Using Water As A Weapon Of War

Herschel Smith · 03 Aug 2014 · 9 Comments

Next City: In a war, anything can be a weapon. In a particularly ruthless war, such as the conflict that has been raging in Syria for more than three years, those weapons are often turned against civilians, making any semblance of normal life impossible. Such is the case, experts say, with the way the nation’s water supply is being manipulated to inflict suffering on the population. According to an article posted by Chatham House, a London-based independent policy institute, water…… [read more]

Michael Yon Gets What’s Coming To Him

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 8 months ago

No, this isn’t another ridiculous pile-on-Michael-Yon post from some unstable Milblogger who is bored with the fact that he has nothing left to cover now that we have withdrawn from Iraq (and plan to withdraw from Afghanistan).  Some people just have to find others to hate in order to be important.

No, Michael Yon has gotten the attention to the MEDEVAC issue that he deserves.  You can follow his coverage here, here and here, here and here (just for starters).  I won’t recapitulate the reports since you can go and read them from Michael.  Here is a decent summary video.

But I will observe that my bullshit-o-meter pegged high when the Army began making claims that the Geneva Conventions required them to mark MEDEVAC helicopters and then also to require them not to be armed for self defense (thus requiring an armed escort and delaying the transit in some instances).

First of all, if the Geneva Conventions actually do require that we send medical evacuation into the field with no self defense, then we should not have ever been a signatory to such a document, and such signature should be forthwith rescinded.  But it doesn’t.  Take careful note.  The U.S. Marine Corps doesn’t do business this way.

There.  Enough said.  Case Closed.  The U.S. Marine Corps isn’t violating the Geneva Conventions.  That the big-Army is wasting intellectual capital and moral authority on this is stupefying.

Hell To Pay: Hezbollah On The Mexican Border

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 8 months ago

We have known for some time about the fact that Hezbollah has networks in Central and South America, and that they are present in more than 40 countries.  Now, Michael Braun, former chief of operations at the drug enforcement agency, weighs in concerning the emerging threat on the Southern border.

The Iranian-supported Shi’ite terrorist group Hezbollah has spread its influence all the way to the U.S. border with Mexico, a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Iran’s influence in the Western Hemisphere heard on Thursday.

Michael Braun, a former chief of operations at the Drug Enforcement Agency, said Hezbollah had developed relationships with the powerful Mexican drug cartels to “move their agenda forward.” He cited a plot, recently uncovered by the DEA, involving an Iranian operative in Mexico allegedly planning to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington, D.C.

“Hezbollah are absolute masters at forming close relationships with existing organized crime groups around the world that helps them facilitate what they need to do to move their agendas forward,” Braun told CNSNews.com following the hearing. “And if anyone thinks for a moment that they don’t have their eye on the southwest border and all of our country, then they couldn’t be more wrong.”

In his prepared remarks Braun, who also served as interim director of the Department of Justice’s Drug Intelligence Fusion Center, said Hezbollah and other terrorist groups understand that the Mexican cartels are already operating successfully inside the United States.

“If anyone thinks for one moment that these terrorist organizations do not understand that the Mexican drug trafficking cartels now dominate drug trafficking in our country – reportedly in more than 250 cities – than they are very stupid or very naive,” he said.

“And these groups most assuredly recognize the strategic value of exploiting that activity, and all that has been built to support it, for moving their vision forward in this part of the world.”

[ ... ]

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), committee member and chairman of the Homeland Security Committee’s subcommittee of oversight and investigations, asked about Hezbollah’s relationship to criminal organizations in the Western Hemisphere and what it means for U.S. security.

Braun warned that those relationships allow “these groups to operate freely in our neighborhood” and said the U.S. would regret it if the threats were not taken seriously.

“I don’t want to sound too crude, but I think there’s going to be hell to pay in the not too distant future,” he said.

Braun discussed the Quds forces, which is controlled  by Iranian general Suleimani.  Recall that I have called for reversing executive order 12333 and assassinating general Suleimani.  Concerning what he thinks about his scope and power of influence, listen carefully to his recent words.

An Iranian general said Iraq and Hezbollah-dominated South Lebanon “submit” to Tehran’s wishes.

“Those two countries, in a way or another, submit to the will and the wishes of Tehran,” head of Iran’s elite al-Quds Force, Qassem Suleimani, was quoted as saying by Iran’s ISNA student news agency and later relayed by Al-Arabiya television.

He added that his country “can organize any movement that leads to the formation of Islamic governments [in Iraq and Lebanon] in order to fight imperialism.”

According to ISNA, Suleimani’s remarks came during a seminar entitled “Youth and Islamic Awareness”, which was held in Tehran on Thursday.

Commenting on the Syrian crisis, the general said that “the Syrian people support the government [of President Bashar al-Assad] completely.”

Assad’s troops have cracked down on protests against almost five decades of Baath rule which broke out mid-March, killing over 5,400 people and triggering a torrent of international condemnation.

He has killed American servicemen in Iraq and Afghanistan.  He has pressed the ambitions of the radical Mullahs at every chance, and it’s time for him to go.  We need a strategic assassination.

As for the Southern border, we are losing that battle, and it doesn’t bode well that we haven’t taken the fight seriously and yet allow a new gangster – General Suleimani – into the neighborhood.

American Energy Independence: Closer Than You Think

BY Glen Tschirgi
2 years, 8 months ago

These days we take our optimism wherever we can get it, and if a Leftist media outlet like Bloomberg is sounding a positive note about surging energy production in the U.S., the real news is likely even better than reported.

A few, choice excerpts:

The U.S. is the closest it has been in almost 20 years to achieving energy self-sufficiency, a goal the nation has been pursuing since the 1973 Arab oil embargo triggered a recession and led to lines at gasoline stations.

Domestic oil output is the highest in eight years. The U.S. is producing so much natural gas that, where the government warned four years ago of a critical need to boost imports, it now may approve an export terminal. Methanex Corp., the world’s biggest methanol maker, said it will dismantle a factory in Chile and reassemble it in Louisiana to take advantage of low natural gas prices. And higher mileage standards and federally mandated ethanol use, along with slow economic growth, have curbed demand.

The result: The U.S. has reversed a two-decade-long decline in energy independence, increasing the proportion of demand met from domestic sources over the last six years to an estimated 81 percent through the first 10 months of 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from the U.S. Department of Energy. That would be the highest level since 1992.

Of course, Bloomberg finds it necessary to throw in the canards about the dangers of “fracking” and the lamentation that greater hydrocarbon usage will further depress the interest in and practicability of solar and wind energy.  Against this persistent Leftist meme, however, it should be noted that the article does not mention global warming, nor quote any “leading scientists” about the dangers of increased carbon production, nor feature a picture of polar bears precariously perched on a tiny bit of ice.   That, my friends, is a sure sign of progress in the fight to restore American intellectual sense.

There is so much good news in this sector of the economy in fact that Bloomberg’s attempts to dampen enthusiasm seem to be more a product of the authors’ embarrassment than any, actual cloud on the horizon.   Read the whole thing and do a little, guilt-free basking.

A few notes on this.

First, there is no doubt that the Obama Administration is going to try to take credit for this boom in energy production.   The President, in fact, attempted to do just that in his State of the Union address to Congress.   No one should be fooled, however.   The Administration has dragged its feet and done all it can to suppress, depress, and discourage hydrocarbon production since it took office, including banning off-shore drilling in places like Virginia which has been ready to start since 2009 and nixing the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas.

Second, as good as this news is for the U.S. economy and geopolitical position in the world, it could and should be much, much better.   Gas and oil production would dwarf the current figures if the Federal government was not putting massive roadblocks in the way of energy production in this country.  This surge in production is almost exclusively a function of private enterprise finding ways around government hostility and getting the job done.   It is a classic example of the American spirit of independent action overcoming daunting opposition.   Just consider the news from the article as it relates to the amazing work being done in North Dakota:

Crude production in the U.S. is already increasing. Within three years, domestic output could reach 7 million barrels a day, the highest in 20 years, said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston, a consulting firm. The U.S. produced 5.9 million barrels of crude oil a day in December, while consuming 18.5 million barrels of petroleum products, according to the Energy Department.

North Dakota — the center of the so-called tight-oil transformation — is now the fourth largest oil-producing state, behind Texas, Alaska and California.

The growth in oil and gas output means the U.S. will overtake Russia as the world’s largest energy producer in the next eight years, said Jamie Webster, senior manager for the markets and country strategy group at PFC Energy, a Washington- based consultant.

While U.S. consumers would still be susceptible to surges in global oil prices, “we’d end up sending some of that cash to North Dakota” rather than to Saudi Arabia, said Richard Schmalensee, a professor of economics and management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

What the article does not tell you is that all of this production in North Dakota is occurring on private lands.  The Federal government owns massive tracts of land throughout the Western U.S. and has put virtually all of it off-limits to energy production.   The estimated hydrocarbon resources of Colorado alone rival those of Saudi Arabia.   Imagine for one moment what kind of production the U.S. is capable of when even a part of those Federal lands are opened up for development.   In this sense, the Bloomberg article is actually disguising the enormous potential of U.S. production.   The U.S. has the potential to put OPEC out of business, single-handedly.

Finally, in another delicious moment of vindication that should be enjoyed thoroughly, the avalanche of optimism over U.S. energy production conclusively puts the lie to years of Leftist Democrat drivel that the U.S. cannot “drill its way out of our energy problems.”  Here is El Presidente in May, 2011 in his energy policy speech in Indiana:

President Obama called for the elimination of billions of dollars in oil industry tax breaks Friday, while stressing that the United States can’t drill its way out of high gas prices.

“We can’t just drill our way out of the problem,” Obama said during an energy policy speech in Indiana Friday. “If we’re serious about addressing our energy problems, we’re going to have to do more than drill.”

Obama’s remarks come as Washington policymakers are feeling pressure to take action to address high gas prices, which are nearing a nationwide average of $4 a gallon.Republicans have ramped up calls for expanded domestic oil-and-gas production. House Republicans passed the first of three offshore drilling bills Thursday that have been fast-tracked by GOP leadership.

But Democrats, for their part, are pushing for the repeal of billion of dollars in oil industry tax breaks, citing record oil industry profits and soaring pump prices.

*****

He noted that it’s important to “encourage safe and responsible oil production here at home,” but called for a wide-ranging energy policy strategy focused on reducing the country’s oil imports by one-third by 2025, ramping up vehicle fuel economy standards and relying on low-emission electricity sources.

Remember this when gas prices again head to $4 per gallon and more this Summer.    We will again hear the Republicans in Congress pushing for greater drilling rights and we will hear this same response from El Presidente and his accomplices on Capitol Hill, “No, we can’t drill our way out of high gas prices.”

Pardon the thick irony here, but, as the Bloomberg article and many others like it demonstrate: YES, WE CAN.

U.S. Marine Amphibious Assault On America

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 8 months ago

From Breitbart:

With beach landings, 25 naval ships and an air assault, the United States and eight other countries are staging a major amphibious exercise on the US East Coast this week, fighting a fictional enemy that bears more than a passing resemblance to Iran.

After a decade dominated by ground wars against insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, the drill dubbed Bold Alligator is “the largest amphibious exercise conducted by the fleet in the last 10 years,” said Admiral John Harvey, head of US Fleet Forces Command.

About 20,000 US forces, plus hundreds of British, Dutch and French troops as well as liaison officers from Italy, Spain, New Zealand and Australia are taking part in the exercise along the Atlantic coast off Virginia and North Carolina.

An American aircraft carrier, amphibious assault ships including France’s Mistral, Canadian mine sweepers and dozens of aircraft have been deployed for the drill, which began on January 30 and runs through mid-February.

Monday was “D-day” for Bold Alligator, with US Marines stepping on to the beach from hovercraft, near the Camp Lejeune base in North Carolina.

The American military, mindful that Marines have spent most of their time in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan since 2001, said the goal was “to revitalize, refine, and strengthen fundamental amphibious capabilities and reinforce the Navy and Marine Corps role as ‘fighters from the sea.’”

With defense spending coming under pressure after years of unlimited growth, the Marines — which devoted a brigade to the exercise — also are anxious to protect funding for their traditional role as an amphibious force.

The exercise scenario takes place in a mythical region known as “Treasure Coast,” with a country called Garnet, a theocracy, invading its neighbor to the north, Amberland, which calls for international help to repel the attack.

Garnet has mined several harbors and deployed anti-ship missiles along the coast.

The threat of mines, anti-ship missiles and small boats in coastal waters conjure up Iran’s naval forces, but the commanders overseeing the drill, Admiral Harvey and Marine Lieutenant General Dennis Hejlik, say the scenario is not based on any particular country.

Good grief.  Just to be clear for the thousandth time on the future of the U.S. Marine Corps, the Marines aren’t going to conduct a large scale, sea-based, amphibious assault and forcible entry to Iran.  It would be ridiculous to believe so.  In fact, the Marines aren’t going to conduct a large scale, sea-based amphibious assault and forcible entry anywhere else, ever.  Marine Corps strategic thinking that prepares them for such an exigency is geriatric.

All the while, SOCOM is planning to park themselves in the Persian Gulf region using a Marine Corps amphibious assault dock, to conduct anti-piracy operations, air-based forcible entry and other missions and operations, conduct hostage rescue, and other assignments as the President decides.

Thus they have taken up the mantle of the Marine Corps and the Marine Corps is in the process of signing, sealing and delivering its irrelevancy to the twenty first century.  Apparently the Marine Corps doesn’t care any more.

Ruling Against Carrying A Gun Outside The Home Appealed To Supreme Court

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 8 months ago

From Chicago Tribune:

A gun-rights group has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court after a federal judge in Illinois ruled against allowing people to carry firearms on the street.

The Second Amendment Foundation announced Monday it’s appealing the decision by federal district Judge Sue Myerscough.

Currently only Illinois and the District of Columbia prohibit the concealed carrying of weapons. Gun owners say that infringes on their 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

Myerscough ruled Friday that the 2nd Amendment allows citizens to protect themselves with guns in their home but not on the street.

Second Amendment Foundation founder Alan Gottlieb says citizens “don’t check our constitutional rights at the front door.”

A similar Illinois-based lawsuit backed by the National Rifle Association remains in federal court.

The Supreme Court had the chance to clarify issues associated with the scope and expanse of the second amendment in numerous recent cases, including the case of Sean Masciandaro (which they declined to hear).  There was a similar decision in the Southern district of New York concerning carrying a weapon outside the home.  We are here because this is exactly where the opinion in Heller versus D.C. put us, with lower courts stripping our constitutional rights because the opinion didn’t make it clear that the second amendment extends outside one’s domicile.

The SCOTUS has yet another good opportunity to clarify things and set the record straight.  Let’s hope that they don’t fail this time around.

Dishonesty About Afghanistan

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 8 months ago

In the Armed Forces Journal, Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis drops a bombshell on the community.

I spent last year in Afghanistan, visiting and talking with U.S. troops and their Afghan partners. My duties with the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force took me into every significant area where our soldiers engage the enemy. Over the course of 12 months, I covered more than 9,000 miles and talked, traveled and patrolled with troops in Kandahar, Kunar, Ghazni, Khost, Paktika, Kunduz, Balkh, Nangarhar and other provinces.

What I saw bore no resemblance to rosy official statements by U.S. military leaders about conditions on the ground.

Entering this deployment, I was sincerely hoping to learn that the claims were true: that conditions in Afghanistan were improving, that the local government and military were progressing toward self-sufficiency. I did not need to witness dramatic improvements to be reassured, but merely hoped to see evidence of positive trends, to see companies or battalions produce even minimal but sustainable progress.

Instead, I witnessed the absence of success on virtually every level.

My arrival in country in late 2010 marked the start of my fourth combat deployment, and my second in Afghanistan. A Regular Army officer in the Armor Branch, I served in Operation Desert Storm, in Afghanistan in 2005-06 and in Iraq in 2008-09. In the middle of my career, I spent eight years in the U.S. Army Reserve and held a number of civilian jobs — among them, legislative correspondent for defense and foreign affairs for Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas.

As a representative for the Rapid Equipping Force, I set out to talk to our troops about their needs and their circumstances. Along the way, I conducted mounted and dismounted combat patrols, spending time with conventional and Special Forces troops. I interviewed or had conversations with more than 250 soldiers in the field, from the lowest-ranking 19-year-old private to division commanders and staff members at every echelon. I spoke at length with Afghan security officials, Afghan civilians and a few village elders.

I saw the incredible difficulties any military force would have to pacify even a single area of any of those provinces; I heard many stories of how insurgents controlled virtually every piece of land beyond eyeshot of a U.S. or International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) base.

I saw little to no evidence the local governments were able to provide for the basic needs of the people. Some of the Afghan civilians I talked with said the people didn’t want to be connected to a predatory or incapable local government.

From time to time, I observed Afghan Security forces collude with the insurgency.

Much of what I saw during my deployment, let alone read or wrote in official reports, I can’t talk about; the information remains classified. But I can say that such reports — mine and others’ — serve to illuminate the gulf between conditions on the ground and official statements of progress.

And I can relate a few representative experiences, of the kind that I observed all over the country.

In January 2011, I made my first trip into the mountains of Kunar province near the Pakistan border to visit the troops of 1st Squadron, 32nd Cavalry. On a patrol to the northernmost U.S. position in eastern Afghanistan, we arrived at an Afghan National Police (ANP) station that had reported being attacked by the Taliban 2½ hours earlier.

Through the interpreter, I asked the police captain where the attack had originated, and he pointed to the side of a nearby mountain.

“What are your normal procedures in situations like these?” I asked. “Do you form up a squad and go after them? Do you periodically send out harassing patrols? What do you do?”

As the interpreter conveyed my questions, the captain’s head wheeled around, looking first at the interpreter and turning to me with an incredulous expression. Then he laughed.

“No! We don’t go after them,” he said. “That would be dangerous!”

According to the cavalry troopers, the Afghan policemen rarely leave the cover of the checkpoints. In that part of the province, the Taliban literally run free.

In June, I was in the Zharay district of Kandahar province, returning to a base from a dismounted patrol. Gunshots were audible as the Taliban attacked a U.S. checkpoint about one mile away.

As I entered the unit’s command post, the commander and his staff were watching a live video feed of the battle. Two ANP vehicles were blocking the main road leading to the site of the attack. The fire was coming from behind a haystack. We watched as two Afghan men emerged, mounted a motorcycle and began moving toward the Afghan policemen in their vehicles.

The U.S. commander turned around and told the Afghan radio operator to make sure the policemen halted the men. The radio operator shouted into the radio repeatedly, but got no answer.

On the screen, we watched as the two men slowly motored past the ANP vehicles. The policemen neither got out to stop the two men nor answered the radio — until the motorcycle was out of sight.

To a man, the U.S. officers in that unit told me they had nothing but contempt for the Afghan troops in their area — and that was before the above incident occurred.

The bombshell isn’t that things aren’t going well in Afghanistan.  The bombshell is that this specific Lt. Col. went on record saying so.

But the reader would have already known many of these things by reading my categories on the horrible Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police.  I repeatedly called for chasing the insurgents, just like Lt. Col. Davis expected would happen, but General McChrystal withdrew troops to the population centers just like the Russians.  I said that al Qaeda and the Haqqani fighters would come back to the Pech River Valley, and they did.

Michael Yon and I have both called for withdrawal (me, because we have not and aren’t taking the campaign seriously).  But it’s significant that staff officers have begun to break ranks.  The campaign is not as advertised.  Regular readers already knew that.  Now staff officers are saying it.

The Ideological Taliban

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 8 months ago

Now comes a good and well-informed article in the same spirit as our own articles on the Taliban, from Asian Correspondent.  Concerning the primarily Pashtun areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ahsan Butt observes:

Isn’t it instructive that scholars who actually know the area, such as Ijaz Khan (University of Peshawar) or the oft-cited Farhat Taj, completely and unequivocally reject the Imran Khan thesis? This idea that the Taliban are somehow representative of the Pashtun nation, and are fighting and dying for them, is just silly.

Within the study of civil war in political science, non-state movements are generally divided between ethnically focused and ideologically focused. Obviously this is often a too-rigid categorization, but it’s useful because the two types of mobilizations often have different goals.

Those movements that are ethnically motivated are generally what we call nationalist movements. These tend to be focused heavily on a particular piece of territory, since group identity and territory have a very strong relationship. So if all xs are concentrated in region X, then it’s unlikely that the xs will launch a movement, violent or otherwise, in regions other than X. This is because (a) they don’t care about regions other than X; in fact, their mobilizations are often motivated by demanding increasing separation from X and non-X areas, and (b) there’s not enough xs in the non-X region for them to congeal in a movement worth worrying about. Examples include the Tamils in northern Sri Lanka or the Bengalis in former East Pakistan.

Those that are ideologically motivated tend to be focused on control of the state or political unit at large. They are not interested in controlling a sliver of territory, they are interested in re-orienting the state. The important thing to note is that granting a piece of territory to the agents of the movement is unlikely to satisfy them, since their movement is not based on the control of territory in the first place. Examples include the Communist Party of China or the various right-wing militias operating in Latin America during the Cold War.

This distinction matters because it gets at the heart of the debate on the war in Pakistan and whether it is worth fighting. If you believe that the Taliban and their local affiliates are nationalists, then it makes sense to give them control of various districts or maybe even a whole province, in the hope that that’s what they want, and will therefore cause them to stop mounting violent challenges to the state.

If you believe that the Taliban and their local affiliates are ideologues, then it doesn’t make sense to give them control of various districts because they will only use that control to consolidate their material capabilities to launch yet further assaults on the state and its citizens.

I wish we lived in a world where the Taliban were indeed nationalists because it would mean that there is fairly self-evident solution to the violence. Unfortunately we do not and there is not. Imran Khan, however, continues to believe that they are and that there is. Reasonable people can disagree on the extent to which force should be used, what type of force (air power vs shock troops vs full-blown incisions) is to be used, how negotiations should be constructed, which actors should be invited to the negotiations, and so on. But no reasonable person can believe that the “war can be ended in 90 days” or that the Taliban are likely to go quietly into the sunset if you hand over a bunch of territory to them.

Just so.  And it’s a mistake that has been made from the beginning, i.e., believing that this is some sort of classical insurgency/counterinsurgency campaign.  To be sure, there are still the so-called “ten dollar taliban,” but more and more we are finding that they fight for ideological reasons, not for a parcel of land to control.

If no involvement in the political system is sufficient solution to the immediate crisis, then that complicates matters indeed.  If they are somehow – gasp – ideologically aligned with the radical elements in al Qaeda, Haqqani, the various Kashmir groups, etc., then inviting them to the negotiating table is a ridiculous ruse trying to hide abject surrender and failure on our part.  And if this surrender obtains, then we will be worse off for our loss in Afghanistan.  But perhaps we’ve already discussed that.

Modified SWAT Tactics After The Death Of Eurie Stamps

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 8 months ago

Let’s rehearse for a moment the details of the SWAT raid on the home of Eurie Stamps (completely innocent of any wrongdoing).  The SWAT team entered the home, and while one officer stumbled and fired his AR into the body of Eurie Stamps.  “Authorities say Duncan shot and killed Stamps, a 68-year-old grandfather, when he lost his balance and accidentally pulled the trigger.”  Stamps was prone on the floor when he was killed by the officer.

Sympathetic muscle reflexes and awful trigger discipline are to blame.

The term sympathetic contraction refers to the fact that an involuntary contraction may occur in the muscles of one limb when the same muscles in the other limb are performing an intended forceful action. In physiology literature this effect is known as a mirror movement, with the intensity of the sympathetic contraction depending on the amount of force exerted during the intended action. In policing, a common situation that may evoke such a sympathetic contraction would be, for example, a law enforcement officer attempting to restrain a struggling suspect with one hand while holding a handgun in the other.

The second scenario described by Enoka involves loss of balance. When balance is disturbed the human body evokes rapid involuntary contractions to return itself to a position of equilibrium. Thereby the involuntary contractions used to prevent a fall depend on the options available to counteract the disturbance of balance. Usually, compensatory movements following gait perturbations primarily involve correcting movements of the lower limbs to keep the body in balance, whereas movements of the arms are restricted to their extension forwards as a safeguard to counter an eventual fall. When an individual is holding a handle for support, there is, however, a tendency to use the arm muscles to maintain balance rather than the leg muscles. Under such circumstances the focal point of automatic postural activity is any contact point an individual has with his or her surroundings. In other words, if an individual’s posture is disturbed while grasping an object, for instance a handgun, he or she is likely to grasp it more forcefully.

Startle reaction, the third scenario identified by Enoka, is a whole-body reflex-like response to an unexpected stimulus, possibly a loud noise. It evokes rapid involuntary contractions that begin with the blink of an eye and spread to all muscles throughout the body. The reaction of the hands occurs less than 200ms after the stimulus and leads to individuals clenching their fists. Enoka concludes: “Accordingly, an officer who is startled by a loud, unexpected noise while searching for a suspect with his weapon drawn would surely increase the grip force on the weapon, perhaps enough to cause an involuntary discharge.”

A “investigation” occurred as part of the post mortem followup to this incident, and here is where it becomes really bizarre.

Police Chief Carl outlined the committee’s recommendations and the SWAT responses. One of the biggest policy changes is to the Policy of Firearms and Weapons, which will shift to “off safe,” meaning “only when the officer is ready to shoot does the weapon come off safe.”

When questioned by a member of the public about whether this policy would have prevented the death of Eurie Stamps, Chief Carl ultimately said yes, it would have.

Examination of the revised SWAT protocol yields no discussion whatsoever of any policy on whether an officer’s weapon is on safe or the circumstances under which he can change the state of his weapon.  Apparently this is a verbal directive, or tribal knowledge, but it’s not written down anywhere that can be readily found.

This resolution to the incident is obscene in the superlative degree.  It is well know among regular readers that I oppose SWAT raids for situations that don’t involve the commission of violent felonies (such as the acquisition of evidence regarding illicit drugs).  That evidence can be oftentimes obtained when residents are not in the home, and there is no need to place the residents in danger when there are other options.

But leaving aside that position, if they intend on conducting these stupid no-knock raids for drug evidence, they should do so with qualified personnel.  In this case the officer has no concept of trigger discipline, and shouldn’t even own a weapon himself, much less be trusted with one as a law enforcement officer.

And the review conducted as a result of this incident only continues the obscenity.  There is no discussion of trigger discipline, but discussion of keeping the weapon on safe during a raid, a policy which now endangers the lives of the officers.  If they confessed to awful trigger discipline, they would be admitting culpability in the death of Eurie Stamps.  As it is now, they can deflect this blame with ridiculous narratives about whether the weapon is “on safe.”

Summary: (1) They should be more judicious as to when they use SWAT raids, (2) their weapons shouldn’t be on safe, (3) law enforcement officers should understand their weapons and have good trigger and muzzle discipline, and (4) this revised directive is useful for no other reason than to deflect criticism.

The conclusion of this is as obscene as the beginning, where an innocent man died because a man who should be bagging groceries at the local store was stumbling with an AR towards a prone man and killed him.  And the local police department justified it all by implementing a ridiculous, sophomoric policy which won’t add any benefit, and probably will make things worse for the law enforcement officers.

Fail from front to finish.  Utter fail.

The Vote Pump: The Sound of the Republic Being Flushed

BY Glen Tschirgi
2 years, 8 months ago

Do yourself and the Republic a favor: find the time to watch the whole thing.

The Vote Pump

Beyond the overall point that Bill Whittle makes about the power of deficit spending to buy votes and ensure reelection of spendthrift politicians, this video by Whittle has a other worthwhile attributes:

1.  The video is an instant source of expertise on exactly what the numbers are in the Federal Budget, how much is being spent both in real dollars and as a percentage of the overall Budget.   We need this information as citizens and need to spread this information far and wide so the politicians have nowhere to hide.   These numbers are easily understood and give one of the best visualizations of the enormity of the debt problem we are facing.   The politicians in both parties are perversely determined to avoid making the spending cuts necessary because this video makes it abundantly clear that the size of the necessary cuts will be painful to many, many people.

2.  This video demonstrates the enormity of the Entitlement State. Notice that the actual dollars being spent on the so-called “discretionary” items in the Budget are relatively small compared to the enormous amounts needed to keep the Entitlement State (the so-called “mandatory spending”) afloat.    This is the A-1, Certified, Gargantuan, 16 trillion pound Gorilla in the room.   Democrats and Republicans can talk all they like about eliminating the Department of Education or cite the dollars spent on the Defense Department and foreign wars, but it is immediately obvious from this video that the real culprit in our insane Deficit spending is Entitlements.   The U.S. is borrowing over 40 cents of every dollar it spends and over 70% of that spending is going to Entitlements.

Yes, Federal agencies and departments need to be eliminated or severely cut back but those cuts will never be enough to take care of the Deficit problem.  Entitlements must be cut.

Note, too, that the cuts will have to occur now.   As much as I dislike Ron Paul’s rambling wreck of a foreign policy and his crazy, blame-America rants, he is one of the only politicians that is openly talking about reducing spending immediately in large amounts.   (Ron Paul falls off the rails, however, because he primarily talks as if cutting Defense spending will solve the problem whereas the video makes it clear that such spending is less than 20% of the total Budget).

If you listen carefully to every, other politician (including some of my favorites such as Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin), they are all talking about cuts of $1 Trillion over ten years or more. That is only $100 billion each year.   Check the video and you will see that $100 billion is relative chicken feed against the enormity of the spending.  The U.S. literally cannot afford to take ten years to reduce this deficit.

This will require a fundamental change in the way Americans view the Federal government.   The vision of Franklin Roosevelt and JFK and Lyndon Johnson and, yes, George W. “Compassionate Conservatism” Bush has to be chucked in favor of States taking the primary responsibility for the welfare of their own citizens.   Such a change will require leaders who can give the public the truth about the nightmare we are facing.

3. This video shows how little it takes to actually run the Federal government. Take a look at the actual numbers cited by Whittle in the pie charts for Federal revenues.   He cites the total amount spent in Fiscal Year 2011 for the General Services Administration which is responsible for the assets and logistics of the Federal government.   That number is $700 million or 1/10th of 1% of the total Budget.   Until the last 100 years, the Federal government was able to function quite well without any personal income tax because the scope of the Federal government was something like 1/10th of 1% of what it is today.

The growth and increase in Federal programs, agencies, departments, jurisdiction and oversight in just 100 years is almost unimaginable.  Americans have been sold a bill of goods promising a utopian society where a big, central government could makes everyone happy, healthy, wealthy and wise.   It has taken 100 years to come to the realization that those promises were, however well intentioned, dangerous lies.


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