The Totalitarians Among Us

Herschel Smith · 03 Mar 2014 · 15 Comments

Victor Davis Hanson observes: In short, Obama will always poll around 45 percent. That core support is his lasting legacy. In a mere five years, by the vast expansion of federal spending, by the demonizing rhetoric of his partisan bully pulpit, and by executive orders and bizarre appointments, Obama has so divided the nation that he has created a permanent constituency that will never care as much about what he does as it cares about what he says and represents. For elite rich liberals…… [read more]

ATF: Meet The New Boss, Same As The Old Boss

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 8 months ago

Todd Jones, the acting director of the ATF, says trying to manage the organization is testing all of his skills.

Jones has replaced six out of his eight top assistant directors at Washington headquarters. And he says he’s tried to promote a new generation of leaders all over the country, including ground zero for the Fast and Furious scandal, along the Southwest border.

“Sixteen out of our 25 field divisions have new special agents in charge,” he said. “It’s really been a historic transformation, and it’s really been an opportunity for us to … cherry pick our best and brightest.”

But five ATF managers in Washington and Arizona, who were blasted by House Republicans in their report on Fast and Furious, still work in the federal government.

That seemed to rankle Fox News host Megyn Kelly and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif.

“Of these five guys who you point to who are responsible for this at ATF, no one’s been fired,” Kelly said on her program this week. “They’re still on the federal taxpayer dime. And the head guy, Ken Melson, he’s working for DOJ right now. Are the taxpayers still paying all these folks and why?”

Issa replied: “They are still paying all these folks. We are concerned that there has been no real repercussions.”

To which Jones says, just wait.

“On this issue of folks who are identified in the House report that are still with ATF, well there’s this little concept called due process,” Jones told NPR. “And until we get a factual report and a complete record from the Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General, which is our normal process, and make the referral to our internal affairs division, then there are rights that employees have.”

He even wants to change the name of the ATF to the Violent Crime Bureau.  Sounds as if Mr. Jones really wants to get to the bottom of this whole scandal, no?  But not so fast or furious.

Acting Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Director B. Todd Jones has failed to acknowledge overtures by the confidential informant at the heart of Operation Wide Receiver to give him detailed information about the failed gun smuggling investigation, Gun Rights Examiner learned over the weekend. Firearms dealer Mike Detty, who sold about 450 guns to straw purchasers under the assurances of his ATF handlers that they would be under surveillance, attempted to give Jones operational information both in person and by letter earlier this year, only to be ignored.

“I met him in the Sig booth at SHOT this year,” Detty told this correspondent. “I asked one of his people if he had time to say hello to another former Marine. He came over with a big smile and shook hands. I handed him a business card and told him, ‘If you’re serious about getting to the bottom of the gunwalking scandal you’ll need to start at the beginning–that’s me and Operation Wide Receiver.’

“He nodded and said he’d be in touch,” Detty continued. “Several weeks later I sent him a letter with my contact info and offer to help. Nothing.”

Gun Rights Examiner has obtained a copy of that letter, written on February 27, as well as the certified domestic mail return receipt, providing proof of delivery on March 5.

“There are currently something like 30 people serving prison sentences because of my involvement to help end illegal gun trafficking to Mexico,” Detty informed Jones, giving him a means of validating his credibility with an easily verifiable claim. “Not one case has gone to trial because of the overwhelming and indisputable documentation of these transactions–often videotaped in the living room of my home.”

“Operation Wide Receiver accounted for 450 guns being lost across the border but there were two other major cases that I brought to ATF that accounted for at least another 200 guns that are now in cartel hands,” Detty related. “As a CI it was not my place to question ATF’s motives or demand a detailed plan of action. I had assumed that my efforts would truly be used to help take down a powerful cartel.”

“If you’re sincere in wanting to get to the bottom of the gunwalking scandal then you’ll need to start at the beginning and that is me and Operation Wide Receiver,” Detty advised Jones. “Throughout my time as a CI, I kept meticulous notes–some 600 pages worth. In fact, it was my journal that raised the ire of SAC Newell. Once he learned of my documentation he ordered the field agents not to accept any new cases from me. He knew immediately that my records, irrefutable and unimpeachable, would prove troublesome for him at some point in the future.”

[ ... ]

“Whoever said he was a placeholder is correct,” Detty has sadly concluded in a private correspondence to Gun Rights Examiner. “He doesn’t care a bit about changing anything at ATF.” 

Meet the new boss … same as the old boss.  Don’t rename it, just get to the bottom of the illegalities and then get rid of the damn organization.

What Does A SWAT Team And Eight Children Have In Common?

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 8 months ago

A report from Monroe, Louisiana:

What do you do when armed police officers burst into your home with guns pointed on eight children and two women?

If you are LaMouria Lloyd you get angry! You get furious!

Lloyd said she and her sister are still reeling from the effects of the intrusion into their 1607 Alabama Street home on July 31st by three members of what she called a Swat Team with guns pointed at all of the women and children, yelling and cursing looking for a suspect.

The police had the wrong house, but they traumatized the residents and broke down their door.

They apologized and promised to fix her door. No one has ever returned.

It’an experience she says neither she, the children or her sister will never forget.

That night Lloyd returned home from work and talked to her mom on the phone. Her mom was hospitalized and she dozed off only to be awakened to the words, “Get on the f—king ground!”

She said they were yelling and pointing guns as they moved through her house. The children began to cry and the two women were terrified.

“They scared me, my sister and all eight of the kids. My niece was asking her mom what was wrong and she told her, “Baby, I don’t know!”

Both women palpitated. Her sister had an asthma attack and Lloyd had an anxiety attack.

When the officers, all white, realized they had entered the wrong house they apologized and promised to come back to repair the door they broke down breaking in. They have never returned.

“My 13 year old daughter said she is scared for life. The SWAT team was supposed to have come back and fixed the back door, but they still haven’t showed up,” Lloyd said.

“What they did isn’t fair because there were kids involved besides two adults. They were afraid to go to sleep that night. They were told they were in the wrong house over and over again. There were young kids in the house as young as three years old.”

Lloyd said she and her family were terrorized and don’t know what to do.

Of course, it’s irrelevant that the the officers were white.  The militarized tactic of SWAT raids on domiciles is at question here regardless of location or race.  Note again that the officers had their weapons pointing at the children.  This is yet another example of poor muzzle discipline, and the incident may have included poor trigger discipline.  When anyone who doesn’t happen to be a law enforcement officer does something like this, it’s called trespassing, brandishing a firearm, and assault with a deadly weapon (a felony offense that generally includes ”the intentional creation of a reasonable apprehension of imminent bodily harm”).  And bodily harm often does result, as with the case of Mr. Eurie Stamps, prone on the floor after his home had been mistakenly invaded, and who was shot dead by an officer who had his finger on the trigger of his weapon and stumbled, firing as a sympathetic muscle reflex.  The use of profanity adds insult to injury, and is unnecessary, obscene and insulting around little children.

But if you’re a law enforcement officer, you can do this all over America without any expectation of ever being held to account by the judicial system or the prosecutors.  But as I’ve said before, “De-escalation is the order of the day.  There is no reason to reflexively assume that a SWAT raid is in order, and every reason to take more care and concern for the unintended consequences of the use of such military tactics on American citizens.  Note to police departments around the nation: relax, call a uniform, and let him tell you what needs to be done, if anything.”  And if you want to apprehend someone, do a little investigative work.  Find and approach your suspect when he isn’t around anyone else or in his home.  SWAT teams aren’t a replacement for old fashioned police work.

So what does a SWAT team and eight children have in common?  Only that they shared the same experience, except with the children on the muzzle end of the gun.

Prior: SWAT Raids Category

Green On Blue Bloodbath In Afghanistan

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 8 months ago

Lt. Col. Michael Styskal, who commands Marines in southern Afghanistan has recently said “the threat within right now is worrying me. And the Marines, they know what the threat is, not so much on the outside — there could be a threat on the inside.”  It’s a well-placed worry.  Sgt. J.P. Huling, a Marine from Ohio, was killed earlier in May in Afghanistan in another incident of so-called green on blue violence.

From a report on August 10, 2012, an Afghan police officer shot and killed three U.S. Marines after sharing a meal with them before dawn Friday and then fled into the desolate darkness of southern Afghanistan, the third attack on coalition forces by their Afghan counterparts in a week.  The Afghan police commander opened fire on the three Americans after inviting them to dinner at his outpost under the pretext of having a meeting to discuss security.

This attack was followed up in the Helmand Province with another one in which six U.S. service members were killed, and yet again where an Afghan police officer killed at least 10 of his fellow officers on Saturday.

Chief spokesman for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, Brig-Gen Gunter Katz, told AFP “Those isolated incidents don’t reflect the overall security situation in Afghanistan.”  But these attacks clearly do reflect on the overall security situation, and in fact, they are a function of it.  The situation itself is a function first of jettisoning the strategy of killing the enemy in favor of population-centric counterinsurgency and state-building, and second of announcing a drawdown date and pretending that the enemy will build a nation favorable to the United States.

Regarding the degrading security situation in Afghanistan, in a suicide bomb attack this month, Command Sergeant Major Kevin J. Griffin, 45, was one of two soldiers who died of wounds in Sarkowi, Kunar Province. The other soldier was Major Thomas E. Kennedy, 35, of West Point, N.Y.  Air Force Major Walter D. Gray, 38, of Conyers, Ga., also died in the attack and Army Colonel James J. Mingus was badly wounded

That’s two Majors and one Command Sergeant Major killed, with one Colonel wounded in a single attack.  This attack was another suicide attack, and friend Dirty Mick writes with his take on the incident.

I knew exactly where this was because it is Governor Wahidi’s compound in the provincial capital of Kunar (Asadabad). We would go there a couple times a week because the PRT Commander would have his meetings with the governor, we would provide security, and push patrols with Civil Affairs and DOS to go check on the medical center, court house etc. Now, what’s interesting is we had no problems there (not even mortars) when I was there from Dec. 09 to Sept 10 and the same from goes with the previous PRT. The only incident I can remember specifically was a half assed grenade attack (It’s mentioned in Bing West’s book The Wrong War.). Now I can’t cite specifically how the various PRTs have operated since I left but when I was there I can tell you for sure an aggressive posture was frowned upon. My Navy commander chewed my Army’s chain of commands ass my first week in theater for pointing my M4 (I was a gunner at the time and couldn’t get the m2 on him) at a local and yelling at the guy who got too close to my vehicle at a traffic circle. Then another incident on a dismount patrol where the Navy got upset because I stopped a vehicle at an intersection by raising my weapon and walking torwards the vehicle (he wasn’t paying attention to my hand signals and the vehicle was going at a high rate of speed). I was specifically called out during a mission brief by my Navy Commander saying this wasn’t Iraq and we’re here to practice COIN. Also Navy SOP was to have the crew serves on the MRAPs on Amber Status (I think the Corps calls it condition 3) when we were in downtown Asadabad (we never followed that guidance). Now do I think this is reason why guys got killed? I honestly can’t say, I wasn’t there and I don’t know the current SecFor elements SOPs or how they work with the Navy. But I thought I would pass on to you how general patrols worked when I was there.

I have a buddy I served with in Kunar and is right now in Khandahar and this is what he told me: It was the PRT that got hit. What happened was two suicide bombers blew themselves up at the bottom of those extremely steep steps by the hydroelectric powerplant, on the way to FOB Fiaz. 3 KIA US Army, 1 US civilian state department KIA, 9 US Army WIA, 1 State department WIA, 1 ANA and 1 TERP WIA. Herschel I don’t know if these are the exact details but he was very specific. So pretty much a whole squad got wiped out. I would ask that if you decide to publish this to wait until more details arrive (Editorial comment: We waited until MSM reports flowed in concerning the incident). I don’t how accurate the info (for all we know it was a different unit) is but from what my friend told me it seems about right. Also the KIAs and WIAs is very specific so I would wait because I think it’s an OPSEC issue (Editorial comment: We did wait).

Anyway I thought I would pass the word because I was shocked when I read this article this morning and also how close they got to the Governor’s compound.

Another reader (and veteran of RC East) Jean writes in with this: “The initial report had it happening at the provisional capital, but I think it occurred across the river in Sarkonoi, not far from Joyce. If it was the Command team, they slipped by the PSD, that rarely happens.”  Remember Dirty Mick’s comments and file it away for future reference.  An aggressive posture was frowned upon.  And I do also know that Dirty Mick was involved in other combat operations in various parts of Kunar.  So the enemy was certainly aggressive.

Russia Sending Ships With Marines To Syrian Waters

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 8 months ago

I’m a little late to the punch here, but it appears as if Russia is testing its expeditionary warfighting skills.

Amid the continued uprising in Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry on Friday issued somewhat contradictory statements about a group of its naval warships steaming into the eastern Mediterranean.

The first statement said the warships were not planning to call on Tartus, a naval base Russia maintains in Syria. The second, issued several hours later, said it was possible that service boats from the group might call on Tartus to replenish supplies “if the time period of the trip is extended.”

Earlier in the day, Interfax quoted an unnamed Defense Ministry source as saying three landing assault ships, an anti-submarine ship and four smaller vessels might call on Tartus by Sunday. The ships are carrying a contingent of about 360 marines and amphibious armored personnel carriers.

The source didn’t specify whether the marines would remain in Tartus or leave with the warships. Tartus is a small port and won’t be able to dock more than two warships at a time, the source said.

Defense experts debated whether the naval group might be in the region to evacuate Russians based in Syria.

“I am absolutely confident that most likely their task will be to evacuate the personnel and equipment of the base,” Alexander Golts, a defense expert and deputy editor-in-chief of the popular liberal online publication Yezhednevny Zhurnal, said in an interview.

“However, this group is not sufficient enough to evacuate from 30,000 to 60,000 Russian citizens working and living in Syria,” Golts said, “unless the marines will be ordered to gain control of a landing strip at Damascus airport and help establish an air-bridge to take all Russians out.”

“Whatever their task, it is clear that given the rapidly deteriorating situation in Syria the Kremlin wants to have some sort of military presence close to its shores,” Golts added.

Uh huh.  360 Marines, barely more than a company.  And expeditionary warfighting is hard work.  It is fraught with difficulties – ships that leak, ships that break, parts that fracture, lack of replacement parts, the need to weld and perform complex in-situ refurbishment and maintenance, the need for replenishment of resources, the need for at-sea supply, the need for fuel, the need for involved medical treatment up to and including complex surgery, the need for egress from the sea-borne crafts should they fail, the need for air transport to and from the sea-borne craft, the need to be able to perform complex maintenance on that air transport, the need for complex logistics, and so on.

And in this case, they need all of the Marines necessary to be able to perform the mission.  360 isn’t nearly enough.  Should they actually be needed for land-based operations, they see combat, or they cannot use the port if it is not secure, this is a disaster in the making.

The Russians are curious about their current ability to conduct expeditionary warfare, and as commenter and loyal reader Jean and I remarked to each other, so are we.  While it is sad that the Middle East has devolved into a morass (at least in part I fault the current U.S. administration for that), this seems to be an opportunity for us.  It’s time to retask all available satellites, and queue up the signals intelligence.  I want to know how the Russians do at this.

Guns: The Great White Male Right-Wing Freak-Out

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 8 months ago

From Katha Pollitt at The Nation:

In the absence of leadership at the national level, big-city police chiefs and mayors like Michael Bloomberg have tried to step into the breach. But with little support from the top and lacking an impassioned mass movement, to say nothing of money to combat the NRA’s huge war chest, it’s no wonder that gun control has shriveled into a Worthy Cause. According to Gallup, in 2011 only 26 percent of Americans favored a ban on handguns, down from a high of 60 percent way back in the dark ages of 1959. (Other polls show the country evenly divided but still unchanged by the recent mass murders.) Membership in the NRA has been increasing for decades and now stands at 4.3 million. As for the 30,000 annual gun deaths, 70,000 injuries and almost twenty mass murders a year? The ninety guns for every 100 Americans? It’s something to wring your hands about, like sexting or obesity or plastic bags. Just another weird American thing.

Why is this? One reason is surely that guns have effectively become the emblem of the ongoing great white male right-wing freak-out. (Ladies might pack a pink pistol, but not an AK-47.) When Obama was elected, gun sales rose—quick, the Kenyan Muslim Communist is coming for our weapons! On NPR’s Diane Rehm Show, John Velleco of Gun Owners of America seemed comfortable with the idea that someone might want an arsenal of assault weapons to protect his family from a home invasion. What home invasion would that be? And among the many foolish justifications for amassing high-powered weaponry is the delusion that you and your friends could outgun the government if you personally decided it had become a tyranny. That’s almost as ridiculous as the notion that if everyone carried a gun, people would be safer. All those moviegoers in Aurora needed to make their misery complete was to have a bunch of armed freelancers shooting off their weapons in a dark theater.

Note the common misconception.  The NRA is depicted as some evil, amorphous blob bent on ruling the world, instead of an organization that gets it power and authority from its membership and fees, all voluntary.  As for home invasion, perhaps Katha could have read my article Do We Have A Constitutional Right To Own An AR?  In it I document three, four and five man home invasions across the country, big city and small, in a single day of searching for news reports.  As for a bunch of “armed freelancers” shooting off their weapons, maybe she is mistakenly referring to the incident where the New York Police Department fired off 84 rounds at a single shooter, missing with 70.

But of course, the most troublesome notion is that guns are an emblem of the great white male right-wing freak-out.  A pink pistol?  I can’t think of a single weapon I own of which Katha would approve.  But she does get points for the most ridiculous, outlandish, absurd, accusatory, churlish, exaggerated hyperbole of the day.  Such behavior seems to be emblematic of the great East coast, white, left wing superiority complex.

Ganjgal Revisited

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 8 months ago

Prior Study: Reprimands in Marine Deaths in Ganjgal Engagement

There’s something rotten afoot.

Like other U.S. trainers with the Afghan force that day, former Army Capt. William Swenson had expected light resistance. Instead, the contingent walked into a furious six-hour gunfight with Taliban ambushers in which Swenson repeatedly charged through intense fire to retrieve wounded and dead.

The 2009 battle of Ganjgal is perhaps the most remarkable of the Afghan war for its extraordinary heroism and deadly incompetence. It produced dozens of casualties, career-killing reprimands and a slew of commendations for valor. They included two Medal of Honor nominations, one for Swenson.

Yet months after the first living Army officer in some 40 years was put in for the nation’s highest military award for gallantry, his nomination vanished into a bureaucratic black hole. The U.S. military in Afghanistan said an investigation had found that it was “lost” in the approval process, something that several experts dismissed as improbable, saying that hasn’t happened since the awards system was computerized in the mid-1970s.

In fact, the investigation uncovered evidence that suggests a far more troubling explanation. It showed that as former Marine Cpl. Dakota Meyer’s Medal of Honor nomination from the same battle sailed toward approval despite questions about the accuracy of the account of his deeds, there may have been an effort to kill Swenson’s nomination.

Swenson’s original nomination was downgraded to a lesser award, in violation of Army and Defense Department regulations, evidence uncovered by the investigation showed.

Moreover, Swenson’s Medal of Honor nomination “packet,” a digitized file that contains dozens of documents attesting to his “heroism … above and beyond the call of duty,” disappeared from the computer system dedicated to processing awards, a circumstance for which the military said it has “no explanation.”

The unpublished findings, which McClatchy Newspapers has reviewed, threaten to taint a military awards process that’s designed to leave no margin of doubt or possibility of error about the heroism and sacrifices of U.S. service personnel. They also could bolster charges by some officers, lawmakers, veterans’ groups and experts that the process is vulnerable to improper interference and manipulation, embarrassing the military services and the Obama administration.

[ ... ]

Interviewed by military investigators five days after the battle, Swenson implicitly criticized top U.S. commanders in Afghanistan by blasting their rules of engagement. Angered that his repeated calls for artillery and air support were denied during the ambush, he charged that in trying to prevent civilian casualties for political reasons, the rules were costing U.S. soldiers’ lives.

“We are not looking at the ground fighter and why he is using these air assets,” Swenson said, according to a transcript obtained by McClatchy. “We just reduced an asset that’s politically unpopular. I’m sure there are a lot of people out there saying, ‘I would really like that asset.’ There are probably a lot of people who got killed as a result of not having that asset.

“I’m not a politician. I’m just the guy on the ground asking for that ammunition to be dropped because it’s going to save lives,” he continued.

Further, several key parts of the Army’s draft account of Swenson’s deeds — a central pillar of a nomination file — conflict with the Marines’ account of Meyer’s acts.

Further, several key parts of the Army’s draft account of Swenson’s deeds — a central pillar of a nomination file — conflict with the Marines’ account of Meyer’s acts.

The Army’s version, a copy of which was obtained by McClatchy, said it was Swenson — not Meyer — who led the recovery of U.S. and Afghan casualties from the Ganjgal Valley.

“The need for a ground recovery of all remaining casualties had now become clear,” the Army’s draft narrative said. “Facing this extreme and dire circumstance, and going above and beyond the call of duty, CPT Swenson gathered available combat power to lead a return up the wash.”

The Army’s draft narrative also corroborated the reporting of a McClatchy correspondent who survived the ambush that the belated arrival of U.S. helicopters had allowed trapped American personnel to escape, and that they weren’t saved by Meyer.

“A team of scout helicopters … arrived in the valley. CPT Swenson … began to talk the aircrafts’ fires onto the various enemy targets,” the draft narrative said. “The enemy sporadically engaged coalition forces while they were overhead. This provided (Swenson and those with him) the slim opportunity they needed” to pull back.

The problem of conflicting narratives would have been eliminated with the quiet death of Swenson’s nomination, which was put in some two months before Meyer was nominated.

Analysis & Commentary

Thanks to loyal reader and veteran of RC East in Afghanistan, Dirty Mick, who sends this link along.  He also points out that “if the army sorts out this paperwork snafu this will be the 6th MOH recipient (There’s only 10 in the whole GWOT so far) awarded for warriors that have served in Kunar Province. Staff Sergeant Giunta, Sergeant Meyer, Sergeant Miller, Lieutenant Murphy, and Sergeant First Class Monti (Which happened on the Kunar/Nuristan border in Gowardesh Valley). Has there been heavy fighting in other provinces? Of course but I think this is proof of the gravity of RC East and how it should have been the focus of the surge. With the massing of forces that we’ve talked about in the past (The last part of an ambush I was in had 60-70 fighters but combined with the other two TICs we got into it totalled to about a 100 and I was just on a PRT) against army units and the terrain I think N2KL should’ve been the focus of the surge as opposed to RC-South. The whole situation out there is truly tragic. ”

Tragic indeed.  But I’m still not convinced that Kunar / Nuristan should have been a sole focus of the surge.  Had it been, Now Zad, which was an R&R area for Taliban, Marjah, Garmsir, Musa Qala, Sangin and other areas would have withstood the reflexive bulge of fighters had we cleared RC East.  What I did recommend, however, is that [a] the Marines send more men to Now Zad instead of send them on wasteful MEUs, [b] the Marines move on to RC East after initial clearing operations were completed, [c] and more Soldiers and Marines be sent to Afghanistan, including to the Nuristan and Kunar Provinces.  Any reading of my Pech River Valley shows the attention I have recommended for RC East as well as Helmand and Kandahar.

But what I am thoroughly convinced of is that the report that the nomination for MoH got “lost” is a lie.  I don’t believe it.  If the Army awarded an MoH to Swenson, they would have impugned not only the self-serving screw-ups working at Joyce that fateful and horrible day (who denied artillery support because it might harm noncombatants while allowing white phosphorous to hide their retreat), it would reflect badly on the rules of engagement promulgated by Stanley McChrystal.  As I’ve pointed out before, culpability isn’t an either-or in this instance, it is both-and.  Both the men at Joyce and Stanley McChrystal are culpable for the deaths at Ganjgal.  They should all be in Leavenworth.  But as pointed out by one commenter, “The real reason those officers were not Court Martialed is they “wear the ring” of the Army Service Acadamy, that is they are “ring knockers”, this is a direct insult to those in command who wear the ring but shirk from their duty’s. You shall never ever see a “ring knocker” critized (sic) much less punished for “crimes” committed by other “ring knockers” Why do you think Will Swenson resigned??. He tesifiefed (sic) against the “ring knockers” and was extremely critical of their lack of action, his career was esentially (sic) ended, do not believe otherwise.”

There is more troubling information concerning the degree to which Swenson’s and Dakota Meyers’ accounts cohere.  This must be worked out.  More investigation must be done, and the truth must not be allowed to be buried, or just as bad, left untold.  But part of this truth is just how this MoH recommendation got “lost” … er, trashed.

Prior:

Reprimands in Marine Deaths in Ganjgal Engagement (highly recommended for the comments of family members of veterans who perished at Ganjgal)

AR 15-6 Investigation of Marine Deaths in Kunar Province

More Thoughts on Marines and Rules of Engagement

Taliban Ambush in Eastern Kunar Kills Four Marines

Deceptive Political Polling: Masking An Obama Re-Election Collapse?

BY Glen Tschirgi
1 year, 8 months ago

(H/T Drudge Report)

This post will require a bit of set up, so a little patience, please.

Historically, political polling originated as a means for the public to gauge which candidate was winning at various stages of a political race.   These early polls were crude efforts at asking gathered crowds which candidate they preferred with predictably poor results.   The consensus seems to be that modern polling started with George Gallup in 1935 as an effort to apply a more scientific approach with random sampling involving personal interviews with voters in 300 cities.   Because of the cost involved, newspapers and politicians did not conduct their own polls but relied upon the polling companies to inform them of public opinion.  In other words, the purpose of the polls, according to Gallup himself, was to help politicians figure out what the public wanted in order to be more responsive representatives.

This approach continued until a major shift to the use of telephone polling in the 1950′s.    The drastically reduced cost of telephone polling (which has its own inherent bias problems) enabled newspapers and politicians to conduct their own polls.   It did not take long until the purpose of polling in the hands of the media and politicians evolved into an attempt to influence the attitudes and opinions of the public.

With this background in mind, consider the explosion of political opinion polls.   The list of polling organizations– private, public and partisan– is long indeed.  With this plethora of polling groups there is a similar variety of methods used to garner opinion:  general adult population, registered voters, likely voters, sampling by partisan affiliation, automated polling, land-line polling, cell phone polling, internet polling, personal survey, and so on.   The decision by the pollster on which methods to employ, the framing of the questions, the order of the questions, the choices in the demographics and sampling size… all of these and more factors can greatly affect the results of any given poll.

So last week we had a poll released by NBC/Wall Street Journal that purported to show President Obama with a six percentage point lead over Romney in the general election.   Shortly after the poll was released, several bloggers did the necessary work to examine the choices that the pollsters made and how that affected the results.    Here is just one of those take-downs from Hot Air:

The 2008 national exit poll sample, taken when Hopenchange fever was at its zenith, was 39D/32R/29I, or D+7. This one, after three years of Obamanomics dreck, is somehow D+11 if you include leaners and D+12(!) if you don’t. Anyone feel like taking these results seriously?

In other words, the pollsters decided to radically over-sample Democrats in their poll for no, apparent good reason.   By comparison, the national party registration for Democrats and Republicans is now about even or slightly favoring Republicans.   Add to that the recent Gallup poll that found a huge lead for Republicans in voter enthusiasm which would drive proportionately more Republicans to the polls and you can only conclude that this is a poll designed to influence public opinion rather than report it.

And this is not the only, such skewed poll.   If you look at most of the polling being featured at Real Clear Politics (a purportedly neutral website for conservative and liberal news/opinion), most of the polls feature a similar, biased party sample, or sample only the general population or registered voters rather than likely voters.   All of these polls show Obama and Romney either at a dead heat or Obama with a small lead.

Add to this a report in The Weekly Standard from last week that the Obama Campaign spent over $2.6 million on polling just in the month of June (compared with just $460,000 in April) and a pattern seems to be emerging:  Obama is losing the voters and losing them badly.   Unless he takes some dramatic action or events intercede to change public opinion, he is headed toward a sizable, electoral collapse.

Despite everything that most pundits– conservative and liberal— are telling you, I believe that Obama is headed for a resounding defeat.   The spending by Obama’s campaign on polling is the result of panic.   They cannot believe the numbers they are getting and they are polling and re-polling for any and every conceivable angle that would turn opinion in favor of El Presidente.   Nothing is working, so far.

The hyper-skewed polling by NBC/WSJ is also telling.   Clearly this poll was designed to push public opinion in the direction of Obama by giving the impression that he is pulling away from Romney in voter preference.  This is not surprising in itself.  What is shocking is that NBC/WSJ had to resort to a sampling that favors Democrats by 12 points over Republicans in order to get the numbers that they wanted.

Contrast this with the daily tracking polls of likely voters from Rasmussen Reports that had Romney ahead of Obama by 5% last week.   For an incumbent like Obama to be trailing the challenger at this point in the election– before the public has focused on the race and before the convention and debates– is an indication that Obama is getting all the support he is going to get.   He is already maxed out and there is nowhere to go but down.

Obama’s only hope right now is to conceal his tenuous position from the public in order to avoid the “Bandwagon Effect.”     This is a well-known phenomenon in polling in which voters who have not yet decided or are not strongly committed to either candidate are strongly influenced by polling which indicates that one of the candidates is pulling far ahead in the race.   These voters want to be part of the winning team, so to speak, and throw their vote in with the majority.   So long as Obama and his allies in the Statist Media can manipulate the polling to maintain the appearance of viability, they can hope for a Romney implosion or some, other intervening event to save the election.

Along, then, comes an article in The Hill that attempts to do this very thing.   Using the ridiculously skewed demographics, the article makes use of the NBC/WSJ poll as follows:

Despite voters’ worries about the economy, they continue to give Obama the edge on personal popularity. In a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, Obama led Romney by 20 points on the question of whether voters liked each of them on an individual level. Two thirds said they liked Obama, whether or not they disagreed with his policies, while just 47 percent said the same about Romney.

Just 35 percent of voters held a positive opinion of Romney overall, with 40 percent negative, while 49 percent had positive opinions of Obama and 43 percent felt negatively about him. Both candidates saw slight upticks in their negative numbers since the ad onslaught began.

The article also mentions the Real Clear Politics average of polls for the idea that the candidates are locked in a statistical tie, a tie that is only made possible by the inclusion of polls that use unreliable or skewed data to give Obama a lead.

But even these partisan polls can only mask the reality for a limited amount of time.    If Obama’s numbers continue to slide and it becomes too obvious to skew the numbers in order to make the race look competitive, expect to see even Leftist polling groups grudgingly showing a Romney lead.   My personal prediction is that by September, absent an unlikely implosion by Romney, we will start to see a snow-balling of public opinion where the public has finally tuned in to the race and begins breaking for Romney.   Once that starts to happen the Bandwagon Effect will take hold and the bottom for Obama will fall out with only the hard-core, 35% of Democrats voting for him.  At that point we could be looking at a rout similar to the 2010 Elections, thus ending our national experiment in Mass Insanity.

Kamdesh Veteran Plays Football For Clemson

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 8 months ago

For some time now I have observed High School and College age kids to try to determine the degree to which they appreciate and understand the sacrifice that the men in uniform have made, especially combat veterans.  Frankly, it’s a disturbing practice that has led in no small part to a sort of loss of hope in this generation.  Many are consumed with video games, comfort, and their own well being.

Occasionally though, something like this comes along.  A combat veteran of the Battle of Kamdesh is going to play football for my alma mater, Clemson University.

It’s always been Daniel Rodriguez’s dream to play college football, but that dream had to be deferred when he decided to join the Army after high school.

Six years after the decision, Clemson is finally making Rodriguez’s dream come true.

On Wednesday, the school announced Rodriguez, a 24-year-old, 5-foot-8 receiver, was cleared by the ACC to join the Tigers.

“I am very happy for Daniel,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said in a release. “He is getting the opportunity to follow his dream. We are excited to have him join our program. I have no doubt that he will become a great leader for us. His background and story is an inspiration to us all.”

Rodriguez served as an Army infantryman in both Iraq and Afghanistan from 2006-10. In October 2009, Rodriguez was wounded in the battle of Kamdesh after more than 400 Taliban insurgents stormed a small American base. Rodriguez took shrapnel in his legs and neck, and a bullet fragment in his shoulder. He was awarded a Bronze Star of Valor and Purple Heart for his bravery in the fight.

Rodriguez was honorably discharged in 2010, and when he left the Army he did so intending on following through on a promise he made to his good friend Pfc. Kevin Thompson, who was killed in the battle. That promise was to find a way to play college football.

Rodriguez, who hasn’t played football since high school, first shared his story and his workouts on a YouTube video that ultimately went viral. He has since been featured on the cover of USA Today, and has been profiled on CNN and “Dan Rather Reports.”

Rodriguez understands that he’s not going to come into Clemson and be some sort of world-beater on the field, but he’s grateful for the opportunity and hopes his leadership will become an asset. Watch the above video, it will make you want to root for Rodriguez to do well.

“I’m not this high-scouted athlete expected to change this program,” Rodriguez said. “I’m just a cog on the wheel that’s going to play my role and better the team from an individual standpoint and give insight from what I’ve been through as a person. If I can help mold some of these guys in the locker room to have the same perspective on life I have, that’s a benefit.”

The video is remarkable, and Rodriguez gets the honor of competing for Clemson … and Clemson gets the honor of having him.  It’s a remarkable video that punctuates a remarkable story.

SWAT Raids A Snake Shooting

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 8 months ago

From Orangeburg, South Carolina:

The Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team and deputies were called out Sunday after dispatchers received a call reporting shots fired and people screaming. The caller said there was a big commotion going on at a Cannon Bridge Road house.

The only thing the caller could tell from his vantage point through thick trees was people at the house were screaming and shots were being fired.

Just after 5 p.m., deputies raced to the 4000 block of Cannon Bridge Road to prevent any more carnage. While deputies were en route, the caller’s phone suddenly went dead.

Shooting, screaming, carnage.  This sounds awful.  But it gets much worse, very quickly.

A second witness called county dispatch saying that from what he could see, hostages had been taken, some of them elderly and some of them young. He didn’t know how many. No one was being allowed to leave.

Worse, he said if law enforcement showed everyone would be gunned down right there on the spot, according to a Sheriff’s Office incident report.

The initial caller managed to call back saying that he could now see a man in the yard of the home brandishing a .22-caliber rifle. Near the man with the rifle was a child, he said, and some old people.

Uh oh.  Hostages, children, old people, and the gunner “brandishing” a weapon.

Meantime, emergency crews shut down their sirens and lights as they sped the last two miles to the home. They met with the caller about 100 yards from the residence. After he gave an update on the situation, he was taken to a safe location to the rear.

A woman walking down the road was taken into protective custody.

Analyzing the situation — a single wood-lined lane leading to a house flanked by heavy woods — the SWAT team was called while officers on scene concealed themselves in strategic locations around the house.

Officers then watched as a male wearing shorts and flip-flops ambled down the dirt lane from the house and toward the waiting officers. The thick foliage blocked any chance the officers had of determining if the shirtless man was armed. 

It’s gone from bad to worse; protective custody, SWAT, concealed shooting locations for the LEOs, and some dude walking towards their location – maybe the perp himself.

However, as he drew near, he was ordered at gunpoint to the ground where he was taken into custody without a fight.

A security sweep of the property turned up a wooden rifle stock with no barrel. No one seemed to be harmed but the man subdued on the road appeared to be shaken after meeting so many officers.

It was determined that the homeowner had shot a snake he discovered earlier in the back yard. A child surprised by the shot screamed.

The SWAT team was ordered to stand down. It returned before arriving to aid in what was little more than an effort to repel a reptile.

The first caller told deputies he really couldn’t see that well through the trees. He just heard shots, someone screaming and he had assumed the worst.

Continuing the investigation, the officers learned the homeowner in question had actually been on the phone with that second man who later called law enforcement.

The two had a dispute on the phone during their conversation, according to the report. That dispute allegedly led to threats by the homeowner against that second caller, who, in turn, relayed them on to law enforcement as if the homeowner was threatening police, the report said.

Officers now believe the homeowner did not make threats against them. They did take the gun from the residence for safekeeping, noting the homeowner seemed intoxicated.

That second caller gave investigators a particular name, which detectives have since learned is not his real name. They still want to talk with the man they now know resides in Calhoun County.

No one was injured during the melee. Except the snake.

As I’ve said before, “De-escalation is the order of the day.  There is no reason to reflexively assume that a SWAT raid is in order, and every reason to take more care and concern for the unintended consequences of the use of such military tactics on American citizens.  Note to police departments around the nation: relax, call a uniform, and let him tell you what needs to be done, if anything.”

An armed tactical team was about to be unleashed on a man who shot a snake with a 10/22.  Who knows what the “operators” would have done had they been on location and the “perpetrator” had been inside his home?  As we’ve seen with SWAT teams, their raids have all the elements of legally-sanctioned, judicially-legitimized home invasions.  And they’re extremely dangerous.

On a related subject, forgive me if I don’t get too worked up over “SWATting” of prominent conservative bloggers by liberal activists.  Regular people are out there subject to the same things as the bloggers.  I had a conversation with one blogger who was put off, perhaps even annoyed, that I even raised the issue, but I won’t worry too much that bloggers have been targeted.  The only reason we hear about it is because they are prominent bloggers.  The problem isn’t “SWATting” bloggers.  The problem is that such a tactic exists to use in the first place.

Prior: SWAT Raids category

Do We Have A Constitutional Right To Own An AR?

BY Herschel Smith
1 year, 8 months ago

The AR is in the news lately, much maligned, and much misunderstood.  We have already discussed the notion of the AR (most Americans purchase) being an assault rifle, explaining that it is no such thing since for a weapon to be an assault rifle it must have selective fire capability.  “Assault weapon” is a political phrase that is meant to convey the idea of weapons being scary.

But the hatred of the things that characteristize the politically-defined assault weapon (high capacity magazines, forend grips, etc.) pours from the editorial pages in newspapers all across the country today.  For a few examples consider Robert in New York:

In Colonial times, weapons for individuals were limited to flintlock rifles and pistols. These had utility for food-gathering and home defense. These weapons were powder-and-ball, single-shot, and slow to reload laboriously by hand, and of limited range and accuracy.

Nowadays we have graduated to semiautomatic assault weapons, intended for military use and the killing or maiming of as many enemies as possible in battle. They can fire hundreds of rounds per minute. There was a ban on them for private sale and use in recent years, but it has since been struck down.

Does anyone think they are critical for home defense, bringing down a rabbit, a deer, or for target practice?

Next, consider Joan in Vero Beach:

I am struck that the killer once again had an assault weapon and was able to legally purchase it and the magazines in local stores and off the Internet because of the bullying tactics of Wayne LaPierre and his gutless minions in Congress.

I have spent many a happy time with my dogs at hunt tests safely using a gun. I am not against responsible gun ownership but assault weapons have no place in the possession of anyone but law enforcement or the military and certainly not legally accessible on the Internet.

LaPierre and his minions will wait for the storm of their refusal to agree to the need of rational gun laws to settle down and then they will raise their usual baseless arguments against any laws that prohibit people from freely purchasing assault weapons even as the families of victims in Aurora, Tucson and Columbine daily grieve the loss of their loved ones, who were only doing the things that we all do every day.

Finally, consider Roland Martin, CNN contributor:

To all of you gun lovers, feel free to go buy your Glock, shotgun, hunting rifle, .22 pistol, .357 Magnum or any of the other guns at your disposal.

But you do not need an AK-47.

For some, it’s too soon to discuss gun reform, a little more than one week after the mass killings in Aurora, Colorado. I disagree. Too many Americans are being killed by guns every day; this most recent heinous tragedy should not keep us from having a rational debate.

[ ... ]

Seriously, please offer me a reasonable and rational explanation as to why someone who isn’t a law enforcement officer needs to fire off that many bullets?

Well, since Mr. Martin demanded, let’s engage that debate with him.  As I have pointed out, it simply isn’t true that America is refusing to engage in debate over guns.  That’s all we’ve been doing for more than a week now.  It’s just that anti-firearms folks are losing the argument, so it gets louder with each day and for each new commentary.

Regarding defense of my person and my home and family, what happens if Robert, or Joan or Roland restrict me to a muzzle loading weapon and I miss my assailant?  After all, shooting your weapon is a perishable skill and I only get to the range once a week or every two weeks.  What happens if I neglect to practice my “fail to stop” drills or my first or second or third shot miss my assailant?  What happens if I am using my AR and neglect to compensate my aim for sight “height over bore” and miss my assailant badly enough to wound him but not kill him, and he keeps coming after me?

What happens if the threat is from a multiple-assailant home invasion and I must produce a large volume of fire very rapidly in order to effect proper self defense?  Consider this five-man home invasion in Tulsa.

A second suspect in the attack on a Tulsa minister was arrested Tuesday night, Tulsa police said.

Markedrik Delmar Wilson, 26, was arrested about 8:40 p.m. after a witness identified him as one of five men who forced their way into the Rev. Kenneth Brooks’ home in the 2700 block of North Denver Avenue shortly before 2 a.m. Tuesday, according to police and reports.

One of the men shot Brooks point-blank in the chest and then the group fled, police said.

Or perhaps consider this home invasion in Wareham, Massachusetts.

Five men accused of a home invasion in Wareham where two women say they were raped are now facing Superior Court charges.

All five are charged with four counts of masked armed robbery and one count of armed home invasion. Santiago and Gomes are charged with aggravated rape and Williams is being charged with unlawful possession of a firearm without an FID card.

Is this enough to demonstrate the point?  Perhaps not.  Then consider yet another five-man home invasion in Glenolden, Pennsylvania.

A group of men – at least one armed with a gun – invaded a borough home early Wednesday and terrorized several people inside, including one who was pistol-whipped, according to NBC-10.

The violence incident unfolded about 1:45 a.m., when a group of four or five men broke into a at near the intersection of Elmwood and Ashland avenues, police said. At least one of the intruders was armed with a handgun.

Four people were inside the home at the time and one of the residents was pistol-whipped, police said.

Have you considered this four-man home invasion in Philadelphia?  Or how about this three-man home invasion in Charlotte, North Carolina?  Or this three-man home invasion in Franklin Country, Alabama?  Or this three-man home invasion in Pawtucket?

Shaun Connell defends the right to own an AR under the constitution, and I think rightly so under the rubric of self defense.  I may in fact have to produce a large volume of fire very quickly and effectively.  But there is more.  Ownership of weapons is the surest defense against tyranny.  This doctrine is so well rehearsed in American history that it should have been given its due consideration in Supreme Court rulings (Heller and McDonald).  It surely is well rehearsed in lower courts.  Ken Klukowski, a research fellow at Liberty University School of Law, observes:

This right has two purposes. One is so Americans can defend themselves from criminals. Another — talked up by the Tea Party but ridiculed by the liberal elite — is that the Second Amendment protects citizens against our own government.

The Supreme Court declared in its landmark 2008 D.C. v. Heller decision — a decision praised by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz. — that the Second Amendment was enshrined in the Constitution because when vast numbers of citizens have guns and know how to use them, “they are better able to resist tyranny.”

When serving on the California Supreme Court, now-D.C. Circuit Judge Janice Rogers Brown observed, “political writings of the [Founding Fathers] repeatedly expressed a dual concern: facilitating the natural right of self-defense and assuring an armed citizenry capable of repelling foreign invaders and quelling tyrannical leaders.”

Ninth Circuit Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain explained the Second Amendment “right contains both a political component — it is a means to protect the public from tyranny — and a personal component — it is a means to protect the individual from threats to life or limb.”

The most sobering words come from Judge Alex Kozinski of the 9th Circuit, who wrote, “the simple truth — born of experience — is that tyranny thrives best where government need not fear the wrath of an armed people.”

The son of Holocaust survivors, Kozinski continued, “The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed — where the government refuses to stand for re-election and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once.”

Scalia has made his views known on weapons that are “affrighting.”  He hasn’t given any public acknowledgement of the point I made concerning tyranny, but this view isn’t that odd.  David Codrea makes similar points to Klukowski.

For someone represented by the establishment as an “originalist,” Scalia’s views are anything but. In “A View of the Constitution,” which colleague Brian Puckett writes “was the standard constitutional law text at Harvard until 1845 and at Dartmouth until 1860,” William Rawle, “a contemporary of the Founders and the man to whom George Washington offered an appointment as the first U.S. Attorney General,” offered a vastly different opinion.

“No clause in the Constitution could by any rule of construction be conceived to give to congress a power to disarm the people,” Rawle wrote in Chapter X, “OF THE RESTRICTIONS ON THE POWERS OF CONGRESS — AND ON THE EXECUTIVE AND JUDICIAL AUTHORITIES — RESTRICTIONS ON THE POWERS OF STATES AND SECURITY TO THE RIGHTS OF INDIVIDUALS.”

“Such a flagitious attempt could only be made under some general pretence by a state legislature,” Rawle continued. “But if in any blind pursuit of inordinate power, either should attempt it, this amendment may be appealed to as a restraint on both.”

The only thing that even approaches forcing me to rethink my position on so-called assault weapons is a tradeoff where I never, ever have to look again at a picture of Dianne Feinstein holding an AR.

But I said approaches – I’m not there.  Like David Condrea, I wasn’t surprised at Scalia’s comments and have always held that Heller was a weak ruling.  A better picture to show the silliness of the assault weapons ban (that Feinstein wants to reintroduce) is of me getting back from walking my dog, a 74 pound Doberman named Heidi.

Just like I always do when walking my dog, I’m carrying a weapon, in this case my S&W M&P .40, Flat Dark Earth finish, Viking Tactics sights.  Because the magazine holds 15 rounds it is considered an “assault weapon” under the expired rule.  Yes, the assault weapons ban is just that stupid because Feinstein and others consider this to be an affrighting weapon.

Considering the issue of self defense, it is clear that a so-called assault weapon suits the need of the moment in many circumstances.  Evan Nappen gives us 101 more reasons to own an assault weapon.  But I want to return to the issue of tyranny for a moment.

Gone are the days when only the lawyers are able to get access to court proceedings and opinions.  They are publicly available and we all read them.  If Scalia is right and there is much more to come on weapons in the courts, we’ll be watching and listening.  We’ll pour over each and every word of the opinion(s).  We’ll examine them for coherence and consistency, and the degree to which they honestly address the historical issues.

If the court wants to avoid the issue of suppression of tyranny – so-called “second amendment remedy” – in its rulings, then so be it.  Judges and Justices are advised, however, to be completely transparent about it.  Say that you no longer believe in such a thing, and explain why.  Explain why it was acceptable to use arms against British tyranny but that they serve no such purpose today, or better, explain why they cannot possibly serve any such purpose anywhere or at any time in the future.

If you ignore the issue we’ll consider you to be cowards.  When the recent ruling on health care was issued, the workplace discussion focused on ridicule and mockery over the duplicity and mental contortions necessary to come up with a ruling like that one.  It badly affected the reputation and legitimacy of the court.

Does the Supreme Court really want to add to the problem of legitimacy by avoiding a frank and open discussion of the role of arms in the prevention of state tyranny?  Does the court really want to appear cowardly?  We’re watching.  I concur with our liberal friends: it’s time for an open discussion.

UPDATE: #1: Linked to reddit/r/guns

Commenter Montysaurus says:

“As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as the military forces which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the next article in their right to keep and bear their private arms.”

-Tenche Coxe, friend and correspondant of James Madison (father of the constitution)

” . . . but if circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude, that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people, while there is a large body of citizens, little if at all inferior to them in discipline and use of arms, who stand ready to defend their rights . . . .”

-Alexander Hamilton, Federalist papers #29

UPDATE #2: Thanks to David Codrea for the attention!


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