Friday, January 31, 2014

-Hog Hunting in Central Florida

"Crazy....I'm crazy for feeling so lonely"
I write this from the patio outside my motel room at the Aruba RV Resort. Its Karaoke Night at the resort,  Someone just finished a decent rendition of Patsy Cline out of visual range, however the windless Okeechobee night allowed the ambience.
Am I crazy? I drove 3 hours (which should have been 2 hours and 15minutes no thanks to Miami Weekend Rush hour traffic). My wife wasn't thrilled about my plan to go boar hunting in the rustic wilderness of Moore Haven, Florida.
Erik, a crack shot with his 6.8 mm AR platform and new friend of mine, planned this hunt back in December. I haven't taken a boar in many years, but Erik assured me this hunt would be well worth it.
The last hunt we did was back in May. It was hot and humid and the outfitter then was less than prepared. The hogs didn't cooperate, but I did recapture a glimpse of my Florida childhood on my dad's ranch and orange grove.
That hunt was brutal and I pretty much swore off hunting that involved being ferried around in a four wheeler with no seats in the bed. My spine never recovered from that marathon off-road roller-coaster.
It's been cold in Florida, low forties outside and may start the morning in the high thirties.
The moon is bright and its a brilliant night on a creek that feeds into the Caloosahatchee river. I met two others in the hunting party; their first time with this outfitter.

Unlike other hunts, I didn't have the range-time to prepare. I hope the iron sights on my Saiga 7.62x39 are true, but mostly, I hope that my aim is true. Admittedly, I am rusty.
We're hunting with Chappy's Outfitters. They are an Okeechobee standard. The plan is to hunt from a blind from 5:30 am untl about 9am.
I imagine the blind to be close proximity to a feeder. Close for a rifle is inside 70 yards (for me at least).
The Saiga Rifle is a sporterized AK variant, semi auto only, but thats where the function is different. I procured a box of Hornady Zombie-Max  in 124 grain, for the novelty of it, but Hornady doesn't play around with product. Strength in that institution.
My Saiga has a Tapco adjustable stock with pistol grip. Illegal in NJ for no good reason at all. I brought two mags: the factory Izmasch ten-round mag topped with the Hornady Zmax and the second mag is aftermarket ten-rounder topped with TulAmmo hollow points also in 124 grain.
I have hit the paper with a six inch group at 100 yards with the TulAmmo.
I hope that the zmax in close range will be on and deadly.
For backup, I packed my Ruger GP100 3-inch stainless. Its good to have on the hip and I can shoot tight at 20 yards with the the semi-wadcutters in .357 magnum.
In the event that the sit produces no pig, we then take to the buggy: an elevated four-by-four that promises to be a comfortable scenic ride through the palmettos and spanish daggers.
The knife: I settled on a Buck 119 Special. A six-inch 420 stainless blade in a no frills shaving sharp clip point.
For a small "eatin' hog" this knife may do the trick. Or at least I hope!
The late morning promises dogs to bay the quarry and the dispatch choice is up to me... if I don't score from the stand.
Its getting colder, and almost time to hit the rack. My cigar is short and my brandy is almost gone.
I didn't bring any "cold weather" clothes when i moved to Florida.
I'll be dressed more like a European uplander: jeans, ropers, shooting shirt (layers) and whichever headgear will keep my brain from freezing. Thank God I kept my insulated gloves from my last Pheasant hunt with Tom!
We rendevous at 5:15 am sharp.
It was a restless sleep. Usually adrenaline kicking in, in anticipation of the day's hunt will keep any sentient being awake. It is the nascent primacy of human instinct that no matter how much society tries to quell, it can never be shaken or completely extinguished!
 Reading hunting articles in the latest NRA mag gave me something to ponder. I awoke groggy and anxious at 4:30 am. Enough time to hit the showers, gather my belongings and vacate the premises.
I made a sludge coffee from the courtesy coffee maker in the room. Just awful, but enough to kick start the engine.
Stuff the room key in the slot and head out to the designated spot about a half mile up the road. Seven hunters in total would follow Brett the proprietor of Chappy's outfitters, over to the ranch.
After a brief drive through the unpaved agricultural easements and dirt roads we arrive at Chappy's ranch. Here he keeps the dogs penned up and the three hunting vehicles, which are a sight to behold if you are a gear-head, at the ready. If you are a fan of The Road Warrior, these vehicles would fit right in!
Immediately we began assembling our gear and embarked for individual blinds and stands. It was cold... Luckily I found a winter hat tucked in the backseat of my truck. Every bit of clothing was necessary.  I forgot what stand-hunts were all about. Back in NJ, it meant sitting & waiting and being as still as possible. Early bow season in NJ was usually too hot and humid. Fall bow was more agreeable and you could sit for hours without either sweating or shivering. I've even fallen asleep in a Summjit Goliath once!
It was dry and cold this day in Florida. Mid thirties before sunrise. Even after sunrise, the chill wouldn't leave your body. Reminded me of the morning hunts in South Africa.
We boarded the largest of the hunting vehicles and were ferried to the various stand locations, completely exposed to the elements; that made the chill stick to you like glue, and the stand was just about to begin!
Each hunter was dropped off at a particular stand or blind. Brett, the guide, would ask if the distance mattered. "This stand is 70 yards to the feeder, who wants it?"
Erik did a fine job assigning stands to hunters based on weapon of choice and physical ability.
After about 20 minutes of shuttling hunters, I arrived at my location. A ladder stand approximately 30 yards from a suspended feeder. It was a comfortable stand but the cold was metastasized to my spine already. After Brett left I fumbled for my Saiga factory mag. This one held the 5 green ballistic tip Hornady Zmax bullets. I mused that Hornady should make the Zmax bullet with a "glow-in-the-dark" plastic tip... The mind wanders in the cold...
While it was a ten round mag, I knew from experience that I was going to get one shot and maybe a follow up to dispatch wounded game.
The Saiga rifle has the unwanted quality of rattling or clanking when you need absolute quiet. I'm sure there is a modification out there to remedy this, but too late now!
It was quiet, dead silent. No wind and the occasional rustle of unknown origin from any direction. Adrenaline kicks in after you've secured the mag into place and pull back the gritty charging handle that clangs with augmented spring-reverb whe the round goes into the chamber.
The stand is unfamiliar. You try to quietly shift your body to the optimum ready position without waking the dead. You can't and just shimmy and twist until you are satisfied with the position of the rifle and the position of your body.
Even with insulated gloves, my hands fell cold. The bandana I brought at the last minute was also a blessing for both warmth and camouflage.
I thought about all the clothes I should've brought and didn't because " it's Florida!"
Suddenly my silence is disturbed by the sound of the feeder "broadcast spreading" a liberal amount of corn. It is pitch black. I can barely make out the shape of the rear sight on the Saiga. Seeing the front post was impossible. I waited and prayed for a glimpse of dawn.
I saw the shape of a boar beneath the feeder. I didn't see it come in, but I could hear other hogs snuffling and wheezing beyond the scrub and palmettos.
The Saiga was balanced on the shooting rail of the stand. I lowered my cheek to the  stock and silently cursed the darkness. Mind you, no wind, raw cold, pitch black and silence but for the munching of the black pig shaped object thirty yards and 15 feet beneath me.
As soon as I touched my cheek to the stock, the hog grunted and sped off like it was on fire!
I consoled myself by thinking "that one means more to come!"
As the sun rose you could hear the vocalizations of the cattle heard and the buffalo heard that are the true intended residents of this ranch. The hogs are undocumented in the controlled agrarian fiefdom.
Morning doves, crows, quail all made an appearance under and around the stand.
4 Osceola hens meandered in to scratch and peck at what was left over.
Then a unique bird I have never seen in life or in print decides to make an appearance. The wings made a whirring sound almost like a gyroscope. Bearing yellow talons, a falcon or eagle shaped beak, white body with a black cap and black feather tips.
I tried to describe this bird to my companions and it was suggested a species of Kite. With the benefit of hindsight and a somewhat identic memory, I have identified this bird to be the Crested Caracara.
Now that's cool!
The Caracara didn't stay very long. It walked the ground a bit and then resumed to a perch before vacating the area.
Two Osceola toms made an appearance and I drew a mental bead on them.
Still no hogs during the early dawn.
By 8:00 am I was becoming hyperthermic. I couldn't warm up and I became drowsy. I switched on the safety and tried to stay awake and stay warm.
By 9:00 am the welcome sound of the hunting vehicles approached. I reported to everyone about the turkeys and the raptor and was ready for the dogs to do the trick.
We shuttled back to the point of embarkation to arrange the dog teams, sign releases and get a safety and training lesson from Sherrie. She told us what to expect and what not to do. I had decided that if a clean shot couldn't be made with the rifle, I would use the knife... or maybe my gp100... or maybe my saiga?
Why the indecision? As Sherrie informed the group, sometimes the dogs would bay the hog, if so it may be prudent to use a rifle or a handgun if you are close enough to get the shot.
The variable is the hunter. Not the skill level of the hunter.
You can be the best paper marksman or take  enough tactical training courses to earn a fancy patch on your jacket. You can have the best tactical rifle with the best optics and the best ammunition. The moment of truth is fleeting and even the best are caught off guard. I am far from the best... hell, I'm not even mediocre. My range sessions have become infrequent and are primarily focused on putting holes in paper at 5 and 10 yards with a handgun best suited for conceal and carry.
American hunters tend not to train for moving or running game.  We are instructed to sit and wait until the shot presents itself, because we are told, it is ethical, but then again if you can make the shot and efficiently take the game, that is also ethical.
The feral pig explosion has already inspired legislative changes and game code changes across the American south and west. In Texas, you can use suppressors and hunt at night. Hogs are smart and tend to become nocturnal when pressured.
If your location doesn't allow suppressors or night hunting, then its time for the hunter to employ the aide of his oldest companion: the dogs.
Chappy's has several teams of dogs bread and trained for the hunt. They appear to be Cur and some are obvious hounds, but all of them love the chase.
Chappy's also considers that Murphy's Law is a rule and even if a hunter says he's the great nimrod, they aren't chancing a wounded or killed dog.
Sure the hogs get on the dogs from time to time, but they are well cared for and probably better treated than most handbag dogs in urban environs. Animal cruelty is taking a sporting or working breed of dog and imprisoning it to a life of sidewalks, apartments and restrictions. I cringe when I see vizslas, weimereiners, malamutes and labs sentenced to life in NYC. These dogs have a bloodline and concentrated breeding that programs them to seek game and retrieve it if necessary. Or in the case of the husky or malamute, these dogs are the Swiss Army knife of the arctic. I've seen them in South Beach for crying out loud!
You can't just deprogram breeding. Some owners don't understand why their dogs need to chase game. These aren't sentient beings that can rationalize their way into a life of veganism or mute obedience.
The sad thing is that there are people breeding the sporting and working dogs into city creampuffs. Kind of like what happened to American cars when they stopped manufacturing big blocks and thought putting video screens in the dashboard as a good idea...
I digress.
The efficiency of the dogs is an amazing sight to behold. With radio collars and kevlar vests, they track and course their quarry.
Hogs will not hesitate to bite a dog or a human and the wound will be immediately septic.
Throughout the morning we followed the dogs, which was one or two dogs loosed and methodically searching for their quarry. Within 20 minutes, the first hog was caught. The handlers know the sound of dog that bays versus the sound of the dog that catches. "Yeah, he sounds like he caught him."
That sound is the dog growling and barking and the pig squealing and grunting like all hell is breaking loose. The dog has the hog by the ear or jowl. The hog struggles to free itself, snapping and gnashing its teeth. The tusks, when developed are sharp and can function as hooks or daggers and ultimately like a pair of scissors if the hog needs to bite off more than it can chew.
The first volunteer would use his weapon of choice to dispatch the hog. With a firearm they instruct behind the ear and into the brain. This is not as easy as it seems. While both man and dog are subduing the hog, the hunter has to be cautious not to press the muzzle of the rifle or handgun too close to the animal for obvious reasons.
The handlers move in to secure the dog and the hog. One handler will grab either the rear legs or a foreleg and a rear leg to immobilize the hog and the other will keep the dog clear of the hunter's weapon while placing a boot on the snout of the hog.
The dog is pulled away and the shot explodes into the hog. Game over.
After photos and congrats, the animal is dragged back to the hunting vehicle and hoisted to a platform that keeps the pig away from the dog teams.
The tenacity of dog and pig is amazing. You'd hear the guide say: "The hound caught one!" only to ride, run and push through tangles and thorns to realize the hog got away.
We saw a hog with a dog locked on him back into a pond as the fight ensued.
These scraps were short lived since the handlers were quick to engage the fight with their dogs and drag the pig out of the water or mud by the hinds. All the while the dog is latched on to the hog like a vise.
Soon we began wracking up the hog count. I witnessed a hunter dispatch a pig with a knife. It has to be surgical since the fastest way is to insert the blade beneath the foreleg into the armpit. This also depends on the position of the pig. One hunter had to stab down and then turn up to sever the heart. The rupture of the heart and arteries ensures a dead pig in about 10 seconds.
After we scored 4 or 5 pigs, we started covering different locations with fresh dogs. Inadvertently my group (three hunters and one handler) had split from the main group. We had opportunity to engage  running pigs on foot - more spot and stalk, but being mindful of hounds still coursing the vicinity.
Erik caught the first glimpse of hog evading dogs. It was time to grab a rifle and pursue. No opportunity materialized, but it was a moment of high adventure.
I also spotted running game. I grabbed the Saiga and anticipated where the moving hog would emerge from the brush. No time to think, a narrow window in between palmettos, I raised my rifle only to have the stock tangle in my shirt (I told you it was cold, and polar tech is the worst material to wear when you need to make a quick shot!)... I freed the stock and took a snap shot, clean miss!
More hogs were heard to our right. We were on foot and in pursuit. The ground was sandy and it made running slow. I saw another opportunity as the guide pointed out a group of hogs... Six of them staring at me inside of 40 yards! I took a knee, raised my rifle only to realize that I could not shoot because of branches in the way of the barrel. I passed, but they were already gone.
It wasn't cold anymore after that. My blood was rushing and I couldn't wait anymore to get my shot.
After 6 hogs were brought in, the dogs continued to work. My hog would be the last one of the day.
Deep in a palmetto stand the dog was growling and barking and the hog was squealing. The handlers sprinted into the thick like it wasn't there. I knew I was going to use my knife. I kept it in the sheath until I reached the scene. It was too dangerous to navigate through the tangle with a six inch razor sharp knife at the ready. I reached the hog being held and subdued by dog and handler. I am instructed: "See that white spot under the leg? Put the knife there!"
It was surreal, the pig squealing and struggling, the handlers trying to keep the pig controlled and the dog trying to get in another shot!
"Do it... Do it NOW!"
I pressed the clip-point tip of the knife as if I were mentally loosing an arrow into the perfect spot. I wanted to be precise. I wanted it to efficient.
I was amazed at how easily and without resistance the blade penetrated. You can feel the resistance of cartilage and ribs.
"Good, now give it a Twist!"
The death stroke is to insert at a slight angle down and then lever up into the heart.
You hear the sucking chest wound now that you have pierced the lung.
The twist is like turning a doorknob. At that moment, the heart is completely severed. A gallon of blood spills like a burst water balloon.
The pig is stone dead in less than 15 seconds from when the knife found flesh.
This hog was dark and what hog hunters refer to as a Russian Boar. It closely resembles a true European Boar since it is usually all black with shades of brown, a pronounced razor back of fur along the spine and pointy snout with good symmetry in the tusks. Not a big tusker. The pig probably weighed 50 or 60 pounds. It would normally make a fine trophy (I think my wife is glad I passed on the trophy), but it will make an even finer meal since it is a young boar. I was more than satisfied. Fisrt knife hunt with dogs is a success!

"But what are you going to do with it?" says the idiot city dweller that prefers to be lied to by the "organic" supermarket chain.

There were no idiots in this group, but that was a subject of a few laughs.
After my hog was hoisted, we returned to the base of operation where they keep the vehicles and dogs. It was about 1:30 in the afternoon. Seven hunters, seven hogs brought to bag!
Chappy's will then skin and quarter the hogs. They do this fast and efficient. Bring a large cooler and you can fit two hogs for the larder.
I gave away my ribs and shoulders since I don't have the freezer space in my condo. No worries, I know I can always get a ham from one of the seven if need be.
I took the back straps, tenderloins and a ham.
After the 2.5 hour drive home, I cleaned and trimmed the ham and other cuts for freezing and marination.
I never made a pernil, so with a boar ham I decided to attempt another first. The recipe is easy and readily available at any online cooking site.
Possibly one of the best dishes I've ever made, and I am no slouch in the kitchen.
On deck I will be making a wild boar ragu with fettuccine...

If you want to do this hunt, plan ahead and think about how you are going to transport the meat. It is a meat-hunt in natures supermarket.

Thoughts on rifles and arms:
While the Saiga 7.62 has the right size for beating the brush, it definitely needs improved sights. I would suggest 1.5 power glass or even a Red-dot sight rather than relying on the battle sights. The AR-15 in a compact package would be an improvement. Step up to the 6.8 mm and you can deliver more mass on impact.
From the stand and on pursuit, I have to admit a side-by-side or quick action shotgun with a charge of buckshot would be a serious contender in the brush, without the dogs. I figured from forty yards in, the brush hunter would be able to down his quarry effectively.
Erik and I both agree that a lever gun in .45-70,  or grandpa's old .30-30 with a short barrel and optional sights would be optimal. I would also consider a synthetic stock version of bolt gun with short glass: a Remington Model Seven in .35 Rem, or a Ruger American up to .30-06. The Ruger Scout Rifle in .308 would be a great choice too...
Hand gunning: nothing less than .357 magnum is recommended by the outfitter. No reason why a quality 9mm or .38 spl in +P wouldn't do the trick. At times I thought I could take the 30 yard shot with my HK USP in .40...
Knives: I would suggest six inch blade length the minimum but be sure on blade thickness. The Buck 119 Special was perfect and I believe would be suited for slightly bigger hogs.
You won't face hogzilla or other anomalies.  The American feral hog is a small bodied cutting horse of the porcine world. They are quick and compact.
If you wish, America has a fine tradition of Bowie knives, or the Spanish Cuchillos de Jabali are contenders: see Muela or Joker for desired brands, they are nice looking too! Cold Steel makes a specialized knife, but after this experience, it really isn't necessary.

I May Need to Take Back

Everything I have said about Bridgegate.  Getting an attorney paid can be a problem to be sure.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

So What?

There's a nice New Jersey expression for you. It would be an interesting study to look for when it first emerged in common use. Brooklyn, I suspect, might lay a claim to to it, but they lay claim to everything. Regardless, to me, when this George Washington Bridge deal first emerged, revealing evidence that politicians were involved in inflicting petty petty inconveniences on their opponents earned a "so what?" "I mean, isn't that what they all do?"

So here we have a poll that finds 53% of registered voters in New Jersey believe "it’s unlikely that the Governor did not know about the closures on the heavily trafficked bridge in advance." At the same time, Christie's approval rating is at 48%, which is about where it was before Sandy. His approval rating has reached support.

I wouldn't expect a breakout any time soon.  Christie is going to need to go through a period of consolidation.  During this time, he is not going to reveal anything about his policy preferences.  During a blow, you put three reefs in the main, back the storm jib and heave to.  

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Imperfect Information

Chris Christie has shown us how a big boy takes responsibility for mistakes in his administration. His brand is now differentiated from the Democrat brand. Many have said this kerfuffle will disqualify Christie from success in running for President. I think he has done the best job possible in turning this whole situation into a positive.

If your opponent latches onto something that is too small to really make a difference, they look petty. A well coordinated attack, with accusations of serious harm resulting can, and in this case did, draw blood. The origin of this attack will probably remain known only to the insiders. However, sometimes you have Freudian slips, such as “But this is not gonna go away any time soon.”  At the end of the day, people will not see causing a traffic jam to be such a big deal.  JMHO.

Regardless, the Governor has starkly differentiated his brand. The question now is whether he has been effective in so doing. The proof of his success is now apparent. "You know, my biggest, you know, regret is what happened in Benghazi."

Imperfect information indeed.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Apple Schadenfreud

I had a hole in my pocket once. I forgot about it. I put my iPhone in it. It accelerated down my thigh, across my shin and hit my ankle like a ski jump. I thought protectors and cases were dumb, until they told me how much it would cost to replace the glass which was not covered under their service plan.

Now the Fifth Avenue Apple Store needs a new piece of glass. It gets better. The panel is 32 feet high. They will probably need union glaziers to do the work.


Hear it Coming

After a short dumped by the almost girlfriend and sick as a dog with the flu hiatus, I thought I would just post an update to my musings about pipelines and trains.

Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo. issued comments about the contents of emails between EPA staffers and activists in the environmental movement: "Despite the fact that Keystone XL has bipartisan support in Congress and from governors, environmental extremists inside and out of the administration are working behind closed doors to kill it." Horner has also said that EPA officials used private email accounts and back-channel communications.

This particular news item, I think, does not look at the pipeline issue as a part of an organic whole that includes regulation of oil transport by tank car.  Let's see if there will be any liability limitation considered in addition to the $200 million per rail accident occurrence limitation.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Big Potato

"It's just that we are already eating too many potatoes, especially as French fries, and the government shouldn't be giving out money to help people eat more potatoes," says Margo Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. And Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack listened well. The Agriculture Department wants to prevent participants in the federal Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program from buying white potatoes.

Members of Congress representing the roughly 40 potato-growing states, however, are fighting back. But several groups issued a statement that "to change the WIC food package because of pressure from the potato industry" could undermine the WIC program.  Congress should remain uninvolved.  Douglas Greenaway of the National WIC Association added that it's "unconscionable" for the potato industry to influence policy.

I am deeply offended that Tom Vilsack, Margo Wootan and Doug Greenway are denying my cultural patrimony where a million died in a genocide save for the murderous intent. I therefore call upon these politicians and lobbyists to end this invidious discrimination against the love of potatoes.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Thin Skinned Rail Cars.

Just a quick note this morning about rail safety.  I often latch on to stories and topics I know little about, but where a pattern is familiar.

In Con Artistas I observed how certain interests profited because rail shipment of crude was more expensive than regulatory restricted pipeline transport.  Later, in We Are Here to Help, I talked about Walter Peck and his excellent adventure to to North Dakota.  I also wondered how high up the the useful idiot food chain the response would go. Then in Profit in a Squeeze Play we saw Anthony Foxx, the United States Secretary of Transportation and Cynthia L. Quarterman, the Administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration on the job looking at those thin skinned tank cars.

Now here we have it!  Regulations that could force oil companies to use stronger rail cars to move crude likely will be ready in 2015, according to a schedule released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Transportation. the regulations will take months to develop.  Railway workers and companies have been among those calling for new regulations.  Those highest up regulators sure don't want to disappoint "rail workers" or "companies" now would they?  After all we want to spur economic growth and jobs.

Cue the lobbyists.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Pool of Cheese

“I’m sure there are some kinds of criminal or regulatory problems that would involve obstructing interstate commerce,” said Robert Del Tufo, now at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. “There might be possibilities of obstruction of justice because there were different stories told in the beginning and documents were withheld.”

Ok, ok.  Enough of the conspiracy and paranoia you say.  It just seems that Governor Christie is not part of the same Republican gang that swims in the same Skadden pool as Patrick Foye.  I'm am just going in the other direction as the conventional wisdom about Mr. Foye, the MSM courageous whistle blower.  The engineer of the story will stay in the shadows while the whistle blower gets a pass.

This hit against Christie was too well constructed for me to not marvel at it.  I will just keep wondering who put it together.  It just feels like the old guard Republicans to me.  

The Profit in a Squeeze Play

Here is a quick follow up on the evolving crisis with transportation of Bakken crude, which it now seems may not be crude oil at all. On January 2, 2014, Pipeline And Hazardous Materials Safety Administration within the United States Department of Transportation issued issued a safety alert warning that Bakken crude oil may be more flammable than traditional heavy crude oil.

"We need to manage the growth,” said U.S. Senator John Hoeven, a Republican of North Dakota, in a telephone interview on January 7, 2014. In a bipartisan effort to do just that, Senator Hoeven and his fellow North Dakota senator, Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat, met with Anthony Foxx, the United States Secretary of Transportation and Cynthia L. Quarterman, the Administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. “Today we put pressure on D.O.T. and P.H.M.S.A. to step up and move forward with safety provisions, which have not been handled with the necessary urgency,” Senator Heitkamp said.

In recent months, the AAR has been calling on the U.S. Department of Transportation to improve federal tank car regulations. Fortunately for BNSF, the rail company that owned the crude tankers involved in the December 30, 2013 Castleton North Dakota derailment and fire, it serves as Full Member of the AAR. AAR President and Chief Executive Officer Edward R. Hamberger says the time has come to take a closer look at the tank cars moving crude oil in the U.S. The regulations, it seems, focus upon a crash worthiness defect in the majority of tank cars consisting of thin metal skin that has a high incidence of rupturing when involved in accidents and derailments.  The railroads do not own the rail cars, making the financial burden of the rule changes fall upon only rail car owners.

This is good news for tank car manufacturing concerns owned by, among others, Warrren Buffet, who stated on May 12, 2013 that he supported Obama 100%. Which brings me full circle to the glaring point to the Con Artistas and We Are Here to Help posts: It costs $6 per barrel to ship oil by pipeline from North Dakota to Cushing, Oklahoma and $12 per barrel to ship that same oil by rail.

In the meantime, the Keystone pipeline has moved forward in only some areas, while “What they have failed to do is to allow us to bring that additional supply from the north [Bakken] to the storage facility to Cushing.”

So here we can clearly see, there is profit in safety, as long as the traffic is not in Ft. Lee.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

You Caught Me in the Squeeze Play on the Cheesy Side of Town

I called this story about lane closures in Ft. Lee a hit piece when it first came out. I still think it is, maybe because I am jaded from being in New Jersey for so long. I remember campaigning myself, door to door. One lady answered the door. I explained to her that I was running for local office because our former Mayor had been found guilty of bribery and extortion in a Christie prosecution.  She paused and looked at me. Then she said, "So what?" She must have seen my jaw drop, because then she said, "I mean, isn't that what they all do?"  Later I looked at my voting record sheet, to see that this one had recently moved to my area from Hudson County. Maybe she was even more jaded then than I am now.

So our Juanita, Bridget Kelly, punished Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for not endorsing Christie for Governor, when Sokolich doesn't remember having been asked for his endorsement, and when Gov. Christie does not remember anyone on his staff telling him to ask for it. Something doesn't add up.

What interests me is a piece today quoting Tom Kean Sr. complementing the political skills of the Governor, but on the back hand he said, “[Y]ou look at these other qualities and ask, do you really want that in your president?” Former Governor Kean, our Spot Check Billy in this yarn, also observed, “If you come at him, he’s going to come back at you harder.”

Has everybody forgotten that back in November, Despite opposition from Christie, Tom Kean Jr. wins fourth term as N.J. Senate Minority Leader?  Hey, "All I want in this life and time is some hit and run!"  I mean, I'm just asking here. I'm not implying anything.


Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Chairman and Christie appointee David Samson has pointed to Patrick J. Foye, Executive Director of the Port Authority as the source of the initial leak of this story. Mr. Foye was a mergers and acquisitions partner at Skadden Arps. Tom Kean currently serves as chairman of the board of Carnegie Corporation of New York, a post formerly held by Helene L. Kaplan of Scadden Arps. Mr. Foye was once a member of the Conservative Party and a Republican donor, who was brought into the Empire State Development Corporation by Elliot Spitzer, an acquaintance from his days at Skadden Arps. In the 1990's, Foye, working closely with former U.S. Senator Alfonse D'Amato, helped put together the takeover of the Long Island Lighting Company, or LILCO, by the Long Island Power Authority, aspects of which were litigated by Skadden Arps.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Taking Responsibility, Pt. II

There is an interesting little hit piece out there today, where a Governor Christie’s deputy chief of staff for legislative and intergovernmental affairs, Bridget Anne Kelly wrote an email to Port Authority official David Wildstein, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”  I guess taking responsibility may not be enough.

My Google search results show the story popping up three hours ago simultaneously at Slate, PolitickerNJ, TalkingPoints Memo, DailyKos and the NY Times.

I question the timing.

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The Governor issued a statement soon enough in the day for the television news editors to have to rewrite their copy. Skillful compression of the news cycle by the fat man:

“What I've seen today for the first time is unacceptable. I am outraged and deeply saddened to learn that not only was I misled by a member of my staff, but this completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge. One thing is clear: this type of behavior is unacceptable and I will not tolerate it because the people of New Jersey deserve better. This behavior is not representative of me or my Administration in any way, and people will be held responsible for their actions.”

Next step in the playbook, the Governor is angry but no stranger to garish controversies ...

“‘If I believe I am being gamed...'"

This administration is a source of constant amazement for me. But as the RFNJ readers know, not in a good way. There are times when, at least to me, the character of our leaders shines through. Long before Mr. Snowden told us, "They even keep track of who is having an affair or looking at pornography, in case they need to damage their target's reputation" and long before Titans of Tech wrote an open letter that resulted in a closed meeting, it just seemed to add up for me:

Somebody somewhere got the goods on General Petraeus. A search algorithm for a man having an affair has got to be easy pickins for information dealers. But I see a pattern here. Jeremiah Wright threatened in 2008 to go on a public campaign that may have damaged the Obama campaign. Then came Elizabeth Payne, and Wright was silent.


Robert Gates has now put some context to the relationship between General Patraeus and POTUS:

I thought implicitly accusing [Petraeus and other generals] of gaming him in front of thirty people in the Situation Room was inappropriate, not to mention highly disrespectful of Petraeus. As I sat there, I thought: the president doesn’t trust his commander, can’t stand [Afghanistan President Hamid] Karzai, doesn’t believe in his own strategy, and doesn’t consider the war to be his. For him, it’s all about getting out.

Our Titans of Tech know what the little girls, probably their biggest consumers and greatest growth demographic, understand. So Apple, for one, put distance between its products and parental controls centered in Washington: Apple has never worked with the NSA to create a backdoor in any of our products, including iPhone.  A midnight creep for your private information is just gross.  We at RFNJ know who visits at midnight.

Barak Obama is you Backdoor Man.  

Monday, January 6, 2014

Global Warming Scientests Still Stuck in Ice

The Russian research ship Akademik Shokalskiy became stuck near Commonwealth Bay on Christmas Eve.

During a rescue attempt, the Chinese icebreaker Snow Dragon (Xue Long) found itself stuck as well. I especially liked the part of the rescue attempt where the passengers, who were enjoying a rip snorting time probably with Russian vodka, were helicoptered to the Chinese vessel, with their luggage.

Now, the Russians an the Chinese can move aside and let the big boys do their work. A powerful US icebreaker, The Polar Star, able to continuously break ice up to 1.8 metres [sic] while travelling at three knots and can break ice over six metres [sic] thick is on the way.