Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Illinois State Rifle Association Press Release

ISRA-PVF Press Release:
Chicago Mayor Daley's Call for Gun Ban is Insensitive and Misplaced

CHICAGO, Oct 28, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- The following was released today by the ISRA Political Victory Fund (ISRA-PVF):

The ISRA-PVF finds it disappointing, but not unexpected, that Chicago Mayor Richard Daley has once again exploited tragedy in an attempt to boost his gun control agenda. Commenting on the Hudson murder case during a Tuesday press briefing, Daley called for a total ban on civilian firearm ownership as a means of preventing such events from happening in the future. A closer examination of the facts shows that Daley's suggested solution to violent crime sorely misses the mark.

The alleged perpetrator of the triple-murder has a well established history as a trouble maker. At the time of the murders, the suspect in the case was out on parole for earlier convictions for carjacking and attempted murder. Published reports indicate that the alleged perpetrator was arrested in June of 2008 for drug possession. Amazingly, he was not sent back to prison for parole violation. Had he been locked back up, he would not have been able to commit the triple murder for which he is now being held.

"This case fits an all too familiar pattern," commented ISRA-PVF spokesman Richard Pearson. "According to the Chicago Police Department's analysis of murders in the city, nearly 90% of murderers have previous criminal records. The same report also indicates that about 75% of murder victims have previous records as well. This situation is exactly what one would expect when a broken justice system releases dangerous criminals into our communities. This is exactly what happened in the Hudson murder case. Unfortunately, Mayor Daley just doesn't get it. Instead of focusing on a solution to the real problem of recidivism, Daley diverts his unproductive rage towards law-abiding firearm owners."

"The total mishandling of the Chicago crime problem by Mayor Daley and Cook County State's Attorney Dick Devine is yet another reason that the ISRA-PVF has endorsed the candidacy of Tony Peraica for Cook County State's Attorney," continued Pearson. "Tony has both the drive and desire to get to the root of the county's violent crime epidemic. Tony understands that his job as State's Attorney would be to manage a prosecutor's office, not to cultivate a patronage organization. We're calling on all lawful firearm owners in Cook County to support Tony Peraica on November 4th."

The ISRA-PVF is a political action committee affiliated with the Illinois State Rifle Association. A copy of our report is available for a fee from the Illinois State Board of Elections, Springfield, Illinois.




Monday, October 27, 2008

Wilson Combat CQB


Many gun owners fancy themselves as gun experts, or expert on certain types and / or models. I enjoy occasional recreational shooting and have a modest size, eclectic collection of guns. I am a gun enthusiast; I am not a gun expert by any measure. I am not a special tactics operator, and I do not shoot competitively. When true experts get together to talk, I listen, and if I get the chance I watch their shooting techniques. On the web, just as in the gun stores, there is plenty of fog blowing around from posers and it does not take long to figure out who is spewing fantasies, especially about the
Colt Model of 1911.

Visit the
Sight M1911A1 website if you want to start learning about the .45 ACP M1911A1. Forums such as The 1911 Forum have the participation of some experts; unavoidably, there is also some unstinting devotional fog coming for those eager to fit in with the major players. For me, I find it best at most online gun forums to just to lurk and learn.

After years of shooting, and after reading more magazine articles than I ever want to admit, I was never happy with a box-stock M1911A1 until after I bought my
Wilson Combat CQB. Only after buying and shooting that wonderfully well-tuned, top line pistol with its perfect trigger did I begin to really appreciate and enjoy shooting my old stock government-model pistols. Some may take it as an apostasy, but I am just as happy with my Series 80 Colt 1991A1 as I am with my Wilson. That by no means is a slap at Bill Wilson’s guns, they are top tier, I can highly recommend them, but they are much nicer than what I need. I do not regret buying the CQB, I have enjoyed shooting it for the years that I have owned it, but I doubt that I will be buying another high-end pistol from Wilson’s, Nighthawk Custom, Les Baer, Bill Laughridge, or anyone else. Some shooters do not need perfect pistols; we just need them to be safe, reliable, reasonably accurate, and affordable. If you find you do need the best, or find that you simply lust after the best, you can find pistols built to whatever standards your wallet can bear; go for it.

Yeah, I am human and I do parade the CQB in front of any gunman I want to impress, but for some reason this aging enthusiast shoots better with a second hand mil-spec Springfield Armory M1911A1 than I do with anything else.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Entry for October 25, 2008


It has been over seven weeks since my last smoke. Cigars are friends that always lead my still ambulatory carcass to further degradation. I prefer to smoke cigars as an indulgence rather than as an addiction, the latter being the reason I usually light up. Smoking because of addiction brings no fulfillment; as an indulgence, few things are as satisfying as smoking a cigar after several weeks of abstinence, particularly on a cool, wholly depressing autumn evening while listening to pale whispers from the past and the hollow promises from the future. During cogitation, a cigar with quality bourbon occasionally can help reveal egress from the world of shadows.

I need to shun cigars and bourbon for a while longer, at least until after I am done with my semi-routine physical checkup. Once finished with deceiving my doctor and myself, I almost certainly will restock the humidor and wipe the dust from another bottle. Then I will smoke and drink until my lungs cry for mercy and the chest pains again become worrisome. When the smoke and drink no longer bring comfort or divine adventure, it will be time for another period of healing.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Black Man With a Gun

Primary elections had limited purpose years ago when the backrooms of the political conventions actually decided the presidential candidates. Primary elections now confound the power brokers of the major parties. John McCain was the choice of those who voted in the Republican primaries and not the choice of the leaders of the Republican Party. His record on gun rights has been fuzzy, so he was not the top choice of many gun owners. Republican Party leaders need to ask themselves why voters chose John McCain over everyone else. To me the answer is simple, McCain is a moderate, and many conservative Americans are extremely uncomfortable with the far right wing of the Republican Party. Many voters who once called themselves Republicans now call themselves Independents. If the Republican Party wants to continue holding certain hard conservative lines, such as advocating for a largely unregulated financial industry, then they can expect to lose more voters. The Republican Party also is going to have to deal with the fact that many Americans feel it is the “white male” party, that the minorities and women are only token commodities. The Republican Party needs more minorities and more women. The Republican Party is doing a lousy job selling itself, and I feel they often take the support of their followers for granted.

Pro-gun organizations also need to do a better job selling themselves to minorities and women. Many elected Democrats are pro-gun; gun owners need to quit alienating friends and potential friends by slandering Democrats as a whole. I believe it very likely that during this election many gun owners will be voting for Obama for reasons they believe are more important than their right to keep and bear arms. If, by some miracle, the leaders of the Democrats today suddenly became pro-RKBA I believe the Republican Party would lose this election by a landslide. The Republican Party does not make it easy for gun-owners to vote with one voice.

I hope that I am utterly wrong in believing that this election year is going to be very bad for gun owners. Many people who call themselves Democrats don’t like guns and they don’t like the “in your face” attitude of gun-owners pontificating about their “rights.” Those who vote are those who decide “rights,” so don’t ever believe The Constitution of the USA cannot be changed. Gun owners need to win the hearts and souls of the Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. People cannot be sold on gun ownership if gun owners are daring them to “pry my gun from my cold dead hands.” If gun owners someday become the minority, there will be constitutional changes to our rights. We need to win friends and not make new enemies.

Black Man With a Gun is a very interesting pro-gun website. Kenneth Blanchard does a great job presenting the right to keep and bear arms from the perspective of a minority. I have no idea how the man will vote in November, but I do know he is a friend to gun owners and has changed the minds of many people.

James A. Zachary Jr.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

SKS Carbine



The SKS carbine is a well-designed, well-built, utility grade firearm once imported from China in such bulk that you could purchase a “new in box” item for just a bit over $100. Our government decided that too many citizens were arming themselves at bargain prices, so they banned SKS imports from China in 1994; another shining slice of Bill Clinton’s legacy of gun control silliness. The SKS is more akin to our WWII / Korean War era M1 Garand than it is to any modern military assault rifle.

The Chinese Norinco SKS pictured above was part of my collection for a few years, but was sold since there was no place nearby to have real fun with it, and because the gun-safe was too crowded.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

SIG-239



Most of my readily available home defense guns are .38 caliber revolvers, but three semi-automatic pistols also are on my top tier; the largest of those pistols is the compact
Sig-239 9MM with Siglite night sights.

If I need to tuck it into my waistband, a
Don Hume H715 clip holster is my choice. If I choose open carry, or semi-open carry with a shirttail or jacket hiding the gun, I use a Fobus Evolution paddle holster. Both holsters are very fast to put on and take off.

For personal defense, the 115-grain Federal 9BPLE +P+ load is my first choice for 9MM pistols, followed by the 124-grain +P Speer Gold Dot. I have enough of both to last the rest of my natural life.

The Sig-239 and the Glock-26 are as small as I care to go with a 9MM pistol, and they would be as large as I personally would choose for concealed carry if it were legal to do so in Illinois. I own both, and only marginally prefer the Sig to the Glock.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

I VOTED TODAY!


I VOTED TODAY! Yep, I am now finished with election year 2008. WOO HOO! Wake me when they announce the results, I have grown weary of it all. I have done my duty.

Not all states have “no excuses”
early voting. I believe this is the first year for Illinois; it is the first year that I it noticed anyway. I never used the old absentee ballot method; up until today, I always voted on the traditional Election Day. After receiving the notification a couple of days ago that the early voting polls would be open from October 13 to 30 I decided to give it a go.

My usually polling place had a larger crowd today than I have ever witnessed on any traditional Election Day. At a glance, I would say that voters LOVE early voting and are really into this election year.

Some people and organizations object to early voting and my guess is their objections are out of fear that it favors the “other party.” IMHO, early voting is long overdue, that having only one day to vote is unfair and inconvenient.

We now need a failsafe way to vote from home using the internet.

If you should find the need, I am available as a write-in candidate for the high office; I am pro-gun, pronouns, and on probation.


James A. Zachary Jr.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Entry for October 15, 2008

Rambling notes:

The GMC van passed emissions inspection yesterday morning. Next inspection is two years from now; by then the major-purchase fund may contain enough money to pay for a new vehicle.

Gasoline is $2.95 per gallon at a few of the Waukegan, Illinois gas stations. My opinion is that high fuel prices contributed as much to breaking our economy as anything else. Our government must NEVER again let a speculative oil bubble get out of control.

I am seeing some anecdotal signs of a touch of economic recovery. During the peak of the fuel price bubble, highways were eerily light on traffic except during rush hours. Even rush hours had noticeably lighter traffic than in earlier years. Now traffic-jams grab me before and after rush hours.

Mall parking lots are filling up quite well, surprisingly so. There are some real bargains out there and people are finding ways to pay for them. I don’t believe the holiday shopping numbers will be high, but my guess is the stores will sell more than the experts believe.

Loans are available, but expect to verify every detail on your application and expect to pay some hefty down payments. It is a return to the old-days; you cannot get a loan if it looks like you cannot repay it, silly concept that it is. Credit Unions are doing quite nicely, I highly recommend belonging to one, they are often more accommodating than are banks.

My humble opinion is that we are very near the bottom of the housing crash, although we may bump along that bottom for a while. I see no for-sale signs in my neighborhood and very few elsewhere. People that own homes are now unwilling to sell them at these deflated prices. Once the foreclosures clear from the market (with luck, many folks will get some help refinancing), I believe there will be a very slow, very gradual but sustained uptrend in the market.

I’m not excited about the recent big stock market rally, and I am not excited about the subsequent big market dive either.


Monday, October 13, 2008

1901 Winchester 10 Gauge




It was a neat old gun, but I really had no use for it. The 1901 Winchester 10 Gauge lever action shotgun pictured above was only in my collection for a short while. Lightly used for such an old gun, it even came with a small supply of the obsolete 2 5/8’’ 10 gauge shells. After a while, I realized that the purchase was strictly a regrettable whim, and I recovered my total investment when I sold it; sometimes it is nicer to have the money than the gun. Guns like that do grow in value over time if well cared for and rarely used, but if I own it, I want to be able to shoot it.



Saturday, October 11, 2008

Dumb Luck Investing Update

Here is the bear market tally sheet.

From the bull market highs:
DOW down 40.3%
S&P-500 down 42.5%
My portfolio is now down 16.5%

On September 4, my portfolio was sitting at 45% equities, 55% cash.

As of Thursday, October 9, the crashing markets had withered my equities down to 36% of the total portfolio value, which put the cash portion at 64%.

On Friday, October 10, I moved some cash over to the equities, changing the allocation back to 45% equities, 55% cash.

Yes, my overall losses are now large enough to give me chest pains, but I’d rather be in the market than out of it, and down 16.5% rather than 42.5%. I’m sticking to my investment plan, still adhering to my personal rules and trading limits. My system will never make me rich; the design is to achieve modestly high returns on the upside and keep me from the poorhouse when the markets catch Federal Reserve resistant venereal disease. Most investors are their own worst enemy, and my system helps protect me from me. Nothing can protect us from our government, or criminals on Wall Street.

If the markets continue to crawl or freefall ever lower, I am in a position to do more buying. Am I prepared to go 100% equities? The fastest that my personal rules allow me to move the amount of remaining cash to equities would be in increments over the next 5 months. We shall see.

James A. Zachary Jr.



Friday, October 10, 2008

Have we hit bottom?


Seeing a stock market bottom is more hindsight than foresight. We will not know for sure that we reached rock bottom until the market has tested it and left it far behind.

Traditionally, October can be a wild month during a bad market because October 31 is the end of the fiscal year for many mutual funds; fund managers dump losing stocks as tax-losses then look to buy anything that can act as portfolio window dressing.

This crisis is international, so foreign investors also are cashing out of the American markets. Many Americans just received their quarterly 401K statements; they puked and entered sell orders. People are selling simply because everyone else is selling.

Eventually this bear market bubble will burst and then sanity will return until the next bubble forms. For better or worse, at the end of the worst week in stock market history, with 45 minutes left in Friday's trading session, I put in my October BUY orders.


Shut up, George!

Today we again heard from The Burning Bush

George W. Bush is a contrary indicator. Whenever he speaks positively, the stock markets make huge negative moves. Everyone doubts his honesty and his competence. The best thing for old George to say is that the markets are heading to hell and everyone should sell. We instantly would move to a roaring bull market.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Entry for October 08, 2008

Well, so much for hoping that the 1999 GMC Safari Van would make it another year or more without major repairs. The starter decided to drop dead. I have changed starters before, but it isn’t in the cards for me to do this one; the van was towed in for repairs.

We have all heard someone say that an old vehicle was “nickel and diming” them to death, that buying a new car was cheaper than fixing the old one. I have trouble making the numbers work for that statement. To move up into a world of no repairs, I would need to spend no less than $25,000 for a vehicle that would suit my needs. Assume that I got a $25,000 loan at 0% interest for five years. I would be paying $5,000 per year, and the most I can recall spending in one year to repair an old vehicle is $2,500, usually much less. If I had spent $2,500 each year on my old van it would be a low-riding channeled and chopped showpiece by now, with custom spider-web paint, spinning-hub wheels, fuzzy dingle-balls hanging from the rearview mirror, dash mounted Uzi, etc. I think most of the urgency people feel to replace an old vehicle isn’t the cost of the repairs, but the frequency and unpredictability of the breakdowns. Breakdowns are always stressful and inconvenient. Paying the premium for buying a new or newer vehicle does buy some peace of mind.

The most miles I ever put on any vehicle was over 250,000 miles on my 1990 Chevy S10 pickup truck. The body rotted away to the point it was no longer safe, and the engine was so badly worn out it used a quart of oil every week. Yeah, it was time to say goodbye to that one. I’ll stick with the old van for a little longer, even though I feel it has betrayed me.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Entry for October 07, 2008

We had some rain today, and a power failure that lasted a couple of hours during the early evening. As soon as the sump pit was full, I decided I had waited long enough so I ran some extension cords into the basement to run the sump pump from the gasoline-powered generator. As soon as I had the sump pump running off the auxiliary-power, the utility company restored our main power. It works that way almost every time.

Recently, Syd in Kentucky was out of power for six days. As soon as he paid $800 for an emergency generator and got it home … you can guess the rest.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Where are your energy experts now?


Earlier this year, energy experts were jumping in front of microphones to declare that gasoline prices would rise to the range of $5.50 - $6.00 per gallon during this year.
On May 20, on a CNBC morning show, one expert declared that gasoline would rise to the $12 - $15 per gallon range. Educated at the finest schools, employed by big-name corporations, paid unholy sums of money for their knowledge, these experts all waited in line for their chance to dance in national forums and warn of ever-increasing gasoline prices.

On June 10, a lone voice came from out of the wilderness; only one humble soul had the courage and genius to publicly go against the experts and dare to suggest that gasoline prices would drop to $3.50 per gallon range by November 1. Of course, our hero was right; here it is, Oct 4 and the national price of Gasoline is down to $3.63 per gallon and trending lower, while here in Waukegan, IL the major brand price is already down to $3.51 per gallon, and $3.41 at the cut-rate stations.

Our hero patiently awaits his awards; he does prefer cash.

James A. Zachary Jr.

Friday, October 3, 2008

BAILOUT!



The fatheads in Washington passed the BAILOUT bill today. Somehow, the press was coerced into renaming it the “financial rescue plan,” in lockstep with the politicians. Rescue plan my ass; it was a damn BAILOUT for a big bunch of screwed up institutions. It does not do a damn thing for you or me. There was a GLARING lack of legislation in the BAILOUT to eliminate sub-prime loans and credit swaps. Instead of paying for a tanker load of water, politicians chose to put out a fire by throwing paper money at it. Nice job, morons.

Congress passed a funding bill for
Amtrak on October 1. Amtrak is now a popular “idea” since it moves more people for less fossil fuel than do cars, and ridership sharply increased when the price of gasoline was at its peak. Senator Obama voted for the bill, Senator McCain voted against it. Jeez, McCain, can you give me one freaking reason I should vote for you? Your “pro-gun” record is hardly sterling, and now you stand out as “anti-Amtrak.” I am an independent voter that is on the conservative side. I cannot find a party to identify with; too many Republicans are far to the right of the Taliban, and too many Democrats are far to the left of Lenin. Amtrak is but a drop in Washington’s red inkwell, and Amtrak provides super service, a service vital to our economy, and vital to homeland security. REPUBLICANS, CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW? AMTRAK IS A GOOD THING!

Ah well, onto matters more mundane. Have you ever wondered why some people don’t retire when they get the chance, or why many of those who do retire run back to the workforce in very short order? Quite simply, a job is an excuse to keep people from doing those endless household chores they have put off for so many years. After putting in a sixty-hour workweek cleaning the garage and painting exterior house trim, you are nowhere near being finished and nobody is handing you a paycheck for your efforts. Still, I’d rather be here than there, doing this rather than doing that. The weather has been great this fall, most days perfect for outside work.

Thinking ahead to winter, my Toro snow blower has had ten years of heavy use, so I am watching the sales for an opportunity to pick up a new one, something a little wider and with a bit more horsepower. I doubt global warming will be enough to keep my driveway clear this winter.

Thanks for stopping by.

James A. Zachary Jr.