Village Praxis Series: Class IV Terrain Kit

Warning- Climbing is dangerous and should only be undertaken with the proper equipment and under experienced instruction. The post below is for informational purposes only.

What is Class 4 Terrain?

Class 1 Easy hiking – usually on a good trail.

Class 2 More difficult hiking that may be off-trail.  You may also have to put your hands down occasionally to keep your balance.  May include easy snow climbs or hiking on talus/scree.

Class 3 Scrambling or un-roped climbing.  You must use your hands most of the time to hold the terrain or find your route.  This may be caused by a combination of steepness and extreme terrain (large rocks or steep snow).  Some Class 3 routes are better done with rope.

Class 4 Climbing.  Rope is often used on Class 4 routes because falls can be fatal.  The terrain is often steep and dangerous.  Some routes can be done without rope because the terrain is stable.

Class 5 Technical climbing.  The climbing involves the use of rope and belaying.  Rock climbing is Class 5.  Note:  In the 1950s, the Class 5 portion of this ranking system was expanded to include a decimal at the end of the ranking to further define the difficulties of rock climbing.  This is called the Yosemite Decimal System (YDS).  The decimal notations range from 5.1 (easiest) to 5.14 (most difficult).  Recently, the rankings of 5.10 through 5.14 were expanded to include an “a”, “b”, “c” or “d” after the decimal (Example: 5.12a) to provide further details of the ranking.

Knowledge- Read the following books in this order- Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills (the seminal text on climbing, covers just about everything you’ll need to know), Rock Climbing Anchors: A Comprehensive Guide (specialized text that goes into more detail on anchors than M:FOTH),Rock Climbing: Mastering Basic SkillsAlpine Climbing: Techniques to Take You Higher and Climbing Self Rescue: Improvising Solutions for Serious Situations. All by The Mountaineers Press. After reading, sign up for classes with either the American Canyoneering Association, another accredited course or a very experienced individual. It’s like Appleseed- you can read “Fred’s Guide”, incorporate the lessons into range days and eventually make Rifleman on your own, or you can read “Fred’s Guide” and get hands on instruction from a Red Hat at an Appleseed and progress that much faster (and safer). Climbing Class 4 (never mind Class 5) involves risk due to the fact that you are defying gravity. Never exceed your current capabilities and skills, and leave enough energy in the tank for the descent. 70% of all climbing incidents occur on the descent due to exhaustion and mental relaxation / complacence. The information below is strictly on gear and is no substitute for quality instruction. I reference a lot of Black Diamond gear below, since they are a top manufacturer with a stellar reputation for quality, however any major climbing brand that is CE and / or UIAA certified will be just as good. Avoid “bargains” from unknown companies that do not QA / QC their equipment. Not only only are you “buying cheap and buying twice” you are putting your life on the line with sketchy gear. Spend a little more for quality.

Presently, I have most everything below except the rope, harness, helmet, gloves and anchors. I’ve acquired the gear piece by piece and it has not been a financial hardship as the individual components are relatively inexpensive except for the rope and anchors. For a belay device, I went with the ATC for its simplicity and ruggedness.

Belay Device: There are several different types to choose from- Figure 8, sticht plate, tube or “auto blocking”. Used for belaying a lead or second and rappelling.

Figure 8- simple to set up and use, unfortunately it will twist the rope to hell and gone. Economical option.

Sticht Plate- Old friction device that overcame the limitations of the Figure 8. In certain conditions may not provide enough friction to arrest a fall. Only 2 companies currently make plate devices. Old technology that is fading from use. I recommend passing.

Tube- Most popular type is the Black Diamond Air Traffic Controller (ATC). Simple, inexpensive ($20) device, handles a wide variety of rope diameters, non-mechanical and works in almost any environmental condition. Other manufacturers produce similar device types (Mamut, Petzl, etc). Best deal is the “Big Air” combo from Black Diamond, which is a basic ATC and locking asymmetric carabineer for $29. There are other ATC models “Guide”, “Sport” etc, but the basic ATC will do the job.

Auto Blocking- See the Petzl “Gri Gri”. Uses a clutch to slow the fall and lock off the rope. This device works similar to your car’s seat belt in that the rope can be fed slowly and smoothly out, but a sudden acceleration or jerk in the rope will initiate the locking mechanism. Mechanical device, only works with certain diameter and sheath material ropes, prone to incorrect rigging and is not idiot proof. Pass

Harness- Basic alpine or trad climbing harness should be enough. Purchase in person to make sure it fits. An ill fitting harness is uncomfortable and unsafe. Also recommend one with adjustable leg loops to accommodate a range of clothing options. Two gear loops are just about perfect for Class 4, 4 loops may be overkill. For those younger than 14 or 15, a full harness that attaches at the legs, waist and chest is required since their hips aren’t developed enough to prevent a slip out if they invert.

Slings / runners / cordelette- Used to build anchors and reduce rope drag. Get several 30cm, 60cm120cm pre-sewn runners / slings. Also get two 5.5 foot and one 9.5 foot lengths of webbing for building belay anchors. Get two lengths of cordelette (5-7mm accessory cord) for prusik loops used ascending or backing up a rappel. Get some other lengths of accessory cord to supplement slings and runners. Most economical is to purchase bulk spools of webbing and accessory cord and cut to size.

Anchors- For my local conditions I would stick with hexcentrics and stoppers. Enough to handle a wide range of crack sizes. Most expensive component in the kit. Your life depends on quality anchors, don’t go cheap. Used can be “ok” if the runners or wire hangers aren’t shot. Runners can be replaced with new slings or cordelette. Wires have to be factory replaced. Each anchor gets its own carabineer to “rack” on the harness’s gear loops and to attach to the runner. Other anchor options include snow stakes, pitons, ice screws, cams, looping a runner around a tree or rock, etc. They are condition dependent, as there probably isn’t anywhere in AZ where you can screw in a 10″ ice screw.


Locking- In addition to the locking carabineer for the belay device, have 2 aluminum locking carabineers on hand. For high friction / heat use in a Tyrolean Traverse, use steel lockers. Locking ‘biners are also used as part of the belay / rappel anchor and for backing up a rappel with a prusik loop.

Non-locking- 2 opposite and opposed non-locking carabineers equal 1 locking carabineer. Have enough ‘biners so that each sling / runner / cordelette loop has its own. Use D or asymmetric ‘biners. Oval ‘biners have lower strength since the gate takes the same of impact force as the spine. On a D or asymmetric ‘biner, the spine takes most of the force- if you look at the geometry of the ‘biner you can see how the force is distributed. An aluminum D ‘biner can withstand several more kilonewtons (kN) of impact force than a steel oval. If buying used, look for grooving from the rope, sharp edges, nicks, dings, bends, cracks, etc.

Rope: 10mm dynamic rope- here are two examples. A “dry treated” rope is nice, but in AZ, probably not necessary. 60m or 70m are standard lengths. Never buy a used rope. Without knowing how many falls it has taken, or its storage conditions, the rope has an unknown strength rating and should be avoided. New ropes start at around $100 and go up. If you have a rope that is more than 5 years old, it is probably best to retire it from a protection role. Most GI rapelling ropes are “static” and do not stretch when absorbing your impact on a fall. This is bad for two reasons- All the kilonewtons produced by the interplay of gravity, your weight and distance fallen are directly absordbed by your body and the anchor system. This can cause serious internal injuries and may “zipper” your protection out of their placements. Needless to say, this is bad. Dynamic ropes stretch, reducing the force imparted to you and the anchors.

Other: For local winter conditions above the snow line, very basic crampons and a piolet are nice to haves that will increase the safety margin. A helmet and belay gloves protect your head and hands and should be worn.

Physical Training: Class 4 and higher demands both aerobic and anaerobic conditioning, flexibility and strength training. Both Falcon and The Mountaineers Press have excellent books on climbing PT; I have both and I am drawing from them for my own conditioning routines. The good news is that training for climbing is not limiting. Unlike hard training for cycling, which develops absolute hammers for legs and a rock solid core but neglects the upper body, climbing uses all four limbs and aerobic / anaerobic conditioning. The training regimes listed in both books incorporates aspects of aerobic activities (running, cycling, fast hiking), strength training (weights, pull ups, push ups, core excersises) and flexibility.

Village Praxis Series: Robert Heinlein/ Thinker in Fourth Generation Warfare (4GW)

Mike Vanderboegh penned this awhile back and it still bears repeating.  If you are not reading dusty old tomes and newer books alike to steep yourself in the soft and hard war that is beckoning, you are setting yourself up for failure.  I have been reading Heinlein since I was a wee lad and can’t help but recommend it for young and old alike.  This is the warfare coming to America whether you are prepared or not.  Scroogle or startpage 4GW and you will find countless mountain of information.  In addition to the essay below, I would direct your attention to the bottom for additional reading lists I have posted. -BB

Robert Heinlein: Pioneer Thinker in Fourth Generation Warfare

(Y)ou can forget all that dreck about 4GW and RMA. They are just Madison Avenue terms designed to extract a few more bucks from the taxpayers’ pockets. War has always been about will. Weapons, tactics, strategies are just tools used to affect the enemies will. Of course the ulitmate tool for that is a nuclear weapon. Nothing effects an opponent’s will more than killing him. And rumor has it that the long term effects are just as good as the short term ones. I assure you Custer will never again burn any Indian villages. — Tomanbeg on Strategy Page Military Science Fiction Discussion Board, 26 Sept 2003

To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting. -Sun Tzu, the Art of War

In January, 1941, after the fall of France and almost a full year before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, a small circulation magazine called Astounding Science Fiction began a serialized story (continued in the February and March issues) credited to “Anson MacDonald.” It was entitled “Sixth Column.”

Its author was in fact Robert Anson Heinlein, from an original idea given to him by Astounding’s editor, John W. Campbell. For the time, it was an incredible piece of work, and amazingly it still stands the test of time on very many levels. Sixth Column was later reissued in hardcover in 1949.

Yet, it was one of Heinlein’s most difficult projects to write, because it was a hand-off story concept and Campbell’s original story idea was light on specifics — especially science and military — and long on anti-oriental racism. It was so difficult that Heinlein never again accepted someone else’s idea as the basis for one of his novels. As Heinlein recalled:

Writing Sixth Column was a job I sweated over. I had to reslant it to remove racist aspects of the original story line. And I didn’t really believe the pseudoscientific rationale of Campbell’s three spectra — so I worked especially hard to make it sound realistic.

In Sixth Column (also known under the title The Day After Tomorrow)the United States has been conquered by the PanAsians, a combination of Chinese and Japanese, who have also taken the Soviet Union and India. In the process, they have developed a credo:

“Three things only do slaves require: work, food, and their religion.”

As Wikipedia notes,

“The book is notable for its frank and controversial portrayal of racism. The conquerors regard themselves as a chosen people predestined to rule over lesser races, and they refer to white people as slaves. . . . They require outward signs of respect, such as jumping promptly into the gutter when a member of the chosen race walks by, and the slightest hesitation to show the prescribed courtesies earns a swagger stick across the face.”

Yet the most heroic action taken by any character in the book is made by Frank Mitsui, an Asian American whose family was murdered by the invaders because they did not fit in the new PanAsiatic racial order. (Frank’s wife was black and his kids of mixed-race.) This was a daring plot element at the time.

And Heinlein does not whitewash his heroes either. The Americans return their conquerors’ racism by often referring to them as “flat faces”, “slanties,” and “monkey boys”. For this reason, Heinlein’s Sixth Column has been denounced as racist by some left-wing critics. It is not. It was, for its time, about as explicitly anti-racist as you could expect.

The Citadel, a top secret research facility hidden in the Colorado mountains is the last remaining outpost of the United States Army after its defeat by the PanAsians. Major Ardmore, sent by the War Department to convey final orders for independent resistance to the lab, discovers that a weapons development accident has killed all but six of the facility’s staff of over 300. The survivors are demoralized and want to quit. Ardmore takes command and soon the survivors learn the principles behind the weapon and how to control it. What they lack, Ardmore is painfully aware, is numbers to wield it in battle but first and foremost, an intelligence network to help them plan a campaign and target the weapon. Today we call this “Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield.” Ardmore finds his intelligence operative in a hobo named Jeff Thomas, a hobo who wandered into the Citadel as the war was drawing to a close.

(Heinlein’s characters draw their strengths from their unlikely life experiences. Thomas has learned from ten years as an itinerant laborer how to move without being seen, how to blend in, how to adapt to changing circumstances and he has the support network of other hobos. In the ruins of civilization, it is those who had the least to lose that survived the best. Perhaps, Heinlein hints, because their minds were already adjusted to dealing in adversity. Likewise, Ardmore is not a West Point trained officer. He is a marketing executive swept up in the war emergency. But this is key to his ability to think unconventionally and find a solution to the problems at hand.)

Robert Anson Heinlein, United States Naval Academy, 1929.

Inextricably linked with the concerns of pitiful numbers and lack of intelligence is the fact that the PanAsians make the Nazis look like pikers when it comes to retaliation against innocents for any show of defiance.

Everywhere (Thomas) found boiling resentment, a fierce willingness to fight against the tyranny, but it was undirected, uncoordinated, and in any modern sense, unarmed. Sporadic rebellion was as futile as the scurrying of ants whose hill has been violated. PanAsians could be killed, yes, and there were men willing to shoot on sight, even in the face of the certainty of their own deaths. But their hands were bound by the greater certainty of brutal multiple retaliation against their own kind. As with the Jews of Germany before the final blackout in Europe, bravery was not enough, for one act of violence against the tyrants would be paid for by other men, women and children at unspeakable compound interest. — p. 32

Once Ardmore is better informed about the conditions outside the Citadel, the more difficult his problem appears. The perfection of the weapon system leads others within the Citadel to want to use it immediately. Ardmore refuses.

Any way he looked at it, simple, straightforward military use of the new weapons was not expedient. Brutal frontal attack was for the commander who had men to expend. General U.S. Grant could afford to say, “I will fight it out on this line if it takes all summer,” because he could lose three men to the enemy’s one and still win. Those tactics were not for the commander who could not afford to lose ANY men. For him it must be deception, misdirection — feint, slash and run away — “and live to fight another day.” The nursery rhyme finished itself in his mind. That was it. It had to be something totally unexpected, something that the PanAsians wouLd not realize was warfare until they were overwhelmed by it.

It would have to be something like the “fifth columns” that destroyed the European democracies from within in the tragic days that led to the final blackout of European civilization. But this would not be a fifth column of traitors, bent on paralyzing a free country, but the antithesis of that, a sixth column of patriots whose privilege it wouod be to destroy the morale of invaders, make them sfraid, unsure of themselves.

And misdirection was the key to it, the art of fooling! — pp. 56-57

Here we have Sun Tzu’s dictum embraced, rather than the attrition warfare expressed by Tomanbeg above. Time and again in the book, the principles of maneuver warfare and 4GW leap from the page.

He realized suddenly that he was thinking of the problem in direct terms again, in spite of his conscious knowledge that such an approach was futile. What he wanted was psychological jiu-jitsu — some way to turn their own strength against them. Misdirection — that was the idea! Whatever it was they expected him to do, don’t do it! Do something else. — p. 199

And this was written in 1940!

As the campaign of psy-war and misdirection continues, Heinlein enunciates another maneuver warfare principle: subordinate commanders, right down to a fire team corporal, are to be permitted and encouraged to think for themselves and act decisively:

Thomas took the report and read it, then nodded agreement. . . “Perhaps we should have given more detailed instructions.”

“I don’t think so. Detailed instructions are the death of initiative. This way we have them all striving to think up some particularly annoying way to get under the skins of our . . . lords. I expect some very amusing and ingenious results.” — pp. 227-228

Finally, as the campaign enters its final hours, there is this:

How much longer, Chief?” asked Thomas.

“Not very long. We’ll let ‘em talk long enough for them to know something hellacious is happening all over the country. Now we’ve cut ‘em off. That should produce a feeling of panic. I want to let that panic have time to ripen and spread to every Pan Asian in the country. When I figure they’re ripe, we’ll sock it to ‘em!”

“How will you tell?”

“I can’t. It will be on hunch, between ourselves. We’ll let the little darlings run around in circles for a while, not over an hour, then give’em the works.”

Dr. Brooks nervously attempted to make conversation. “It certainly will be a relief to have this entire matter settled onde and for always. It’s been very trying at times —” His voice trailed off.

Ardmore turned on him. “Don’t ever think we can settle things ‘once and for always.'”

“But surely — if we defeat the PanAsians decisively — ”

“That’s where you are wrong about it.” The nervous strain he was under showed in his brusque manner. “We got into this jam by thinking we could settle things once and for always. . . We should have known better; there were plenty of lessons in history. The old French Republic tried to freeze events to one pattern with the Versailles Treaty. When that didn’t work, they built the Maginot Line and went to sleep behind it. What did it get them? Final blackout!”

“Life is a dynamic process and can’t be made static. ‘— and they all lived happily ever after’ is fairy tale stupidity.” — pp. 231-232

“The price of liberty is eternal vigilance,” Heinlein tells us in Sixth Column, along with presenting a marvelous tale instructing us in the principles of maneuver warfare and 4GW. And he wrote it in 1940. That in itself is “Amazing.”

Get it.

Read it. You can find Sixth Column at most local bookstores.

Further reading in resistance and rebellion:

Village Praxis Series: Building a .22 Liberty Training Rifle

Skip is one of my best friends and he is our Village Armorer.  He is quite expert in the technical and arcane aspects of building and maintaining the teeth of Liberty.  He compiled this brief but detailed primer on building one of these handy little rifles.   I am an Appleseed Instructor in the state of Arizona (there are two of us now) and we urge those who wish to husband their ammunition with the prices they command now to maintain their skill set with modified .22 rifles to ensure the edge does not dull for the Riflemen standing up across America.  The main platform we use is the Ruger 10/22 and modify it fairly substantially to better replicate the handling and characteristics of a Main Battle Rifle or Carbine much like the purpose built rifles that festooned colonial mantles in the 18th century here in America.  It is an implied task that once you build the rifle, you go out and practice and become proficient.  While the primer below is by no means exhaustive, it will give you a terrific head start. You will notice some tabs above which speak to the Appleseed program.  I would urge you to explore the RWVA and Appleseed pages and sign up for an event near you. -BB
Yes… we call it a Liberty Training Rifle (LTR)
I would get a M-4-style adjustable stock… my kids are shooting with it completely collapsed, but other people borrow them, so I wanted adjustable stocks.
Here’s a cheaper alternative:
If there are no kids using the rifle, any OEM stock is fine… the iron sights are more important.
The sights are the most important modification you can make to the 10-22… I am a firm believer everyone should learn to shoot iron sights first, and I’m certain I’m preaching to the choir on this:
I prefer an automatic bolt release, but I don’t like paying the extra cost… here’s were you can learn to modify it using a dremel tool, which is what I do for all my friends that have the 10-22…
I recommend using the OEM magazines… here’s a cheap place to start, you need at least two per rifle for an Appleseed:
You need an adjustable sling at least 1″ or thicker. I use the standard Garand/M-14 slings:
Lastly, I like an extended magazine release… the newer rifles come with it, but here is an option:
I make my own extended mag release using the hardware that comes with cheap furniture… and screw it into the OEM mag release. I think they are called caming bolts or screws and they look like a bolt, at the tip, then a solid cylinder with a screw head matched to a caming surface… Everytime a buy cheap furniture, they always pack extra and I just keep them in a drawer for anyone that wants an extended magazine release. I drill them into the OEM mag release (cast metal) flat surface until I am through the bolt entirely. The hole needs to be slightly smaller than the bolt threads (doh!) so the bolt can thread into the mag release, but not too small or the screw head will twist off before you have it threaded in. Once in, cut it down to about .60″ to .75″ using a hacksaw and then dress it up using a belt sander. Then cut off the excess threads coming through the mag release until it is flush. If you don’t, or the bolt is left too long, it will not cam far enough to release the mag…

Now, I found this interesting… unnecessary, but cool:

Does the Government Lie When It Projects Costs of Programs? Of Course It Does…

Joseph Lawler offers this interesting study.  Our latest New Deal project with the health care legislation may prove to be the demographic back breaker the economy has been waiting for to push it over the precipice so we join the dustbin of empires that have suffered long and sclerotic deaths as they spent themselves into oblivion.  With estimates of anywhere from 45 to 100+ trillion in non-funded liabilities for the FedGod’s suicide pact with the bread and circuses crowd projected into eternity, this may very well be the straw that broke the camel’s back although I am still unclear on the novel idea of paying up to eight years of forced taxes and fines into a program whose creation will be sometime in the future.  The chart below is illustrative of the serial underestimation that always precedes the inauguration of a new tax-eater proposal and the concomitant problem with the truth our rulers have.  What to do?  Don’t write your congress-critters.  Take local action and prepare for massive civil disobedience in many forms.  In the end, aside from the conversation about costs, this is a war on the individual and the wresting of the control of your body to the state.  As Lenin said:  “Medicine is the keystone of the arch of socialism.”  -BB

Even Reagan Knew Better...

Government projects ultimately cost more than planned, claims Veronique de Rugy in a Reason piece that will shock none.

In 2002 the Journal of the American Planning Association published one of the most comprehensive studies of cost overruns, looking over the last 70 years at 258 government projects around the world with a combined value of $90 billion. The Danish economists Bent Flyvbjerg, Mette Skamris Holm, and Soren Buhl found that nine out of 10 public works projects had exceeded their initially estimated costs….

According to the Danish study, such inaccuracies aren’t just errors. They reflect widespread, deliberate lying on the part of public officials. “Project promoters routinely ignore, hide, or otherwise leave out important project costs and risks in order to make total costs appear low,” the authors conclude.

[Emphasis mine.] One of the projects that the Danish study uses as an example of an absolute boondoggle is Boston’s Big Dig. Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote a piece, also using the Big Dig, warning that the stimulus bill was guaranteed to overrun its projected costs by a significant amount.

In 1985, city officials projected that the Big Dig would cost about $6 billion (adjusted for inflation), making it the biggest highway infrastructure project in history. This figure represented the costs for the entire project, including moving the Expressway underground, building a bridge to Charlestown, and improving access to the airport. When the project finally reached completion — years overdue — the check came in at $15 billion, plus an additional $7 billion in interest on the debt for a total of $22 billion.

As I explain in the piece, the Big Dig is still incurring new costs because of the shoddy work that now needs to be repaired. And it didn’t even accomplish much, if anything, in terms of reduction traffic congestion.

See the rest:

And a picture is worth a thousand words (or a chart in this case):

A Sampling of Federal Cost Overruns
(All figures in nominal dollars, except where noted)

Project Cost Estimate and Date of Estimate
Original Estimate Recent Estimate
Boston Big Dig highway project52 $2.6b (1985) $14.6b (2005)
Virginia Springfield interchange53 $241m (1994) $676m (2003)
Denver International Airport54 $1.7b (1989) $4.8b (1995)
Hiring of airport security screeners55 $104m (2002) $741m (2006)
Airport security technology upgrade56 $1b (2002) $3b (2005)
Hanford nuclear waste clean-up57 $4.3b (2000) $12.2b (2008)
All nuclear waste sites clean-up58 $63b (1996) $105b (2003)
National Ignition Facility59 $2.1b (1995) $4.2b (2000)
Clinch River Breeder Reactor60 $400m (1971) $4b (1983)
Superconducting Supercollider61 $4.4b (1987) $11.8b (1993)
FutureGen clean coal project62 $1b (2003) $1.8b (2008)
Defense Development Costs ($2008)63
Global Hawk surveillance plane $989m (2001) $3.7b (2007)
Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle $1.6b (2000) $3.6b (2007)
C-130J Hercules 10.9m (1996) 430.3m (2007)
Extended Range Munitions 86.9m (1997) 500.1m (2007)
DDG 1000 destroyer 2.2b (1998) 9.3b (2006)
V-22 Osprey helicopter 4.0b (1986) 12.5b (2006)
Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter 388.3m (2005) 750.9 (2007)
Space Based Infrared System High 4.2b (1996) 8.5b (2006)
Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter 388.3m (2005) 750.9 (2007)
NPOESS Satellite System 5.0b (2002) 7.9b (2007)
Other Defense
Coastal Patrol Ships64 $220m (2004) $350m (2007)
Joint Strike Fighter65 $232b (2001) $337b (2008)
Marine One (VH-71) helicopters66 $6.1b (2005) $11.2b (2008)
Coast Guard, NSC ships, per unit67 $250m (2002) $536m (2007)
Technology Projects
Air traffic control modernization68 $8.9b (1998) $14.6b (2005)
FBI Trilogy computer system69 $477m (2000) $600m (2004)
Pentagon airborne laser system70 $1b (1996) $2b (2004)
Border radiation detectors71 $2.1b (2008) $3.1b (2008)
International Space Station72 $17b (1997) $30b (2001)
Mars Science Laboratory73 $1.6b (2008) $2.3b (2009)
Glory satellite74 $266m (2008) $348m (2008)
Washington, D.C.
Capitol Visitor Center75 $265m (2000) $621m (2008)
Kennedy Center opera house76 $18.3m (1995) $22.2m (2003)
Kennedy Center concert hall77 $15.1m (1995) $21.3m (1997)
Kennedy Center parking lot78 $28m (1998) $88m (2003)



Vermont Secession Strategy

The eminent Kirkpatrick Sale brought this to my attention.  While I think NeoLiberal is an odd term since the perceived left in this country and elsewhere has always championed government supremacism, I am impressed that even members of that political community are waking up to the advantages of decentralism and devolution of power.  These notions are catching on like wildfire across these united States.  While Vermont is a pale Red comparison to the glory days of its individualist beginnings, hope springs eternal.  Maybe someone will channel Daniel Morgan and his Riflemen from Revolutionary lore and grab a pair.  Every state and subsidiary polity across the land should use this a plank to start crafting their own divorce terms with Mordor on the Potomac.  The books by both Sale and Naylor belong on any incipient secessionist’s bookshelf.  -BB

The word is spreading...

March 19, 2010—Thomas Naylor has just outlined the strategy that the Second Vermont Republic ( is operating under in a paper he has distributed this week.  Though it is (very) specific to Vermont, where there are now at least nine candidates for the fall election, it should be of interest and perhaps instruction to secessionists everywhere. The text follows:

The Problem: The American Empire is the largest, wealthiest, most powerful, most materialistic, most racist, most militaristic, most violent empire of all time.  It is owned, operated, and controlled by Wall Street, Corporate America, and the Israeli Lobby.  It has lost its moral authority and is unsustainable, ungovernable, and, therefore, unfixable.


1. The Vermont Mystique. Classic red barns, covered bridges, the picturesque patchwork pattern of small farms, black-and-white Holsteins, tiny villages, little rivers, ridges, hollows, valleys, and dirt roads.

2. The Vermont Village Green. A place where people meet to chat, have a coffee, a locally brewed beer, a glass of wine, or a bite to eat; read a newspaper; listen to music; smell the flowers; and pass the time away.   A place which is all about the politics of human scale—small towns, small businesses, small schools, and small churches. The village green is neat, clean, democratic, radical, nonviolent, noncommercial, egalitarian, and humane.  A mirror image of the way America once was but no longer knows how to be.

3. David and Goliath Image. What could be more absurd than tiny Vermont, the second smallest state in the United States in terms of population, confronting the most powerful empire in history?  The image of Vermont as an underdog is not likely to go unnoticed.


1. Neoconservatives. The Republican Party, Fox News, The Wall    Street Journal, and CNBC.  [Vermont] Governor Jim Douglas, Lt. Governor Brian Dubie, the Ethan Allen Institute [John McClaughry], and True North Radio.

2. Neoliberals. The Democratic Party, most of the national media including ABC, CBS, MSNBC, CNN, PBS, and PBR. Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Patrick Leahy, Congressman Peter Welch, and their political supporters.

Objectives: The peaceable return of Vermont to its status as an independent republic [1777-91] and the peaceable dissolution of the American Empire.


1. Political independence by 2015.

2. Dissolution of the American Empire by 2020.


1. Moral Authority. Challenge the moral authority of the U.S. Government, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Patrick Leahy, Congressman Peter Welch, and all of their collaborators.

2. Swiss Model. Unabashedly embrace the socio-economic, political model of Switzerland, the most sustainable nation-state of all time.

3. Imagine…Free Vermont. Launch a new political party whose aim is to elect state government officials and members of the legislature committed to Vermont independence.   Once the party has a majority in the legislature, a motion will be introduced calling for a statewide convention to consider articles of secession.  After these articles of secession have been approved by a two-thirds majority of the convention delegates, negotiations will begin with the United States Government for the peaceable departure of Vermont from the Union.

4. Vermont Commons. Develop the economic, agricultural, energy, and environmental foundations necessary to support a sustainable, politically independent Free Vermont.

5. Radio Free Vermont. Sow the seeds of peaceable rebellion against the Empire through Vermont-based music produced by Vermont musicians.

6. Outreach. Through the Middlebury Institute, the website, and other networks, reach out to other independence movements in the United States and elsewhere.

7. Finance. Utilize modern Internet-based social-network technology to raise money to finance the activities of the SVR Strategic Alliance.

Texas Nationalist Movement Responds To Obama’s Nobel Speech

Yes, this is old news but an eloquent riposte to the Anointed One.  Texas is indeed convening a special session to consider this very notion.  Linda Traynham wrote:

A small legal cog finally clicked forward and the Governor will be obliged by court order to call a special session of the 81st Legislature (the current one) to put forth a Resolution calling for an up/down vote on becoming a state or restoring the de facto sovereignty of the Republic of Texas.  The issue will be whether to maintain the socialistic status quo by seeking an amendment to the US Constitution to annex Texas legally as a state, or to take a giant leap backwards in time to become an independent nation stripped completely of the barnacles of the Nanny State.

I think that once Texas or any other brave state finally leaves the Union, “Katie, bar the door”;  for the entire wretched system of central planning and Roman-style corruption will coming tumbling down.  I am especially fascinated by the current political establishment’s lip service to autonomy and self-determination but ONLY off our shores.  None of that will tolerated at home.

I suppose the latest news from the government controlled media of foregoing Constitutional orthodoxy and sending bills to the Ultimate Leader without a vote in Congress is simply more fuel for the emergent conflagration which DC is authoring in its every action.

Gold, guns and groceries, keep preparing for the worst and the best.  The worst is the inevitable collapse of a monetary system which deserves its demise.  The best?  There is a very high probability now that this Soviet Union will be breaking apart much to the surprise of everyone in the same fashion as the 1989-90 collapse of the other Soviet Union fell apart calving nearly fifteen independent republics and political units.

Texas Declaration of Independence 1836

NEDERLAND, Texas – U.S. President Barack Obama’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech should send a chill down the spine of every Texan and every American for its very clear reference to justifying the use of military force to quash self-determination by the free peoples around the world, the head of the Texas Nationalist Movement said today.

“Mr. Obama’s reference to ‘secessionists’ was very clearly aimed at Texas, and his message was that he would use force to stop Texas leaving the U.S.,” said Daniel Miller, President of the TNM. “But he and we both know he cannot justify the use of force, and he doesn’t have the military backing to do so. This is more about mental terror and bluff than an actual promise to attack. It’s like Osama Bin Laden sending out one of his videotapes, there’s a lot of threat but he can’t really do anything.

“That such a message would be delivered while accepting a ‘peace prize’ amply illustrates that this man and the regime he leads is intent on the implementation of a totalitarian, globalist government in which the moneyed elites rule the great unwashed masses with an iron fist.”

In his speech, Obama attempts to classify self-determination as terrorism, and specifically mentions secessionist organizations as one of the harbingers of continued conflict around the globe:

“Moreover, wars between nations have increasingly given way to wars within nations. The resurgence of ethnic or sectarian conflicts, the growth of secessionist movements, insurgencies and failed states have increasingly trapped civilians in unending chaos. In today’s wars, many more civilians are killed than soldiers; the seeds of future conflict are sown, economies are wrecked, civil societies torn asunder, refugees amassed and children scarred,” Obama said Wednesday in Oslo, Norway.

Obama ominously added: “So yes, the instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace.”

Obama threatens to veto greater intelligence oversight by Glenn Greenwald

Another brilliant Greenwald essay.  The Marxist in the Red House or WAFL House (War against Freedom and Liberty) came in on his steed proclaiming this would be the most transparent administration ever.  Right.  I still maintain that the only difference between Obama and Bush is skin color but the interior Red temperament is true-blue in both.  The most disturbing trend in all this is the acceptance of institutionalized torture and all the legal and rhetorical gymnastics used to justify this horror show.  Torture from an intelligence standpoint has very little value, if any.  Not only does it pollute the possibilities for civilized dispute resolution but it will have long-term deleterious effects for the torturers themselves and the bureaucracies that enable them.  As with abortion, a large part of a society’s measure is how it treats the most innocent and most heinous when both are at their mercy.  The quality of mercy is a hallmark of civilization and chivalry.  The administration possesses none of the instincts nor the inclination to do the right thing.  As with the entire rotten Imperial apparatus which we call the American Presidency,  evil is the watchword and power is the object.  They are on borrowed time. -BB

New World Order or Else

One of the principal weapons used by the Bush administration to engage in illegal surveillance activities — from torture to warrantless eavesdropping — was its refusal to brief the full Congressional Intelligence Committees about its activities.  Instead, at best, it would confine its briefings to the so-called “Gang of Eight” — comprised of 8 top-ranking members of the House and Senate — who were impeded by law and other constraints from taking any action even if they learned of blatantly criminal acts.

This was a sham process:  it allowed the administration to claim that it “briefed” select Congressional leaders on illegal conduct, but did so in a way that ensured there could be no meaningful action or oversight, because those individuals were barred from taking notes or even consulting their staff and, worse, because the full Intelligence Committees were kept in the dark and thus could do nothing even in the face of clear abuses.  The process even allowed the members who were briefed to claim they were powerless to stop illegal programs.  That extremely restrictive process also ensures irresolvable disputes over what was actually said during those briefings, as illustrated by recent controversies over what Nancy Pelosi and other leading Democrats were told about Bush’s torture and eavesdropping programs.  Here’s how Richard Clarke explained it in July, 2009, on The Rachel Maddow Show:

MADDOW:  Do you think that the current system, the gang of eight briefing system, allows the CIA to be good at spying and to be doing their work legally?

CLARKE: I think briefings of the gang of eight, those very sensitive briefings, as opposed to the broader briefings — the gang of eight briefings are usually often a farce. They catch them alone, one at the time usually. They run some briefing by them.

The congressman can‘t keep the briefing. They can‘t take notes. They can‘t consult their staff. They don‘t know what the briefings are about in advance. It’s a box check so that the CIA can say it complied with the law. It’s not oversight. It doesn’t work.

How to Defend Non-Interventionist Foreign Policy by David Carlson

I have much more trouble with “conservatives” on this issue than the self-professed “liberals”.  I also like to ask them if war overseas leads to greater government size and scope domestically because the evidence is indisputable.  We are not immune as the exceptional nation to the political law of thermodynamics in which anything we do over there will have a baleful effect over here over time.  Witness the madness that is the United Kingdom after their imperial birds came home to roost.  We are destined for the same fate. -BB

Over the past few weeks I have had quite a few conversations with Conservatives which have led to a debate about interventionist versus non-interventionist foreign policy.  It usually starts with them attacking Ron Paul for one reason or another (check out this article on Midwest Spin for an example).  After I respond and question their criticism, it usually ends up being their disagreement with his foreign policy.

Foreign policy can be a very complex topic. I think that non-interventionists, for the most part, know why they support that policy much better than your typical interventionist. Many interventionists do not even understand the difference between non-intervention and isolationist.

If you support non-intervention you either have found yourself in a debate and had to defend non-intervention, or you will find yourself in one sometime in the near future. I have found there are a few things to keep in mind when you are in these debates:

1) Be ready to explain the difference between non-interventionism and isolationism. Isolationism is the foreign policy of North Korea. Non-intervention involves open dialogue, free trade, and minding your own business overseas. Two vastly different approaches. Just because you don’t support having a global military empire does not mean you are an isolationist.

2) Know some facts and figures. The United States has over 700 permanent military bases spread out across over 100 nations. Roughly 20% of the federal budget is military expenditures. There are facts and figures that give proof that 1) our military expenditures are financially unsustainable and 2) we most certainly have a foreign policy of intervention and global imperialism.

3) Be Ready to talk 9/11. Ask the interventionist why they think we were attacked. If they say it is because we are a free and prosperous nation, ask us how they expect us to be in perpetual warfare? By that logic, there will always be terrorists trying to attack us (unless we become a socialistic nation). Should we just constantly be fighting over seas until the end of time? Then explain the non-interventionist viewpoint: we were attacked here because we have been over there for over half a century; meddling in their affairs and maintaining a troop presence. Be absolutely sure to cite Chalmers Johnson’s great book Blowback and Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins. There are many more books on the subject you can cite, just make sure you read them!

4) Prepare for a frustrating conversation. Oftentimes, at least in my own experience, the interventionist will refuse to defend their view. If they say they don’t have time ask if there is a time in the future they will be able to talk. If they are on twitter and say they can’t discuss such a complex topic give them your email and say you would love to move the conversation to that. They may just end up making it about Ron Paul and how he has no chance of winning President. Explain you are interested in interventionism versus non-interventionism, not Ron Paul. One day Ron Paul will pass away and the discussion will have to move to his policies, not the man.

5) Remember your goal. Your goal is to start a dialogue and hopefully make the other party question their views, or at least create some sort of cognitive dissonance. They might not turn from interventionists to non-interventionists overnight, but they should start thinking a little harder about why they are interventionists. Present your views, question theirs, and defend your points.

Never be scared about talking foreign policy. The only reason there would be to not discuss it or try to avoid discussing it would be if you are not certain your view is better. If you don’t think your view is better, the responsible thing would be to figure out what you really believe! If your view is better, you have nothing to fear.

Good luck!


What is Your Life Mission?

I was inspired to write by the latest article from Gary North on LRC – “When Death Precedes the Applause” I am often amazed at not only the prodigious output from Dr. North but the topics are usually a brilliant blending of the arcane and the practical. He relates the story of an otherwise obscure judge in Wyoming who spent decades translating the only English transcription of Justinian’s Code.

The amazing story is here:

Village Praxis Series: Taking Back the Infantry Half-Kilometer

Okay, time for a deep dive into the tactical. The point of departure is this paper by Army Maj. Thomas Ehrhart, Increasing Small Arms Lethality in Afghanistan: Taking Back the Infantry Half-Kilometer (.pdf), written last year at the Command and General Staff College, that says fighting in Afghanistan has exposed the fact that American infantry are poorly equipped and trained for long range firefights. -BB

Lee-Enfield - A Rifleman's Rifle

In Afghanistan, the infantryman’s “weapons, doctrine, and marksmanship training do not provide a precise, lethal fire capability to 500 meters and are therefore inappropriate,” Ehrhart says. Unlike on the streets of Iraq, where firefights were few and were typically fought under 300 meters, insurgents in Afghanistan skillfully use the wide open rural and mountainous terrain to stretch the battlefield. The following excerpt sums it up pretty well:

“Comments from returning non-commissioned officers and officers reveal that about fifty percent of engagements occur past 300 meters. The enemy tactics are to engage United States forces from high ground with medium and heavy weapons, often including mortars, knowing that we are restricted by our equipment limitations and the inability of our overburdened soldiers to maneuver at elevations exceeding 6000 feet. Current equipment, training, and doctrine are optimized for engagements under 300 meters and on level terrain.”

There’s a lot to unpack in this paper, the author gets into the relative merits and disadvantages of the 5.56mm round, reliability of the M4, the rifleman’s standard ACOG site, basic training, adding more marksmen to the squad and even the shortcomings of the standard issue magazines (Magpul gets a real big shout out for their PMAG M4 mag replacement). He concludes that only with significant changes to training, doctrine and weapons will infantry be able to engage targets out to 500 meters.

“In the table of organization for a light infantry company only the six –M240B 7.62-mm machineguns, two– 60-mm mortars and nine designated marksman armed with either 7.62-mm M14 rifles or accurized 5.56-mm M16A4’s rifles are able to effectively engage the enemy. These weapons systems represent 19 percent of the company’s firepower. This means that 81 percent of the company has little effect on the fight. This is unacceptable.”

I’m going to get into a number of these points throughout the week, but first off, I want to get into Ehrhart’s description of meeting engagements in Afghanistan and the standard U.S. tactical response. “The enemy travels light and employs supporting weapons from standoff, to include mortars and medium machineguns. Faced with these conditions, the modern [U.S.] infantry attempts to fix the enemy with direct fire and use supporting assets to kill the enemy,” he writes.