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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Officer Down

Deputy Sheriff Michael C. Walizer
Charles City County Virginia Sheriff's Office
End of Watch: Saturday, March 31, 2012
Age: 36
Tour: 11 years

Deputy Sheriff Michael Walizer was killed in an automobile accident while responding to backup another deputy on a traffic stop at approximately 2:00 am.

He was driving on John Tyler Highway, one mile west of Route 155, when his patrol car ran off the right side of the roadway. The patrol car then crossed over to the other side of the road and struck a tree. Despite wearing a seat belt, he suffered fatal injuries and died at the scene.

Deputy Walizer had served with the Charles City County Sheriff's Office for six years and had served in law enforcement for 11 years. He had previously served with the Newport News / Williamsburg International Airport Police Department, Richmond International Airport Police Department, and Caroline County Sheriff's Office. He is survived by his wife and four children.
Rest in Peace Bro…We’ll Continue The Watch

Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Security Weekly: Colombia's New Counterinsurgency Plan, March 29, 2012

By Colby Martin

Colombian security forces attacked a camp belonging to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) on March 26 in Vistahermosa, Meta department, killing 36 members of the guerrilla group and capturing three. The operation, which Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said resulted in the deaths of more FARC members than any other single strike in the 50-year-long conflict between the Colombian government and Marxist guerrilla groups, came shortly after a similar action in Arauca state in which 33 FARC members were killed and 12 were captured.

The operations were launched as part of an aggressive new Colombian counterinsurgency strategy dubbed Operation Espada de Honor ("Sword of Honor"), created in response to the increasing violent activity by the country's guerrilla groups. The plan expands the list of targets for security forces and the locations where they will engage guerrillas, with the goal of crippling the FARC both militarily and financially.

Espada de Honor is the latest of several plans by the Colombian government to combat militancy in the country. To fully understand the plan and its implications, it is helpful to examine the nature of Colombia's guerrilla groups, previous government counterinsurgency strategies and how the FARC has reacted to them.

Limitations to Colombian Security

Colombia's central government has never been able to control all of its territory. The Magdalena River Valley represents the heart of the country, where -- along with the cities of Bogota, Medellin and Cali -- most of the country's population lives. It is isolated from the rest of the country by Andes mountain ranges on either side. Outside the heartland is a combination of jungles, mountains and plains, largely uninhabited with limited infrastructure development.

Even with U.S. military aid, the logistical challenges involved in projecting power into Colombia's hinterlands make extended deployments unsustainable. Military operations outside the core have never been able to establish the security conditions needed to permit effective law enforcement on a large scale or for a significant period of time. The Colombian state is thus largely absent from the hinterlands, and the economic inequality in these regions is severe, giving rise to criminal organizations and insurgent groups.

This would not be a point of contention if not for the fact that the regions outside Colombia's core are rich in extractive resources such as oil, gold, precious stones, and rare earth elements -- as well as marijuana, coca and opium poppies. The state and insurgent and criminal groups are in competition for these resources, and the state is trying to secure the regions, regardless of limitations. Because the government lacks the resources to properly address the underlying issues of lack of development and inequality, eliminating insurgent groups is almost impossible. Instead, the government must concentrate on inhibiting their ability to operate and attempt to secure its interests as it seeks ways to improve conditions in the countryside.

Colombia has been in conflict since its creation as a republic in 1819. In the past 50 years, the conflict has centered on Marxist insurgences and the cocaine trade. Each new government plan to deal with these insurgencies has evolved from previous plans, though since the late 1990s, its strategies have been increasingly based on U.S. counterinsurgency doctrine.

Plan Colombia

In the late 1990s, President Andres Pastrana attempted to peacefully resolve the conflict with the FARC. Under Plan Colombia, Pastrana asked the United States, Europe and others for aid, both to combat the FARC and other insurgent groups and to address poverty and the lack of development in Colombia, issues he considered the underlying causes of the insurgency. This was intended to be coupled with peace negotiations in a demilitarized zone in San Vicente del Caguan, Caqueta department.

However, the plan that was actually implemented in 2000 focused much more on drug eradication and counterinsurgency than on development.

Nearly 80 percent of counterinsurgency funding, all of which came from the United States (which has spent nearly $7 billion in Colombia since 2000), went to the Colombian military and police, while developmental aid from other countries never fully materialized. Peace talks failed, the military moved into the demilitarized zone and the conflict escalated. Security operations were focused on the southern and eastern areas of Colombia, which were considered strongholds of the FARC and, not coincidentally, two of the main coca-producing regions in Colombia.

Plan Patriota

In late 2003, President Alvaro Uribe began to implement a counterinsurgency strategy titled Plan Patriota ("Plan Patriot"), a second phase of Plan Colombia. Uribe felt that in order to truly defeat the FARC, the military needed to take the fight to the guerrillas. Under the plan, the military would target high-value FARC leaders, drive the guerrillas out of strongholds in southern and eastern Colombia and hand control over the territory to civilian leadership. Along with this, the Colombians began a top-to-bottom overhaul of their military with support from the United States.

The tactics used during Plan Patriota were consistent. First, intelligence was gathered on locations of FARC camps and leaders. After the targets were acquired, fixed-wing attack aircraft and helicopters would bomb the targets to soften defenses, disorient the defenders, and kill as many guerrillas as possible before special operations forces swept through the target area in order to capture or kill remaining combatants and collect any intelligence. Computers, thumb drives, cell phones and other documents were collected in these operations. This intelligence led to more successful operations against the FARC and its supporters.

The plan successfully reduced the FARC's capabilities and membership. There were about 16,000 murders in 2008, down from nearly 30,000 in 2002, and the FARC's membership was reduced from about 17,000 to 9,000. The FARC also was driven away from traditional base camps closer to coca and cocaine production sites and forced to look for new routes and base camps. The successes of Plan Patriota laid the foundation for the tactics used in Operation Espada de Honor.

Plan Rebirth

The success of Plan Patriota did not destroy the FARC, but it did force the group to change how it operated. In late 2008 after realizing it could not succeed in direct confrontations with Colombian security forces, FARC leadership devised Plan Rebirth. Under the plan, the group retreated to its traditional strongholds, decentralized its leadership and formed into smaller units. The group also changed tactics accordingly, relying more on hit-and-run ambushes, improvised explosive devices and small, mobile sniper teams that allowed the guerrillas to strike government forces without engaging them directly in conventional combat.

The FARC's target set also changed to focus more on strategically valuable, less-secure linear infrastructure such as transportation and oil pipeline networks. The group's reasoning was twofold: First, it could use the threat of these attacks to extort "revolutionary taxes" from companies operating in the area. Second, because the government relies on energy and resource extraction for economic growth, these attacks could give the FARC leverage in any future negotiations. The tactic appears to be somewhat successful; Emerald Energy has shut down operations in the San Vicente del Caguan region in the past year, and others, including Occidental Petroleum Corporation, are threatening to do the same unless security improves. Nevertheless, foreign direct investment continues to increase, giving the Colombian government more targets to protect and more reason to attempt to control the FARC.

Operation Espada de Honor

Operation Espada de Honor, then, is an attempt by the Colombian government to aggressively counter the FARC and other hostile organizations in areas where the groups and Colombia's economic interests overlap. The end goal is to reduce the "capacity" of the group by 50 percent over the next two years and limit its ability to attack the state or its interests.

The new strategy will continue to target the group's leadership but also expand its focus to eliminate 15 of the FARC's 67 fronts that represent its most powerful economic and military forces. According to Colombian newspaper El Espectador, the 52 remaining fronts are no longer in direct contact with FARC leadership, operating as criminal gangs and making agreements with everyone, including former enemies. Colombian armed forces commander Gen. Alejandro Navas recently estimated the FARC's current membership at between 8,000 and 9,000, although the true number is difficult to discern.

The operation will continue to focus on the FARC's traditional southern and eastern strongholds as well as the Catatumbo region and the departments of Arauca, Cauca, Valle, Narino, Tolima, Putumayo and Vichada. The military will also improve its intelligence capabilities through the creation of a joint fusion center among all branches of the armed forces and national police and increase the size of the army by 5,000 troops and the National Police by 20,000.

Notably, though the FARC is currently the primary target, the operation also changes how the state combats what it calls bandas criminales, or "bacrim" -- criminal groups with roots in the United Defense Front (AUC) paramilitary organization. Traditionally, the military has dealt with guerrilla insurgencies by groups such as the FARC and ELN, while the National Police has dealt with bacrim with support from the navy. In the announcement for Espada de Honor, it was mentioned that the military would now be leading the fight against the criminal organizations as well.


Operation Espada de Honor is less about a major strategic shift in the war against insurgency and crime than it is an admission by the Santos government that the end of the violence in Colombia is not around the corner. The government has put aside the goal of completely defeating the FARC and other groups, instead focusing on strategically defending its interests by disrupting the enemy through tactical offensives.

Just as the United States has learned in Vietnam and Afghanistan, insurgencies are very difficult to completely stamp out. Certainly, an armed victory over the FARC, or even a negotiated settlement, will not be the end of armed criminal groups in Colombia. The geographic limitations, severe inequality and cocaine trade all create the conditions in which Colombia will continue to struggle to control its territory. The new importance of the military in the fight against the insurgencies makes it clear that the government was never able to establish effective control over the outer areas of the country. Without this control, the regions where the conflict rages cannot begin to solve the underlying problems of inequality and lack of development.

In the short term, the expansion of targets and locations will increase the likelihood of violence. The operations could also reduce the amount of cocaine coming out of Colombia as the government endeavors to cut the FARC's funding and the targeted organizations try to hunker down and survive. Over time, the operation could lead to a further decentralization of the FARC as more leaders are captured or killed, including mid-level leaders. Rank-and-file members could decide to desert in order to survive the onslaught. This dynamic would create even more violence as remaining FARC members fight with organized-crime groups and drug traffickers for control over the highly lucrative territory. It is the monopolization of control by one group or another, including the government, that reduces the threat.

However, it is important to remember that this escalation in the conflict does not mean these competing gangs pose the same existential threat to the state as a large Marxist insurgency with 20,000 fighters does. But as long as there is a market for cocaine and the extractive resources found in Colombia, insurgencies and criminal groups will have the means and motivation to continue the conflict.

Colombia's New Counterinsurgency Plan COPYRIGHT STRATFOR.COM

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Geopolitical Diary: The United States in Korea: A Strategy of Inertia, March 27, 2012

By George Friedman

After U.S. President Barack Obama visited the Korean Demilitarized Zone on March 25 during his trip to South Korea for a nuclear security summit, he made the obligatory presidential remarks warning North Korea against continued provocations. He also praised the strength of U.S.-South Korean relations and commended the 28,500 U.S. troops stationed there. Obama's visit itself is of little importance, but it is an opportunity to ask just what Washington's strategy is in Korea and how the countries around North Korea (China, Russia, South Korea and Japan) view the region. As always, any understanding of current strategy requires a consideration of the history of that strategy.

The Korean War and the U.S. Proto-Strategy

Korea became a key part of U.S. Cold War-era containment strategy almost by accident. Washington, having deployed forces in China during World War II and thus aware of the demographic and geographic problems of operating on the Asian mainland, envisioned a maritime strategy based on the island chains running from the Aleutians to Java. The Americans would use the islands and the 7th Fleet to contain both the Soviets and the Chinese on the mainland.

Korea conceptually lay outside this framework. The peninsula was not regarded by the United States as central to its strategy even after the victory of the communists in the Chinese civil war. After World War II, the Korean Peninsula, which had been occupied by the Japanese since the early 1900s, was divided into two zones. The North came under the control of communists, the South under the control of a pro-American regime. Soviet troops withdrew from the North in 1948 and U.S. troops pulled out of the South the following year, despite some calls to keep them in place to dissuade communist aggression. The actual U.S. policy toward an invasion of the South by the North is still being debated, but a U.S. intervention on the Korean Peninsula clearly violated Washington's core strategic principle of avoiding mainland operations and maintaining a strategic naval blockade.

U.S. strategy changed in 1950, when the North Koreans invaded the South, sparking the Korean War. Pyongyang's motives remain unclear, as do the roles of Moscow and Beijing in the decision. Obviously, Pyongyang wanted to unite the peninsula under communist control, and obviously, it did not carry out its invasion against Chinese and Russian wishes, but it appears all involved estimated the operation was within the capabilities of the North Korean army. Had the North Korean military faced only South Korean forces, they would have been right. They clearly miscalculated the American intent to intervene, though it is not clear that even the Americans understood their intent prior to the intervention. However, once the North Koreans moved south, President Harry Truman decided to intervene. His reasoning had less to do with Korea than with the impact of a communist military success on coalition partners elsewhere. The U.S. global strategy depended on Washington's ability to convince its partners that it would come to their aid if they were invaded. Strategic considerations aside, not intervening would have created a crisis of confidence, or so was the concern. Therefore, the United States intervened.

After serious difficulties, the United States managed to push the North Korean forces back into the North and pursue them almost to the Yalu River, which divides Korea and China. This forced a strategic decision on China. The Chinese were unclear on the American intent but did not underestimate American power. North Korea had represented a buffer between U.S. allies and northeastern China (and a similar buffer for the Soviets to protect their maritime territories). The Chinese intervened in the war, pushing the Americans back from the Yalu and suffering huge casualties in the process. The Americans regrouped, pushed back and a stalemate was achieved roughly along the former border and the current Demilitarized Zone. The truce was negotiated and the United States left forces in Korea, the successors of which President Obama addressed during his visit.

North Korea: The Weak, Fearsome Lunatic

The great mystery of the post-Cold War world is the survival of the North Korean regime. With a dynamic South, a non-Communist Russia and a China committed to good economic relations with the West, it would appear that the North Korean regime would have found it difficult to survive. This was compounded by severe economic problems (precipitated by the withdrawal of economic support from the Chinese and the Russians) and reported famines in the 1990s. But survive it did, and that survival is rooted in the geopolitics of the Cold War.

From the Chinese point of view, North Korea served the same function in the 1990s as it did in 1950: It was a buffer zone between the now economically powerful South Koreans (and the U.S. military) and Manchuria. The Russians were, as during the Korean War, interested in but not obsessed by the Korean situation, the more so as Russia shifted most of its attention west. The United States was concerned that a collapse in North Korea would trigger tensions with the Chinese and undermine the stability of its ally, South Korea. And the South Koreans were hesitant to undertake any actions that might trigger a response from North Korean artillery within range of Seoul, where a large portion of South Korea's population, government, industry and financial interests reside. In addition, they were concerned that a collapsing North would create a massive economic crisis in the South, having watched the difficulties of German integration and recognizing the even wider economic and social gap between the two Koreas.

In a real sense, no one outside of North Korea was interested in changing the borders of the Peninsula. The same calculations that had created the division in the first place and maintained it during and after the Korean War remained intact. Everyone either had a reason to want to maintain an independent North Korea (even with a communist regime) or were not eager risk a change in the status quo.

The most difficult question to answer is not how the United States viewed the potential destabilization of North Korea but rather its willingness to maintain a significant troop level in South Korea. The reason for intervening in the first place was murky. The U.S. military presence between 1953 and 1991 was intended to maintain the status quo during the Cold War. The willingness to remain beyond that is more complex.

Part of it simply had to do with inertia. Just as U.S. troops remain in Germany a generation after the end of the Cold War, it was easier not to reconsider U.S. strategy in Korea than to endure the internal stress of reconsidering it. Obviously, the United States did not want tensions between South Korea and North Korea, or to have the North Koreans misunderstand a withdrawal as an invitation to try another military move on the South, however unlikely. The Japanese saw Korean unification as problematic to their interests, since it could create a nearby industrial economic power of more than 70 million people and rekindle old rivalries. And North Korea, it would seem, actually welcomes the American presence, believing it limits South Korean adventurism. Between inertia and what we will call a proto-strategy, the United States remains.

With the loss of its Cold War patrons and the changing dynamic of the post-Cold War world, the North Koreans developed a survival strategy that Stratfor identified in the 1990s. The Koreans' intention was to appear -- simultaneously -- weak, fearsome and crazy. This was not an easy strategy to carry out, but they have carried it out well. First, they made certain that they were perceived to be always on the verge of internal collapse and thus not a direct threat to anyone but themselves. They went out of their way to emphasize their economic problems, particularly the famines in the 1990s. They wanted no one to think they were intent on being an aggressor unless provoked severely.

Second, they wanted to appear to be fearsome. This would at first blush seem to contradict the impression of weakness, but they managed it brilliantly by perpetually reminding the world that they were close to developing nuclear weapons and longer-range missiles. Recognizing that the Americans and Japanese had a reflexive obsession with nuclear weapons, Pyongyang constantly made it appear that they were capable of developing nuclear weapons but were not yet there. Not being there yet meant that no one had to do something about the weapons. Being close to developing them meant that it was dangerous to provoke them. Even North Korea's two nuclear tests have, intentionally or incidentally, appeared sub-par, leaving its neighbors able to doubt the technological prowess of the "Hermit Kingdom."

The final piece was to appear crazy, or crazy enough that when pressed, they would choose the suicide option of striking with a nuclear weapon, if they had one. This was critical because a rational actor possessing one or a few weapons would not think of striking its neighbors, since the U.S. counterstrike would annihilate the North Korean regime. The threat wouldn't work if North Korea was considered rational, but, if it was irrational, the North Korean deterrence strategy could work. It would force everyone to be ultra-cautious in dealing with North Korea, lest North Korea do something quite mad. South Korean and U.S. propaganda did more for North Korea's image of unpredictability than the North could have hoped.

North Korea, then, has spent more than two decades cultivating the image to the outside world of a nation on the verge of internal economic collapse (even while internally emphasizing its strength in the face of external threats). At the same time, the country has appeared to be on the verge of being a nuclear power -- one ruled by potential lunatics. The net result was that the major powers, particularly South Korea, the United States and Japan, went out of their way to avoid provoking the North. In addition, these three powers were prepared to bribe North Korea to stop undertaking nuclear and missile development. Several times, they bribed the North with money or food to stop building weapons, and each time the North took the money and then resumed their program, quite ostentatiously, so as to cause maximum notice and restore the vision of the weak, fearsome lunatic.

The North was so good at playing this game that it maneuvered itself into a position in which it sat as an equal with the United States, Japan, Russia, China and South Korea -- and it would frequently refuse to attend the six-party talks. The ability to maneuver itself into a position equal to these powers was North Korea's greatest achievement, and it had a tremendous effect on stabilizing the regime by reinforcing its legitimacy internally and its power externally. Underneath this was the fact that no one was all that eager to see North Korea collapse, particularly since it was crazy and might have nuclear weapons. North Korea created a superb strategy for regime preservation in a very hostile region -- or one that appeared hostile to the North Koreans.

Crucially for Pyongyang, North Korea was of tremendous use to one power: China. Even more than North Korea's role as a buffer state, its antics allowed China to emerge as mediator between the inscrutable Pyongyang and the frustrated United States. As China's economy grew, its political and military interests and reach expanded, leading to numerous tensions with the United States. But Beijing recognized that North Korea was a particular obsession of the United States because of its potential nuclear weapons and American sensitivity to weapons of mass destruction. Whenever North Korea did something outrageous, the United States would turn to China to address the problem. Having solved it, it was then inappropriate for Washington to press China on any other issue, at least for a while. Therefore, North Korea was a superb mechanism for the Chinese to deflect U.S. pressure on other issues.

For all of their occasional provocations, the North Koreans have been careful never to cross a line with conventional or nuclear power to compel a response from the South or the United States. Their ability to calibrate their provocations has been striking, even as their actions have escalated through nuclear tests to military action against South Korean ships and islands in the West Sea. Also striking is the manner in which those provocations have increased China's leverage with the United States.

The Difficulty of Extrication

At this point, it would be difficult for the United States to withdraw from South Korea. The North Korean nuclear threat fixes the situation in place, even for troops that aren't relevant to that threat. The troops could be withdrawn, but they won't be because the inertia of the situation makes it easier to leave them there than withdraw. As for the South Koreans, they simultaneously dislike the American presence and want it there, since it ensures U.S. military involvement in any crisis.

While the U.S. troop presence in Korea may not make the most sense in a global U.S. military strategy, it ironically seems to fit, at least for now, the interests of the Chinese, South Koreans and Japanese, and even in some sense the North Koreans. The United States, as the global power, therefore is locked into a deployment that does not match the regional requirements, requires endless explanation and is the source of frequent political complications. What we are left with is a U.S. strategy not based necessarily on the current situation but one tied to a historical legacy, left in place by inertia and held in place by the North Korean nuclear "threat."


Monday, March 26, 2012

Who is the real son of a bitch here!

Got this from both PoliceOne.com and Police.com. A former officer is facing charges of animal cruelty on his K9 partner. At the time he was rescued, Ingo was 25 pounds below normal weight.
SALINAS -- A former Watsonville police dog has been seized by the SPCA for Monterey County and its owner, a former Watsonville police officer, is facing misdemeanor charges.

The severely emaciated and dehydrated dog, a German shepherd, belonged to former Watsonville officer Francisco Ibarra.

Ibarra was fired by the Watsonville Police Department in 2010 "for cause". Last week, Ibarra filed suit against the city.

Sgt. Stacy Sanders of the SPCA said an anonymous tip led them to Ibarra's Salinas home where they found Ingo, who weighed just 55 pounds, about 25 pounds less than a healthy 5-year-old German shepherd should weigh.

Ingo's hips and ribs were prominently showing and there was no food in the backyard.

Ibarra was given 24 hours to respond to the SPCA. When he did not, officers seized Ingo on Feb. 17. Within a day or two Ingo passed sand, dirt and grass, which he'd ingested...."

...He is slowly recovering and gaining weight on a specialized diet on a prescribed feeding schedule," according to Beth Brookhouser of the SPCA.

Just one month later, Ingo has gained 15 pounds...

...What will happen to Ingo remains uncertain. Sanders said their main concern is to nurse Ingo back to health. Then they will determine whether he is adoptable. She said there are several options, but that it will be awhile before those decisions are made.

"He is doing much better, doing great, getting attention every day," Sanders said. "He's enjoying life."

In spite of being a highly trained law enforcement dog, Sanders said Ingo will find a new home and a new life.

"We won't euthanize him," she said.

Ibarra, a 15-year veteran, was fired by the Watsonville Police Department in 2010...

Ingo when he was rescued
Another one right after he was saved.
Ingo today

The articles in PoliceOne.com and Police.com have some real direct comments. Put it politely the cops out here want to kick the handler's ass! What's really repulsive is the fact the dog would have protected this SOS with his life.

Thankfully Ingo is safe and doing better. And I think he will prevent his former handler from getting a job!

That Obamacare...it's really working.

Again and again we ask why Obamacare is not good for the nation and the list of answers keep adding up. Here is another.
ObamaCare’s Victims: Physician-Owned Specialty Hospitals — And You

Among ObamaCare’s very early casualties were physician-owned specialty hospitals. These had long been targeted for extinction by the Big Hospital Lobby — i.e., the American Hospital Association and the Federation of American Hospitals. With the sweeping health law, they finally succeeded in stopping any new ones from being built after 2010. Here’s an IBD article about the issue back in March, 2010.

In short, the Big Hospital Lobby tried for years to get politicians to deny physician-owned specialty centers access to Medicare, a major source of revenue. How that happened is the subject of an in-depth article I’ve written that has now been published by The New Individualist.

The struggle between The Big Hospital Lobby and physician-owned specialty hospitals is a classic case of big, politically connected businesses using government to squash the smaller competition. Expect to see more of that now that ObamaCare has put even more of our health care resources under government control. One effect is that you will see less innovation in health care as smaller, more-nimble competitors often come up with new and better treatments and care.

Patients will suffer from a lack of choice:

Ultimately, it is the patient who should decide what type of hospital he or she should use since it is the patient who will be paying the personal cost if the decision is the wrong one. The patient is the one who will endure an unpleasant recovery in the hospital, experience pain if there are surgical complications, suffer a readmission after being discharged or, ultimately, die. Politicians, the Big Hospital Lobby, physicians, hospital administrators — none of them pays those costs. It is the patient who has the best incentive to make the right decision as to whether a physician-owned specialty hospital, or a general hospital, or some other surgical facility is the best place to have surgery.

Unfortunately, powerful political interests use Medicare in ways that limit the ability of patients to make the health care choices that best suit them. And that’s a prescription for an enduring and growing health care crisis.

There are two sidebars to the article. The first is an inside look at the efficiencies and innovations of a physician-owned specialty hospital, McBride Orthopedic. The second is an examination of the bureaucratic inefficiencies of a general hospital.

Which would you prefer to be treated in? Doesn’t matter. That choice is being taken away from you by people who know how to manage your health care better than you do.

The last sentence says it all. Your authority to manage your health care decisions is being taken away from you and given to the bureaucracy. It can be argued that the advent of HMOs did something similar since the 1970s but a business (which health care is) can be held accountable. Appeals, taking your business elsewhere, lawsuits in civil court, etc. Once Obamacare goes to where it's planned (single payer health care) where will you appeal? Who will offer you a choice of providers? And do you really think we will be able to sue in court.

Again, let us pray SCOTUS rules right in the next few months.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

News from the Global Cooling, err Global Warming, oh Climate Change, what now, Global Climate Disruption....dammit, will people stop changing their minds on this crap!

It's good to know there are still people out there who look at a falsehood and say "I don't think so!"
India bans its airlines from paying EU carbon tax

India has barred its airlines from complying with the European Union carbon tax scheme, joining China in resistance to plans that have caused a backlash among the EU's trade partners.

The European Union imposed a carbon levy on air travel with effect from January 1, but no airline will face a bill until 2013 after this year's carbon emissions have been tallied.

Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh told parliament on Thursday that "the imposition of carbon tax does not arise" because Indian airlines would simply refuse to hand over their emissions data.

"Though the European Union has directed Indian carriers to submit emission details of their aircraft by March 31, 2012, no Indian carrier is submitting them in view of the position of the government," he said.

India's resolution to boycott the scheme follows China's decision last month to prevent its airlines from complying with the EU directive....

..The 27-nation EU has said the carbon tax will help it achieve its goal of cutting emissions by 20 percent by 2020 and that it will not back down on the plan...

...Industry insiders have expressed concern that the scheme could spark a trade war between the EU and the countries opposed to the tax.

The chief executive of European plane manufacturer Airbus, Thomas Enders, called for a "freeze" on the EU plan Thursday, saying that it would otherwise cost the sector thousands of jobs.

"Delay it, freeze it for one or two years," he said according to Dow Jones Newswires, arguing that the scheme "will do nothing but induce strife... retaliation and counter-retaliation."...

Mr Enders, what's the problem? Those thousands of jobs will be replaced by green jobs in bankrupt companies. Works real good...just ask the guys at Solyndra.

But for a more serious look at this BS movement, check this article out.

Climate Fund Seeks UN-Style Diplomatic Immunity

The Green Climate Fund, which is supposed to help mobilize as much as $100 billion a year to lower global greenhouse gases, is seeking a broad blanket of UN-style immunity that would shield its operations from any kind of legal process, including civil and criminal prosecution, in the countries where it operates.

There is just one problem: it is not part of the United Nations.

Whether the fund, which was formally created at a UN climate conference in Durban, South Africa last December, will get all the money it wants to spend is open to question in an era of economic slowdown and fiscal austerity.

Its spending goal comes atop some $30 billion in "fast start-up" money that has been pledged by UN member states to such climate change activities.

A 24-nation interim board of trustees for the Green Climate Fund (GCF) is slated to hold its first meeting next month in Switzerland to organize the fund's secretariat and to get it running by November, as well as find a permanent home for the GCF's operations.

The board expects to spend about $6.7 million between now and June of next year...

...Despite its name, the UNFCCC was informed in 2006 by the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs that it was not considered a UN "organ," and therefore could not claim immunity for its subordinate bodies or personnel under the General Convention that has authorized UN immunity since the end of World War II...

...According to an official of the US Treasury, which strongly supports the existence of the GCF, the full extent of the immunities still remains to be worked out by the fund board, although the wording of various UNFCCC resolutions indicate that immunities like those held by the UN are clearly envisaged.

Hundreds of billions of dollars over the years by an unacceptable bureau at the UN that will have major effects on our trade, industry, life. Why should anyone be nervous on this? After the UN is now looking into Voter ID laws in the states and had Libya on the Human Rights Commission. The same group that praised Libya's record on human rights but comdemns the only democracy in the Middle East.

I used to say this was tin foil hat stuff but I've had a change of thought. US out of the UN and UN out of the US. Without US, the UN is nothing. And America will be much better without this group of leaches.

Another classic case of reality hitting the college crowd

As we have scene over the last few months spoiled children screaming about not being able to get a job with their gender studies major or advanced basket weaving master's degree in spite of spending more for that than a mortgage on a house. But this kinda makes your heart warm. Graduates of law school finding out about life. Yes kiddies, if you have too much of something then the value goes down. And for once a judge in New York actually issues a common sense ruling.
9 Graduates Lose Case Against New York Law School

The New York Law School in TriBeCa was sued by graduates who said they had been misled after failing to find jobs as lawyers.

Amid a challenging time in the legal industry, a growing chorus of law-school graduates are bemoaning the lack of job opportunities.

One judge does not want them complaining in his courtroom.

Melvin L. Schweitzer, a New York Supreme Court judge, dismissed a lawsuit brought by nine graduates of New York Law School who accused their alma mater of misleading them about their postgraduate employment prospects.

While expressing some sympathy for the students’ plight, Justice Schweitzer said the action had no merit and was essentially a case of caveat emptor — let the buyer of a legal education beware.

“In this court’s view, the issues posed by this case exemplify the adage that not every ailment afflicting society may be redressed by a lawsuit,” he wrote.

College graduates “seriously considering law schools are a sophisticated subset of education consumers, capable of sifting through data and weighing alternatives before making a decision regarding their postcollege options,” Justice Schweitzer said.

The decision deals a setback to a flurry of similar cases filed across the country, and it comes at an uncertain moment for both the legal academy and the law profession. For the second-consecutive year, the number of those taking the law school entrance exam has sharply declined, reflecting a view that the sluggish legal market will continue to retrench. And while most graduates of top law schools continue to secure legal employment, alumni of less-prestigious institutions are having a hard time finding work....

Here is the ruling and the rest of the article is interesting. But I love the fact reality is finally hitting these kids. Yo guys, there are only so many positions out there for lawyers and you are not guaranteed what you want. But have a plan for when that fails. If you had some history you might have remember the wisdom of Benjamin Franklin, "The only thing certain in life is death and taxes."

Maybe the wisdom of Ted Baxter will help...

In interesting look at Obamacare in front of the Court

As the Supreme Court looks at the constitutionally of Obamacare I found this article from Reason Magazine. Worth the full read.

The 4 Best Legal Arguments Against ObamaCare

Why the president's sweeping health care overhaul should be struck down by the Supreme Court.

Damon W. Root

...Twenty-six of those states, plus the National Federation of Independent Business and several individuals, are challenging the health care law, claiming it is an illegal power grab by the federal government that tramples the Constitution and undermines the principles of federalism.

Contrary to what Nancy Pelosi would have you believe, these challengers have a strong and serious case. Here are four of their best arguments against the individual mandate.

4. The Individual Mandate Threatens the Foundations of Contract Law

American contract law rests on the principle of mutual assent. If I hold a gun to your head and force you to sign a contract, no court of law will honor that document since I coerced you into signing it. Mutual assent must be present in order for a contract to be valid and binding.

This view was widely shared by the framers and ratifiers of the U.S. Constitution. Here’s how Pennsylvania lawyer James Wilson, a signer of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, put it in one of his legal lectures:

The common law is a law of liberty. The defendant may plead, that he was compelled to execute the instrument. He cannot, indeed, deny the execution of it; but he can state, in his plea, the circumstances of compulsion attending his execution; and these circumstances, if sufficient in law, and established in fact, will procure a decision in his favour, that, in such circumstances, he did not bind himself.

The individual mandate turns this longstanding legal principle on its head. After all, there’s nothing mutual about the government forcing you to enter into a binding contract with a private company. As the Institute for Justice, the public interest law firm that pioneered this argument, explains in the powerful friend of the court brief it filed in the case, the framers of the Constitution “would never have given, and in fact did not give, Congress, through the guise of the Commerce Clause, the power to gut the foundation upon which the entirety of contract law rests.”

3. The Individual Mandate Cannot Be Justified Under Existing Supreme Court Precedent

...Yet neither of those precedents stretched the Commerce Clause so far as to allow Congress to regulate inactivity—such as the non-act of not buying health insurance. As the National Federation of Independent Business argues in its brief, “uninsured status neither interferes with commerce or its regulation nor constitutes economic activity. Instead, the uninsured’s defining characteristic is their non-participation in commerce.”

2. The Individual Mandate Rests on an Unbounded and Unprincipled Assertion of Federal Power

Does the Commerce Clause allow Congress to do anything it wants so long as an economic activity is remotely involved? Under the government’s theory of the case, yes, congressional power is essentially unlimited. As the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals remarked in its ruling on the individual mandate:

The Government concedes the novelty of the mandate and the lack of any doctrinal limiting principles; indeed, at oral argument, the Government could not identify any mandate to purchase a product or service in interstate commerce that would be unconstitutional, at least under the Commerce Clause.

Solicitor General Donald Verrilli will need to come up with something better than that when he argues the case before the Supreme Court. As the multi-state challengers put it in their Supreme Court brief, "there is no way to uphold the individual mandate without doing irreparable damage to our basic constitutional system of governance." At a minimum, the Court's conservatives will expect the solicitor general to lay out a plausible limiting principle for congressional power under the Commerce Clause. If Verrilli does not—or cannot—do that, the individual mandate is in big trouble.

1: The Individual Mandate Violates the Original Meaning of the Constitution

Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution grants Congress the power “to regulate commerce...among the several states.” The framers and ratifiers of the Constitution understood those words to mean that while congress may regulate commercial activity that crossed state lines, Congress was not allowed to regulate the economic activity that occurred inside each state. As Alexander Hamilton—normally a champion of broad federal power—explained in Federalist 17, the Commerce Clause did not extend congressional authority to “the supervision of agriculture and of other concerns of a similar nature, all those things, in short, which are proper to be provided for by local legislation.” In other words, the Commerce Clause was not a blank check made out to the federal government....

... As Justice Clarence Thomas remarked about the majority’s reasoning in Raich, “If Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything—and the Federal Government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers.”

Unfortunately for constitutional originalists, Thomas is unlikely to persuade a majority of his colleagues to wipe the slate clean by overturning Wickard and Raich. But as I explained earlier, the Supreme Court already has sufficient reason to strike down the individual mandate without touching any of its existing precedents. That approach—which targets the mandate's unprecedented regulation of inactivity—could satisfy both Thomas and his faint-hearted originalist colleagues on the bench. If five or more justices are interested in expressing at least some fidelity to the text of the Constitution, the individual mandate is finished.

You can never tell how SCOTUS will rule. Past rulings are no guide. And I'm not one for judges using their emotions in evaluating a case...but the members of the court should remember B Hussein Obama's  childish lecturing spat at the State of the Union a couple of years ago.

Let us pray SCOTUS gets this right. If it's allowed to stand this country is doomed.

Officer Down

Trooper Javier Arana, Jr.
Texas Department of Public Safety - Texas Highway Patrol, Texas

End of Watch: Saturday, March 24, 2012
Age: 32
Tour: 2 years

Trooper Javier Arana was killed in an automobile accident as he responded to assist a vehicle pursuit in El Paso at approximately 1:30 am.

During the response Trooper Arana's vehicle collided with a pickup truck near the intersection of Joe Battle Boulevard and Bob Hope Drive. Trooper Arana's patrol car burst into flames upon impact.

Trooper Arana had served with the Texas Highway Patrol for two years. He is survived by his wife and children.
Rest in Peace Bro…We’ll Continue The Watch

Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Officer Down

Sergeant Ruben Thomas
Florida Department of Corrections
End of Watch: Sunday, March 18, 2012
Age: 24
Tour: 6 years

Sergeant Ruben Thomas was stabbed to death by an inmate at the Columbia Correctional Institution Annex.

At approximately 10:00 pm he was checking on an inmate in one of the prison's dorms when the inmate attacked him. He was stabbed in the neck several times by the inmate who was armed with some sort shank. The inmate, who was serving a life sentence for murdering a college student, then struck another officer in the eye with a sock filled filled with a heavy item before being taken into custody.

Sergeant Thomas was transported to Shands Lake Shore Hospital where he succumbed to his wounds.

Sergeant Thomas had served with the Florida Department of Corrections for six years. He is survived by his young daughter and fiancee.
Rest in Peace Bro…We’ll Continue The Watch

Day is done, Gone the sun, From the lake, From the hills, From the sky. All is well, Safely rest, God is nigh.

One of the 30th World Hell Holes that doesn't get much attention.

I have something like twenty books on my "to read" shelve in my office. I'm getting ready for the sergeant's test and getting through a light read is a problem right now. But I had to pre-order this from Amazon.com. Yes it will sit on the shelve until summer but I have to read this book.

I've been fascinated with the Korean conflict since I was assigned there in 1988 as a fresh Second Lieutenant out of the basic course. I can't really explain the difference between the two countries as well as this picture does:

Korean peninsula at night
The south has all the light. It's a prosperous first world nation and the night mare north of the DMZ doesn't have light. If you want an excellent report on what life is like in North Korea, take a look at this report from 60 Minutes:

Now back to the book Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West. This except is too long for a blog post but it's worth a read. Having to betray your family to live is pretty bad.

His first memory is an execution. He walked with his mother to a wheat field, where guards had rounded up several thousand prisoners. The boy crawled between legs to the front row, where he saw guards tying a man to a wooden pole.

Shin In Geun was four years old, too young to understand the speech that came before that killing. At dozens of executions in years to come, he would listen to a guard telling the crowd that the prisoner about to die had been offered "redemption" through hard labour, but had rejected the generosity of the North Korean government.

Guards stuffed pebbles into the prisoner's mouth, covered his head with a hood and shot him.

In Camp 14, a prison for the political enemies of North Korea, assemblies of more than two inmates were forbidden, except for executions. Everyone had to attend them.

The South Korean government estimates there are about 154,000 prisoners in North Korea's labour camps, while the US state department puts the number as high as 200,000. The biggest is 31 miles long and 25 miles wide, an area larger than the city of Los Angeles. Numbers 15 and 18 have re-education zones where detainees receive remedial instruction in the teachings of Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung, and are sometimes released. The remaining camps are "complete control districts" where "irredeemables" are worked to death.

Shin's camp, number 14, is a complete control district. Established around 1959 near Kaechon County in South Pyongan Province, it holds an estimated 15,000 prisoners. About 30 miles long and 15 miles wide, it has farms, mines and factories threaded through steep mountain valleys.

Shin and his mother lived in the best prisoner accommodation the camp had to offer. They had their own room, where they slept on a concrete floor, and they shared a kitchen with four other families. Electricity ran for two hours a day. There were no beds, chairs or tables. No running water.

If Shin's mother met her daily work quota, she could bring home food. At 4am, she would prepare breakfast and lunch for her son and for herself. Every meal was the same: corn porridge, pickled cabbage and cabbage soup. Shin was always hungry and he would eat his lunch as soon as his mother left for work. He also ate her lunch. When she came back from the fields at midday and found nothing to eat, she would beat him with a shovel.

Her name was Jang Hye Gyung. She never talked to him about her past, her family, or why she was in the camp, and he never asked. His existence as her son had been arranged by the guards. They chose her and the man who became Shin's father as prizes for each other in a "reward" marriage.

Single men and women slept in dormitories segregated by sex. The eighth rule of Camp 14 said, "Should sexual physical contact occur without prior approval, the perpetrators will be shot immediately." A reward marriage was the only safe way around the no-sex rule. Guards announced marriages four times a year. If one partner found his or her chosen mate to be unacceptably old, cruel or ugly, guards would sometimes cancel a marriage. If they did, neither the man nor the woman would be allowed to marry again. Shin's father, Shin Gyung Sub, told Shin that the guards gave him Jang as payment for his skill in operating a metal lathe.

After their marriage, the couple were allowed to sleep together for five consecutive nights. From then on, Shin's father was permitted to visit Jang a few times a year. Their eldest son, Shin He Geun, was born in 1974. Shin was born eight years later. The brothers barely knew each other. By the time Shin was four, his brother had moved into a dormitory.

The guards taught the children they were prisoners because of the "sins" of their parents but that they could "wash away" their inherent sinfulness by working hard, obeying the guards and informing on their parents.

...On Friday 5 April 1996, Shin's teacher told him he could go home and eat supper with his mother as a reward for good behaviour. There was a surprise when he got there. His brother, who worked at the camp's cement factory, had come home, too. Shin's mother was not delighted when her youngest son showed up. She did not say welcome or that she had missed him. She cooked, using her daily ration of 700 grams of cornmeal to make porridge in the one pot she owned. Shin ate, then went to sleep.

Some time later, voices from the kitchen woke him. He peeked through the bedroom door. His mother was cooking rice. For Shin, this was a slap in the face. He had been served the same tasteless gruel he had eaten every day of his life. Now his brother was getting rice. Shin guessed she must have stolen it, a few grains at a time. Shin fumed. He also listened. Shin heard that Shin He Geun had not been given the day off. He had walked out without permission. His mother and brother were discussing what they should do.

Escape. Shin was astonished to hear his brother say the word. He did not hear his mother say that she intended to go along. But she was not trying to argue, even though she knew that if he escaped or died trying, she and others in her family would be tortured and probably killed. Every prisoner knew the first rule of Camp 14, subsection 2: "Any witness to an attempted escape who fails to report it will be shot immediately."

His heart pounded. He was angry that she would put his life at risk for the sake of his brother. He was also jealous that his brother was getting rice. Shin's camp-bred instincts took over: he had to tell a guard. Shin ran back to school. It was 1am. Who could he tell? In the crowded dormitory, Shin woke his friend Hong Sung Jo. Hong told him to tell the school's night guard.

"I need to say something to you," Shin told the guard, "but before I do, I want something in return." Shin demanded more food and to be named grade leader at school, a position that would allow him to work less and not be beaten as often. The guard agreed, then told Shin and Hong to go back to get some sleep.

On the morning after he betrayed his mother and brother, uniformed men came to the schoolyard for Shin. He was handcuffed, blindfolded and driven in silence to an underground prison.

"Do you know why you are here?" The officer did not know, or did not care, that Shin had been a dutiful informer. "At dawn today, your mother and your brother were caught trying to escape. Were you aware of this fact or not? If you want to live, you should spit out the truth."

Shin would eventually figure out that the night guard had claimed the credit for discovering the escape plan. But on that morning Shin understood nothing. He was a bewildered 13-year-old. Finally, the officer pushed some papers across his desk. "In that case, bastard, your thumbprint."

The document was a family rap sheet. The papers explained why his father's family had been locked up in Camp 14. The unforgivable crime Shin's father had committed was being the brother of two young men who had fled south during the Korean war. Shin's crime was being his father's son...

(six months later)
...After signing a secrecy form, father and son were handcuffed, blindfolded and driven away. Shin guessed they would be released but when the car stopped after about 30 minutes and his blindfold was removed, he panicked. A crowd had gathered. Shin was now certain he and his father were to be executed. He became acutely aware of the air passing into and out of his lungs. He told himself these were the last breaths of his life.

"Execute Jang Hye Gyung and Shin He Geun, traitors of the people," the senior officer said. Shin looked at his father. He was weeping silently. When guards dragged her to the gallows, Shin saw that his mother looked bloated. They forced her to stand on a wooden box, gagged her, tied her arms behind her back and a noose around her neck. She scanned the crowd and found Shin. He refused to hold her gaze. When guards pulled away the box, she jerked about desperately. As he watched his mother struggle, Shin thought she deserved to die.

Shin's brother looked gaunt as guards tied him to the wooden post. Three guards fired their rifles three times. He thought his brother, too, deserved it....

The article is too long to give it justice in this format but well worth the read. I could make a smart ass remark about George Clooney not protesting about repression and starvation in North Korea but I have already. I'll just leave you with this as you look at the Occupy punks and others who seem to not like life in the West. People you have no idea what the real world is like and you should thank God you were not born north of the Korean DMZ.

Kinda puts the Manning-Tebow thing into perspective....

From Jimmy Fallon, via Andrew Malcolm at Twitter:

Fallon: So Denver will trade Tim Tebow aftr 1 yr as a starter. Even Kim Kardashian was like ‘Come on, who dumps a pro athlete that quickly?’

This cannot be right

An undocumented alien in Houston commits a crime. How can this be? The regime of B Hussein Obama has not rested until the southern border was secure. Even Janet Napolitano said "...the Arizona border has never been more secure..." But we are talking about Texas, not Arizona.
ICE questions status of driver accused in fatal porch crash - Houston Chronicle

A suspected drunken driver accused of crashing into a home killing one child and injuring another is being held without bail after a judge heard Monday that he may not be in this country legally.

Luis Hector Lopez-Rodriguez, 27, is accused of losing control of the blue Ford Crown Victoria he was driving and plowing into the front porch of a southwest Houston apartment, where two children were playing during a Saturday night party.

During a brief court appearance Monday, Magistrate Judge Blanca Villagomez said federal officials have put a hold on Lopez-Rodriguez. That action typically means his immigration status is in question. He apparently is a Mexican citizen.

Lopez-Rodriguez is charged with intoxication manslaughter and intoxicated assault. If convicted, he faces a maximum punishment of life in prison...

...Saturday's wreck was not the first time Lopez-Rodriguez has been accused of driving drunk. In January 2008, he pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated in exchange for three days in jail.

He also was charged last year with assaulting his wife.

...Gregory Palmore, a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Monday that the agency was still investigating Lopez-Rodriguez's immigration status. Lopez-Rodriguez listed his place of birth as San Luis Potosi, Mexico, court records show.

Lopez-Rodriguez was last booked into Harris County Jail in December 2007 - nearly a year before the county started participating in ICE's Secure Communities immigration enforcement program, which runs suspects' fingerprints through a Homeland Security database. It was unclear from court records whether ICE officials questioned Lopez-Rodriguez or marked him for possible deportation in 2007.

In all seriousness six Houston cops have either been killed or injured by illegal aliens in the last six years. But for some reason DC doesn't see our wide open border as a problem. Then again, these people are only here to do the crimes Americans won't do anymore

Geopolitical Weekly: Afghanistan and the Long War, March 19, 2012

By George Friedman

The war in Afghanistan has been under way for more than 10 years. It has not been the only war fought during this time; for seven of those years another, larger war was waged in Iraq, and smaller conflicts were under way in a number of other countries as well. But the Afghanistan War is still the longest large-scale, multi-divisional war fought in American history. An American soldier's killing of 16 Afghan civilians, including nine children, on March 11 represents only a moment in this long war, but it is an important moment.

In the course of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, military strategists in the United States developed the concept of the long war. The theory was presented in many ways, but its core argument was this: The defeat of Taliban forces and the Iraqi resistance would take a long time, but success would not end the war because Islamist terrorism and its supporters would be a constantly shifting threat, both in the places and in the ways they would operate. Therefore, since it was essential to defeat terrorism, the United States was now engaging in a long war whose end was distant and course unknown.

Sometimes explicit but usually implicit in this argument was that other strategic issues faced by the United States should be set aside and that the long war ought to be the centerpiece of U.S. strategic policy until the threat of Islamist terrorism disappears or at least subsides. As a result, under this theory -- which very much influences U.S. strategy -- even if the war in Afghanistan ended, the war in the Islamic world would go on indefinitely. We need to consider the consequences of this strategy.

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who allegedly perpetrated the appalling slaughter in Afghanistan, was on his fourth tour of combat duty. He had served three tours in Iraq of nine, 15 and 12 months -- he had been at war for three years. His tour in Afghanistan was going to be his fourth year. The wars he fought in differed from prior wars. Fallujah and Tora Bora were not Stalingrad. Still, the hardship, fear and threat of death are ever-present. The probability of dying may be lower, but it is there, it is real, and there are comrades you can name whom you saw die.

In Vietnam, only volunteers served more than a single one-year tour. For Americans in World War II, the war lasted a little more than three years, and only a handful of U.S. troops were in combat for that long. U.S. involvement in World War I lasted less than two years, and most U.S. soldiers were deployed for a year or less. In U.S. history, only the Civil and Revolutionary wars lasted as long as Bales had served.

Atrocities occur in all wars. This is an observation, not an excuse. And they become more likely the longer a soldier is in combat. War is brutal and it brutalizes the souls of warriors. Some resist the brutalization better than others, but no one can see death that often and not be changed. Just as important, the enemy is dehumanized. You cannot fight and fear him for years and not come to see him as someone alien to you. Even worse, when the enemy and the population are difficult to distinguish, as is the case in a counterinsurgency, the fear and rage extends to everyone. In Bales' case, it extended even to children.

It is no different for the Taliban save two things. First, they are fighting for their homeland and in their homeland. Americans fight for the homeland in the sense that they are fighting terrorism, but that fight becomes abstract after a while. For the Taliban it is a reality. Americans can go home and may become bitter at those who never shared the burden. The Taliban are at home, and their bitterness at those who did not share the burden outstrips the bitterness of the Americans. Second, it is a fact of war that Taliban atrocities are usually invisible to the Western media, but they are there, even if reporters are not. It could be said that the Taliban were brutalized by years of fighting before the Americans came, but in the end, the fact of brutalization is more important than the genesis.

It is important to remember that for the United States, the Afghanistan War is the first major war since the Civil War that did not involve a draft. Opposition to the draft during Vietnam gave rise to the volunteer army. One thing no one assumed after Vietnam was that the United States would attempt to fight a counterinsurgency on the mainland of Asia again, and therefore the conditions for reconstituting the draft were never considered.

When the war in Afghanistan began, there was no theory of the long war. It was assumed that the goal was the dislocation and destruction of al Qaeda, and grandiose notions of democratizing Afghanistan were not yet part of the policy. In Iraq, the assumption was that the defeat of Saddam Hussein's conventional forces would require neither significant cost nor time and that there would be no resistance to constructing a pro-American democracy there. It took time for the mission in Afghanistan to creep up to democratization, and it took a while to realize that not all Iraqis were cheering the American occupation.

But even while it became apparent that the United States was in a long war, neither the Bush nor the Obama administration ever grappled with the consequences of a force in which individuals could be in combat for four years and more. And we might include here the dangers for noncombatants and headquarters troops, who faced mortar and rocket fire at their desks. No one escaped the burden.

The result was a war that was seen on the home front as not requiring a massive effort but that required some volunteers to remain in combat for longer than many had in World War II. And while it was true that all of the soldiers had volunteered, the volunteers were no more ready than the government for the tempo of operations they would face. Additionally, they were not always free to leave. During the height of the war, some of those trying to leave service when their time was up were "stop-lossed." For them, it became less of a volunteer army than a captive army.

The doctrine of the long war fought by the present force fails to take into account whether the force can sustain the war. Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld argued that you fight with the army you have. What he did not address was that while you begin fighting with the army you have, as the United States did in World War II, you do not continue fighting with that army, but move to mobilize the country. But Rumsfeld did not realize how long the war in Afghanistan would last, and in particular, he did not anticipate the cost that two multi-divisional wars would have. It is noteworthy that Bales began with three tours in Iraq. The war in Iraq might be over, but its consequences for the force remain.

What Bales is alleged to have done is inexcusable. There have been many atrocities, both recorded and not, both outright and ambiguous, and conducted by both NATO and the Taliban. It is unrealistic to imagine a war of this length devoid of atrocities. But in a counterinsurgency, in which the goal is not simply the defeat of an enemy force but also persuading the population that turning against that force is the safest course, a massacre like this can have strategic consequences. The Taliban's psychological warfare operations will focus on the killings as they did with the February Koran-burning incident at a U.S. base. In the meantime, American psychological warfare efforts will focus on U.S. troops, both making sure they remain restrained and -- after the Feb. 25 shooting of two U.S. officers in a Kabul ministry by an Afghan colleague -- reassuring them that they must not be afraid of Afghans, since training Afghans is their mission.

The long war, without a major readjustment of the American force structure, creates unintended strategic consequences. One consequence is a force that contains large numbers of troops at the limits of their endurance. Their potential actions undermine the strategic purpose of the counterinsurgency: winning over the populace. That opens the door to increased influence for the Taliban and reduces the Taliban's inclination to negotiate as the U.S. position deteriorates. Put differently, troops are not numbers on a table of organization. They wear out.

There are four strategic assumptions of the long war underlying all of this. The first is that the fight against Islamist terrorism can be won and that ultimately it is more than just a threat that has to be accepted. The second is that large-scale operations like those in Iraq and Afghanistan help achieve that goal. Third, that the United States is able to wage a long war such as this without massive adjustments to its domestic life. Fourth, that this should continue to be the centerpiece of U.S. strategy indefinitely, regardless of other events in the world -- in other words, that this is the single most important challenge facing the United States.

The invasion of Afghanistan was strategically justifiable as a means of disrupting al Qaeda and preventing follow-on attacks against the United States. The invasion of Iraq was based on a false assumption that the Iraqis would not resist occupation. As the wars went further, the military situation became more difficult while the goals expanded. The ultimate expansion was the idea that the United States was committed to an indefinitely long war, with available forces, and that this would involve occupying large and hostile countries.

I argued in my last book, "The Next Decade," that the danger of empire was that it threatened the republic. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the United States became the world's only superpower, combining military, economic and political might on a global basis. Whether it wanted this power or not, it had it. Within a decade of the Soviet Union's collapse, 9/11 happened. Whatever its initial intentions, the United States found itself in a war that has lasted more than 10 years. That war has strained American resources. It has also strained the fabric of American life.

The threat to the republic comes from multiple directions, from creating systems for national defense that undermine republican principles to overestimating military capability and committing the republic to a war whose end state is unclear and where the means are insufficient. War transforms countries, and the long war transforms domestic life and creates an unbalanced foreign policy. Most of all, it creates a professional class that fights wars that are considered limitless while the rest of society, though paying the bills, does not see the war as being part of everyday life. The alienation between citizen and soldier in a nation struggling to reconcile global power with republican institutions is historically dangerous.

This is made all the more dangerous because the force is reaching its limits. Resisting terrorism is important. Eliminating it is an illusion. To continue with the long war with the forces available puts in motion processes that threaten the republic without securing U.S. interests. Leaving aside the threat to the republic, a force at its limits and left to fight a war on the margins of national consciousness will not be effective.

Afghanistan and the Long War COPYRIGHT STRATFOR.COM

Monday, March 19, 2012

Getting ready for the BBQ

I had 5 burgers on the plate...and now I have two.

I wonder where they went?


All I can say is thank God....

And hopefully this is only the beginning of a rush!

Major US Airport To Evict TSA Screeners
Orlando Sanford International could prompt stampede of other opt-outs

One of America’s busiest airports, Orlando Sanford International, has announced it will opt out of using TSA workers to screen passengers, a move which threatens the highly unpopular federal agency’s role in other airports across the nation.

“The president of the airport said Tuesday that he would apply again to use private operators to screen passengers, using federal standards and oversight,” reports the Miami Herald.

With Sanford International having originally been prevented by the TSA from opting out back in November 2010 when the federal agency froze the ability for airports to use their own private screeners, a law passed by the Senate last month forces the TSA to reconsider applications.

Larry Dale hinted that the move was motivated by the innumerable horror stories passengers have told of their encounters with the TSA, noting that the change was designed to provide a more “customer friendly” operation.

The agency has been slow to reissue the guidelines on the the rule change, prompting Republican Representatives John Mica of Florida, Darrell Issa of California and Jason Chaffetz of Utah to press TSA head John Pistole to implement the mandate.

...Orlando Sanford is in the top 30 busiest airports in the world, with large numbers of takeoffs and landings.

The TSA has been keen to downplay the opportunity for airports to dispense with their screeners, fearing a mass exodus that could undermine the justification for the agency’s continued existence, especially given the fact that its reputation has been repeatedly savaged by a number of scandals.

...A November 2010 poll found that the TSA’s “enhanced pat downs,” some of which include touching genitalia, angered 57% of regular adult fliers.

West Yellowstone Airport in Montana has already replaced its TSA screeners with private security. Bert Mooney Airport, also in Montana, is attempting to do the same...

A step in the right direction. The TSA needs to be stuck from the federal budget and its history shown as an example of why every agency must justify i's existence ever two years. I defy anyone to show me one example of a TSA pervert patdown or other abuse of the public stopping a terrorist or other criminal act. I've said more than once the rent a cops at the bus station near my beat are more useful and a damned site less expensive.

If you want a good video to remember, Captain Chris Liu, a San Francisco based pilot who showed how he as the airplane captain had to go through the harassment as all the other passengers but the staff that services the plane only has to scan a badge. Yo guys, if the captain is compromised the game is over, the plane is doomed. So after Captain Liu shows how ridiculous the TSA is what do they do? Harass the man at his house.

Let us pray the TSA will only be a bad memory of passengers soon enough.

UPDATE: TSA finally shows it can find Al Queda.

A three year old with a broken leg, confined to a wheel chair. Where do we get such idiots. Oh yea, civil service.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

More gun propaganda

Last month I blogged on how His Dumb S$%^ Da Mayor of New York, Bloomberg has organized a phony group called Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Basically it's message is any gun used in a crime is illegal. So if someone had their gun stolen and used in a robbery it's an illegal gun and your a criminal. Got it.

Not to be outdone our current Attorney General shows his real feeling towards guns. The critical point is just after 3 minutes.

Breitbart.com has uncovered video from 1995 of then-U.S. Attorney Eric Holder announcing a public campaign to "really brainwash people into thinking about guns in a vastly different way."

Holder was addressing the Woman's National Democratic Club. In his remarks, broadcast by CSPAN 2, he explained that he intended to use anti-smoking campaigns as his model to "change the hearts and minds of people in Washington, DC" about guns.

"What we need to do is change the way in which people think about guns, especially young people, and make it something that's not cool, that it's not acceptable, it's not hip to carry a gun anymore, in the way in which we changed our attitudes about cigarettes."

Holder added that he had asked advertising agencies in the nation's capital to assist by making anti-gun ads rather than commercials "that make me buy things that I don't really need." He had also approached local newspapers and television stations, he said, asking them to devote prime space and time, respectively, to his anti-gun campaign.

Local political leaders and celebrities, Holder said, including Mayor Marion Barry and Jesse Jackson, had been asked to help. In addition, he reported, he had asked the local school board to make the anti-gun message a part of "every day, every school, and every level."

Despite strict gun control efforts, Washington, DC was and remains one of the nation's most dangerous cities for gun violence, though crime has abated somewhat since the 1990s...

Now maybe he misspoke and used an improper word with "brainwash". Then again he's sure blacks cannot commit civil rights violations so I guess he's trying to brainwash us on that. But why is it he's so conceded about guns when he should be focused on crime control. You take away the guns and if someone wants to kill he will find another way. But why let that fact get in his worldview. And I mean gun control has worked so well. I mean look at New York, Chicago and DC.

Facebook helps cops...

From NYPD,

NYPD uses high-tech software to capture suspect

NEW YORK - New York City detectives have used cutting-edge facial recognition software to capture a man suspected in a shooting at a barbershop...

...Police say the man was beaten and shot on March 10 over a neighborhood dispute as he tried to get a haircut.

The victim knew the shooter but not his name, pulled up a Facebook photo and gave it to police. Authorities at the Real Time Crime Center fed the photo through the system and a match appeared: The suspect's prior mug shot.

His mug shot. In the immortal words of the brother of Molly Ringwald in Sixteen Candles, "Classic."
The center has a database of mug shots, names and nicknames....

Yo turds you may not want to put your mug shot on Facebook, etc. Like this guy it might bite you in the ass.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Once more, Thanks Barrack...

Here is the results when you let the children in the adults only area. The Camp David Accords were one of the few positive achievements of Jimmy Carter and they led to over 30 years of peace between Israel and Egypt. Now after the Arab Spring or whatever the hell it's called this week Hosni Mubarak was forced out and there was no stable transition to a new government. Now the Muslim Brotherhood is in charge and we see the results.

Egypt’s Islamist-dominated parliament votes in support of expelling Israel’s ambassador

CAIRO — Egypt’s Islamist-dominated parliament unanimously voted on Monday in support of expelling Israel’s ambassador in Cairo and halting gas exports to the Jewish state.

The motion is largely symbolic, because only the ruling military council can make such decisions, and it is not likely to impact Egypt’s relations with Israel. But it signals the seismic change in Egypt after the ouster of longtime leader and Israel ally Hosni Mubarak a year ago in a popular uprising that ended his 29 years in power.

The vote was taken by a show of hands on a report by the chamber’s Arab affairs committee that declared Egypt will “never” be a friend, partner or ally of Israel. The report described Israel as the nation’s “number one enemy” and endorsed what it called Palestinian resistance “in all its kinds and forms” against Israel’s “aggressive policies.”

...There have been bouts of tension in relations between the two neighbors, mostly over Israel’s perceived reluctance to proceed in good faith with peace talks with the Palestinians, but leaders of the two nations have consistently kept open channels of communication.

The parliamentary report also called for the recall of Egypt’s ambassador in Israel and a revision of Egypt’s nuclear power policy in view of the widespread suspicion that Israel has a nuclear arsenal of its own.

“Revolutionary Egypt will never be a friend, partner or ally of the Zionist entity (Israel), which we consider to be the number one enemy of Egypt and the Arab nation,” said the report. “It will deal with that entity as an enemy, and the Egyptian government is hereby called upon to review all its relations and accords with that enemy.”...

Great. When their were young people protesting the Iranian government in 2009 B Hussein Obama et all were no where to be found. But they were right on with Egypt, Libya and Syria. Talk about clueless. Yo Barrack, real world. Democracy is not for everyone. We need order. The Shah of Iran was never going to win a Peace Price but women could have a job and walk down the street alone in a modern society and he wasn't funding forces against our nation. Now we have the anarchy in the Middle East and it may spread to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait. Just when he's doing everything to raise oil prices we throw this in.

Thanks Barrack....