Police Work, Politics and World Affairs, Football and the ongoing search for great Scotch Whiskey!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Hand up! Don't shoot! A liberal confesses to his believing a lie

In the immediate aftermath of the shooting of "Gentle Giant" Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson, the usual suspects had already planned to use it as another example of institutional racism, police oppression, etc., and the slogan "Hands Up! Don't Shoot!" was born. In the days after the shooting one of my family members was convinced Wilson simply got out of his SUV and shot this young man in the middle of the street for no apparent reason, especially since we had "witnesses". As any cop knows about a shooting of a hood rat by another hood rat in front of a 100 people, "Nobody saw anything!" but now people were coming forward. Why? Fifteen minutes of fame like Rachel Jeantel who cannot read the letter she had supposedly written after B Hussein Obama's other son was shot.

I recommended to this family member to wait for the investigation to complete. I specifically noted that many a witness on TV revises their statement when they are put under oath and these punks also know they can be prosecuted if they perjure themselves. And forensic evidence takes months to get back. Not to mention if you look at three simple factors, “Means, motive and opportunity” it didn’t add up. What we were supposed to believe is Officer Wilson, for no apparent reason (there is no evidence Wilson and Brown even met before the shooting) in broad daylight, in front of over 100 people, just drove up and shot the man. Means, yes, Wilson has a gun. Motive? What for, robbing a store? I don’t think so. Opportunity? I think in the middle of a public street is not a private place for a murder.

Well we all know that the story about "Hands Up! Don't Shoot!" wasn't based on a lie, it was a bold faced lie. Now it's rare enough for a leftist columnist to admit he was wrong, but that's what Mr. Capehart (more or less) does in this column. Of course he slanders the Ferguson PD with his supporting documentation a report by the Eric Holder Justice Department. Mr. Capehard, maybe you should take them with a grain of salt. They were some of the people trying (successfully) to start a riot there. But let's see what he admits to.

‘Hands up, don’t shoot’ was built on a lie

By Jonathan Capehart

The late evening of Aug. 9, 2014, I couldn’t sleep. I was due to substitute-anchor MSNBC’s “UP with Steve Kornacki” and should have been asleep. But after looking at my Twitter feed and reading the rage under #Ferguson, I felt compelled to type a reaction to the killing of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson. Tying the shooting to the inane whine of certain politicians about a “war on whites,” I decried the next morning the death of yet another unarmed black man at the hands of a white police officer.

In those early hours and early days, there was more unknown than known. But this month, the Justice Department released two must-read investigations connected to the killing of Brown that filled in blanks, corrected the record and brought sunlight to dark places by revealing ugly practices that institutionalized racism and hardship. They have also forced me to deal with two uncomfortable truths: Brown never surrendered with his hands up, and Wilson was justified in shooting Brown....

...Through exhaustive interviews with witnesses, cross-checking their statements with previous statements to authorities and the media, ballistics, DNA evidence and results from three autopsies, the Justice Department was able to present a credible and troubling picture of what happened on Canfield Drive. More credible than the grand jury decision to not indict Wilson. The transcript of his grand jury testimony read like so much hand-holding by the prosecution.

What DOJ found made me ill. Wilson knew about the theft of the cigarillos from the convenience store and had a description of the suspects. Brown fought with the officer and tried to take his gun. And the popular hands-up storyline, which isn’t corroborated by ballistic and DNA evidence and multiple witness statements, was perpetuated by Witness 101. In fact, just about everything said to the media by Witness 101, whom we all know as Dorian Johnson, the friend with Brown that day, was not supported by the evidence and other witness statements.

Fight in the SUV

Page 6: Wilson and other witnesses stated that Brown then reached into the SUV through the open driver’s window and punched and grabbed Wilson. This is corroborated by bruising on Wilson’s jaw and scratches on his neck, the presence of Brown’s DNA on Wilson’s collar, shirt, and pants, and Wilson’s DNA on Brown’s palm. While there are other individuals who stated that Wilson reached out of the SUV and grabbed Brown by the neck, prosecutors could not credit their accounts because they were inconsistent with physical and forensic evidence, as detailed throughout this report.
Struggle over the gun

Page 6: Brown then grabbed the weapon and struggled with Wilson to gain control of it. Wilson fired, striking Brown in the hand. Autopsy results and bullet trajectory, skin from Brown’s palm on the outside of the SUV door as well as Brown’s DNA on the inside of the driver’s door corroborate Wilson’s account that during the struggle, Brown used his right hand to grab and attempt to control Wilson’s gun. According to three autopsies, Brown sustained a close range gunshot wound to the fleshy portion of his right hand at the base of his right thumb. Soot from the muzzle of the gun found embedded in the tissue of this wound coupled with indicia of thermal change from the heat of the muzzle indicate that Brown’s hand was within inches of the muzzle of Wilson’s gun when it was fired. The location of the recovered bullet in the side panel of the driver’s door, just above Wilson’s lap, also corroborates Wilson’s account of the struggle over the gun and when the gun was fired, as do witness accounts that Wilson fired at least one shot from inside the SUV.
Hands up

Page 8: Although there are several individuals who have stated that Brown held his hands up in an unambiguous sign of surrender prior to Wilson shooting him dead, their accounts do not support a prosecution of Wilson. As detailed throughout this report, some of those accounts are inaccurate because they are inconsistent with the physical and forensic evidence; some of those accounts are materially inconsistent with that witness’s own prior statements with no explanation, credible [or] otherwise, as to why those accounts changed over time. Certain other witnesses who originally stated Brown had his hands up in surrender recanted their original accounts, admitting that they did not witness the shooting or parts of it, despite what they initially reported either to federal or local law enforcement or to the media. Prosecutors did not rely on those accounts when making a prosecutive decision.

While credible witnesses gave varying accounts of exactly what Brown was doing with his hands as he moved toward Wilson – i.e., balling them, holding them out, or pulling up his pants up – and varying accounts of how he was moving – i.e., “charging,” moving in “slow motion,” or “running” – they all establish that Brown was moving toward Wilson when Wilson shot him. Although some witnesses state that Brown held his hands up at shoulder level with his palms facing outward for a brief moment, these same witnesses describe Brown then dropping his hands and “charging” at Wilson.

The DOJ report notes on page 44 that Johnson “made multiple statements to the media immediately following the incident that spawned the popular narrative that Wilson shot Brown execution-style as he held up his hands in surrender.” In one of those interviews, Johnson told MSNBC that Brown was shot in the back by Wilson. It was then that Johnson said Brown stopped, turned around with his hands up and said, “I don’t have a gun, stop shooting!” And, like that, “hands up, don’t shoot” became the mantra of a movement. But it was wrong, built on a lie.

I've deleted the portions about how the Ferguson PD is nothing but the KKK in blue but again, I must give Mr. Capehart credit for admitting he was wrong in jumping to conclusions like he did. Now we must look into something I didn't cut out.

...Now that black lives matter to everyone, it is imperative that we continue marching for and giving voice to those killed in racially charged incidents at the hands of police and others. But we must never allow ourselves to march under the banner of a false narrative on behalf of someone who would otherwise offend our sense of right and wrong. And when we discover that we have, we must acknowledge it, admit our error and keep on marching. That’s what I’ve done here.
Mr. Capehart, this wasn't an error on the part of the people really pushing this. The race baiting poverty pimps (B Hussein Obama, Holder, Jackson, Sharpton, etc) knew what they were doing, stroked the racist angle in the successful attempt to start a riot. How many people lost their businesses, were injured, etc because of these punks in power? Did "black lives matter" to them? The answer is no. But for some reason you believed them, with no reason to. Why? Maybe you should look at yourself in the mirror and give yourself some ugly answers.

Monday, March 16, 2015

I need a laugh, it's been a long weekend.....

While behind on my assignment for college and just getting up from a very late call (shooting scene), I'm kinda tired but I shouldn't say much. Close friends lost a child this weekend and whatever I've felt like recently is nothing to compare to that. Beth and I are attending the services this week and it will not be fun to see someone so young pass like this. There is nothing to compare to saying goodbye to a child.

I needed something to take the weight off a few heavy days and I found it in this column from National Review. A look at how the usual suspects are reacting to the Mrs. Bill Clinton email scandal.
...Anyway, the ChappaDataQuitIt or E-PotDome story (okay, we’re still looking for a better nickname) reminds me of those kinds of movies. The silent whistle has been blown. The sleepers activated. The old timers have been notified. I like to imagine Lanny Davis right in the middle of a meeting with an African dictator when, suddenly, his assistant hands him a note. All it reads is “Cankles Is Down.” Lanny abruptly terminates the meeting, pushes back a briefcase full of krugerrands, and races to some hellish Third World airport, telling his aide, “Let the Redskins know they’re on their own. The Clintons need me.”

Flash to a canoe on the banks of the bayou. James Carville has just caught a catfish with his bare hands and proceeds to tear apart the wriggling fish, Gollum-like. He eats the entrails first. Then, suddenly, a flare goes off above the tree line. That’s the signal. He throws the bulk of the carcass into the river, where gators churn the water to grab it now that the apex predator has departed. He makes his way to the shoulder of a dirt road where a limousine is waiting to get him to an MSNBC studio as fast as possible. His suit and tie, neatly pressed, are waiting for him along with as many hot towels as he may need to remove the fish viscera.

David Brock slinks out of his leather onesie and races to his command center, bustling with Dorito-dust frosted 20-somethings at computer terminals. “This is a level-one-alpha scenario. Cancel all leave. Turn off all X-boxes . . .”

Sidney Blumenthal, consciously dressed like that French guy in The Matrix, leaves his table-for-one, and heads home to sacrifice some creatures to Baal in preparation.

They’re all coming home.

Save for one. Poor Geraldo Rivera, locked in a reinforced steel cage deep in the bowels of News Corp, is pacing his cell like a vampire’s familiar ordered to return to his master but unable to. The sounds of his howling, can be heard, ever so faintly, in the background during the O’Reilly Factor. Poor Greg Gutfeld has been tasked with keeping him locked up and is using his cattle prod a bit more than necessary . . .
Last night I was on a shooting scene where a teenager and 20 something was shot, both are recovering, but yesterday was a great reminder that tomorrow is promised to no one. Enjoy every day you can.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Security Weekly: The Attack on a U.S. Ambassador Could Have Been Avoided, March 12, 2015

On the morning of March 5, 2015, U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert was preparing to speak at a function hosted by the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation. The conference was being held in a banquet room at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts, a popular venue situated across the boulevard from the U.S. Embassy in Seoul. After entering the room, Lippert took his seat at the head table. While he was exchanging business cards with some of the attendees, an assailant approached him from behind and slashed him in the face with a knife. While the ambassador defended himself, he received a second wound to his wrist. But the attacker was quickly subdued, and Lippert was able to leave the scene on his own, applying pressure to the gash on his face with his good hand before being ushered into a police car and taken to the hospital. His wounds were not life-threatening.

According to press reports, the suspect in the case, 55-year-old Kim Ki Jong, screamed "No to war training!" and "North and South Korea should be united!" during the attack. The first statement was likely a reference to Foal Eagle, the eight-week joint U.S.-South Korean military exercise that began March 2. Kim has been identified as a Korean nationalist who is well known to Korean authorities for his past activities. In July 2010 he was arrested for throwing a block of concrete at the Japanese ambassador in Seoul and, after being convicted, received a suspended sentence for the attack. According to The Korea Times, Kim attempted to set himself on fire at another demonstration in 2007.

Conversation: Implications of the Attack on the U.S. Ambassador to South Korea 
Many are making a big deal over the fact that the police officer who accompanied Lippert at the time of the attack was unarmed. However, this is not unusual: Korean police frequently work without weapons. The security failure in this case was not that the officer was unarmed; it was that he was complacent and did not notice the assailant before he drew his knife and attacked.   
Unarmed Executive Protection   First of all, it is important to recognize that unarmed executive protection details are not uncommon, especially for private security officers providing protection for executives in foreign countries. When I was a diplomatic security special agent helping to provide security for the U.S. secretary of state on trips abroad or for foreign dignitaries visiting the United States, the thought of working unarmed was unimaginable. I conducted many investigations of attacks against U.S. diplomatic interests in places such as Japan where I worked unarmed, but that was different than working a protection detail unarmed.   
That mindset was shattered when I left the government and began to conduct executive protection in the private sector. Lacking law enforcement authority and diplomatic status, I was not allowed as a foreigner to carry a weapon in most locations. Because of this, I almost always worked without a weapon while abroad. If it was assessed that a visit to a particular country required armed security, trusted local contract security officers who had the proper permits to carry weapons in that country, or in some cases government security personnel, would assist me. I was not alone. Almost all corporate executive protection officers worldwide work with the same limitations, especially when they travel abroad.   
This is where this week's security weekly intersects with last week's. In situations where I was working unarmed, and in some instances alone, I was forced to rely on my martial arts training. More important, I had to rely heavily on my most important weapons system: my brain. Because of my vulnerability to armed assailants, I had to make sure I did solid protective intelligence and advance work prior to my protectee's visit so that I could identify potential threats and design security measures to mitigate them. Working unarmed also meant that I had to be hyper-vigilant in situations where my protectee was in contact with the public, especially when his or her presence was announced to the press in advance.   
What was I looking for in those cases? It's simple: demeanor. Studies have shown that in most attacks against a protected individual, the attacker shows some sort of external indication of his intentions prior to launching the attack. Such individuals will often be visibly angry, agitated or abnormally focused. In other words, they behave differently from everyone else in the crowd. Furthermore, in many cases they simply stick out from the crowd because they are not dressed appropriately for the venue. Occasionally, an attacker will exhibit what security professionals call "cover for status" and "cover for action," which is simply when a criminal attempts to fit into a specific environment. Generally speaking, however, such criminals are few and far between. Instead, most would-be assailants will readily stick out to those looking for them.   
Security personnel who see a person with an alarming demeanor approaching their protectee can either intercept the threatening person before he or she attacks or cover and remove their protectee from the site, depending on the situation. During my career as a private executive protection officer, I intercepted several such individuals. Fortunately for me, they were all mentally-disturbed individuals or angry customers — and none were armed with a 10-inch kitchen knife as was Kim. But even if they had been armed, by identifying them and then getting between them and my protectee, I was at least in a position to take action if needed.  
Instances in which I had to intercept angry customers or mentally-disturbed individuals before they could get to my protectee were thankfully infrequent. They were also usually separated by hundreds of hours spent at events in which absolutely nothing unusual occurred. To steal a phrase often used to describe the life of soldiers in the trenches during World War I, the career of a protective security officer is best described as long periods of utter boredom punctuated by a few moments of extreme adrenalin and excitement. World War I soldiers often had the warning of an artillery barrage to tell them the enemy was preparing a ground assault, but the warnings given to protective security personnel are much more subtle and can be hard to pick up if the officer has succumbed to boredom. I can testify firsthand that it is very hard to stay alert when you have been bored for so many hours. Because of this, it is very easy for executive protection officers to become complacent and to relax their level of attention and of situational awareness.   
From the outside, that is what appears to have happened in the Lippert attack. From videos taken at the scene, it is readily apparent that Kim was not dressed appropriately for the meeting at the Sejong center. While the meeting participants were wearing suits and ties, Kim was shabbily dressed and was wearing his outside hat and jacket. He clearly did not belong in the banquet room. 
I have not seen any video of Kim prior to the attack, but it is almost certain that he was also exhibiting other demeanor indicators that would suggest he was up to no good. Seeing Kim enter the room and begin to walk toward the ambassador should have been enough to cause the police officer accompanying the ambassador to take action. But he did not, and Kim was allowed to launch his attack. Had Kim been a trained assailant and not merely a disturbed amateur with a kitchen knife, Lippert could easily be dead today.   
But beyond the issue of complacency, the attack against Lippert was also a failure of protective intelligence. Kim was a known assailant. He had previously attacked a foreign ambassador in Seoul and had been arrested and convicted for that attack. At the very minimum, every officer working on a detail to protect diplomats in South Korea should have been given a photograph and description of Kim so that they could be on the lookout for him. Kim not only had a distinctive appearance but often wore a distinctive cap — worn during the attacks against both the U.S. and the Japanese ambassadors. Demeanor aside, a properly briefed protection officer should have been able to easily recognize Kim as he entered the room based on his photo and distinctive cap.   
The failures in this case then were not that the officer guarding Lippert was unarmed — Kim launched his attack before being detected, and a gun in a holster on the officer's waist would not have changed that fact. This case was in reality a failure of situational awareness and protective intelligence.   
Dealing with a suspect armed with a knife when one is unarmed is not fun. It is probable that the protective agent would have been cut during the struggle to subdue and disarm Kim. But had the officer seen and intercepted Kim, he would not have been able to attack Lippert by surprise and the ambassador would have at least had the opportunity to flee or defend himself. I don't know how many bored hours that officer had spent working protection prior to the attack, but it is a shame his moment of excitement had to unfold in such an unfortunate manner.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Something about this job….

Last night was a bit of a long shift. But this tells you about the job.

Sergeants on my shift (and many an evening shift) take their lunches early because things can go nuts later on. Case in point, last night.

Almost finished my dinner and one of my officers calls about someone shooting three times near him. He searched for the car but they were gone and we’re honesty not sure who the punk was shooting at. Could have been at the cop, could have been someone on the sidewalk or could have been just shooting in the air. In the third case the moron is apparently not bothered about another law called gravity. The rounds will fall to the ground somewhere and he can kill himself.

After getting that taken care of…well, I didn’t do much there. I just gave the officer some guidance (Not much, he knows what he is doing, but he has to contact his supervisor.) and he gets to it. But the pain in the ass it I have to send a report up to our command center and that just takes some time. So I back into my favorite hole in the wall to start typing away. Then the real fun begins.

Another units is dispatched to a disturbance with a couple and their child. After they arrive they know quickly they need backup. Now I’ve got the father in his house with a one year old in his hands and he is refusing to come out. We may have to bring out a SWAT team and we have a child in the man’s hands. This could get ugly and quick.

Well one of my other sergeants got him to come to a window and starting to speak to him. He was going no where and then he passed him over to me. And I get to speak to this man for almost an hour, trying to convince him to let the medics take a look at her. This was fun.

After about 20 minutes I was able to get him to lower his guard a bit and he did relax. And he let me call his boss to confirm he was not at work today and he seems to make him trust me a bit. He asks me about the Texans dropping Andre Johnson and I mention how “Hey, I”m from New Orleans and we just got rid of Jimmy Graham, trust me, we know about loosing something….” And we talk…and talk.

An officer asks if I want a chair and I tell him “No, but please go to my car and get my thermos and pipe…” The father sees I’m setting up with the coffee and pipe and starts laughing his ass off. Great stress reliever.

Finally the grandmother arrives about the same time a lieutenant arrives. And the father agrees to turn the girl over to her grandmother. I get to take the one year old to the medics and grandma, then take a photo to show the father. Something to take his edge off, just to show him his girl is ok. Well, I can’t make the big decisions anymore because bigger brass has come on the scene and he is the new “adult supervision”.
To the dismay of many of the officers, he orders us to let him go for the moment. We have the child, we know who he is, where he lives and works, “just file a warrant and we’ll pick him up tomorrow…” Don’t sit well with the troops but the man does have two weapons in his possession and let’s just finish this later.

So I go back to the station and get another report ready. And I’m getting tired of looking at the computer screen, but I get that through. And again, the job. The hours are unpredictably and often suck. Standing in mud in the rain (what is going on here, have I croaked and woken up in Seattle!) speaking with an armed man with a child begging him to let her go. And talking about life. And football. And coffee.

Getting home the dog is cheering (at least I know he will always greet me :<) ) and I get some scotch. I need to come down and that is one of my best stress relievers. Then go to the bed and Elmer is nice enough to jump between Beth and I. “Yea Dad, I’m keep you warm…”

Life is good. Have a great weekend.

Officer Down

Police Officer Terence Avery Green
Fulton County Georgia Police Department
End of Watch: Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Age: 48
Tour: 22 years
Weapon: Rifle

Police Officer Terence Green was shot and killed from ambush as he and other officers responded to reports of shots fired inside a house near the intersection of Chastain Way and Parks Trail at approximately 1:00 am.

The subject who lived in the home was known to police through frequent contacts with the department. Responding officers were unable to locate him inside the home and began searching the neighborhood after receiving additional calls stating the man was attempting to get into nearby homes.

As officers checked the area the man opened fire on them from a concealed position in the dark and fog. Officer Green was struck in the back of the head and another officer's duty belt and radio was struck as they attempted to seek cover. Other officers returned fired, wounding the man, and then took him into custody.

Officer Green was transported to Grady Memorial Hospital where he succumbed to his wounds a short time later.

Officer Green had served with the Fulton County Police Department for 22 years. He is survived by his wife, four sons, and parents.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got The Watch

Nemo me impune lacessit

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

Geopolitical Weekly: The Paradox of America's Electoral Reform, March 10, 2015

By George Friedman

We are now in the early phases of selecting the president of the United States. Vast amounts of money are being raised, plans are being laid, opposition research is underway and the first significant scandal has broken with the discovery that Hillary Clinton used a non-government email account for government business. Ahead of us is an extended series of primaries, followed by an election and perhaps a dispute over some aspect of the election. In the United States, the presidential election process takes about two years, particularly when the sitting president cannot run for re-election.

This election process matters to the world for two reasons. First, the world's only global power will be increasingly self-absorbed, and the sitting president — already weakened by the opposition party controlling both houses of Congress — is increasingly limited in what he can do. This is disturbing in some ways, since all presidential elections contain visions of the apocalypse that will follow the election of an opponent. During the U.S. election season, the world hears a litany of self-denigration and self-loathing that can be frightening emanating from a country that produces nearly a quarter of the world's wealth each year and commands the world's oceans. If Honduras were to engage in this behavior, the world would hardly notice. When the United States does it, the public discourse can convince others that the United States is on the verge of collapse, and that perspective has the potential to shape at least some actions on the global stage.

Tempering the Passions of Politics

The United States sees itself as the City on the Hill, an example to the world. But along with any redemptive sensibility comes its counterpart: the apocalyptic. The other candidate is betraying the promise of America, and therefore destroying it. Extreme messages are hardwired into the vision that created the republic.

The founders understood the inherent immoderation of politics and sought to solve problems by limiting democracy and emphasizing representative democracy. Americans select representatives through various complex courses. They do not directly elect presidents, but members of the Electoral College.

Likely an archaic institution, the Electoral College still represents the founders' fear of the passions of the people — both the intensity of some, and the indifference of others. The founders also distrusted the state while fully understanding its necessity. They had two visions: that representatives would make the law, and that these representatives would not have politics as a profession. Since re-election was not their primary goal, they were freed from democratic pressures to use their own wisdom in crafting laws.

The founders saw civil society — business, farms, churches and so on — as ultimately more important than the state, and they saw excessive political passion as misplaced. First, it took away from the private pursuits they so valued, and it tended to make political life more important than it should be. Second, they feared that ordinary men (women were excluded) might be elected as representatives at various levels. They set property requirements to assure sobriety (or so they thought) in representatives and at least limit the extent to which they were interested in politics. They set age requirements to assure a degree of maturity. They tried to shape representative democracy with standards they considered prudent — paralleling the values of their own social class, where private pursuits predominated and public affairs were a burdensome duty.

It is not that the founders regarded government as unimportant; to the contrary, it was central to civilization. Their concern was excessive passion on the part of the electorate, so they created a republican form of representative government because they feared the passions of the public. They also feared political parties and the factions and emotions they would arouse.

Parties and Party Bosses

Of course it was the founders who created political parties soon after the founding. The property requirements dissolved fairly quickly, the idea that state houses would elect senators went away, and the ideological passions and love of scandal emerged.

Political parties were organized state by state, and within state by counties and cities. These parties emerged with two roles. The first was to generate and offer potential leaders for election at all levels. The second was to serve as a means of mediation between the public — for multiple classes, from the wealthy to the poor — and the state. The political machines that dominated the country served as feeders of the republican system and ombudsmen for citizens.

The party bosses did not have visions of redemption or apocalypse. They were what the founders didn't want: professional politicians, not necessarily holding office themselves but overseeing the selection of those who would. Since these officeholders owed their jobs to the party boss, the boss determined legislation. And the more powerful bosses populated the smoke-filled rooms that selected presidents.

This was a system made for corruption, of course, and it violated the founders' vision, but it also fulfilled that vision in a way. The party bosses' power resided in building coalitions that they could serve. In the large industrial cities where immigrants came to work in the factories, that meant finding people jobs, securing services, maintaining the schools and so on. They didn't do this because they were public-spirited, but because they wanted to hold power. Even if companies that kicked back money to the bosses built the schools or the brother-in-law of a party boss owned the company that paved the streets, the schools got built and the streets got paved. The political machines were very real in rural areas as well.

Every four years, party bosses gathered at the party convention with the goal of selecting a candidate who would win. They would allow the candidate his ideological foibles, so long as they retained the ability to name postmasters and judges and appoint federal contracts in their areas. The system was corrupt, but it produced leaders like Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, as well as some less illustrious people.

The Boss System Breaks Down

Starting in 1972, following Richard Nixon's presidency, the United States shifted away from a system of political bosses. This was achieved by broadly expanding primaries at all levels. Rather than bosses selecting candidates and controlling them, direct democratic elections were used for candidate selection. Since the bosses didn't select candidates, the candidates were beholden to the voters rather than the bosses. Each election year, the voters would select the candidates and then select the officeholder. Over time, the power of the political machine was broken and replaced by a series of elections. The founders did not want this level of democracy, but neither did they explicitly want the party boss.

This change had two unanticipated consequences. The first was that the importance of money in the political process surged. In the old system, you had to convince bosses to support you. That took time and effort and required that promises be made, but it did not require vast amounts of money. Under the primary system, apart from the national election, primary elections take place in almost all states. Candidates must build their own machines in each state and appeal directly to voters. That means huge expenditures to create a machine and buy advertising in each state.

As the bosses' corruption was curbed but money's centrality soared, the types of corruption endemic to the political system shifted. Corruption moved from favors for bosses to special treatment of fundraisers, but it was still there. Reformers tried to limit the amount of money that could be contributed, but they ignored two facts. First, a primary system for the presidency is fiendishly expensive simply because delivering the message to the public in 50 states costs a fortune. Second, given the stakes, the desire to influence government is difficult to curb. The means will be found to donate money, and in some cases it will be done in the hope and expectation of favors. The reforms changed the shape of corruption but could not eliminate it.

The second unintended consequence was that it institutionalized political polarization. The party boss was not a passionate man. But those who go to the polls in primaries tend to be. Turnout at American elections is always low. The founders set the election for a Tuesday rather than a weekend as in many countries, and it is a work day, with children to be picked up at school, dinner to be cooked and so on. The founders designed politics to be less important than private life, and in the competition on Election Tuesday, private life tends to win, particularly in off-year elections and primaries.

The people who vote in primaries tend to be passionate believers. The center, which holds the largest block of voters in the general election, is not a passionate place. The kids' homework comes first. Passion exists on the wings of both parties. This means that in the primaries, only two types of candidates win. One is the extremely well funded — and the passion of the wings make funding for them even more important. The other is the ideologically committed. The top fundraisers face the most passionate voters, and the contest is whether the center can be turned out with money. Frequently the answer is no. The result is that the wings, although likely a minority in the party, frequently select candidates in the primary who have trouble winning the general election. From their point of view, winning means nothing if you give up principles.

All of this applies equally to elections to the House and Senate. It has been said that there has never been less bipartisanship than there is now. I don't know if that is true, but it is certainly the case that the penalties for collaboration with the other party, or for moving to the center, are extremely high. The only ones who can do it are the ones who can raise sufficient money to draw the center out. And that is hard to do. As a result, everyone must run to the extreme in the primary and run to the center in the general election. The reforms have institutionalized hypocrisy and outsized strength for marginal groups, though they succeeded in breaking the party bosses.

Since 1972, the United States has elected presidents like Ronald Reagan, the two Bushes, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. I will leave it to the reader to determine how this compares to the boss-generated leaders. However, I would argue that the ombudsman system has broken down. Bosses, because they were corrupt, could provide an interface for voters with employers (who wanted contracts) and government. I suspect that the collapse of the boss system made it easier for the Italians, Irish and Jews to integrate into society, and harder for blacks and Hispanics. There are pockets of bosses, but they are not the norm, and they cannot offer as much without going to jail.

This is not meant to romanticize the bosses. We are, on the whole, better off without them, and we can't resurrect them. I am trying to explain why our elections have become so long, why they cost so much money, and why the wings of the parties get to define agendas and legislative and executive behavior.

The Geopolitics of the U.S. Elections

There is a geopolitical side to this as well. The internal political process of the leading global power is always a geopolitical matter. The structure and method whereby leaders are selected shape the kinds of leaders who govern and define, to some extent, the constraints placed on governments. Geopolitics, as Stratfor uses the concept, argues that the wishes and idiosyncrasies of individual leaders make little difference in the long run. This is because leaders are constrained by global realities. It is also because internal political processes define what must be done to take and hold power. Those internal political processes have their own origins in impersonal forces.

There has been a long struggle between the founders' vision of how politics should work and the reality of the process. The party boss was, in a weird way, an implementation of the principle of representative government. He was also a symbol of corruption and anti-democratic behavior. His demise has created the primary system, which carries with it its own corruption. Moreover, it has systematically limited the power of the center and strengthened the power of the most ideological. It has also caused U.S. elections to put the world ill at ease, because what the world hears in the Georgia, Vermont or Texas primaries can be unsettling. The American Republic was invented and it is continually being reinvented on the same basic theme. Each reform creates a new form of corruption and a new challenge for governance. In the end, everyone is trapped by reality, but it is taking longer and longer to enter that trap.

This situation is not unique to the United States, but the pattern differs elsewhere. Over the centuries, the U.S. public has been shaped by immigration, and the U.S. government was consciously constructed out of the theoretical constructs of its founders. It was as if the country were a blank slate. It was in this context that waves of reform took place, all changing the republic, all with unintended consequences.

I have tried to show here the unintended consequences of the post-Watergate reforms to illustrate why the American political system works as it does. But perhaps the most important point is that redrawing the government is endemic to the kind of government the United States has, and that the United States both absorbs change well and is frequently surprised by what change does. In other countries, there is less room to maneuver, and perhaps fewer surprises and standards of success. The political parties emerged against the founders' intentions, because political organization beyond the elite followed from the logic of the government. The rise of political bosses followed from the system, and simultaneously stabilized and corrupted it. The post-Watergate reforms changed the nature of the corruption but also changed the texture of political life. The latter is the issue with which the United States is now struggling.

China, Russia and Europe are all struggling, but in different ways and toward different ends, frequently because of problems endemic to their cultures. The problem endemic in American culture is the will to reform. It is both the virtue and vice of the U.S. government. It has geopolitical consequences. This is another dimension of geopolitics to be considered in the coming weeks and months.

The Paradox of America's Electoral Reform is republished with permission of Stratfor.

Officer Down

Special Agent William Sheldon
United States Department of Justice - Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
End of Watch: Monday, March 2, 2015
Age: 47
Tour: 16 years
Incident Date: 9/11/2001

Special Agent Bill Sheldon died as the result of cancer he developed as a direct result of participating in rescue and recovery efforts at the World Trade Center site following the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks.

Agent Sheldon assisted with directing people away from the towers on the day of the attack. He was then exposed to toxic debris while assisting with the search and recovery efforts at Ground Zero in the weeks following the attack. He and two other members of his 5-person ATF team were eventually diagnosed with cancer that was determined to be a result of their exposure to the toxic debris.

His health continued to deteriorate until he passed away on March 2nd, 2015.

Special Agent Sheldon was a U.S. Army combat veteran and had served with ATF for 16 years. He is survived by his wife and two young children.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, seventy-two officers from a total of eight local, state, and federal agencies were killed when terrorist hijackers working for the al Qaeda terrorist network, headed by Osama bin Laden, crashed two of four hijacked planes into the World Trade Center towers in New York City. After the impact of the first plane, putting the safety of others before their own, law enforcement officers along with fire and EMS personnel, rushed to the burning Twin Towers of the World Trade Center to aid the victims and lead them to safety. Due to their quick actions, it is estimated that over 25,000 people were saved.

As the evacuation continued, the first tower unexpectedly collapsed due as a result of the intense fire caused by the impact. The second tower collapsed a short time later. 71 law enforcement officers, 343 members of the New York City Fire Department and over 2,800 civilians were killed at the World Trade Center site.

A third hijacked plane crashed into a field in rural Pennsylvania when the passengers attempted to re-take control of the plane. One law enforcement officer, who was a passenger on the plane, was killed in that crash.

The fourth hijacked plane was crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, killing almost 200 military and civilian personnel. No law enforcement officers were killed at the Pentagon.

The terrorist attacks resulted in the declaration of war against the Taliban regime, the illegal rulers of Afghanistan, and the al Qaeda terrorist network which also was based in Afghanistan.

On September 9, 2005, all of the public safety officers killed on September 11, 2001, were posthumously awarded the 9/11 Heroes Medal of Valor by President George W. Bush.

The contamination in the air at the World Trade Center site caused many rescue personnel to become extremely ill, and eventually led to the death of several rescue workers.

On May 1, 2011 members of the United States military conducted a raid on a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan where Osama bin Laden was hiding. During the raid, they shot and killed bin Laden.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got The Watch

Nemo me impune lacessit

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 10, 2015

Cook County is not doing well with DWIs

It's bad when you have to tell the complainant, or their next of kin we can't prosecute because of a lack of evidence, no witnesses, etc. It's quite another when you screw up the evidence trail, like what is apparently happening here.
DUI paperwork mistakes allow thousands of drivers back on Illinois roads - Chicago Tribune

Bureaucratic mix-ups have let thousands of drunken drivers avoid mandatory license suspensions and stay on the roads, a Tribune investigation has found.

A Tribune review of state data found case after case across the Chicago area in which the arrests of these drivers — some with repeat DUIs — are not being logged into state computers to ensure their licenses are suspended. The failures come in a process that still relies on police filling out forms by hand and mailing them to the state, a process rife with human error that frustrates anti-DUI advocates.

"There are so many ways for things to get lost," said Cathy Stanley, with Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists. "Nothing is instantaneously done or efficiently done like it should be."

A spokeswoman for Secretary of State Jesse White, who administers the suspensions, said the office was disappointed at the Tribune's findings and worried "there are potentially dangerous drivers, who have violated the law, driving on our roadways."

State officials blame the breakdown on police failing to send reports. However, most departments contacted by the Tribune maintain that they drop the requisite paperwork in the mail and assume that the state has logged the suspensions. Officials said nobody had ever studied how many times the process failed.

The revelation offers one more gap in what is billed as a near-automatic punishment for being arrested for driving drunk. Last year, the Tribune found that some suburbs routinely let drivers keep their licenses, often in exchange for hefty fines. That prompted White to ask his traffic safety task force to study the issue.

The latest-discovered gap — from mistakes — appears widespread, from arrests in Chicago to the tiniest suburbs.

It is nearly impossible to determine the true number of mistakes because of how DUI data is kept. But an analysis of state data found more than 3,000 Chicago-area drivers' arrests since 2010 weren't logged.

In one county whose court data could be studied more deeply — DuPage — it appears that as many as one in 15 DUI defendants are not missing a day behind the wheel because of the bureaucratic breakdown.

Benefiting from the mix-ups are people like Ruben Reyes-Rodriguez, 36, of West Chicago. Records show the same department pulled him over twice in 2012 and both times failed to send the paperwork to the state for what were his third and fourth DUI arrests. It took over a year for him to lose his license, and only because one of the DUIs led to a conviction that sparked a separate license revocation...

In all honesty a suspended license does stop anyone from driving. It is simply a risk you take when you drive, hoping you don't get pulled over and if so, pray the cop will not run the license or actually arrest you.

But again, why is it so difficult to log the entry of a report and paperwork into a state database? Assuming this report is true (or accurate), you must say "Come on guys, it's the 2010s, you can do this..."

Officer Down

Police Officer III Siegfred D. R. "Dove" Mortera
Guam Police Department
End of Watch: Saturday, February 14, 2015
Age: 49
Tour: 17 years
Badge # 602
Cause: Heart attack
Incident Date: 2/11/2015

Police Officer Siegfred Mortera suffered a fatal heart attack while participating in his department's SWAT training at Eagles Field.

He was leading a run of other SWAT team members when he suddenly collapsed at approximately 9:00 am. Another officer performed CPR until medics arrived at the location. He was transported to Naval Hospital Guam where he remained unresponsive before passing away three days later.

Officer Mortera had served with the Guam Police Department for 17 years. He is survived by his wife, four children, and three grandchildren.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got The Watch

Nemo me impune lacessit

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

Prisoners and their obituaries.

An interesting read. More than a few students have been tasked to write then own obituaries, tell the stor about what would you say about you at the end of your life. Last year my wife did it for an English class in college. But I gotta say this is interesting. Often the last meal of a prison inmate is written, but not the obit. Worth a read.
Inmates writing their own obits reveal regrets, failed dreams

In the wrong writer's hands, an obituary can be a dull collection of biographical facts, the type of article that journalism professor William Drummond calls the "lowest common denominator" of newspaper writing.

But on this day, he hoped for something more profound from his students, even if his classroom wasn't filled with the high-achievers he was accustomed to teaching at UC Berkeley. Drummond was across the bay in San Quentin State Prison, where he was introducing inmates to the basics of covering the news.

The obituary assignment came with a twist. Instead of writing about a pop star's overdose or a political leader's assassination, Drummond told his incarcerated students they would be writing about a different death: their own.

They would choose how they would die, and they would sum up their own lives however they wanted.

"I did it as a way to find out how these guys had reconciled their crimes," Drummond said. "Were they able to take a critical look at what got them in trouble?"

The inmates, he recalled, were uncomfortable. These were people who were best known for their worst decisions — stabbing a man to death, gunning down a bystander, robbing banks.

Now Drummond wanted to know: "What is your real value?"

The resulting obituaries were reflective, outlandish, candid, evasive, aspirational. Above all, they showed how people who have wronged society would like to be remembered.

Phoeun You's heritage is tattooed on his neck — "the killing fields." He escaped the genocidal Khmer Rouge in Cambodia when he was a child, reaching Utah as a 5-year-old refugee with the rest of his family.

Phoeun You is one of several inmates at San Quentin who wrote his own obituary for a class project. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
"It snowed, and there was nothing but white people," the 41-year-old recalled....

...In his obituary, You doesn't mention his crime. Instead, he describes a heroic death — being stabbed while trying to break up a racially charged fight in a prison classroom.

"Mr. You observed what was about to take place and stepped in front of Mr. Bryant in hopes of diffusing the situation," he writes. He is stabbed and dies immediately...

...Sitting in the prison yard, You explained his choice of death: "My incarceration, the reason I'm here, is by taking a life. When I leave this world, I would love to leave saving a life."...

...Since Julian Glenn Padgett arrived in 2006, he's enrolled in academic classes and played Shylock in a prison production of Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice." Even while sitting in a cramped storage closet during a break from his work at the inmate-run newspaper, he spoke with the intensity of an actor on stage. Asked about committing murder, he cited a Walt Whitman poem.

Padgett stabbed and killed a man he believed was a romantic rival. Therefore, his victim cannot "contribute a verse" in "the powerful play" of life.

"I don't want to be remembered as the man to do that," he said. Like You, he doesn't mention his crime in his fictional obituary.

Padgett, a 51-year-old Ethiopian Jew who wears a knit kippa over his dreadlocks, was convicted in 1997 in Sacramento and isn't eligible for parole until 2023.

His obituary is brimming with passion for outdoor activities that are out of reach.

But most of the 57-year-old's obituary focuses on his childhood in San Diego, including a wrestling match victory and a stint as junior class president.

The longest quote in the article comes from a classmate testifying to his high school leadership skills.

"He built the treasury from just a couple of dollars, to several thousand. His biggest accomplishment was at Homecoming, our float was the biggest one, and our Junior Class Ball was held at a big fancy hotel. The seniors were somewhat jealous."

Despite his candor about his conviction, the obituary focuses on his younger days....

...George Burns envisioned a noble end in his obituary. In the early morning darkness, he would stop by the side of the road to help someone with a flat tire, only to be struck and killed by a speeding driver.

"George was the type of person that loved helping those that were less fortunate and needed help," Burns wrote. "His heart was made of gold."

Although he wrote about his desire to be a positive influence, Burns was also upfront about his crimes in the obituary.

"Mr. Burns early life was rocky he was in and out of jail," he wrote in one fragmented sentence. A gang member in Sacramento, he was convicted of robbery and firearms charges in 2001 and sentenced to prison for 31 years and eight months.

In his obituary, Burns wrote about enrolling in college classes and trying to turn a corner while in prison....
I guess one thing strikes me. I just finished a year as a jail supervisor and a point I've made more than once, "There is not a guilty man in this place." These men own up to what they did, to a point.

Security Weekly: What is Your Best Weapon?, March 5, 2015

By Scott Stewart

Last week, I was in northern Uganda where I had the opportunity to talk with some people about the security issues they are facing in their country, South Sudan and the surrounding region. As is often the case when people are talking to someone in my line of work and with my background, the conversation shifted to weapons. I am often asked questions such as "what is the best weapon for home defense," or "what is the best weapon for when I am traveling?" Invariably, I always answer them with the same response: Your brain. Now, let me explain why.

First Things First

Before anyone goes off on a rant and accuses me of being anti-gun, let me establish that I am an avid hunter, target shooter and a trained firearms instructor. I have nothing against guns. I own many of them, and now that I am a civilian, I have obtained a concealed carry permit and carry my firearm where and when I can do so legally.

Having said that, I must also point out that merely being armed will not protect a person from a criminal. Being armed may even be the sole reason a person becomes a target in a case where an attacker knows they are armed and wants to steal their weapon. In places like the Philippines, for example, New People's Army "sparrow" units specifically target armed people for murder to steal their guns in what they call "agaw-armas," or "arms grabbing" operations.

Being armed can also provide some people with a false sense of security. They believe that because they are armed, they are invulnerable and do not need to practice good situational awareness. If they are caught off guard by a criminal and cannot get to their weapon, it becomes pretty much worthless to them, and they might as well not have brought it.

Even an armed individual needs to rely primarily on his or her most important weapons system — the brain. If the brain is properly engaged and a person has the proper mindset, practices good situational awareness and recognizes a problem while it is still developing, they put themselves in a much better position to effectively deploy and employ their body, knife, gun or whatever secondary weapon they have access to. If the brain is not effectively engaged, a person is left relying on luck, happenstance and the ineptitude of the criminals — and these are not things prudent people should trust their lives to.

The Brain is an Amazing Thing

The first important function the brain serves is providing a person with the proper mindset. Reaching this mindset begins with realizing there are bad people in the world who want to hurt others. Sadly, there are many people who live in denial of this fact — and denial is deadly.

Second, once individuals accept that the threats are real, they must then come to grips with the fact that they are the primary actors responsible for their own security. Too many people mistakenly believe that security is something for which only police and security forces are responsible. The truth is, governments cannot protect everyone and everything from every potential threat. They simply lack the resources to do so. Even authoritarian regimes have proven incapable of protecting everything. People must take responsibility and do their part to keep themselves, their families and their homes safe. Of course, understanding this fact is a little easier for someone living in a place like South Sudan than it is for someone living in South Beach, but the level of responsibility is the same.

The final element of proper mindset is having the willingness and discipline to employ security techniques such as situational awareness and security tools, including weapons. Remember, common sense security and proper situational awareness are not just things a government agent or a trained security officer can practice — anyone can if they have the discipline. I also strongly believe that a person who is not willing to use a firearm or other weapon should not carry one merely in the hopes of using it to threaten a criminal. In such cases, their weapons are frequently turned against them, essentially arming the criminals.

Once a person has decided they will use a weapon if necessary, their brain can help guide them tactically to know when to engage and when to withdraw. It is also determines how they will employ their weapon — whether they will deliberately aim their fire to make it effective, or if they will just spray and pray. It will even help warn them when they are running low on ammunition, and help them determine what to do next when they have run out of ammunition and their firearm becomes nothing more than a metal cudgel. The brain is the real weapon, and a firearm is merely a tool the brain utilizes in a specific situation.

Another critical function the brain performs is providing a person with the will to fight on and survive, even after they have been wounded. But a person is far better off if they can utilize their brain before a situation gets to the point where deadly force is needed. Thus understanding one's environment and maintaining situational awareness are critical.

By understanding the types of crimes that occur in an area — and how they occur — a person can assess their vulnerability to such threats and will be able to see them developing if they are practicing an appropriate level of situational awareness. Seeing a problem while it is still developing and avoiding it is better than having to react to a problem that comes as a surprise. Action is faster than reaction.

Location, Location, Location

It is also important to recognize that there are simply some places where one cannot carry a firearm, knife or other obvious weapon. Such places include secure areas like government buildings, commercial aircraft, some workplaces and cities or countries with laws restricting the possession of weapons.

In such situations, it is especially important for people to utilize their brain, using it to look for developing problems and to mentally catalog safe places and exit routes as they go about their daily routines. They should take note of things like a bank or government building with heavily armed security officers they can dart into if a criminal is following them. Obviously, people should avoid obsessive paranoia. Moreover, in some situations such as an anti-government protest, seeking refuge in a government building may be a bad idea. Safe places need to be appropriate for the environment and situation.

But even in a restrictive environment, if a person has the proper mindset, their brain can help them find not-so-obvious weapons for use when confronted by an imminent threat. Items like a vehicle, flashlight, pen, hotel room lamp, fire extinguisher or a computer's power supply can serve as improvised weapons. The possibilities are nearly limitless if a person's brain is focused properly and working as their most effective weapon. But even then, it is better if they can utilize their brain to recognize and avoid a dangerous situation before it escalates.


Geopolitical Weekly: Netanyahu, Obama and the Geopolitics of Speeches, March 3, 2015

By George Friedman

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is visiting the United States this week to speak to Congress on March 3. The Obama administration is upset that Speaker of the House John Boehner invited Netanyahu without consulting with the White House and charged Boehner with political grandstanding. Netanyahu said he was coming to warn the United States of the threat of Iran. Israeli critics of Netanyahu charged that this was a play for public approval to improve his position in Israel's general election March 17. Boehner denied any political intent beyond getting to hear Netanyahu's views. The Obama administration claimed that the speech threatens the fabric of U.S.-Israeli relations.

Let us begin with the obvious. First, this is a speech, and it is unlikely that Netanyahu could say anything new on the subject of Iran, given that he never stops talking about it. Second, everyone involved is grandstanding. They are politicians, and that's what they do. Third, the idea that U.S.-Israeli relations can be shredded by a grandstanding speech is preposterous. If that's all it takes, relations are already shredded.

Speeches aside, there is no question that U.S.-Israeli relations have been changing substantially since the end of the Cold War, and that change, arrested for a while after 9/11, has created distance and tension between the countries. Netanyahu's speech is merely a symptom of the underlying reality. There are theatrics, there are personal animosities, but presidents and prime ministers come and go. What is important are the interests that bind or separate nations, and the interests of Israel and the United States have to some extent diverged. It is the divergence of interests we must focus on, particularly because there is a great deal of mythology around the U.S.-Israeli relationship created by advocates of a close relationship, opponents of the relationship, and foreign enemies of one or both countries.

Building the U.S.-Israeli Relationship

It is important to begin by understanding that the United States and Israel did not always have a close relationship. While the United States recognized Israel from the beginning, its relationship was cool until after the Six-Day War in 1967. When Israel, along with Britain and France, invaded Egypt in 1956, the United States demanded Israel's withdrawal from Sinai and Gaza, and the Israelis complied. The United States provided no aid for Israel except for food aid given through a U.N. program that served many nations. The United States was not hostile to Israel, nor did it regard its relationship as crucial.

This began to change before the 1967 conflict, after pro-Soviet coups in Syria and Iraq by Baathist parties. Responding to this threat, the United States created a belt of surface-to-air missiles stretching from Saudi Arabia to Jordan and Israel in 1965. This was the first military aid given to Israel, and it was intended to be part of a system to block Soviet power. Until 1967, Israel's weapons came primarily from France. Again, the United States had no objection to this relationship, nor was it a critical issue to Washington.

The Six-Day War changed this. After the conflict, the French, wanting to improve relations with the Arabs, cut off weapons sales to Israel. The United States saw Egypt become a Soviet naval and air base, along with Syria. This threatened the U.S. Sixth Fleet and other interests in the eastern Mediterranean. In particular, the United States was concerned about Turkey because the Bosporus in Soviet hands would open the door to a significant Soviet challenge in the Mediterranean and Southern Europe. Turkey was now threatened not only from the north but also from the south by Syria and Iraq. The Iranians, then U.S. allies, forced the Iraqis to face east rather than north. The Israelis forced the Syrians to focus south. Once the French pulled out of their relationship with Israel and the Soviets consolidated their positions in Egypt and Syria in the wake of the Six-Day War, the United States was forced into a different relationship with Israel.

It has been said that the 1967 war and later U.S. support for Israel triggered Arab anti-Americanism. It undoubtedly deepened anti-American sentiment among the Arabs, but it was not the trigger. Egypt became pro-Soviet in 1956 despite the U.S. intervention against Israel, while Syria and Iraq became pro-Soviet before the United States began sending military aid to Israel. But after 1967, the United States locked into a strategic relationship with Israel and became its primary source of military assistance. This support surged during the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, with U.S. assistance rising from roughly 5 percent of Israeli gross domestic product to more than 20 percent a year later.

The United States was strategically dependent on Israel to maintain a balance of power in the eastern Mediterranean. But even during this period, the United States had competing strategic interests. For example, as part of encouraging a strategic reversal into the U.S. camp after the 1973 war, the United States negotiated an Israeli withdrawal from Sinai that the Israelis were extremely reluctant to do but could not avoid under U.S. pressure. Similarly, U.S. President Ronald Reagan opposed an Israeli invasion of Lebanon that reached Beirut, and the initial U.S. intervention in Lebanon was not against Arab elements but intended to block Israel. There was a strategic dependence on Israel, but it was never a simple relationship.

The Israelis' national security requirements have always outstripped their resources. They had to have an outside patron. First it was the Soviets via Czechoslovakia, then France, then the United States. They could not afford to alienate the United States — the essential foundation of their national security — but neither could they simply comply with American wishes. For the United States, Israel was an important asset. It was far from the only important asset. The United States had to reconcile its support of Israel with its support of Saudi Arabia, as an example. Israel and the Saudis were part of an anti-Soviet coalition, but they had competing interests, shown when the United States sold airborne warning and control systems to the Saudis. The Israelis both needed the United States and chafed under the limitations Washington placed on them.

Post-Soviet Relations

The collapse of the Soviet Union destroyed the strategic foundation for the U.S.-Israeli relationship. There was no pressing reason to end it, but it began to evolve and diverge. The fall of the Soviet Union left Syria and Iraq without a patron. Egypt's U.S.-equipped army, separated from Israel by a demilitarized Sinai and token American peacekeepers, posed no threat. Jordan was a key ally of Israel. The United States began seeing the Mediterranean and Middle East in totally different ways. Israel, for the first time since its founding, didn't face any direct threat of attack. In addition, Israel's economy surged, and U.S. aid, although it remained steady, became far less important to Israel than it was. In 2012, U.S. assistance ($2.9 billion) accounted for just more than 1 percent of Israel's GDP.

Both countries had more room to maneuver than they'd had previously. They were no longer locked into a relationship with each other, and their relationship continued as much out of habit as out of interest. The United States had no interest in Israel creating settlements in the West Bank, but it wasn't interested enough in stopping them to risk rupturing the relationship. The Israelis were no longer so dependent on the United States that they couldn't risk its disapproval.

The United States and Israel drew together initially after 9/11. From the Israeli perspective, the attacks proved that the United States and Israel had a common interest against the Islamic world. The U.S. response evolved into a much more complex form, particularly as it became apparent that U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq were not going to pacify either country. The United States needed a strategy that would prevent jihadist attacks on the homeland, and that meant intelligence cooperation not only with the Israelis but also with Islamic countries hostile to Israel. This was the old problem. Israel wanted the United States focused on Israel as its main partner, but the United States had much wider and more complex relations to deal with in the region that required a more nuanced approach.

This is the root of the divergence on Iran. From Israel's point of view, the Iranians pose an inherent threat regardless of how far along they are — or are not — with their nuclear program. Israel wants the United States aligned against Iran. Now, how close Tehran is to a nuclear weapon is an important question, but to Israel, however small the nuclear risk, it cannot be tolerated because Iran's ideology makes it an existential threat.

The Iran Problem

From the American perspective, the main question about Iran is, assuming it is a threat, can it be destroyed militarily? The Iranians are not fools. They observed the ease with which the Israelis destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981. They buried theirs deep underground. It is therefore not clear, regardless of how far along it is or what its purpose is, that the United States could destroy Iran's nuclear program from the air. It would require, at the very least, special operations on the ground, and failing that, military action beyond U.S. capabilities. Aside from the use of nuclear weapons, it is unclear that an attack on multiple hardened sites would work.

The Israelis are quite aware of these difficulties. Had it been possible to attack, and had the Israelis believed what they were saying, the Israelis would have attacked. The distances are great, but there are indications that countries closer to Iran and also interested in destroying Iran's nuclear program would have allowed the use of their territories. Yet the Israelis did not attack.

The American position is that, lacking a viable military option and uncertain as to the status of Iran's program, the only option is to induce Iran to curtail the program. Simply maintaining permanent sanctions does not end whatever program there is. Only an agreement with Iran trading the program for an end of sanctions would work. From the American point of view, the lack of a military option requires a negotiation. The Israeli position is that Iran cannot be trusted. The American position is that in that case, there are no options.

Behind this is a much deeper issue. Israel of course understands the American argument. What really frightens the Israelis is an emerging American strategy. Having failed to pacify Afghanistan or Iraq, the United States has come to the conclusion that wars of occupation are beyond American capacity. It is prepared to use air power and very limited ground forces in Iraq, for example. However, the United States does not see itself as having the option of bringing decisive force to bear.

An Intricate U.S. Strategy

Therefore, the United States has a double strategy emerging. The first layer is to keep its distance from major flare-ups in the region, providing support but making clear it will not be the one to take primary responsibility. As the situation on the ground deteriorates, the United States expects these conflicts to eventually compel regional powers to take responsibility. In the case of Syria and Iraq, for example, the chaos is on the border of Turkey. Let Turkey live with it, or let Turkey send its own troops in. If that happens, the United States will use limited force to support them. A similar dynamic is playing out with Jordan and the Gulf Cooperation Council states as Saudi Arabia tries to assume responsibility for Sunni Arab interests in the face of a U.S-Iranian entente. Importantly, this rapprochement with Iran is already happening against the Islamic State, which is an enemy of both the United States and Iran. I am not sure we would call what is happening collaboration, but there is certainly parallel play between Iran and the United States.

The second layer of this strategy is creating a balance of power. The United States wants regional powers to deal with issues that threaten their interests more than American interests. At the same time, the United States does not want any one country to dominate the region. Therefore, it is in the American interest to have multiple powers balancing each other. There are four such powers: Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel. Some collaborate, some are hostile, and some shift over time. The United States wants to get rid of Iran's weapons, but it does not want to shatter the country. It is part of a pattern of regional responsibility and balance.

This is the heart of Israel's problem. It has always been a pawn in U.S. strategy, but a vital pawn. In this emerging strategy, with multiple players balancing each other and the United States taking the minimum possible action to maintain the equilibrium, Israel finds itself in a complex relationship with three countries that it cannot be sure of managing by itself. By including Iran in this mix, the United States includes what Israel regards as an unpredictable element not solely because of the nuclear issue but because Iran's influence stretches to Syria and Lebanon and imposes costs and threats Israel wants to avoid.

This has nothing to do with the personalities of Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu. The United States has shown it cannot pacify countries with available forces. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different outcome. If the United States is not involved on the ground in a conflict, then it becomes a problem for regional powers to handle. If the regional powers take the roles they must, they should balance against each other without a single regional hegemon emerging.

Israel does not want to be considered by the United States as one power among many. It is focused on the issue of a nuclear Iran, but it knows that there is no certainty that Iran's nuclear facilities can be destroyed or that sanctions will cause the Iranians to abandon the nuclear program. What Israel fears is an entente between the United States and Iran and a system of relations in which U.S. support will not be automatic.

So a speech will be made. Obama and Netanyahu are supposed to dislike each other. Politicians are going to be elected and jockey for power. All of this is true, and none of it matters. What does matter is that the United States, regardless of who is president, has to develop a new strategy in the region. This is the only option other than trying to occupy Syria and Iraq. Israel, regardless of who is prime minister, does not want to be left as part of this system while the United States maintains ties with all the other players along with Israel. Israel doesn't have the weight to block this strategy, and the United States has no alternative but to pursue it.

This isn't about Netanyahu and Obama, and both know it. It is about the reconfiguration of a region the United States cannot subdue and cannot leave. It is the essence of great power strategy: creating a balance of power in which the balancers are trapped into playing a role they don't want. It is not a perfect strategy, but it is the only one the United States has. Israel is not alone in not wanting this. Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia don't want it, either. But geopolitics is indifferent to wishes. It understands only imperatives and constraints.

Netanyahu, Obama and the Geopolitics of Speeches is republished with permission of Stratfor.

Officer Down

Trooper Nicholas Dees
Oklahoma Highway Patrol
End of Watch: Saturday, January 31, 2015
Age: 30
Tour: 1 year, 6 months
Badge # 731

Trooper Nicholas Dees was struck and killed by a vehicle near mile marker 195 on I-40, east of Shawnee.

He and another trooper were investigating a wreck involving a semi-truck on westbound I-40 at approximately 10:00 pm when a vehicle went around their patrol cars before striking both troopers. Trooper Dees died at the scene. The other trooper suffered serious injuries.

The subject who caused the crash was arrested and charged in connection with the incident.

Trooper Dees had served with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol for approximately 18 months.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got The Watch

Nemo me impune lacessit

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

Monday, March 9, 2015

China is building a navy

Will it challenge the 7th Fleet, no, not today. But they are still something to keep an eye on. If they push out too much, we will have to "reorient to the Pacific" in ways the current administration may not understand. And if China really goes crazy, it will take less than a year for Japan to develop nuclear weapons. For those of you who have not studied your history, there is a reason the Japanese are still hated for things done prior and during World War II. China had better pray Japan doesn't go back to hold habits.

Extracts from the STRATFOR: China: Sub Fleet Grows, Still in U.S. Wake

Despite making significant progress in developing their submarine arm, the Chinese nuclear submarine force is still far behind the full reach and capabilities of the United States silent service. It will take decades to even reach parity with the U.S. Navy, and even with advanced technology, China lacks the institutional knowledge, skills and expertise of a more venerable, seasoned force...

...Though the Pentagon is right to point out continued and impressive Chinese headway in modernizing their armed forces, the Chinese nuclear submarine fleet is not nearly as capable as official remarks may suggest. As an entity, the People's Liberation Army Navy lacks the expertise and institutional knowledge possessed by navies with a centuries-long heritage, like the United States Navy or the British Royal Navy.

Late Bloomers

It is true that the Chinese submarine force has made tremendous progress over the last decade. It is also true that the number of overall Chinese attack submarines, both diesel and nuclear powered, has grown rapidly, surpassing the number of commissioned U.S. nuclear attack submarines — craft designed specifically to engage other submarines or surface vessels. Critically, the Chinese are also spending large amounts of time at sea building up their expertise in training and patrols. The number of PLAN submarine sorties has approximately quadrupled over the last five years or so. As Admiral Mulloy stated, Beijing's nuclear ballistic missile submarines — distinct from their hunter-killer brethren in that they can launch intercontinental ballistic missiles from beneath the ocean surface — are almost ready for deterrence patrols, with one of these submarines having spent more than three months at sea during a trial patrol.

However, the Chinese are without a doubt still far behind the U.S. Navy's submarine service, especially in terms of fielding a nuclear submarine force capable of global reach and sustained operations. With a number of advanced diesel-electric Yuan-class submarines already in service, and improved models under construction, the Chinese are increasingly well positioned to utilize their diesel submarines in the sea denial role around China's coastal waters.

The Chinese doctrine in regard to its periphery is what can be referred to as a counter intervention strategy based on preventing or limiting U.S. and allied access into the Chinese near seas. From Beijing's point of view, these include the Yellow, East China and South China seas. Chinese conventional submarines would be used to interdict enemy vessels as they approach the Chinese near seas by conducting operations in the larger sea space between what China calls the first and second island chains — roughly speaking, the Philippine Sea.

Future Aspirations

The long-term Chinese ambition is, however, to develop a strong force of nuclear powered submarines for global force projection and the escort of carrier task groups and nuclear ballistic submarines. In this respect, China is still far behind the United States. In terms of the development of critical nuclear propulsion and quieting technology, the latest Chinese commissioned nuclear attack submarine, the Type-93 Shang-class, is broadly equivalent to the U.S. Sturgeon-class of late 1960s vintage. Even taking into account improved Chinese Type-93B submarines undergoing sea trials, the Chinese have not surpassed the capabilities displayed by early versions of the U.S. Los Angeles-class submarines of late 1970s vintage....
I think I've pushed "fair use" a bit, so be it. Have a great week.

Officer Down

Detective Michael Starrett
Jacksboro Tennessee Police Department
End of Watch: Friday, January 30, 2015
Age: 54
Tour: 20 years
Badge # 302
Incident Date: 1/23/2015

Detective Mike Starrett succumbed to injuries sustained one week earlier when he was involved in a head-on crash while responding to a fatal accident in which a father and young son were killed.

Other vehicles were yielding to Detective Starrett's vehicle when it was struck by the pickup truck on Highway 116 at Little Cove Creek Road. Detective Starrett was transported to UT Medical Center where he underwent several surgeries before passing away seven days later.

The driver of the truck that struck his vehicle was charged with failure to maintain control and failure to exercise due care.

Detective Starrett had served with the Jacksboro Police Department for 20 years. He is survived by his wife.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got The Watch

Nemo me impune lacessit

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

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Again, a Reagan meme says it all

I remember during the 1980 campaign then President Carter said something about making America more liked. Then former Governor Ronald Reagan said it best, "Mr. President, I always believed it was more important to be respected than liked."

President Reagan also knew, in the diplomatic world, it was more important to be feared than respected. And as we look at the utter ineptitude of our foreign and military policy under the current regime, this picture says what a real leader would have done.

Damned we need you Ronnie!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Officer Down

Patrolman Roger O'Dell
Town Creek Alabama Police Department
End of Watch: Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Age: 47
Tour: 25 years
Badge # TC-4

Patrolman Roger O'Dell suffered a fatal heart attack after taking two juveniles into custody who had escaped from a juvenile detention facility in a neighboring county earlier in the day.

He had received an anonymous tip at approximately 4:00 am that the two were at an apartment complex on the 1900 block Highway 20. He was able to detain the two and once he positively identified them he was placed them under arrest. He collapsed moments after placing them both in the rear of his patrol car.

Upon seeing him collapse, one of the juveniles was able to crawl through the prisoner partition into the front of his patrol car and used the radio to alert dispatchers.

Patrolman O'Dell was a veteran of the Alabama National Guard. He had served with the Town Creek Police Department for approximately 18 months after retiring as chief of the Courtland Police Department. He is survived by his wife and four children.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got The Watch

Nemo me impune lacessit

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

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Officer Down

Sergeant Charles Kerry Mitchum
Loxley Alabama Police Department
End of Watch: Monday, January 26, 2015
Age: 57

Sergeant Kerry Mitchum was killed in a single vehicle crash on Oak Lane, near Highway 59, in Stapleton.

He was en route to the Baldwin County Sheriff's Office firing range at approximately 3:00 pm when his department vehicle left the roadway and struck a tree. He was flown the University of South Alabama Medical Center where he succumbed to his injuries.
Rest in Peace Bro…We Got The Watch

Nemo me impune lacessit

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

He was on a mission from God! RIP John Belushi.

I can't believe it's been 33 years since he's past. John Belushi died on this day in 1982. Another low point to a shitty year. But he would want to be remembered with laughter than tears and with the recent passing of Leonard Nimoy I figured this was appropriate. Enjoy.

Damned I miss him.