Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

Ordinary Citizen Gets Death Penalty   1 comment

This is Brad. Lela is gone on a business trip this week, so while she’s going to check in on social media when she has down times, she asked me to post to her blog. Well … I asked if I could and she didn’t change the password. Thanks to Keirnan for knowing how to post photos, hyperlinks and hash-tags.

 

Jamal JacksonSo this is a “what might have happened” article. I’m often the source for those anyway, just so you know, because I read these articles and ask myself “What might have happened if …?” and then I debate them with Lela.

In Ventura County, California, a homeless man stabbed a family guy with a kid on his lap, fatally killing him. Now, of course, in the very armed state of Alaska, we ask “What if someone had been appropriately armed … could they have prevented this?” Maybe … maybe not. I, who support the full exercise of our right to self-protection, believe that it would have been a benefit if someone in that restaurant had been armed with something more than a steak knife. My sister, the anti-gun nut, believes such an armed citizen would simply have shot the kid on the victim’s lap (because only cops know how to shoot straight). We’ll never know because it never happened. Nobody in the steakhouse was armed except the murderer.

Ah, but … people had earlier called someone my sister would agree was fully qualified to carry a gun. Three hours before the stabbing, people in the area had contacted police to report a disruption from a homeless man who later would become a murderer. Instead of sending a cop out to assess the situation and perhaps takes this clearly ill man to a mental health center, police watched him on traffic camera footage and determined that he was “harmless”. They then left this danger to disarmed humanity in the neighborhood where he could kill someone.

So, yeah, Anthonoy Mele might still be alive if he or another patron had been armed and able to stop this attack before the knife entered his neck … or if the police had just done their jobs.

I’m not a fan of police just driving around looking for crime. I think they create crime when they do that. They harass people who might be minding their own business in a way cops think is unsocial. As a former urban parkour athlete, I resented police behavior in rousting people who weren’t following the unwritten rules cops seem to impose on society.

I think cops ought to be treated a lot like firemen who stay at the station until they are called out to a fire. I’m not anti-cop. I wouldn’t do away with all police. I’d just make them stay at the station and study the Constitution until they’re needed. In my perfect world, when a disturbance is reported, the cops show up to investigate and deal with the situation if it needs dealing with. What was Jackson shouting when he was causing the disturbances? We don’t know. But it might have been useful if the police had engaged him and learned that perhaps he had fixated on something that might have led him to kill a stranger in a steakhouse. But they didn’t. Instead, they let a man get killed and left the capture of this bad guy to a group of patrons who chased him to a beach.

I also don’t have anything against the homeless or the mentally ill. I spent some time as a young man homeless myself, so I have great compassion for people who experience that. Because Lela used to work in the field, we often have mentally ill people who know her come up and talk with us. Most of them are nice people who are just a little weird. I’m also a magnet for weird people. If there’s a schizophrenic person at LAX airport while I’m waiting for a flight, they will walk five concourses to come find me and tell me all about their delusions. We don’t know why that is, but it’s pattern in our travels. So I’m not railing against homeless people or the mentally ill. My issue is the cops not showing up to deal with it before someone died and with all the people who insist that disarming people will somehow make the world a safer place. Nobody had a gun in that steakhouse and a man still died. Obviously, being disarmed didn’t make Anthony Mele one bit safer.

One last thing I noticed is that the dangerous homeless guy has more right to life than the family man enjoying an afternoon with his family. If found guilty, Jamal Jackson will get up to 55 years of three hots and a cot. He could get less and this being oh-so-permissive California, he’s likely to do far less than he is sentenced to. In a decade, they might be hailing him as a success in mental health treatment — at least until he goes off his meds and kills somebody else. But Anthony Mele got the death penalty for … what? … eating at steakhouse and not having the means to defend himself. It really seems as though ordinary citizens have far less rights than criminals.

How is that a just society where the “rights” of the mentally ill to be dangerous and homicidal are protected but the actual rights of ordinary citizens to be able to protect themselves while having a meal with their family aren’t?

Posted April 23, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Government, Uncategorized

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All Lives Matter   Leave a comment

Image result for image of police brutalityBrad has been making me watch these videos on 1st Amendment audits. Search for them on Youtube. Some of them are annoying and some of them are very informative. I’m sort of fed up with Brad’s latest obsession, but I am grateful to know about the topic.

Basically, law enforcement in the United States has gone full-on tyrannical. Again, this is associated with the growth of the state. We thought it was a good idea to give government agents the authority to order people around and abuse them regardless if they are causing harm to anyone. We’re reaping the logical results of that concept. Brad wants to see it change right now, but I recognize that’s a sea-change requiring an evolution in consciousness.

The current relationship of law enforcement officers to the public is flatout wrong, but the fix will take a long time to establish. In the meantime, there are some obvious fixes that would make things a lot better right now – and it’s hard to imagine anyone objecting.

Image result for image of police brutalityLaw enforcers should be required to know the law – and be fired when they are caught making up law  …

Law enforcers have guns. You knew that. Citizens who carry guns operate under extremely strict rules and are warned that they had better not operate outside the law, even by a little bit. Repercussions for doing so are severe. Statistics show they comply and rarely rarely operate outside the law.

Is is legal to film cops in their interactions with you?

Shouldn’t the same standard apply to armed police officers? Shouldn’t they be expected to at least know what the law is? Shouldn’t they be sanctioned just as severely as an ordinary citizen if they step outside the bounds of the law?

Keep in mind that everything cop – no matter how “friendly” he may seem – is backed up by a gun. You know it and he knows it. This makes every encounter between a citizen and a police officer inherently threatening to the citizen, who is usually unarmed.

Which is why it so important that law enforcers restrict their enforcement to the actual law … and nothing beyond the law. No citizen should ever have to worry about law enforcement unless he has violated a law or, to borrow from legalese, given law enforcement some specific reason to suspect he has or may be about to violate the law.

Is it legal to film public buildings from public spaces?

And yet, citizens are routinely accosted by armed law enforcement ignorant (or contemptuous) of the law. Examples are many but include belligerently confronting citizens legally taking pictures or video in public, where there is no expectation of privacy and the courts have repeatedly stated that no permit or permission is needed to photograph or video record anything that is plainly visible from a sidewalk or other public right-of-way. That includes  law enforcement offices, courts, jail facilities and so on.

Image result for image of police brutalityLaw enforcers often regard such photography/video-taking as an affront to their authority, but it is not illegal. If they do not know this and accost citizens, they are derelict in their duty. If they do know this and accost citizens, they are simply thugs. Either should be cause for immediate dismissal and, in several of the cases I’ve viewed, criminal prosecution. If mere citizen accosted someone lawfully going about his business in such a manner, we would be arrested and probably tried and convicted for assault.

Any illegal act performed by a person given life or death power over others ought to be treated at least as seriously as the same action would be treated if performed by an ordinary citizen, who usually lack life or death power over others.

Law enforcement is “trained” in all kinds of things peripheral to knowledge of the law: e.g., how to suss out arbitrarily illegal drugs or perform a “visual estimate” of vehicle speed, admissible as evidence in court. Why not require that law enforcers demonstrate competent working knowledge of the law – and weed out those who demonstrate that they do not possess it?

The right to defend oneself against an abusive law enforcer

If someone enters your home illegally, attempts to take something of yours or threatens you with physical violence, you have a legal (as well as moral) right to defend yourself. If you get the better of your assailant – or simply get away from him – you won’t be charged with a crime, but they will be.

 

Few question the rightness of this.

Image result for image of police brutalityWhy shouldn’t the same standard apply when a citizen is abused by law enforcement? Why should a government-issued costume grant what amounts to a license to abuse people by making such abuse, in effect, a legally protected act – since the citizen isn’t permitted to defend himself against such?

Shouldn’t a citizen be free to ignore a palpably unlawful command and walk away without legal repercussions? And, if legally justified, defend himself physically against an abusive law enforcer?

As it stands, not only does a citizen face repercussions for ignoring unlawful orders or defending himself against abuse of authority, the abusive law enforcer is treated far more gently for his abusive actions than the citizen is for defending his legal rights.

Personal liability for wrong-doing

Most of us are held personally responsible, civilly as well as criminally, for any reckless or criminal conduct we commit that results in harm to others or damage to their property. Ordinary citizens cannot foist the bill for the damage they cause in the course of their work onto the backs of taxpayers, as law enforcement routinely does.

We all want to believe that cops have our best interests at heart, but many of us have had encounters that have convinced us that most of them don’t. Many people live in jurisdictions where cops have killed and assaulted law-abiding citizens without any repercussions. When police step over the line, they should face judgment just as when citizens step over the line. Yes, losing their jobs should be on the table, but when they physically harm someone or cause property damage, they should also face criminal penalty and civil liability … just like ordinary citizens. Furthermore, they should not be allowed to fall back on the excuse that the citizen they were pummeling was “resisting arrest” when the person was just trying to protect themselves from an assault.

Posted December 26, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Government

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Culture of Denial   Leave a comment

To address a problem requires the admission of a problem. That’s an AA maxim that has broad application in the world. Rick, my cousin who is a doctor, says you can’t really treat an illness until you’ve diagnosed it.

A second AA maxim is that if you keep doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results, you’re making yourself crazy.

Image result for image of the regulatory stateStarting about 100 years ago – a little longer in Europe – western democracies bought into the idea that the private sector was bad. Left to its own devices, it would pillage the population – creating a privileged few who could set prices and wages for everyone else. The liberal order – whereby elected officials ran the government with the assistance of workers who left office when they did – made this all the more probable. What was needed, they insisted, was a professional bureaucracy of experts in various fields who were sheltered from political upheaval and would remain in place from one administration to the next. These enlightened nonpartisans could assure the health, safety, economic prosperity and general order of society and leave the private individual free to do whatever they could conceive … so long as what they conceived didn’t interfere with the functioning of the government bureaucracy, of course.

And, for a while, that worked. It took 50 years or so for budgets and work forces to grow to the place where they began to eat the private sector and leave us all frustrated with the size, scope and generally ineffectualness of the government.

Now, populists on both side of the political divide have grown frustrated with the political, economic and cultural status quo, frustrated with the policy choices that have made their lives less prosperous and less secure. The establishment keeps insisting that these people are wrong … just look at all the great government benefits you can apply for. Don’t worry that there are no jobs. You don’t need to even get out of bed in the morning.

And, the establishment wonders why people don’t want to listen to them? Really?

While that might sound like a great life style to a few people raised in a life of leisure, for most people that sounds like torture. There is nothing quite so undignified as an adult whose bills are being paid by someone else and we instinctively know that, which is why the most self-sufficient of us — rural dwellers — rail so loudly against welfare even when they qualify for it … because they don’t want to have their dignity stripped from them. They’d rather work hard for less money than sit on their butts waiting for their government check.

Plus, it turns out that being hard working actually improves our life expectancy.

The populists on both sides of the political divide are demanding change, but after a century of being educated to believe the private sector is bad and the public sector can fix that, they suffer from cognitive dissonance. They want to upend the elitist structure that doesn’t listen to them (noble goal), but then they demand programs that assure that government will continue growing and failing as it grows.

Under the progressive elite, the democratic countries asked too much of government while crowding out civil society and constraining market forces. Now we find ourselves in the inevitable doldrums inherent in a centrally planned society and we demand government “fix” that which it caused.

Unfortunately, while the populists have the right diagnosis, they believe the public school rhetoric that the private sector is bad and must be controlled by the public sector. So, upon finding they have been poisoned, they ask for more poison to counteract its effects.

The solution?

There are no easy answers for uprooting a Siberian pea hedge and, make no mistake, the US government is well-entrenched. To some degree, this can be addressed by us all engaging in rigorous comparative institutional analysis with a willingness to make substantive changes. The world won’t end if we go from 15 bureaucracies to oversee the “environment” that are all Congressionally-created non-Executive branch agencies that receive almost zero oversight to a single agency answerable to the President and cabinet. Yeah, some people will lose their jobs and budgets might be reduced … why is that a problem? I fail to see a downside for ordinary Americans.

Maybe we can look at the labyrinthine mess that is medical-care regulation and see if reducing some of the burden on providers might result in lower prices in the marketplace. No, people probably won’t die if they can buy insurance from Connecticut that is useable in Alaska … kind of like we do with car insurance now. I have better coverage now than I did 30 years ago for slightly less than my premium was in 1981 when Alaska had only two authorized car insurance dealers.

If someone with more time than I have was willing to go through the regulatory state and demand that each and every agency justify its existence and the efficacy of every one of its regulations, we might find that we could shrink government considerably with absolutely no loss of life quality.

So what are we afraid of? Oh, yeah — ourselves and the idea that we are the solutions we’ve been seeking.

 

Party of Big Government   Leave a comment

In October, the Republican-majority Congress passed the first $4 trillion federal budget in U.S. history. At $4.1 trillion, the budget represents an approximately 5% increase in spending over the last fiscal year of the Obama administration and sets the stage for President Trump to do what every GOP president has done since WWII — increase spending far more than did his Democratic predecessor.

Remember, I’m a non-partisan fiscal conservative, not a Republican.

Image result for image of donald trump and mitch mcconnellMath was never my favorite subject in school, but it doesn’t take much more than elementary math to figure out that, if spending increases, either taxes or deficits must also increase. Historically, the GOP has been happy to allow deficits to explode, but that’s going to be a hard hand to play after eight-years of attacking Obama’s deficits, which increased the federal government’s debt from $10 trillion to $20 trillion.

So, what are Republicans likely to do? Raise taxes, of course. Their move in the tax reform bill shows this. By eliminating the deduction for state and local taxes (which doesn’t affect me at all being as I live in Alaska), the Republicans had taxes to traditionally “blue” areas at the benefit to traditionally “red” areas. It is likely that those people who hate paying taxes the most will leave those states with higher taxes to move to states with lower taxes. So you’re going to see quite a few Republicans moving to Republican strongholds.

The GOP will then use this as evidence that people want smaller, low tax government with more freedom and prosperity.

Which we probably do, but the reality is that when Republicans occupy the White House, government grows exponentially, because  Republicans think tariffs aren’t taxes and “infrastructure,” the military, and other boondoggles conservatives like don’t constitute government spending. The two-term presidencies of George W. Bush, Reagan, and Ford/Nixon all approximately doubled federal spending, while Clinton’s and Obama’s raised them a mere 25% and 28%, respectively.

Yes, some of those Republican presidents had Democratic Congresses, but Reagan never  asked for a 25% cut which Congress overrode with increases. Reagan consistently proposed huge increases in spending and Congress largely gave him what he asked for, merely shifting a little spending around at the margins. And, yes, I am a fan of Ronald Reagan. I’m also a realist. George W. Bush did the same thing – paid lip service to fiscal conservancy while consistently proposing spending increases which Congress willingly gave to him.

Spending is not the only issue. The federal government suffers from serious mission creep and most of it can be traced back to Republican presidents creating the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (today HHS and the Department of Education), the EPA, and the spectacularly destructive (and ultimately failed) War on Drugs.

Yes, the wealthiest people in America live in the coastal elite “blue” zones, which tend to impose egregious taxes on their residents. They will be taxed the most because they would no longer be able to write off those taxes. And, yes, that might possibly result in some blue states being forced to lower taxes in order to avoid the penalty. But, be honest, when your income is in the tens of millions, income tax increases are small potatoes. It’s those earners with incomes between $100,000 and $200,000 who will be hurt the most by extra taxes. In that income bracket, those extra taxes represent saving for your children’s college tuition, which now means borrowing for it. It could mean the difference between hiring one extra employee for a small business, further protecting the very richest from competition by the upwardly mobile class.

I honestly believe there are a few Republicans who sincerely want to cut the size and scope of the federal government. Senator Rand Paul tried to convince his party to cut a measly $43 billion (a mere 4%) from Washington’s gargantuan military budget. Senator Paul believes he is trying to hold the Republican Party to its core principles, but I think he needs to look at history here. The party was born in the mid-19th century on a platform of raising taxes, increasing the size and scope of the federal government and, for the first few years, abolishing slavery. It has never really changed, though it adopted the rap of small-government, low-taxes and freedom and prosperity after Goldwater introduced it to them.

It’s time those Republican voters attracted by the GOP’s rhetoric of free markets, smaller government, and more personal liberty face the reality that Harding, Coolidge, Taft, and Rand Paul are the “RINOs.” The Republican Party has always been about big government, authoritarianism, and empire. Those looking to truly “drain the swamp” should consider placing their support elsewhere — and, no, I don’t mean the Democratic Party because they are just as much for big government, just in support of different pet projects.

Posted December 14, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Government

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Third Time’s the Charm?   Leave a comment

Image result for image of Alaska legislatureAlaska legislators have called themselves back into a third special session to address the state capital budget. Governor Bill Walker called the previous two special sessions after the Legislature utterly failed to get anything done during the 90-day regular session. He expressed reluctance to call legislators back into session (which is extremely expensive) until they were in substantial agreement on the capital budget, but a tentative deal has been struck on the measure that appropriates funds mainly for state construction.

The House-Senate conference committee on the capital budget is set for 1 p.m with only one item listed on the agenda, though others items could be added. Both the House and Senate passed different versions of SB 23 but reconciliation between
the two must be agreed on, enacted and signed by the governor. The bill should have been in effect July 1, which is the start of Alaska’s fiscal year, and some road and facilities projects have affected by delays of state money to match federal funds. The Legislature must act quickly to minimize those losses.

However, disagreement on key areas in SB 23 are focused on issues not related to construction. One is over funds appropriated for payments on past oil tax credit liability, which totals over $700 million. The Senate approved $288 million for this and the House $57 million.

Another disagreement is over money for the state gas corporation, Alaska Gasline Development Corp., which is now leading the big Alaska LNG Project. In its version of the capital budget the Senate cut $50 million from AGDC’s available funds, which now total about $80 million. In its version of the capital budget the House left AGDC’s funding intact. AGDC, a critical and long-term project for the state, will like be dinged in the final compromise although a $50 million cut seems unlikely. If too much money is taken out the corporation’s ability to continue the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license application process will be in jeopardy. There has been a huge investment
in this project to date and keeping the regulatory process on track is necessary to retain that value. The LNG pipeline project is a big priority for the governor and the lower cost fuel is critical for Interior communities, but the Senate is very skeptical of the near-term viability of any large LNG export project, though aware that a smaller in-state-only line will not lower heating and electrical generation costs for Interior residents.

The final potential area of uncertainty is the language in the House version of SB 23
that would fund an extra $750 million for Permanent Fund dividends. Lawmakers have already approved $750 million in the operating budget, which has been signed by the governor and is now in effect. This is sufficient for a $1,100 PFD check this year. The House proposes adding $750 million to that through the capital budget, to bring the PFD up to about $2,000. The House added the extra money late in its own capital budget version and it was connected to political maneuvering, so the lower figure is likely to prevail. There is broad consensus and unpopular consensus in both the House and Senate that the PFD does need to be capped. This not being an election year, Legislators appear to be gambling that Alaskans won’t punish them in the polls next year.
Image result for image of alaska oil wellHB 111 basically finished what HB 247 attempted to do last year in winding
down the state’s costly oil exploration and development tax credit program. HB 247 set up a three-year phase-out, but did not deal with how Net Operating Losses, or NOLs,
were treated for tax purposes. HB 111 put curbs on the NOLs, totally ending the cash payments and restricting NOLs to deductions against future production income with 10 percent annual reductions beginning in seven years for losses on producing properties and 10 years for losses on non-producing properties. It would take several years before the allowable deductions are reduced to zero.

Significantly, the bill prevents NOLs from being taken so as to allow the required minimum tax to be taken below 3 percent of gross value. This would represent an immediate tax increase for companies with NOLs that are also producers (mainly Caelus Energy and possibly Eni) but the extent depends on the company’s tax situation, which is confidential. ExxonMobil and BP may have a tax exposure because these companies might have large past-year NOLs because of their massive Point
Thomson investments. Major producers are not otherwise affected.

Which is my whole reason for posting this article. The major producers are large multinational corporations and yet this bill does nothing to reduce the tax welfare that Alaska pays to these companies. Iraq pays $2 a barrel to BP in production credits. Alaska will still be paying 10 times that much. But, the Legislature spent the entire regular session fighting about whether to impose an income tax on Alaska residents while giving money to huge corporations for producing our oil. At one point last year, the State was paying more in production credits than it was receiving in revenue. Thank goodness for savings.

So the outcome of HB 111 is that the tax burden on the more competitive smaller companies will increase, but the major producers will be held harmless. This is why I hate government, because it will always side with whomever can line its pockets best regardless of whether that company is producing (like Caelus Energy) or sitting on leases (like BP). When will we get around to rewarding actual production? That’s right … never because that’s not what the Legislature is all about. It’s about maintaining a relationship with multinationals who have no intentions of producing those leases until the State is completely desperate and willing to give away the moon to get a trickle of income.

Remember this next year, folks! Remember and vote them all out. Don’t replace them with someone of the same party because that just keeps the established relationships inheritable. No, instead, vote third party and send a message that we are no longer playing the same stupid games that we’ve played for 40 years. The libertarians don’t owe any oil companies because, not having been in power, the oil companies haven’t gotten around to bribing them yet, and being by and large business people, they might actually have some understanding of economics so that they will think to reward the producers and put the non-producers (those sitting on leases) on notice that they’d better get busy or get lost.

Maybe One Reason Schools are Failing   Leave a comment

Teachers perform one of society’s more useful functions. However during a time of strained public finances students’ needs must come first – not teachers’ salaries.

The teachers’ unions have been hugely successful. Median compensation for US workers is $28,900. Teachers earn $58,000, almost double that amount .

The gap between teachers and those communities they teach in is exacerbated by the fact that gold-plated, state-guaranteed pensions mean that public school teachers generally retire as millionaires.

If teachers were paid at market rates, there would be more money available to fund students’ needs such as smaller class sizes, libraries, computers and vocation training so they might be able to get jobs when they graduate.

Posted June 12, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Government, Uncategorized

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A Sea Change?   Leave a comment

A bedrock tenet of the American justice system until the 20th century was that everybody was presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law before a jury of one’s peers … which would be people in the community in which you live.

Christopher Wray is pictured in 2003. | GettyThat has slowly gone away to where an accusation of a crime is considered as good as proof of a crime and the federal courts believe that a trial for an Alaskan in Florida is the same thing as a jury of your peers. Gross injustice comes about from these sorts of mishandling of the justice system.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-to-nominate-christopher-wray-as-next-fbi-director/2017/06/07/a3cf7790-4b78-11e7-a186-60c031eab644_story.html?utm_term=.8f93c2f2dec2

I had been skeptical of the FBI for a long time when they began investigating people here in Alaska for holding “radical” ideas … ideas like I espouse all the time on this blog … that people have rights inherent in their being alive and that the government has no authority to violate those rights, some of which are listed in the Constitution, while others can be inferred from the premise of you own yourself and  you own your property.

The FBI has sent informants into private homes to gather information on various people here … all of whom, to my knowledge, are just people going about their lives, trying to negotiate the labyrinthine maze of government regulations that encompass us all about and assure that many of us, through no fault of our own, commit felonies without even realizing it. These people under FBI investigation are NOT presumed innocent. They are tricked by the informants into saying things they actually don’t mean, into wording what they do mean in ways that are incriminating and, then, if that doesn’t work, the informants out and out lie to get what they want. Of course, this ignores that fact that these people are pretending to be friends while in reality they are informants for our domestic surveillance agency.

So, President Trump may be making a move in the right direction. Christopher Wray is a defense attorney, which means he has spent his career automatically presuming innocence. I don’t particularly care for his work with the Department of Justice during the 911 aftermath, but I think we all realize that mistakes were made following a horrific terrorist attack on the mainland of the United States. This contrasts to James Comey, and most former FBI directors, who spent the majority of their careers as prosecutors and Deep State employees. Sessions and Mueller had experience as private defense attorneys, but most of these people are tightly embedded, and therefore indoctrinated, with the Deep State.

Again, I’ve said that whenever President Trump does something I approve of, I’ll say so. He’s still not out of the doghouse for the bombing of the Syrian airfield, but this is a step in a right direction. This is another of those times when the people who voted for Trump influenced his policies, because many of the Trump voters I know have been asking for reform of the FBI and this looks like (potential) reform.

 

An Intelligence Cabal?   4 comments

I am ambivalent about President Donald Trump. If I could advise him on doing his job, I would tell him to close his mouth and still his Twitter thumbs for a half-hour before doing, saying or posting anything. He’s his own worst enemy because he lacks self-restraint and any sort of nuance.

Image result for image of nsa-cia-fbi cabalJames Comey needed to be fired, but it could have been handled more delicately, thus potentially avoiding the firestorm of criticism that followed. I don’t know what happened between the two men, and I don’t entirely care. Comey’s handling of the Clinton email investigation smacked of elitist favoritism and needed to be addressed with his removal. To the extent that Trump really plans to drain the DC swamp, this looked a little like it and I applaud that, even as I wince at the way that he went about it.

In the aftermath of the firing, Trump added fuel to the fire by complaining about the seemingly endless investigation into his administrations possible ties to Russia. That got the Democrats’ knickers in a knot, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense as an explanation of Comey’s firing. Trump has advisors (Mike Pence, for example) who would have told him that firing Comey wouldn’t end that investigation and that it was likely to inspire greater FBI intensity toward the investigation … which is exactly what happened. If you subscribe to the “Trump is an idiot” view of things, you might believe he’s dumb enough to dig himself a deeper hole, but nobody who has been as successful in business as President Trump has been is that stupid. I just find the theory that he became stupid upon entering the White House to be flimsy.

Some of my skepticism flows from my firm conviction that Wikileaks was the source of the DNC emails, not the Russians. Julian Assange has a reputation and if you know that reputation, you know that he doesn’t peddle in information of questionable provenance. As I’ve said before, he’s all about shattering the comfort that elite organizations have with communicating with each other. It wouldn’t serve his ends to help Russia spread information they wanted spread … unless of course he could see them being discredited by linking them to it. Feeding the government conspiracy theory beast isn’t an Assange goal.

The constant innuendo that Russia “hacked” our election with Trump’s full knowledge also doesn’t resonate with me. The glory of a republic with a decentralized electoral system means it is impossible for Russia to have affected the actual vote and I applaud whoever released the emails because the American voters had a right to know what our rulers think about us and to act upon that knowledge. I might wish they’d voted for Gary Johnson instead, but Donald Trump is no worse than Hillary Clinton would have been.

 

The fact is that Hillary was deeply embedded with the Deep State, which should cause all of us to wonder … what if there really is a conspiracy against Donald Trump being orchestrated within the various national security agencies that are part of the United States government?

President Trump has been complaining for months about damaging leaks emanating from the intelligence community and the failure of Congress to pay any attention to the illegal dissemination of classified information. Whenever the government and the media poo-poo something like that, I get suspicious. Donald Trump was a highly successful businessman. He’s not stupid. Why do we assume that he couldn’t have become aware of a conspiracy to delegitimize his election and somehow remove him from office?

President Trump has also been insisting that the allegation of Russian influence in the election is a made-up story, which I don’t disagree. What if senior officials of the Obama White House orchestrated a stealth coup that continues today under the guise of the Deep State? I’m not the only one who thinks Comey might have been party to such a conspiracy, in which case his dismissal would have been perfectly justified based on his demonstrated interference in both the electoral process and in his broadening of the acceptable role of his own bureau.

Two well-informed observers of the situation have recently joined in the discussion, Robert Parry of Consortiumnews and former CIA senior analyst Ray McGovern of the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. McGovern has noted that there is one individual who has been curiously absent from the list of former officials who have been called in to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee. That is ex-CIA Director John Brennan, long considered an extreme Obama/Hillary Clinton loyalist and rumored to be at the center of the information damaging to the Trump administration gathered by friendly intelligence services, including the British.

McGovern suggests that Brennan and Comey may been at the center of a Deep State CIA-NSA-FBI cabal working to discredit the Trump candidacy and delegitimize his presidency. Brennan was uniquely well placed to fabricate the Russian hacker narrative that has been fully embraced by Congress and the media even though no actual evidence supporting that claim has been produced. As WikiLeaks has now revealed that the CIA had the technical ability to hack into sites surreptitiously while leaving behind footprints that would attribute the hack to someone else, including the Russians, you don’t have to be a fiction writer to consider that the alleged trail to Moscow might have been fabricated. This false intelligence has proven to be of immense value to those seeking to present “proof” that the Russian government handed the presidency to Donald Trump.

Robert Parry asked in a May 10th article whether we are seeing is “Watergate redux or ‘Deep State’ coup?”. He followed up on May 13th with “The ‘Soft Coup’ of Russia-gate”  

So, the question is:

is this all a cover-up of White House wrongdoing similar to President Nixon firing of Watergate independent special prosecutor Archibald Cox and the resignations of both the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General, or

is it an undermining of an elected president who has not actually committed any “high crimes and misdemeanors” to force his removal from office.

I am a reluctant conspiracy theorist because I think conspiracies are hard to keep secret. The federal government leaks like a sieve and bureaucrats are notorious gossips. Any large group of CIA operatives meeting in secret would become public knowledge within a week. Alternatively, this could be a loose arrangement between individuals driven by a common objective, which would reduce the need for meetings in the CIA parking garage. 

Parry suggests the three key players in the scheme are:

  • John Brennan of CIA, Director of National Intelligence
  • James Clapper
  • James Comey of the FBI.

Comey’s role in the “coup” was key because it consisted of using his office to undercut both Hillary Clinton and Trump, neither of whom was seen as a truly suitable candidate by the Deep State … Trump because he’s not a life-long government operative and Hillary because she is … well, “unstable” comes to mind.

Parry speculates that a broken election might well have resulted in a vote in the House of Representatives to elect the new president, a process that might have produced a Colin Powell presidency as Powell actually received three votes in the Electoral College and therefore was an acceptable candidate under the rules governing the electoral process.

Parry carefully documents how Russiagate has developed and how the national security and intelligence organs have been key players as it moved along, often working by leaking classified information. President Barack Obama de facto authorized the wide distribution of raw intelligence on Trump and the Russians through executive order, which would suggest plausible deniability if anyone got caught. Parry notes that to-date no actual evidence has been presented to support allegations that Russia sought to influence the U.S. election and/or that Trump associates were somehow co-opted by Moscow’s intelligence services as part of the process. Nevertheless, anyone even vaguely connected with Trump who also had contact with Russia or Russians has been regarded as a potential traitor. 

Parry’s point is that there is a growing Washington consensus that consists of traditional liberals and progressives, Democratic globalist interventionists and neoconservatives who believe that Donald Trump must be removed by any means necessary. The interventionists and neocons in particular already control most of the foreign policy mechanisms but they continue to see Trump as a possible impediment to their plans for aggressive action against a host of enemies, particularly Russia. As they are desirous of bringing down Trump “legally” through either impeachment or Article 25 of the Constitution which permits removal for incapacity, it might be termed a constitutional coup.

The rationale Trump haters have fabricated is simple: the president and his team colluded with the Russians to rig the 2016 election in his favor, which, if true, would provide grounds for impeachment. The steady drumbeat is that Trump must be removed “for the good of the country” and to “correct a mistake made by the American voters.” The mainstream media is completely on board with the process.

Could we all calm down for just a moment. President Trump is the duly elected president. George W. Bush and Barack Obama did plenty of things that in retrospect should have upset a wide swath of the American public. The provocative views of Ray McGovern and Robert Parry bear consideration. These are not friends of the White House or apologists for the Trump administration. McGovern has been strongly critical of current foreign policy, most particularly of the expansion of various wars, claims of Damascus’s use of chemical weapons, and the cruise missile attack on Syria. Parry describes Trump as narcissistic and politically incompetent.

What if the Deep State is moving us in a direction that is far more dangerous than anything Donald Trump might do? A soft coup engineered by the national security and intelligence agencies would be far more dangerous to our democracy than anything coming out of the Oval Office. 

Posted May 25, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Government, Uncategorized

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Officer Charged … Finally   Leave a comment

Image result for image of police brutalityGood! This is the sort of common sense process that ought to accompany every officer-involved shooting. Anytime an officer shoots a citizen, no matter the circumstances, there ought to be a coroner’s inquest and a full investigation as if it were a crime BECAUSE it should not be presumed lawful for police to kill citizens. PERIOD! Then, if it is found that the civilian was shooting at the cop or trying to harm someone else … then and ONLY THEN should the police officer be exonerated and allowed back on duty.

This would force the police into the same position that an ordinary citizen is placed in if we are ever called upon to protect ourselves from a crime. No, police should NOT be treated as a special class of citizen.

But watch. This is only the first step in the process. Second-degree manslaughter is basically negligent homicide. Here in Alaska that carries about a two-year minimum sentence with a maximum sentence of 10 years. Philando Castile was murdered by this officer for exercising his Constitutional right to go forth armed. Because of the unfair bias towards police, expect Officer Yanez to be offered a plea deal that brings this down to something like reckless endangerment and likely offered a no-jail-time sentence. There will be no justice for Castile because he was a citizen acting in a lawful manner, but Yanez is a special class of citizen who is allowed to get away with murder.

If it goes to trial, expect him to be acquitted, because juries are notoriously sympathetic to cops … even when cops kill people who weren’t doing anything wrong. Lela

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/minnesota-prosecutors-provide-update-castile-case-43576549

A Minnesota police officer has been charged with second-degree manslaughter in the killing of Philando Castile, a black man whose girlfriend streamed the gruesome aftermath of the fatal shooting live on Facebook, prosecutors announced Wednesday.

St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez shot the 32-year-old during a July 6 traffic stop in the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights. Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, was in the car along with her young daughter at the time. The woman said Castile was shot several times while reaching for his ID after telling Yanez he had a gun permit and was armed.

Ramsey County Attorney John Choi, whose office will prosecute the case, said Yanez shot Castile seven times, and that the evidence shows Castile was calm and complied with the officer’s requests. Prosecutors believe Castile never tried to pull his handgun from his pocket, Choi said, adding that as Castile was dying, he moaned and uttered his final words: “I wasn’t reaching for it.”

Choi said the officer’s unreasonable fear cannot justify the use of deadly force.

“No reasonable officer, knowing, seeing and hearing what officer Yanez did at the time, would’ve used deadly force under these circumstances,” Choi said as he announced the charges. If convicted of second-degree manslaughter, Yanez could face a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.

Yanez’s attorney, Tom Kelly, has said Yanez, who is Latino, was reacting to the presence of a gun, and that one reason Yanez pulled Castile over was because he thought he looked like a possible match for an armed robbery suspect. Choi said Wednesday that Castile was not a suspect in that robbery.

Kelly did not immediately return phone messages seeking comment on the charges Wednesday.

Family members claimed Castile, an elementary school cafeteria worker, was racially profiled.

Choi got the case from investigators in late September and began reviewing the evidence for possible charges. Choi resisted pressure immediately after the shooting to turn the case over to a special prosecutor, but added one to his team to get an outside perspective. He also enlisted the help of national use-of-force consultants.

The shooting prompted numerous protests, including a weekslong demonstration outside the governor’s mansion and one protest that shut down Interstate 94 in St. Paul for hours. The interstate protest resulted in about 50 arrests and injuries to more than 20 officers, after police said they were hit with cement chunks, bottles, rocks and other objects.

The shooting also exposed a disproportionate number of arrests of African-Americans in St. Anthony, Lauderdale and Falcon Heights, which are all patrolled by the St. Anthony Police Department. The Associated Press reported in July that an analysis of police data showed black people made up nearly half of all arrests made by St. Anthony officers in 2016. Census data shows that just 7 percent of residents in the three cities are black.

The fatal shootings of black men and boys by police officers have come under heightened scrutiny since the 2014 death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and led to calls nationwide for officers to be held criminally responsible.

No charges were filed in the death of 18-year-old Brown, who was unarmed, after a grand jury found officer Darren Wilson acted in self-defense. The white officer had said Brown tried to grab his gun during a struggle through the window of the police vehicle and then came toward him threateningly after briefly running away.

Other police shooting deaths also did not result in charges, including the killings of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in 2014 in Cleveland and 24-year-old Jamar Clark last year in Minneapolis. A grand jury determined the white officer who shot Tamir had no way of knowing whether the boy, who was drawing a pellet gun from his waistband, was trying to hand it over or show them it wasn’t real.

In the Clark case, prosecutors said the two white officers involved in the shooting feared for their lives when Clark tried to grab an officer’s weapon during a struggle.

Officers have been charged in other cases, though. Michael Slager, a white officer in North Charleston, South Carolina, who has since been fired, is currently on trial for murder in the 2015 death of 50-year-old Walter Scott, an unarmed black man who was shot while running from a traffic stop. More recently, Betty Jo Shelby, a white Tulsa, Oklahoma, police officer was charged with first-degree manslaughter in the Sept. 16 shooting of Terence Crutcher, a 40-year-old unarmed black man whose car was stopped in the middle of the road.

When looking at whether to file charges, authorities must determine if the officer believed he or she, or fellow officers, were in danger in the moment the decision is made to shoot. If the fear of danger is deemed reasonable, charges are typically not filed. To prove a serious charge such as murder, prosecutors must also show that the officer was not just reckless, but had ill intentions.

Posted November 19, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Government

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Bundys Acquitted in Oregon ‘Standoff’   Leave a comment

Yes, it’s amazing!!! I certainly didn’t expect this verdict. I figured they’d be treated as so many others have been — to a kangaroo court in another state before a hand-selected jury of government sycophants.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/10/28/off-the-charts-unbelievable-will-acquittal-of-oregon-refuge-occupiers-embolden-extremists-militias/

There is still a long way to go on such issues as is clearly evident in the comments section where people are freely discussing how best to oppress people of the west who are have the temeridity to stand up for their rights.

Check it out! Maybe weigh in.

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