Category Archives: Government

Constitutional Freedoms

I spent some time today watching several YouTube videos relating to the “constitutional education” of law enforcement, particularly federal law enforcement.

When it comes to these kinds of exercises, I find myself at odds internally. On the one hand, nothing educates better than experience and dealing with someone very educated on what their rights are, and how they may exercise them can be very educational for an ill-informed law enforcement officer. The flip side, there is a potential for a rapidly escalating situation that may become very dangerous, even life-threatening.

The benefit of these actions is that the word is spreading socially among the populous and among law enforcement agencies. It is paramountly important for the people to understand their rights, and to safeguard them to the fullest extent possible. To do this, the population needs to educate themselves. Law enforcement likewise, needs to step up their game in understanding their responsibilities in their role to “protect and serve.”

Now for the “on the other hand” part. Testing, “auditing,” probing, or whatever you choose to call it, while necessary, needs to be done respectfully, and without goading law enforcement, baiting them for an aggressive response. If we are respectful and allow the LEOs to de-escalate the situation we have accomplished the goal. Picking a fight for a clickbait video is no better than the mainstream media sensationalizing non-stories for the ratings.

Any way you slice it, our constitutional protections are constantly under attack. Whether intentionally, by misguided agency administrators, poor interpretation of policy by field supervisors, or just plain old ignorance of the law, on a regular basis our civil rights are infringed, and they will continue to be if we do not hold the infringers heels to the fires of scrutiny and continue to draw attention to their misdeeds.

I support law enforcement, local, state, and federal, but I demand that they respect the constitution they swore to defend and treat the individuals they encounter respectfully. I don’t suggest that they put themselves unduly in harm’s way, I do suggest that they tone down the attitude a bit and approach people less aggressively.

With the apparent prevailing attitude in law enforcement as it is, I must admit I am leaning more to the side of carefully reminding LEOs what the boundaries are.

Until next time,

Merit Not Hype

Judging policy and actions by merit not by partisanship or popularity

Let me begin by saying clearly that I did not vote for Trump. I felt most represented by Gary Johnson. That being said, I support the Constitution, those sacrificing for our freedom in the armed forces, the flag of the United States, and the ideals the founding father put forth. I also support the office of the president, if not the person occupying that office from time to time.

In my estimation, Donald J. Trump appears to be a lousy human being in general. I find many of his exhibitions of moral character, or lack thereof, deplorable; however, like many previous presidents, it is not their personal lives that are of greatest concern to us as a nation. It is their actions as president that we should be focused on.

In his first week, the President posted 4 Executive Orders to the Federal Register. I am not a big fan of Executive Orders. The last three administrations relied heavily on the privilege to do things that either should have required congressional and senatorial approval or were things that the government shouldn’t have been involved with in the first place.

There has been a lot of hub-bub over the Executive Orders issued in these early days of the new administration and hysterics over their reported effects. I have an aversion to EOs in the first place, so I felt it behooved me to actually read the orders issued so far rather than relying on the interpretation of others.

If you are prone to post about things in a headline panic, I would suggest you take a little time to read the actual EOs. The 4 orders take up 2, 2, 6, and 5 pages respectively, and they are all in plain English. All of them consist of the administration’s position on the subject at hand and directions to the secretaries of the relevant departments of the executive branch, mostly DHS, to follow the administration’s position within the confines of existing law.

Yup, enforce the laws already on the books. In some cases, they are instructed to potentially create new administrative laws through the proper processes and with the appropriate allowances for Requests for Comments from the public. Even more important, these directives are to be funded through the proper channels, mostly funds already allocated to these areas and in so much as funding is available. Another point is the frequent mention of reports with deadlines for the secretaries to get back to the Office of the President on progress. There are also clauses that include transparency and reporting to the public.

While I will concede to a few potential interpretation issues, the policies are not horrific or draconian as the media, extream left, or people who just don’t like Trump would have you believe. It appears that the President’s modus operandi for his term in office will be to run the government as its CEO and that he recognizes that the people are shareholders.

The most ‘radicle’ statement was “It is the policy of my Administration to seek the prompt repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” (emphasis added by author) The key word here is SEEK the prompt repeal. The EO is not a repeal itself.

Everything in the EO “Minimizing the Economic Burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Pending Repeal” [EO 13765 Jan 20, 2017] has to do with things like “minimise the unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens” and “afford States more flexibility and control” as stated in the first section of the order. At least in my mind, State control over the health and welfare of their own citizens is far more efficient than a federal, centralized system. It is also more equitable to the rest of the nation.

The constitution was clearly designed to promote State rights over federal dominion with very few exceptions, those being mostly related to interstate commerce and national defense. Federalization of anything else is generally an overreach of the federal government, from a constitutional perspective.

I know the Affordable Care Act, immigration reform, and border security are hot issues, but please, take a little time to read what is actually being issued from the Office of the President before contributing to the headline panic. We should all remain alert, and when warranted, organize to defend our constitutional rights. In the mean time, how about scaling back on the sharing of media-frenzy and do a little fact checking BEFORE posting or emailing to everyone we know about the latest “travesty” or “injustice.”

The statement “I will build a wall, and Mexico will pay for it!” is a gross oversimplification of what the EO proposes as policy, again within the current laws and existing legislated funding. Read the EO for yourself. It’s only a few pages, and remember it is policy, not law.

I will remain skeptical and vigilant in reviewing Executive Orders as they are issued, and I remain cautiously optimistic about the High Office and its current occupant. When it comes right down to it, I am loyal to the constitution, not those elected to public office. They serve at our pleasure, not their own.

To review Executive Orders go to the Federal Register

A few parting words from a former president:

Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer.
~John F. Kennedy

Until next time, be vigilant, be informed.

Résumé Updating

TakingNoteIt’s been a while since I took any time to update the old résumé, though I must admit not a lot has changed, it’s just time to polish things up a bit. I have a LinkedIn account and I do make minor changes there every so often, but I haven’t done much with the hardcopy. *shudder… hardcopy*

While going through my LI profile something in the “Interests” caught my eye…

“movies, music, writing, flying, aircraft (design/construction/restoration), amateur radio, history, anthropology, archaeology, genealogy, archive, preservation (document/book/photograph), blacksmithing, silversmithing, metal fabrication, woodworking, sustainable living (building, power, farming, food), alternative building technologies, primitive technology, self reliance, resiliency (personal, local, community, regional, national)”

I’m pretty sure I have gone down this road before at some point, but it bares repeating. It’s the resiliency line personal, community, local, regional, national, (and by extension international). With all of the hullabaloo about Brexit people are thinking about how it will affect them. Really, it shouldn’t.

Before anyone starts screaming “Exclusionist!” or “Nationalist!” like somehow nationalism is automatically a bad thing like the bought-and-paid-for media would have you think, participating in worldwide commerce is not bad, far from it. Depending on a centralized global economy is bad, very bad. Even centralized national economies are bad. We keep having example after example of what happens when centralized economies have sector hiccoughs. The whole thing is affected.

When the US economy crashed in 2008, due to our own internal centralized economy and the managers of that system doing bad things, it was felt around the world. When the Greek economy tanked it was directly due to the EU centralized economy, and it affected all of the EU and beyond. The Brexit issue has been felt all over the globe as well. These effects are all because of the idea that the world is somehow better off when we all have our eggs in the same basket. It is absurd.

Why Jon, when you say it that way it sounds so obviously bad, but surly global economics aren’t that simplistic. Actually, yes. Yes they are. At least from the notion that centralization is a good thing. So in this case it really is that simple.

Centralization, in any system, creates more sub-systems and moving parts that are all interdependent. The level of complexity is exponentially increased, and much of the energy that goes into the system goes towards minimizing losses and damage the system itself creates, and of course the administration of the system. Not to mention that the resulting product is generally of lower quality by the time it gets to the consumer/user. Worst of all, with all of the interdependence even a small hiccough produces problematic ripples throughout the system and may even halt it all together.

A simple example is the spinach crisis a few years ago in the US. Much of spinach supplied to restaurants and some grocery stores was recalled because a pig got loose on one farm. There was an outbreak of e.coli, not an epidemic, but large enough and wide enough spread to panic a lot of people, cost farmers millions, destroy a large portion of the nations spinach crop, and waste millions in resources throughout the centralized food system. Absolutely none of it was necessary. To top it all off, it further set in motion more restrictive regulations shutting out some small farms due to the onerous regulations and cost.

So what does all of this have to do with resiliency? Any engineer will tell you eliminate single-point-failures, and provide redundancy if you want a resilient system. You cannot design a resilient system from the top down, it just wont work it, more to the point it can’t work. It must be designed and built from the bottom up. That’s why the order I use is so important personal, community, local, regional, national, (and by extension international).

To avoid collapse of any of the centralized systems we currently have, start with yourself and your family. Have plans and preparations in place so you are more resilient. Help family and neighbors to be more resilient. All of you can start working on getting your community more resilient.

Slowly but surely people are waking up to the simple facts. As the understanding of how theses system interrelate and how wasteful they are, how the systems only care about the system and not the end user, how the user is cheated out of high quality goods and is forced pay a premium for the privilege, people are beginning to put all of the pieces together.

No amount of railing on and on about how simple this all is will convince those who choose to stay the course. They must see the light in their own time. This is something that I am coming to terms with myself. It seems so clear, and I want the people I care about to be resilient and not suffer when those hiccoughs occur. All I can do is walk the walk and demonstrate by example.

All of the Brexit panic, anger, frustration, division, and the eventual blow back all come from not understanding what great-granny always said “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” Smart old broad that.


Something weird happened today

My unread magazine pile was building up so I figured it was time to get caught up on several areas of interest. I was getting to some recent additions to my reading list 1st Freedom, American Rifleman, and Guns & Ammo when I was smacked in the face with an unwelcome personal reality… I was overtly conscious of whether or not someone might see what I was reading and how they might react. WHOA!

I never had a second thought about having on the table an issue of Sport Aviation, Vintage, Warbirds, Home Machinist, Mother Earth News, QST, or anything else for that matter. Why did my interest in firearms somehow make me overly concerned about other peoples opinions? What the hell was that all about?

In part, I think it has to do with living in a state that abhors guns. Its okay if I like, and own swords, bows, staves, or a wide range of other weapons, but if it even looks like a gun the P.C. wing-nuts are gonna’ rip you a new one for being some kind of anti-social, homicidal, gun-toatn’ maniac.

Sadly it’s not just the California P.C. wing-nuts that seem to have this attitude. A growing voice across the country is hell bent on taking away your and my second amendment rights. Keep in mind that this group is growing in volume, not numbers. A few people with lots of money, a platform, and personal interest (Obama & Bloomberg) are trying to rewrite the Constitution to suit their own agendas.

New rules, policies, and laws keep rolling out all over California and elsewhere, sponsored and funded by these wing-nuts, to restrict access and ownership of firearms. None of them do anything to advance safety, or protect people from stupidity, ignorance, or criminals mind you. What they do have going for them is lots of spin that make complete B.S. sound like it will save us from all the evil in the world. Many of these new rules and laws are being overturned in court because they are in fact unconstitutional.

It’s not just the unconstitutional nature of these rules and laws that frustrate me so much. It’s fact that they accomplish absolutely nothing their proponents are saying they want to accomplish. It’s all and agendized scam that has nothing to do with safety or security. They do however produce copious amounts of fear mongering and misinformation. Two examples are what has been happening with “High Capacity” magazines for handguns, and Concealed Carry permits.

The proponents of the various bans on “High Capacity” magazines for handguns want you to believe that by limiting the number of rounds in a handgun magazine to ten, rather than the eleven or thirteen, or some other arbitrary number, which are standard from the manufacturer, will some how miraculously prevent gun violence. Like the thought will cross a bad guy’s mind “I only have 10 rounds in this magazine, that’s not enough to rob that liquor store. If only I had a 13 round magazine. Oh well, I guess I’ll go play chess instead.”

One of the effects of these bans are having is that they make criminals out of otherwise law abiding citizens by not providing enough time to surrender the now illegal magazines that came with the gun, or if they forgot about a spare magazine in a box in the attic. It then adds further insult by making them go out and buy a compliant magazine, which the gun was not originally designed to hold. By the way, do you think the criminals will be surrendering their eleven or thirteen round magazines? How about postponing criminal activities while they wait for a compliant replacement magazine? Ya, didn’t think so.

Result: Criminals keep their magazines. Honest law abiding citizens surrender their magazines and wait for a back ordered replacement effectively rendering the gun useless. How does this reduce gun violence? How does this do anything beyond wasting tax dollars in surrender operations and enforcement of a ridiculous law that does nothing to improve public safety? It doesn’t.

As for Carry permits… The demands of some municipalities that a law abiding citizen provide extreme reasons why they should be allowed to apply for a Carry permit is not only unconstitutional, it is just plane dumb.

Anyone who applies for a carry permit is outright telling local law enforcement who they are, where they live, that they own weapons, they have been trained to safely carry and use them, and they wish to exercise their constitutional right to bear arms in a responsible manner. They are registering themselves with the local authorities voluntarily.

How many scoff-laws do you think apply for a Carry permit? There are always exceptions, but I have difficulty imagining a gang-banger or career criminal walking into a sheriffs office expecting to get a carry permit.

Result: Criminals do what they were going to do anyway. They illegally carry a concealed gun and local law enforcement is none the wiser. Qualified law abiding citizens are run through the ringer and denied their constitutional right to bear arms because they don’t have an extreme need to protect themselves or their families. Does this make anyone safer? Does this reduce gun violence? Absolutely not.

Right to keep and bear arms - Franklin2I am not a gun-toatn’ homicidal maniac or a paranoid zealot. I am someone who is fascinated with the mechanics of firearms. I enjoy target shooting. I enjoy hunting for sustenance. I enjoy having the right to defend myself and my family if the need arises. These are all part of the pursuit of Life, Liberty, and Happiness. These are also part of a desire to protect and defend the Constitution from enemies, both foreign and domestic. If I choose to own or carry a gun, I am choosing to be a responsible and safe gun owner, and I am choosing to exercise my second amendment rights.

Not everyone chooses to own firearms. Not everyone chooses to vote. These are personal decisions. These decisions should not be dictated by anyone other than the individual unless these right have been suspended by due process for criminal acts of violence.

And yes, I do hold the right to vote and the right to keep and bear arms on the same level of importance. The founding fathers did too, they are a complementary set along with the freedom of speech, each protects the other. Any agenda or policy that seeks to suspend one, should be held suspect of trying to suspend the others and cast out. 

The first two rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights are the right to speak out against usurpations and the right to defend ourselves from those usurpations if the need arises. These two rights alone provide the means of ensuring that none of our rights are diminished or taken away.

This is not paranoia, it has been born out repeatedly throughout history on every continent. When people lose their right to speak out or to defend themselves effectively they are soon terrorized and subjugated.

I have always been honest about who I am, and what my position is on most subjects. Now I have expressed myself on the matter of firearms. I am passionate about this issue but I am also willing to listen to other opinions. I continue to respect others opinions even though I may fervently disagree with their position. I ask only that they respect mine in kind.

If you see an issue of Guns & Ammo on the coffee table and want to make a comment, you know where I’m coming from.

Political Activism At Its Worst

Today I took my son to get a couple of books at the local Barns & Noble. I was not aware that a prominent political figure, who is also a writer, was signing copies of their book at the same store. I should have turned away from the bookstore when we saw the huge crowd of protesters outside. But I am curious by nature so we went in anyway.

Driving up to the intersection of Stevens Creek Boulevard and San Tomas Expressway in San Jose where the bookstore is located, we saw hundreds people waving protest signs and making a huge commotion on all four corners of the intersection, as well as down the Stevens Creek in both directions. Most of them were carrying signs, many were misspelled or illegible. Just about all of the signs were about the Obama health care plan. Some of the signs were outright incendiary and violent. As we got to the driveway, there were dozens of people crowding it on ether side and in the entry to the parking lot. We finally parked – it took a while because the protesters had almost filled the store’s parking lot – and went in. There were 4 or 5 security people at each door and many more roaming around throughout the store. We found a couple dozen people in line for a book signing in the children’s section, which was cordoned off with more security people. I asked who was there and I was told it was Senator Barbara Boxer, there to read from her political novel, “Blind Trust,” and sign copies of the book. So, we had a couple hundred people outside, and about one hundred in the store of which half at most were there for the book signing. My son and I were there to buy a couple Garfield books.

Now I want you to keep in mind that I strongly support the right of freedom of speech, which is one of our fundamental rights here in the United States; I also strongly support the right to peaceful assembly, again as a foundational right. What was going on outside the bookstore was just barely a ‘peaceful assembly.’ Getting out of the parking lot was an ordeal in and of itself, but nothing compared to being yelled at by protesters as we approached the street.

The people outside the Barns & Noble bookstore on Stevens Creek Boulevard in San Jose today are MORONS. This is the part where I get angry, in case you didn’t catch on.

I went to a local book store to get my kid a book or two, completely unaware of the book signing that was taking place inside, and on the way out I am labeled a communist, a baby killer and several other things that were completely unintelligible, along with a few I refuse to repeat. Just in case you were wondering, yes, those were some of the things that were actually shouted out at me as I pulled towards the driveway with two Garfield books. I never thought that buying a Garfield book would mean I was a communist. Who knew!? Oh and by the way, to the idiot that shouted that out… The word you were looking for is Socialist, not Communist. Get your political ideologies straight.

The crowd was very much like the fanatical fundamentalist protesters outside Planned Parenthood clinics. I would assume that more than one participant in today’s semi-controlled riot has attended at least one of those ‘social gatherings’ before; they certainly exhibited the same mob mentality. It is events such as this one that are going on all over the country showing how today’s political climate has swung the right and the left so far apart that when the inevitable inertial return swing comes, the impact is going to be very messy.

To say that my opinion about the political subject matter or opinions of the people involved will be changed due to this incident would be completely untrue. My personal convictions are based on my own sense of right and wrong and my own pragmatic sensibilities, and have very little to do with public opinion and I am certainly never swayed by a mob. I can say, however, that I am disgusted by the display of outright ignorance, intolerance and unabashed rage that I saw. I have no idea who organized the protest but by the look of the lemming herd they’d gathered I am sure they had an agenda of their own that is projected on to others by instilling fear and hate.

I can now say comfortably that I am thoroughly and completely disenfranchised by the current ‘two party’ system, including the ‘other’ parties that are currently playing the ‘party politics’ game. Several years ago I realized that I no longer identified with any of the political parties in California or on the national level in any meaningful way, so I changed my voter registration to ‘Undeclared.’ All of the parties have lost their way, and their respective minds. It seems as though it is no longer about what is good for the nation and it’s people; it’s about how to shut down or embarrass the other guy. In my play-book that’s completely unethical.

New Media in the IC world

DigitalDelemaThe video address from LTG Bill Caldwell on CDR Salamander’s blog is interesting to watch. One element that stood out in particular for me was when LTG Caldwell touched on the fact that the military is beginning to recognize that the military can no longer control the media, more importantly the flow of new media. The new media age is bringing about a major shift in all branches of the military. Changes in thought processing, changes in communications chains and changes in marketing the services to legislative bodies and to the civilian public.

When the military openly acknowledges the level of force new media can bring to bare, and encourages its integration into the military, it opens the door on thoughts of the IC arena. Recently it was made public that the US intel community is monitoring social networking sites. It is a very small hop to think that the use social networks by spooks is purely passive. If the government IC finds new media a useful tool to monitor, would they not realize the benefits of participating in the clear and in the dark? I would hope the logic train would not derail reaching this conclusion.

What does this all mean? It means that the spooks hidden toy is not so hidden anymore. Field personnel have been using social networking and new media since their inception. Similar story for the military, the covert use of social networking has been in play for years. The new activity is the realization that new media as a whole has a lot to offer any agency, organization, or force, both in the clear and in the dark.

All of the advantages social networking and new media bring to the general public, they also bring to the IC and Mill-Intel communities. From a tactics and training stand point, it makes huge sense for intel to focus on social networking and new media domestically and abroad. If the IC understands the social networking environment and new media they are in a much better place to observe and defend in that environment.