo should stay open

I figure if a celebrity says something positive and has had their “eyes opened” we should help them spread the word.  Always refreshing to find actors that don’t have their head firmly planted between their butt cheeks.

I know there’s a way to embed eyeblast… just haven’t found it, yet.