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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

ISIL and the American Mood Change

A commentary from Cumberland Advisors
In the wake of the beheading of Steven Foley and the subsequent admission of Hamas that they kidnapped and murdered the three Israeli teenagers, headlines abound about the risk posed by radical Islam. The Western world has witnessed murder and massacre in this gruesome form.
Reaction worldwide is mixed but is more galvanized in America. The video of American journalist Brigitte Gabriel’s intense answer to a question posed at a panel discussion at the Heritage Foundation is capturing an American mood. We expect politicians be observant of this mood change. We further expect that will translate into action.  In the Obama White house it already is changing the policy.
A dramatic headline was in the weekend edition of USA Today. It appeared across the entire front page: “How dangerous is Islamic State?” The subtitle was “Returning Western militants pose threat to homeland.”

Saturday, August 23, 2014

An Open Letter To Missouri Governor Nixon from Oath Keepers

The above photo represents an assault on the Bill of Rights

"There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights.

- Marine General Smedley Butler - Two-time recipient of the Medal of Honor.
  

Governor Nixon:

The events in Ferguson have shown us daily that the looting and violence by a few is not being stopped, while the right of the people to peaceably assemble and petition government for redress of grievances is not being respected. The current riot control tactics of the local police, rooted in outmoded techniques developed in the 1950's - and only made worse by the ongoing militarization of our police - are failing the people of Ferguson, giving them a false choice between rampant looting on the one hand, and hyper-militarized police and curfews on the other (which also fail to stop the looting, leaving the mistaken impression among many of the American people that even more militarization and curtailment of free speech and assembly is needed).  Our local boots on the ground, made up of retired police officers, military veterans, and intelligence workers (with critical input from current serving Missouri police officers) have answers that could provide the people of Ferguson the relief they need and deserve while respecting their rights.   It is time to change a losing game.

The militarized police response we saw in Ferguson did not work.  All it did was violate the rights of peaceful protesters and media, alienate the community, and make our country look even more like a police state, with big, intimidating displays of heavily armed, militarized officers, in full "battle-rattle" and backed by BearCat type armored vehicles, firing CS gas and rubber bullets into peaceful protesters and even at media personnel, while failing to stop those relative few who were actually looting, throwing Molotov cocktails, and shooting.

The police focus on peaceful protesters, with lines of policemen equipped in riot gear, in fundamentally static positions - at best, slow, plodding, on-line advances - are easily thwarted by modern looters and thugs with cell phones and team work.  Such outdated tactics fail to apprehend those actually looting and shooting.

What they do succeed in doing is alienating the local population while risking additional shooting incidents due to unsafe gun-handling.  There were multiple instances of police officers pointing M-4s and sniper rifles at unarmed, peaceful protesters, media, and local residents just going about their business, in displays of spectacularly unsafe weapons discipline and methodology.   As one of our police sniper veterans pointed out, even police snipers deployed in response to prior incidents of shots fired should have used spotting scopes to observe the crowd and search for potential threats, not their rifle scopes.

Even worse were the well-publicized incidents of officers routinely pointing M-4s at unarmed protesters at close range for no apparent reason other than to intimidate.  An officer facing an actual lethal threat should be moving to cover, not standing there in a static bunch with other officers, using the rifle as a threat display.  And a properly trained and disciplined professional keeps his rifle pointed down, where it is pointed in a safe direction but still ready to bring up on target within a second at close range, and it stays pointed down unless and until he identifies an actual lethal threat, while he uses his presence and voice, first and foremost, to control the situation - all without covering anyone with his muzzle.

Such over-the-top threatening displays, with rifles pointed-in indiscriminately at protesters and residents, only anger and frighten the people and reinforce the perception that it is "the police vs. the people" rather than the police vs. a small number of criminals, while risking the lives of the very people our police are supposed to be serving.


And much like over-the top and indiscriminate threat displays and use of force in Iraq lost the hearts and minds of the locals, so too does it lose the battle for hearts and minds here at home - assisting in the agendas of those who wish to divide us along racial lines and create an "us vs. them" mentality among both the people and the police.

The overt displays of heavily armed officers lined up to intimidate the crowds were also tactically unsound for the officers themselves, leaving them exposed in the streets.  The more skilled the opposition, the more such tactics fail.  So far, it has only been random, inaccurate, handgun fire directed at the police in Ferguson, not rifle fire.  Against rifle fire, a long line of exposed officers standing in the open would be a disaster for the police.  One active duty police sergeant told us, "I don't want my guys stationary - they just become targets for the thugs throwing bricks and taking pot shots at us with their pistols."  The analysts in our group take this kind of feedback from the rank-and-file very seriously, and you should too.  And, again, it doesn't get the job done.  It doesn't secure the arrest of those who are looting and shooting.  It leaves the officers exposed while it only punishes and threatens those who are there to protest -  those who are not looting and shooting.

Likewise for the imposition of curfews, which violate the right of the people to peaceably assemble, while also failing to stop the looters and shooters who ignore such decrees.  The First Amendment prohibits "abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances" period.  It doesn't add on "unless a politician declares a state of emergency and imposes a curfew."   Nor does it say "unless other people are looting and being violent, in which case all of you lose your right to peaceably assemble."  Curfews punish the peaceable majority for the actions of a violent few, and again, alienate the community and send the message that the police see them all as the enemy and seek to trample on the rights of all of them.

The local police are capable of handling the current situation in a way that both respects the rights of the people and gets the actual criminals off the streets, but only if a paradigm shift in strategy and tactics can be made.  The leadership, starting with you, Gov. Nixon, and on down the chain of command, must make the changes that are needed to bring sane, effective, and constitutional policing to this situation.


A Constitutional and Effective Strategy



One retired Special Forces veteran in our group suggested that instead of grouping the police officers in large blocks (50 to 100 men), that  you should break up these groups into rapid reaction teams of 20 to 25 officers and disperse them, staging them in places spread around Ferguson, with a focus on the looters, not the protesters.  Our intelligence and police veterans concurred, and added that you should also task some officers to go out in street clothes to blend in to the crowds and work as Scouts, identifying threats and looters.  The plainclothes Scouts should be directing the rapid reaction teams to protect the businesses from the ongoing crime, and refocus the police assets away from unconstitutional activities like shooting CS gas at peaceful protesters and enforcing curfews, and get to the business of putting the real criminals behind bars.   If you think you need more minority officers for this role, you could easily find them in the St. Louis County Police Department, St. Charles County Sheriff Department, and other local municipal police departments.  The plainclothes officers can identify and locate the trouble-makers and their caches and resources, such as gas cans and bottles for Molotov cocktails, bricks, etc., and they can also film the trouble-makers in support of later arrests and prosecutions.

Those plainclothes Scouts can also be directly backed up by small teams of five to seven additional plainclothes officers to take down identified looters in a manner that uses minimum force along with effective surprise applied only to the actual suspected looter.  And those plainclothes small reaction teams can be further backed up by the uniformed rapid response teams, if needed, as they apprehend the looters and shooters.   If possible, each officer should have a small, discrete camera - such as a badge camera - pinned to their clothing and running at all times, so that there is a recording of all that occurs.

An additional recommendation from one of our members was that, rather than closing portions of West Florrisant Avenue and ordering protesters to disperse, officers could place cones on the street to reserve the center lane for police use only (warning that any others entering that lane will be arrested), staging officers at various points along that center lane and using it for police vehicles, while leaving traffic free to move North and South (with appropriate turn lanes interspersed), leaving the sidewalks open for protesters and media, and not trying to confine either to any particular area.  That preserves the middle lane for police to move freely back and forth along that critical two mile stretch while not restricting free speech and assembly rights.
The initial response of the Highway Patrol, to deescalate and demilitarize the situation, was on the right track.  However, it also failed to secure the arrest of the looters.  In fact, officers were explicitly told to not go after the looters.  De-escalating of militarized policing against peaceful protesters was a good idea.  But the "de-escalation" toward the looters and shooters - intentionally NOT going after them - was insane and failed to protect the people and businesses of Ferguson.  Backing off and letting the looters run free failed to solve the problem and actually made it worse, with the success of the looters drawing trouble-makers from all over the country, who came to Ferguson to loot and shoot and incite more violence.  As evidence of the failure, we now have local business owners having to hire private security to protect them from looting because the police in their community are failing to do so.

De-escalation and demilitarization must go hand-in-hand with effective policing that stops the looters and shooters.  The officers must be told that if they see an act of looting or violence, they must arrest that man.   That needs to be the policy from the beginning to the end.  Again, we recommend the use of plainclothes officers and small reaction teams to effectively arrest looters and shooters while respecting the rights of the peaceable protesters.

With hundreds of criminals stealing the businesses of Ferguson blind and damaging private property, how many arrests of actual looters took place?   The percentage is embarrassing (and arrests of otherwise peaceful protesters for "failure to disperse" or "failure to keep moving" don't count).  The Highway Patrol's tactics did not work, and it is time to admit it.   It was a mistake to remove St. Louis County from a command role.  Instead, Governor, you should have directed them to use their considerable assets to go after the looters while respecting the right of the people to peaceably assemble.

Likewise, bringing the National Guard in for "force protection" secured the Command Location, but what about all the other locations where people's lives were being destroyed?  The National Guard was not the answer.  Effective, smart, focused policing was.  You did the right thing by finally pulling the National Guard back out.  Now you just need to direct the application of effective, focused policing.

We need officers focused on looters, not on bullying the media and protesters.  We need officers to put violent criminals in jail, not shoot tear gas and rubber bullets at reporters too ignorant to not shine lights in the officers' eyes while they are trying to work.  We need a Governor smart enough to reject the riot control tactics developed before cell phones - tactics that are now failing catastrophically - and smart enough to not try to stifle free speech and violate our Bill of Rights.  We need a Governor to show enough wisdom to lead our state by the Constitution rather than against it with ineffective abuses like curfews.  Governor Nixon, tell us you are wise enough to defeat the criminals without violating our rights. No, SHOW us you are wise enough to change your failing tactics and demand from your men that they discern between peaceful protesters and looting thugs.  SHOW US, you will protect the rights of the FREE PRESS and have the courage to demand your officers arrest the real bad guys.   Stop gassing the innocent and start arresting the looters!
  
Wisdom and discernment will go a long way on the streets of Ferguson, and it is time you focus the police on putting real criminals behind bars, not reporters and peaceful protesters.   It is time the people of Ferguson look up and see a beautiful moon, instead of a cloud of smoke and tear gas.  Truth demands change.

A Critical Warning


In closing, we must warn you that you are making a grave mistake by continuing the pattern of militarization and abuse of rights that we saw during Occupy Wall Street (with curfews imposed on peaceful protesters, who were wrongly ordered to disperse and then pepper-sprayed at point-blank range); with the egregious death of Marine combat veteran Jose Guerena at the hands of a Tucson SWAT team while serving a mere search warrant; during the response to the Boston Bombing (with families being ordered out of their homes at gun-point, with many veterans telling us that the people of Iraq were treated with more respect and consideration than they saw in Watertown, Massachusetts); and with the recent horrendous use of "First Amendment Areas," military trained snipers, and militarized, heavy-handed Federal law enforcement at Bundy Ranch in Bunkerville, Nevada that galvanized veterans from all across America to travel there to prevent that ranching family from being "Waco'd" (with the Washington Times later disclosing that the Obama Administration did, in fact, consider using military force against the Bundy family and their supporters, but thankfully decided not to).  Those examples only scratch the surface of a systemic problem that has been ratcheting up over the years in nearly every community in America, as Washington Post journalist Radley Balko has exhaustively documented.

The rapidly escalating militarization of America's police is fundamentally incompatible with our Constitution and incompatible with a free nation, and inevitably leads to violence against We the People and gross violations of our rights, for which so many of our brothers have fought, bled, and died throughout this nation's history.

For us, this is not about race.  This is about defending the Bill of Rights, which is a shield against government abuse that is meant to protect ALL Americans, of whatever color.  Those of us who served as Marine or Army infantry learned to see only one color: green.  Some of our brothers in our fire-teams and squads were dark green, while others were medium or light green, but they were all our brothers, and in combat, they all bled the same color - red - in defense of this nation and in defense of the Constitution, which each of us swore an oath to defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic.  And the same can be said for those constitutional Sheriffs and police officers among us who still know what it means to be a peace officer, not a "law enforcer."

The militarization of our police is not a "black problem."  It's an American problem, and it affects all of us.  Senator Rand Paul is right.  We must demilitarize our police.  Governor Nixon, you stand at a critical moment in history.  You must reverse course and set the example for other states to follow, to demilitarize our police and bring police methods back within the bounds of the Constitution.  A failure to do so will further place millions of us American veterans who still take our oaths seriously on a fateful collision course with a burgeoning police state that is going down the same road that other nations have traveled, with tragic ends.

Our grandfathers and fathers fought against totalitarian police states overseas.  Please don't force us to fight against one here at home.   Demilitarize the police now, and let us all live in peace under the Constitution, with liberty, and justice, for all.

Missouri Oath Keepers


Friday, August 22, 2014

Pope Francis Telephones Family of American Journalist James Foley

A man walks past a sign in James Foley's hometown of Rochester (CNS)
By Francis X. Rocca

Pope Francis has offered his condolences in a phone call to the family of a American journalist killed by Islamic State militants in Syria.

Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi said the Pope phoned relatives of the late James Foley to console them for their loss and assure them of his prayers.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Obama Economic Record: The Worst Five Years Since World War II

From The Center for Vision & Values, Grove City College
By Tracy Miller

Editor’s note: This article first appeared The Daily Caller.

In spite of the claims by President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors regarding his administration’s economic accomplishments, the U.S. economy has grown very slowly in the years since the Great Recession of 2008-09. After four years of slow growth, the latest data reveals that the U.S. economy shrank at a 2.9 percent annual rate during the first quarter of 2014.

That figure has been widely reported, but here are some figures that have not been reported, and they are quite eye-opening:

Over the first five years of Obama’s presidency, the U.S. economy grew more slowly than during any five-year period since just after the end of World War II, averaging less than 1.3 percent per year. If we leave out the sharp recession of 1945-46 following World War II, Obama looks even worse, ranking dead last among all presidents since 1932. No other president since the Great Depression has presided over such a steadily poor rate of economic growth during his first five years in office. This slow growth should not be a surprise in light of the policies this administration has pursued.

An economy usually grows rapidly in the years immediately following a recession. As Peter Ferrera points out in Forbes, the U.S. economy has not even reached its long run average rate of growth of 3.3 percent; the highest annual growth rate since Obama took office was 2.8 percent. Total growth in real GDP over the 19 quarters of economic recovery since the second quarter of 2009 has been 10.2 percent. Growth over the same length of time during previous post-World War II recoveries has ranged from 15.1 percent during George W. Bush’s presidency to 30 percent during the recovery that began when John F. Kennedy was elected.

Economic growth is usually faster than normal following a recession as entrepreneurs find more productive ways to employ the resources that were idle during the recession. How rapidly the economy grows and recovers depends partly on whether market forces are allowed to allocate resources, including labor, to their most productive uses. Unfortunately, the Obama administration has pursued several policies that make it harder for market forces to work. These include: bailouts, expansion of entitlement programs, regulation of the economy, tax increases, and huge government deficits.

Bailouts have resulted in capital being stuck in businesses that are either inefficiently run or have failed to produce goods and services that consumers’ value highly. In the absence of bailouts, some firms would have gone bankrupt and the capital reallocated to vibrant firms that are producing what consumers demand in a cost-effective way.

Expansion of government entitlement programs, such as food stamps and unemployment compensation, has reduced the incentive to be employed. The average benefit per recipient of food stamps jumped by approximately 25 percent between 2007 and 2010 due to rule changes. It also became easier to qualify for food stamps. As Richard Vedder points out in a Wall Street Journal editorial, the number of food stamp recipients rose by over 7 million between 2010 and 2012, a period of falling unemployment.

A number of changes associated with the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (the economic stimulus package passed after Obama was elected) resulted in greater after-tax benefits to being unemployed. These include exempting part of unemployment insurance benefits from federal income taxes and subsidizing health insurance costs for laid off workers. Unemployment benefits also were extended for up to 99 weeks. In addition, the federal government developed mortgage modification formulas for banks to use, which resulted in a bigger reduction in interest payments for those with lower incomes.

The combined effect of a more generous food stamp program, more generous benefits for unemployed workers and mortgage modification formulas is to offset a considerable percentage of the reduction in income from being unemployed. This results in less incentive to work. If less people work, less output is produced and real GDP grows more slowly.

In addition to the policies described above, health care reform has also likely contributed to less employment and output in the economy. By requiring all firms employing more than 50 workers to provide health insurance coverage, the Affordable Care Act has discouraged some firms from hiring workers, while giving other firms an incentive to reduce hours or lay off workers.

Finally, uncertainty about the future direction of the economy has resulted in fixed investment that is only 93 percent as high as it was in 2006. This uncertainty likely stems from a combination of recent bailouts, huge and unsustainable government deficits, Federal Reserve monetary policy and growing government regulation such as Dodd-Frank and health care reform. Investment is what makes workers more productive thereby driving economic growth.

Although some of the policies responsible for slow growth began before Obama took office, he has expanded those policies and added new ones as well. It is necessary that those policies be reversed if the U.S. economy is going to again grow as rapidly as it did during most of the 20th century. Such growth is vital both as a means to lift people out of poverty and  to raise the revenue necessary to pay for Social Security and Medicare benefits to a growing population of retirees. Unfortunately, in the meantime, the lack of growth under Barack Obama during the last five years has been literally the worst for any president since World War II.


Dr. Tracy C. Miller is an associate professor of economics at Grove City College and fellow for economic theory and policy with The Center for Vision & Values. He holds a Ph.D. from University of Chicago.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sexual Left Shocked by Organized Pro-Lifers in Europe

Left-wing and mainstream media are slowly catching on there’s something happening in Europe, with a rapidly growing conservative movement that looks an awful lot like the same movement here.


This was true exponentially for BuzzFeed’s Lester Feder, who was hired last year to cover the global LGBT movement. Rather quickly Feder discovered a highly organized global coalition of conservatives working in opposition to the sexual left. 

For his 3,000-word take-out on the rise of the “European religious right,” Feder began:

“On a hot Friday in late June, the walls of a 15th-century marble palace in a secluded corner of the Vatican were lit up with the face of Breitbart News Chairman Steve Bannon.”

After opening a Breitbart London bureau a few months ago, and after hosting five hours of live radio from the Vatican around the Canonization of John Paul II and John XXIII, it made sense that Bannon would be invited by conference organizer Benjamin Harnwell, an old hand at the European Parliament, founder of the Dignitatus Humanae Institute and self-described European Tea Partier.

Piped in by Skype, Bannon told the VIP crowd:

We [Breitbart] believe – strongly – that there is a global tea party movement. You’re seeing a global reaction to centralized government, whether that government is in Beijing, or that government is in Washington, D.C., or that government is in Brussels… On the social conservative side, we’re the voice of the anti-abortion movement, the voice of the traditional marriage movement.

Bannon later admitted a bit of shock that he was speaking directly into the Vatican.

The evidence for the rise of European conservatism is everywhere. 

Read more at Breitbart >>

 

Stephen Stone: A Path to Impeachment

By Stephen Stone

In his well-reasoned book in support of the movement to impeach and remove Barack Obama titled Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama's Impeachment, Andrew McCarthy — a former federal prosecutor who got the "Blind Sheik" convicted in 1995 for the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center — argues basically two things:

1. Barack Obama deserves to be impeached and removed for his deliberate subversion of the Constitution and the rule of law, resulting in a multitude of threats to our national security, material strength, and moral stability; and
2. Impeachment of the dangerously lawless Mr. Obama should not be attempted until there is sufficient "public will" to do so — otherwise the attempt might fail to produce his conviction and removal.

Here are a few excerpts from McCarthy’s book —
  • “There is no doubt in my mind that President Obama ought to be impeached and removed from office.” (p.21)
  • “I believe the president should be impeached because I am not confident the nation can withstand nearly three more years of his governance.” (p. 22)
  • “[Obama’s] failure to execute the laws faithfully is a high crime and misdemeanor. [His] systematic faithlessness in this regard imperils our system and our liberties. If the process of impeachment and removal is not seen as a viable option, we are effectively resigning ourselves to the loss of what has made our nation prosperous and free.” (p. 92, emphasis added)
  • “...[T]he Framers saw impeachment as the appropriate response to presidential corruption, lawlessness, and infidelity to the Constitution.” (p. 25)
  • “As a practical matter, impeachment is the only plausible congressional remedy to stop systematic presidential lawlessness.” (p. vi)
  • “The legal grounds — provable high crimes and misdemeanors — are vital to building a political case for impeachment, but the fundamental question is whether the president’s conduct is [seen as] so egregious that the public will support his removal.” (p. viii)
  • “Well, the [‘I’] word needs uttering. Absent a frank discussion of what impeachment is, what it’s for, when it should apply, and why it is necessary (that is, why other remedies are inadequate), we will never know whether political support for impeachment can materialize. (p. 44)
  • “Unless the point of the exercise is mere partisan foot stamping, it is not enough to have sufficient legal grounds for impeachment, even lots and lots of grounds. Real impeachment, removing the president from power, requires political support.... [It] requires moving public opinion.” (pp. 44-45)
This sampling of his words underscores McCarthy’s main contention that the effort to impeach and remove Obama, no matter how justified or well-conceived, must be driven by sufficient political demand among the American people if it is to succeed.

The rest of the book is devoted to laying out a detailed case for Obama’s impeachment and removal — in the form of fifty pages of carefully documented, ready-to-file Articles of Impeachment, followed by extensive notes.