DRONES. What The Hell Are They. A Primer.

The Fourth Amendment: (<<link: nice Library of Congress site)        The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

COST:   $12,548,710.60 per Drone



By now “Drone Strike” is as much in common usage as the daily weather report. And like Mark Twain said,  Everybody talks about it but nobody does anything Either in direct story content, or direct target, or the CIA operative, or President Obama’s affection for it, or the Drone Kill List, or the Benghazi soldier hoping for one to keep them alive, or northwest hunters shooting them out of the sky, the DRONE is suddenly a part of America’s daily life. Did anybody vote on this? Did I miss the memo from my senator? Is anything being done? Who the hell is up to what. Where’s the money coming from?

America knows DRONES.  Except we don’t. How come they’re standard military equipment all of a sudden. Weren’t we all just talking about ‘boots on the ground’ and troop increases and battleship movements? And today, the DOJ says using Drones to kill Americans, who may be a threat with some sketchy figuring, is, constitutionally, okey-dokey.

The concern over American turf surveillance, prettily called Civilian Drones, worried a couple of states enough to produce some stunningly swift legislation this week, both parties, to keep their state’s skies Drone Free or restricted: 

Montana, California, Oregon, Texas, Nebraska, Missouri, North Dakota, Florida, Virginia, Maine, Oklahoma.

Include the unlikely bedfellows the ACLU and the Tea Party allied in that mix. For some reason things flying overhead and collecting data on our daily lives, are causing a huge political stir. Which the really penetrating surveillance of Google never did. How come on that. Or was Google the cartographer. And the country can be falling off a cliff for a year but in a week states are making decisive laws protecting their overhead, while on the Federal level they haven’t produced a budget in five years. Gee whiz. Oh by the way, according to Time Magazine (DronesNov. 06, 2012)   $12,548,710.60— the cost, per drone, of 10 MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft the Air Force announced Monday that it is buying. Ten = $125,487,106.00. That was the day before the election, three months ago.

 Drones are getting cheaper and smaller by the minute. Law Enforcement agencies are liking them for searching out suspects, searching out in rescues, and searching out natural disaster details. Whole lot of searchin goin on. And accumulating data on civilians who never committed a crime.

Eleven States Take Steps to Restrict Drone Flyovers

“Our founders had no conception of things that would fly over them at night and peer into their backyards and send signals back to a home base.” (Sen. A. Donald McEachin, Democrat, sponsor of the Virginia Senate bill.) 

They will not be allowed in the hands of private citizens, not equipped with weapons, nor owned by local & state governments either, said Montana’s Senate on Tuesday. But state agencies can cooperate with federal investigators, and the ACLU says states can’t stop the feds, not agencies or border patrols. And added, “The use of drones across the country has become a great threat to our personal privacy. The door is wide open for intrusions into our personal private space.” (ACLU of Montana policy director Niki Zupanic).

Eleven States Take Steps to Restrict Drone Flyovers

There is a stunning plethora of info on Drones most of which answer questions you weren’t looking for and leave out the huge void, that Presidential Fireside Chat that should have come four years or ten or twenty years ago. How easy to forget we hired our politicians who are supposed to write us letters or go on radio or TV and ask:

“Yo! Would you like this for our country? How would you like me to vote, my dear electorate?”

before they go off doing things in total secrecy and we find out because somebody in Yemen gets hit by something somebody in power here okayed before we knew they existed, and an Ambassador and three other Americans in a land faraway didn’t get the Drone they were waiting for. Helluva way to run a country.


1915 –  Nikola Tesla dreamed them.  

1935 – Actor Reginald Denny develos first Remote Piloted Vehicle   

WWII – US, Allies, Nazis developed 

1955 – US Navy                                                    Vietnam – beginning of tomorrow.

The following is from Wikipedia so who knows, more intrigue but it’s a start……………..

Ryan Firebee was a series of early target drones/unmanned aerial vehicles.

The earliest attempt at a powered unmanned aerial vehicle was A. M. Low‘s “Aerial Target” of 1916.[3] Nikola Tesla described a fleet of unmanned aerial combat vehicles in 1915.[4] A number of remote-controlled airplane advances followed, including the Hewitt-Sperry Automatic Airplane, during and after World War I, including the first scale RPV (Remote Piloted Vehicle), developed by the film star and model airplane enthusiast Reginald Denny in 1935.[3] More were made in the technology rush during World War II; these were used both to train antiaircraft gunners and to fly attack missions. Nazi Germany also produced and used various UAV aircraft during the course of WWII. Jet engines were applied after World War II, in such types as the Teledyne Ryan Firebee I of 1951, while companies like Beechcraft also got in the game with their Model 1001 for the United States Navy in 1955.[3] Nevertheless, they were little more than remote-controlled airplanes until the Vietnam Era.

I’ll keep looking. You too, pay attention. It may be coming to a state capital near you, up for a vote. The debate continues over the right of citizens to shoot down Drones over their back gardens. I’ll put the Fourth Amendment in a second time for good measure:                   

“The Fourth Amendment  The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Andy Rooney & My Culottes. RIP, You Sweetheart

Andy Rooney, everybody’s favorite curmudgeon and sardonic wit died yesterday at the impossibly young age of 92. If anybody should live into their mid-hundreds, he was the guy.

The first time I met Andy Rooney was 1980, in the basement of the old CBS Broadcast Center on West 57th. There used to be little candy, cigar, cigarette and newspaper stand on the bottom floor, and the raised up chair where customers sat for the shoe-shine man who worked miracles on leather. The building had once been a dairy including cows. It still had metal ramps, concrete floors…an industrial kind of interior that made a lot of noise. In fact in Murrow’s day, they’d develop their 35mm negatives in the left-behind water troughs. But back to Mr. Rooney. We bumped into each other, literally.

Andy was a perpetual motion whirlwind. A kind of combination of Alice’s White Rabbit, Davy Crockett, and Benjamin Franklin, who knew so much, who knew how to make the complex simple. Looking like a one man band, his arms were overfull, files and folders were caught tight under his elbows, an umbrella dangled from his wrist, suit pockets were jammed with lumpy recording devices, odd wires hanging out. Andy was always loaded for bear and mischief, eyes electric with the joy of life. His camera crews were the same, jockeying for position, trying to hold onto all kinds of equipment and keep track of the boss.

I used to wear a lot of odd stuff, even at CBS where I shared the elevators and halls and lunchroom with Diane Sawyer and Barbara Walters, Captain Kangaroo, Walter Cronkite, Bill Moyers…all groomed to the teeth for on-camera.

That particular day, I was wearing a favorite pair of light gray velour culottes, maybe a black sweater, definitely tights, and my favorite ankle high, high heeled cowboy boots. I was buying a pack of Camels at the little kiosk and Andy comes roaring down the staircase with a crew and the usual hubbub. He stopped smack in front of me, and looked me up and down with only the kind of wonder a guy confronted by his first view of culottes might possess; then with his bright blue all Irish delightfully twinkled eyes: “Say, wait a minute. I like your…pants! Who are you?” And I said, “Well I’m not much here yet, but you’re Andy Rooney and I adore you. The pants are culottes.” “Nice!!”, says Andy, good and loud.

Andy had his famous, much photographed office down there somewhere I think. We’d run into each other and he’d say, “Hey! I’m starting in on (something), know anything about it?” or, Who’s running the (whatever) these days, or how about… an improbable NYC related traffic jam, pot hole, or civic stupidity, He engaged everybody with his curiosity and enthusiasm.

When I started at CBS, the average age was 26 years old and the news division was partial to pretty girls and Harvard boys. They didn’t think much of Andy. He was considered rough around the edges, outspoken, never politically correct, and determined not to be caught up in the finesse that was everybody else’s bread and butter. He’d get scolded and fired and suspended by annoying the big boys. But the ratings dropped without him, and he had more fans around the world than any of them, except maybe Kurault, cut from the same fine cloth.

So I’m reading these dreamy CBS obits by guys who couldn’t hold a patch on Andy Rooney, and most likely wished he’d gone far away sooner, anywhere. They rarely cut him any slack, made him feel like an outsider and outright didn’t like him. But he spoke a lot of truth and did it brilliantly, and the public who tuned him in would get to the end of Andy Rooney’s stories wishing that channel and all the others had more decent people like him. Straight-shooters.

He was a splendid original. Bucking the system all the way and making it work for him. Like Mark Twain, these men get carried on the shoulders of a grateful public who love them for their humanity, and humor, and kindness, and truth. Even righteous anger. And darn it anyway, a willingness to get sidetracked by an odd garment that delighted his fancy. So very Rooney.