Saturday, September 21, 2013

Off the Grid (2013)

The original idea was the Canadian Rockies and the coast of British Columbia, but weather in that region is driving us to the southwest instead, mostly outdoors (below is our goal) but the occasional city stop for refreshment (I understand that Las Vegas has some interesting libations - in the sublime to the ridiculous spectrum of our journey) and attending to gear.

Attending to my web log will be even more intermittent in the meantime, but I look forward to a return.

Friday, September 20, 2013

We Invite the Mentally Ill To Strike Us

In my current vocation, that being a corrections counselor, I deal with a criminal population which includes perforce the mentally ill within their midst.  It is from this present experience that I find the topic as explained by Dr Charles Krauthammer (political commentator extraordinaire and former psychiatrist) to be particularly supportive.  (The appeal that Krauthammer has to me extends well beyond this subject, but I will limit it to this story for the moment.)

Krauthammer's latest article deals with the clear mental instability of Aaron Alexis and how it applies to his slaughter of twelve innocent victims at the Washington Navy Yard, and the studied disregard to such cases where massacres can be avoided.  I commend it to you for its Occam-like quality. 

He writes of a psychotic break that Alexis had in Newport, Rhode Island last month, wherein the police responded and then departed, unable to do anything other than to recommend that he get some sleep. Krauthammer then gives an example of what would have happened if Alexis were brought to him in his capacity of the psychiatrist on duty at the ER of the Massachusetts General Hospital in 1978, which would have resulted in care up to and including commitment:
That's what a compassionate society does.  It would no more abandon this man to fend for himself than it would a man suffering a stroke.  And as a side effect, that compassion might even extend to potential victims of his psychosis – in the event, remote but real, that he might someday burst into some place of work and kill 12 innocent people….
I know the civil libertarian arguments.  I know that involuntary commitment is outright paternalism.  But paternalism is essential for children because they don't have a fully developed rational will.  Do you think Alexis was in command of his will that night in Newport?
We cannot, of course, be cavalier about commitment.  We should have layers of review, albeit rapid.  But it's both cruel and reckless to turn loose people as lost and profoundly suffering as Alexis, even apart from any potential dangerousness.
More than half of those sleeping on grates have suffered mental illness.  It's a national scandal.  It's time we recalibrated the pendulum that today allows the mentally ill to die with their rights on – and, rarely but unforgivably, take a dozen innocents with them.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Hold On. This Will Be A Bumpy Ride.

Photo-shopped, but in the one picture/thousand words category, this does well to sum up the relationship between Vladimir Putin and our own Obama, particularly as the world sees them in comparison (click):

Passed along by Gerard Vanderleun.  And incidentally, it's been a while since I spent a good amount of time in the saddle (and none on a Mongolian pony), but Putin's grip on the reins seems a bit severe.  Maybe some control issues?

Our press jokes about the photo events that are staged for Putin's benefit, but they miss the point that for the Russians and a good number of other people in the world, it works. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Journalist Guide to Firearms Reporting

As a public service, allow me to pass along this input by way of Doug Ross, which nails down a journalist's perspective when reporting on firearms (click to embiggen):

This helps explain the front page of the New York Daily News that dashed right past the actual story of the shooter at the Washington Navy Yard in favor of trying to score a political point (talk about burying the lede):
"Never mind"
I'm sure it looked really great to those who really wanted the victims to be slain with the bête noire of the anti-gun lobby, but unfortunately for them, there was no AR-15 used by Aaron Alexis (other than the one wielded by the officer who finally took him out).  The story is in need of what we would term the Litella Defense (which is no defense at all), assuming that the NYDN actually had a defense.
It mumbled the usual claptrap about reliable sources being wrong, but all that really meant was that the paper didn't have the professional integrity to secure corroborating evidence before it ran the story.  It took them two days to admit their negligence, giving the story a chance to gain a purchase among the low information voters that mull over such dross during their union bus ride to the voting polls.

Press Stumbles Yet Again In Navy Yard Shooting Coverage

The reportage on the massacre of twelve people at the Washington Navy Yard betrayed the agenda of the MSM again.  I have previously written of the stereotype portrayed in the press of their typical temptation to show that any shooter must somehow be associated with the military.  Not only are the vast majority of these shooters non-veterans, but those who are veterans have a military background that has nothing to do with use of firearms against multiple targets (see link above).

So it is with the reporting about Aaron Alexis, widely introduced within the first few words as a "Navy veteran" or "former Navy reservist".  He enlisted in May 2007 and was discharged January 2011 as an Aviation Electrician's Mate 3rd Class (at pay grade E-4, equivalent to an Army Specialist or Marine Corporal).  His record indicates several failed inspections, and that he was subject to Non-Judicial Punishment for unauthorized absence (UA), insubordination, and disorderly conduct.  As a result of a civilian disorderly conduct charge in Georgia, he missed muster at a reserve drill and was demoted one rank and had to forfeit pay.  (An NJP punishment of this sort is typically a result of several previous incidents adding up to it.  Upon appeal, the punishment was overturned, but the details are lacking at this point.)

The 3½ year mark of his service would be when he would have been evaluated for the possibility of promotion and a continued career, for which he clearly was not qualified.  He therefore was placed on a fast-track for discharge, characterized as 'honorable' by the rules that had him squeak just under the requirements as opposed to a more drawn-out process – a sort of administrative 'plea bargain', if you will. 

Nothing in his record or specialty indicates that he received any weapons training beyond the standard familiarization that he and all other recruits would have been given in Boot Camp.  He was stationed primarily at the Naval Air Station-Joint Reserve Base (NAS-JRB) Fort Worth (formerly Carswell AFB), with a brief stint in Illinois.  He never deployed, particularly overseas to a combat area.  His naval experience never went beyond that of a rear-area, technical 'IBM in blue' assignment. 

His military experience had nothing to do with his insane actions, but the press insists on leading with that tidbit. 

The media also has egg on their collective face for the expected rants about his use of an AR-15 in the commission of this crime.  Piers Morgan, Anderson Cooper, the New York Daily News, and the usual cast of characters railed on the subject of these 'assault rifles', but reports now show that there was no AR-15 – he instead approached the building of the Navy Yard, to which he had access as a Navy civilian contract employee, with a shotgun he had legally purchased, and then began to open fire once inside.  He further acquired two handguns from security personnel whom he shot.  CNN went on to compound the meme and their public admission of ignorance by branding the weapon as an "AR-15 shotgun".
There is no such thing.  The AR-15 is a semi-automatic rifle (one trigger pull, one shot).  A shotgun is something else entirely.  Yet the public is supposed to believe the press as subject-matter 'experts' on these topics.

Ironically, the shotgun is the weapon that Vice President Joe Biden encourages people to buy so that they can defend themselves by firing off shells illegally.
"Buy a  shotgun"
Alexis was clearly mentally deranged, as shown by his history.  In 2004 he shot out the tires of a car belonging to construction workers in what he claimed was an anger-inspired "black out". 

He fired a round through the ceiling of his apartment into another in 2010, but he claimed that his pistol discharged accidentally, so the police dropped the inquiry.  His neighbor nonetheless said that she was "terrified" of his angry outbursts and the landlord started eviction proceedings. 

He also claimed to have PTSD as a result of being an active participant during the 2001 terrorist attack on New York City.  While he may have been present in the city, there is no evidence to indicate that he was as active as he claimed. 

He recently had a profound psychotic episode in a Rhode Island hotel where he had auditory hallucinations and claimed that he was being attacked by three men with vibratory rays. 

His access to the Navy Yard as a contractor was due to the fact that he had a security clearance as a result of two background checks which apparently did not uncover the derogatory information.  This is another example of fear of litigation and protection of mentally unstable people as a result of the ACLU drive to protect the rights of such people.  Unfortunately, that is a two-edged sword.  Any loosening of that easily results in spurious claims lodged as vendettas, such as in divorce proceedings, and other forms of harassment that can result in loss of rights and employment. 

A common denominator in the perpetration of such crimes is mental instability or terrorism, not the inert firearm.  If we are to address the need of keeping the mentally deranged from committing such crimes, we must devise a better way of protecting them and ourselves by directly addressing their real needs, such as the system that existed in the 1970s.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Medal of Honor: Captain Will Swenson - Finally

Captain Will Swenson, subject to the enormous events of the 2009 Battle of Ganjgal in Afghanistan, then the rigors of the after-action investigation about the refusal of higher command to grant him and his other troops the necessary artillery and air support during the battle, and then the as-yet unexplained mystery of why his recommendation for the award of the Medal of Honor was lost in a supposedly secure system, will finally receive that award in White House ceremonies on 15 October.

The reclusive Swenson left the Army in February 2011 and has been residing in Washington state.  He had turned down all requests for comment about the subject of the battle, the investigation, or the aftermath, but briefly broke his silence after being contacted by President Obama with the news that he would receive the Medal of Honor.  "It's a monumental event for me, for my family, and for my teammates. ... This day also means a lot to those I served with."
Swenson was an advisor to an Afghan National Police unit and accompanied them with the US Marine Embedded Training Team 2-8 and soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division on a movement to a meeting with elders at Ganjgal village, when the convoy was taken under fire in a three-sided ambush.  Swenson was instrumental in rescuing those pinned down and wounded and recovering the bodies of the fallen, alongside others who received high recognition for their part in the battle, among them Marine Sgt Dakota Meyer, who also received the Medal of Honor for his actions that day.  Swenson had received nothing, and Meyer's acerbic comments on that point revived interest in Swenson's case.
Swenson had provided damning testimony about the lack of support from a Tactical Operations Center as well as higher command about the Rules of Engagement that placed US troops in added jeopardy.  It is thought that this was the reason that his earlier MoH recommendation was "lost" in a computerized system that was created to avoid just such a possibility.  The question drew the attention of Marine General John Allen, who had another packet recreated for Swenson's recommendation, and Representative Duncan Hunter (R-California).  Both instituted investigations about why Swenson was being so slighted.
This marks the first time that a living officer is to receive the Medal of Honor in some forty years, and marks another occasion where two servicemembers are receive the Medal of Honor for the same battle.  Within the past month, SSG Ty Carter received the MoH for his actions at the Battle of Kamdesh or COP Keating, after former SSG Clint Romesha received a MoH for the same battle that occurred a month after the actions at Ganjgal.
Update: Captain Swenson has received the medal, and I have posted the citation.  The press, though, is still trying to get in their licks.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Our Sense of Events Is Askew

I received some disconcerting news today, to the effect that a distant source which I hold in high esteem is taking a leave of absence.

The Reverend Donald Sensing, late of the XVIII Airborne Corps artillery, has announced in his Sense of Events web log, in a note appropriately titled 'Tattoo' (the veterans among you will know the true meaning), that he is "going silent for an indefinite period of time." 

Like most bloggers, I include a column of Web Sites of Interest to your right on this web page, which lists sites that I peruse as the spirit listeth, and others to which I am most dedicated.  If it were ranked by my fondness instead of alphabetically, Sense of Events would be at the top. 

The site will remain active for the interim so that his archives can be accessed, and I strongly encourage you to do so, particularly in the area of Just War theory. 

I sincerely hope and pray that we will be able to avail ourselves of his new insights ere long, and that his rest is easy.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Syria: Obama Paints His Corner Ever Tighter, And Putin Plays Chess With The Middle East

I am constrained in recent times, as I have mentioned before, to drive-by blogging, and this has manifested itself as a major problem when trying to keep up with the whip-saw pace of events building around Obama's problem with Syria and its chemical weapons.  Let us examine the background and some of the wildly divergent positions taken by Obama and his enablers.

Two years ago, Obama first stated that Assad had to go, "step aside".  A year ago, Obama stated that he has "indicated repeatedly that Assad needs to step down" and added that it was "very clear … that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch o' chemical weapons movin' around or being utilized", and that would "change my calculus … change my equation."  Some apologists have said that the "changed calculus" comment fell far short of the hard response that Obama's critics have cited him as saying, but they ignore his remarks of a few months later, in December 2012, after strong evidence that the chemicals had been "movin' around", when he warned that "the world was watching" and that if Assad used chemical weapons, "there will be consequences and you will be held accountable." 

The contrast with Obama's actions in Libya is striking.  In his "lead from behind" attempt at foreign strategy with the European allies more dependent on Libyan oil, he plainly stated that the Qaddafi regime would be toppled within a month.  But the Libyan dictator continued on for six more months, finally brought to account by accident after a French Air Force fighter strafing run on a small convoy revealed that he was one of the passengers, and the wounded Qaddafi was killed within moments by a surging mob around his wreck.  Obama was compelled to act, he said, by the prospect that the Libyan Army, closing in on Benghazi, could be responsible for a thousand deaths if we didn't respond to this humanitarian crisis.  Obama and his people have roundly criticized Bush for not anticipating the insurgent uprising in Iraq at the end of the initial hostilities, but they and the press have given a pass to the fact that Libya has been abandoned, with no pretext of an attempt to stand up a viable government.  Libya has become a Mediterranean version of Somalia, and as Somalia had its Blackhawk Down incident that exposed Clinton's disregard of his duties as Commander in Chief, so Libya had its Benghazi consulate attack, the difference being that we have an accounting for Somalia but only a continuing cover-up in Libya. 

So with the prospect of a thousand deaths in Libya being a reason for involvement, the obvious question remains that 100,000 deaths in Syria somehow doesn't rise to the level of his rationale for intervention.  Excuses include that the situation is more complex (true, but sufficient?) and Syria has a more sophisticated air defense system supplied by the Russians, including some Russians who are manning it.  Somehow, that hasn't been a deterrent to Israel, who has bombed an almost-complete nuclear reactor and an arms convoy headed to Lebanon.

Chemical weapons use in Syria was claimed several times after Obama's stern warnings, most notably near Aleppo in March, but then Obama began waffling, saying that we didn't have a "chain of custody" as to who had used them, that we would have to await a UN study of the problem.  Even those with only a passing knowledge of the history of the UN would agree that a move like that practically consigns the problem to a black hole. 

The attacks mounted in number and severity – Aleppo again in April, Homs and Adra in May, and the administration begin to assert that we have assurances that Assad's forces are involved.  We would now supply military aid to the "moderate" rebels, though to date no weapons or similar support has been sent. 

Then came the attack on 21 August on a rebel-held area on the eastern edge of Damascus, which killed an estimated 1429 people.  The administration stated that it was convinced that Assad's forces launched the attack.  Along with other evidence not disclosed, one source cited a recording of a conversation between higher headquarters and the local Syrian Army commander which included an initial refusal of the commander on the scene to fire on civilians, followed by a threat of death if he did not.  Another source indicates that the attack was far more intense than ordered, a mistake in magnitude.  New indications are that Basher al-Assad has lost direct control of the weapons, that his hot-headed, high-ranking brother Maher had hijacked the system and authorized the attack. 

Doubts were initially raised: perhaps the attack was staged, the victims only actors, the symptoms not matching the textbook explanations.  That could be theoretically possible for some of the footage that I saw, but the scene of one adolescent boy, gasping for breath and flailing, was enough to convince me that his case, and likely the others, were genuine.  I also agree, skipping a long explanation, that the attack was not a rebel provocation. 

Obama was brought to account for his previous declarations: his red line was surely crossed.  What serious response would we see?  Obama has become a victim of his own words; his credibility is now called into question, which he conflates as the credibility of the United States in a l'etat cest moi sort of way.  Something must be done.  His attempt in Sweden to claim that the "red line" was not his but the world's was inartful at best. 

John Kerry came out in full-throated battle cry that the attack was a "moral obscenity".  Chemical weapons use was "undeniable", and President Obama, he said, "believes that there must be accountability for those who would use the world's most heinous weapons against the world's most vulnerable people."  One would think that he was referring to attacks "in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan", or to his American compatriots in Viet Nam, or to Saddam Hussein.  It must be difficult for Kerry to sort it all out, assuming that he pays much attention to that. 

Obama consulted overseas allies for a joint response.  Both he and David Cameron agreed that a "serious response" was necessary, but then Parliament, in a move not seen since 1798, removed a British option for a military response in Syria.  François Hollande was quick into the verbal breach and agreed that France must respond, encouraging Obama, then demurred that he would consult the Parlement français (though not required) while soon saying that he would support an American response if it was forthcoming (though now even that is questionable).  Other than Kerry saying in Congressional testimony that some Arab states would pony up some cash for us to defray our expenses (essentially phoning in their support, an Arab form of condescension), there is no overt support of an American strike.  Debbie Wassermann Shultz, if she is to be believed (and why start now?), claimed that "There are dozens of countries who are going to stand with the United States, who will engage with us on military action and also that back us 100 percent."  Yet when pressed, she claimed that all of them were classified and refused to name a single one. 

Obama was losing his parade.  In a Rose Garden announcement, he said that, though he had the power to order an attack on his own, he would seek the approval of Congress.  General Dempsey, he said, assured him that an attack on Syria could be postponed for a month if need be.  The urgency of the issue instantly deflated, coupled with the fact that Obama was content to wait for Congress to reconvene the following week rather than call it back into session.  Cynics (such as I am) could see him angling for an excuse about his hip-shot red lines fading away because he expected that the Republicans would take the bait, fighting him on the issue.  Speaker Boehner and Majority Whip Cantor quickly disabused him of that notion, stating that they supported his option of a military strike, providing a unified front in this case of American overseas priorities, while saying plainly that it was Obama who would have to make the case for Congress and the American people.  The question then became truly bipartisan and was placed back into Obama's lap, and Obama's attempt to pass the buck to the Pentagon and the Republicans has plainly failed.  Whatever support he had in Congress has steadily deteriorated, even among his staunchest supporters. 

Obama and Kerry and other spokespersons kept defining downward the character of our response in hiccups of 'policy as you go': there would be no "boots on the ground" (an instant cliché); it would be "limited in duration and scope"; involving no "regime change"; the attack would be a "pinprick"; no, we "don't do pinpricks"; the attack would be a "very limited, very targeted, short-term effort that degrades [Assad's] capacity to deliver chemical weapons without assuming responsibility for Syria's civil war" and (Kerry's most bewildering comment) it would be "unbelievably small", though Kerry also said "Nothing focuses the mind like the prospect of a hanging."  In joint statements before Congress, Kerry said that we are not going to war, but Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel referred to the war plans for Syria. 

The desperation was beginning to show: an unidentified State Department spokesman described the result of the degrading of Syria's capability as eating Cheerios with a fork instead of a spoon.  Marie Harf, one of the talking heads of the State Department briefings was asked that, if an authorization from Congress would mean that America was speaking with one voice (she agreed), then would a denial of authorization by Congress also mean that America was denying the authorization with one voice as well?  Her reply was "Not at all, because the President obviously would still believe that we should do it."  Incredibly, the voice of the American people counts only if it is in agreement with Obama.
An unexpected glimmer of hope gleamed faintly Monday morning.  Kerry responded to a question in London with a theoretical speculation that the crisis could be averted if Syria were to turn over their chemical weapons stockpile "to the international community … all of it, without delay and allow the full and total accounting [of it], but [Assad] isn't about to do it and it can't be done."  But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Moualem, meeting in Moscow, quickly took up the speculative offer and said that Syria would seriously consider it.  The administration, in turn, leapt at the chance to save themselves despite the clear appearance to all the world that Russian President Putin had taken the initiative away from a foundering American position.  Obama, at this point, frankly doesn't care how it looks overseas; he is only interested in saving his hide here at home.  He rose to the bait, even going so far as to say that this was a deal that he cooked up with Putin during last week's G-20 summit.  But Putin's schooling and humiliation of Obama was just getting started. 

The Americans and French immediately started to begin codifying the idea within the context of the UN, but Putin scrapped that idea, again showing that he is the one in charge now.  Another chink emerged late yesterday when Putin insisted that an American pledge of no military action against Assad was a further requirement.  What was it Obama said about this being his idea along with Putin?  Yet another humiliation. 

With this, we have the beginnings of the tried and true strategy that has proven quite successful before.  There will have to be talks to determine how such an agreement is to be designed.  Some organization will have to be created to oversee the project.  The actors will have to be chosen.  A system for how the weapons are to be secured, how they will be accounted for, where and how they will be removed and transported, how they will be neutralized – all must be decided by an international cast of characters that promises to take years, if not decades. 

Saddam Hussein took on the world and won throughout the Clinton administration, defying every UN sanction, shooting at our aircraft, co-opting the easily corruptible UN to siphon billions from the Oil for Food program, laughing on state television as they portrayed the UN inspectors stymied at the front gates of Iraqi bases as truck loads of material escaped out the back.  Qaddafi of Libya later gave up his WMD program after the fall of Iraq scared him into doing so, but there was still far from an accurate accounting of his weapons and capabilities when he finally succumbed eight years later.  The Iranians are stringing along the West during interminable talks about their nuclear weapons program, even going so far as to publically proclaim that we are being hornswoggled, with absolute impunity other than the bother of a computer virus that merely slowed their progress. 

Besides the endless talking with no progress, there will be the Castro option as well.  The 1962 settlement between Kennedy and Khrushchev that ended the Cuban Missile Crisis contained the much ballyhooed withdrawal of Soviet missiles from Cuba (and the less known withdrawal of American missiles from Turkey and Italy), but also the American pledge to no longer attempt regime change and topple Castro and the Communist government.  Putin's insistence of ending the American military threat to the Assad regime is much the same, an assurance that the Russian-protected Syrian dictatorship will survive and thrive politically. 

The accounting process will be a dodge as well.  The Russians want to be sure that evidence of earlier massive Soviet assistance in the enormous Syrian stockpile of chemical weapons is covered up, and the nagging question of the Iraqi chemical weapons and the large convoys from Iraqi ammo dumps into Syria prior to the American invasion in 2003 will remain a mystery, or at least hard fought over by our own Left who must insist on their gospel that Iraq had no WMDs whatsoever despite clear evidence to the contrary. 

A question that will soon arise will concern Israel: since the raison d'être of the Syrian chemical weapons program was as a deterrent to the Israeli nuclear program, Syria and Russia will insist on negotiating a solution to avoid leaving Syria strategically 'defenseless'. 

Russia and Putin's position in the Middle East will gain immensely almost overnight.  Iran and its proxies will solidify their control in the region as they will be expected to ably assist Assad in his eventual victory.

It is hard to imagine, though it is certainly possible, how Obama could project a more vacillating and feckless position, not so much against the chemical warfare attack in Syria but also to the concept of America as the power that can forge a coalition of the willing to right wrongs against humanity, or even rightfully respond to a war crime.  He is a dilettante in foreign policy, committing American power, which he has tried to "fundamentally transform" into a more compatible neighbor to his fellow 'citizens of the world', in a hip-shot fashion that is contradictory from one crisis to another. 

From his New Beginnings apology in Cairo, to his silence during the 2009 Iranian street demonstrations against the mullahcracy, to his abandonment of any influence in post-war Iraq, to his self-contradiction of an Afghan strategy (less troops than needed but then bring them home by a date certain, with no thought to the ramifications), his blatant ball-spiking over the bin Laden mission, his preference to avoid capture of terrorists and the always-fluid definition of what constitutes 'torture' in favor of killing them instead by lobbing in drone strikes, his insistence that al Qaeda was finished despite clear evidence to the contrary (still stonewalling and covering up the Benghazi attack), the welcoming of the 'Arab Spring' with no attempt to influence the events in our favor, the fumbling attitude to the government crisis in Egypt (with the millions of demonstrators against Obama and his ambassador almost as much as they are against Morsi and his attempt to overthrow their constitution), dragged into the 'lead from behind' operation in Libya (leaving Libya as an al Qaeda-rich environment), and now, after two years of empty threats and hand-wringing, he gave us his speech last night that appealed to our better angels (mentioning 'children' seven times) but failed to give any clue about what it is we are supposed to accomplish with a strike on Syria. 

My background and experience drives me to seriously include military options in regards to stark geopolitical problems involving national security, but I expect to see a clear objective, a means to accomplish it, and a plan to follow through to that end with full support from the Congress, the people, and the military itself when lives are committed.  The President has the power as Commander in Chief to commit our military in short-term operations that affect that national security, subject to approval of Congress – mere authorization without a formal declaration of war is sufficient. 

Obama has failed to establish any of that.  Instead, he is emblematic of the warning of St Paul: "For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?" (1 Corinthians 14:8)

Colorado: Anti-Gun Legislators Recalled

The first recall election in Colorado history, brought about by the public reaction to a series of stringent anti-gun laws driven through the state legislature, has resulted in the surprise upset of two of the main supporters of the legislation, both Democrats.  Senate President John Morse and Senator Angela Giron, representing districts that bookend Fort Carson to the north and south, were overthrown in the polls in a recall effort that has national overtones for gun rights.

                                                                                     (Denver Channel 7)
Morse lost by two points (51-49) to former Colorado Springs city councilman Bernie Herpin, and Giron lost by a stunning twelve points (56-44) to retired Pueblo deputy police chief George Rivera.  Morse, representing a more conservative district, was considered the more vulnerable of the two and thus drew the majority of the large contributions – totaling some $3 million – coming from major Democrat sources, such as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg ($350,000), which saw a 7-to-1 spending advantage, as well as efforts by Democrat national leaders to influence the turnout, including Joe Biden and Bill Clinton, and the staff of Obama's Organizing for America. 

Giron's margin of defeat was surprising since her district is composed of mostly blue-collar union workers, who were expected to vote in a traditional lock-step according to the party wishes. 

Morse and Giron were among those, including Governor John Hickenlooper, who pushed for state bills that limited rifle magazines to no more than 15 rounds, required background checks for private sales and transfers of guns, and held manufacturers liable for damages caused by criminals who used their guns in the commission of a crime.  The uproar has caused companies such as Magpul, HiViz, and the Outdoor Channel to announce that they are leaving the state to find a manufacturing home where citizens and law enforcement can purchase their products and be free of legislators who lobby against their businesses. 

Morse was the larger target of the effort due to his impact on forcing the bills through the Senate, and he spoke of the anti-gun effort as "cleansing a sickness from our souls", a widely reported comment that many voters found offensive. 

The drive was primarily a grass-roots effort, though the NRA contributed a share equal to Mayor Bloomberg, and coalesced around three young plumbers with no experience in rallying election victories, running the campaign off of lap tops.  One of them, Victor Head, was dismissed as an "unemployed plumber" by Morse during an interview on MSNBC.  Last night, Head, who runs his family plumbing business, responded with "And I have a message for John Morse: who's unemployed now?"

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Analysis of a Defensive Threat of Force

Andrew Branca at the Legal Insurrection web log has a good follow-up to the video running about the blogosphere of a recent attempt of a liquor store robbery in Missouri, wherein the would-be robber – a rank amateur, it would certainly seem, but no less potentially dangerous (or probably even more so) – confronts the store clerk who turns out to be a retired Army veteran of four tours in Iraq, a former corrections officer, and a private detective.  The robber quickly arrives at the understandable conclusion that he should flee the scene.

"You need to get out of here before I blow your head off."
Branca, a lawyer and expert on the Law of Self Defense, provides his perspective on the unfolding situation with a step-by-step analysis.  One of the more cogent points he makes is:
It's worth noting that this is how the vast majority of defensive uses of firearms end – without a shot being fired, the defensive display of the firearm being sufficient to defuse the situation without injury to either party.

Branca goes on to write about the elements necessary to determine a proper armed defense response, points that one should grasp well prior to any such situation because it is typically spontaneous.  This leads to the usual 'what if' discussion revolving around the question of "Would the clerk have been justified in firing on the robber?"  The robber drawing his weapon and stating that the clerk needs to give him "all his money" would constitute a reasonable conclusion in my mind that the robber meant imminent harm, thereby granting permission to the clerk to blow him away by any means at his disposal. 

The comments section contains some good discussion as well – avail yourself of it (other than a needlessly prolonged 'who has the bigger gun' argument – and I mean 'gun' euphemistically). 

For my own input, it would appear that the robber would be 'under the influence', which to my mind would affect the reaction, and note that the clerk is carrying openly, with his handgun (apparently a Glock or variation) in a molded holster – Blackhawk or some such.  One would think that any self-respecting robber would want to notice that before starting a confrontation.  Other than gun stores hereabouts, I haven't seen store clerks carrying in a manner to provide optimum protection to themselves and the public, but then I live in a indigo-blue state that loves to intimidate the populace to make up for the fact that there are rather sensible laws left on the books from a time when the political climate involved more outside-the-beltway reality. 

Remember, the police show up only after a crime is committed. 

H/T to the Texas Scribbler.