Friday, April 11, 2014

Daily Briefing For Friday, April 11, 2014

This Mess in Nevada

Whilst NPR continues to gleefully ignore the story of Cliven Bundy's battle with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), no doubt to free up bandwidth for critical news on cooking eggs, other networks are covering the story to varying degrees. 

In case you've been riveted to the Masters or to The Voice over the last few days, here's the story:  Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy has threatened to "to wage a 'range war' with the federal Bureau of Land Management."  While the parties seem to disagree as to the crux of the issue, it's clear the government believes Bundy owes over $1M in grazing fees. 

Here are my takeaways of this escalating event:

  1. Alternative media continues to demonstrate its value.  As noted above, if you search "Cliven Bundy" on NPR's website, you get ZERO hits.  There are dozens, if not hundreds, of law enforcement on scene with similar numbers of self-proclaimed militia heading there as well.  The alternative media has been the leading source of information about this event, further proving that old school media continues to lose relevance.

  2. We don't get to arm ourselves and take a stand against the government every time we don't like a law or court decision.  We cannot have it both ways; we cannot decry the militarization of our police force and their heavy handed tactics and then openly arm ourselves in close proximity to law enforcement with the intent to intimidate them.  I blogged about this back in January 2013 as people began clamoring for us to "take action" and "stand up to the government" for considering sweeping gun control legislation.

    Don't get me wrong - for years I have filled the pages of this blog complaining bitterly about many of the things we see happening in Nevada right now.  Yet none of what I've seen thus far gives anyone the right to arm themselves against federal agents.  We still have access to courts and legislatures.  We still have the right to assemble and express our views (although this nonsensical "free speech zone" created by local authorities would be laughable if it weren't so offensive.)  Just because government agents are carrying out laws and court decisions that are bad public policy or even unconstitutional doesn't give us the right to shoot at them in the process of doing their jobs.

  3. The best weapons in Nevada?  Cameras and the Internet.  This battle will not be won with AR-15s.  It will be won with people - citizen journalists - recording and reporting what they see and hear to the rest of the world.  The Civil Rights movement moved the immovable in large part because America got to see how brutal the government treated those protesting.

  4. I'm perplexed at the call for financial contributions to feed and water the militia gathering to support Mr. Bundy.  I'm all for charity and supporting a good cause, even when the cause is unpopular.  But if you're spending money and time to go to Nevada with no plan to be self-sufficient while you're there to the point you have to rely on others to feed you, are you really helping?  I would suggest that if you cannot provide for yourself, perhaps you should stay home. 

    I know many of you will wince at that, but let's be realistic.  We don't need to be volunteering to help if we're putting a drain on limited resources.  If you're planning to head that way, I wish you safe travels and God's protection.  I also hope you have the ability to provide for yourself without having to get in line for handouts like a bunch of Occupy Wall Streeters.

  5. The government's treatment of the livestock in question makes me nauseous.  I grew up on a farm.  I'm a state 4-H winner in the beef project.  I've participated in more cattle shows than I care to remember.  I've been up at 2 AM - as a kid - trying to save a newborn calf's life to no avail.  And so when I hear reports that cows are being separated from their nursing calves to the point the cow's udders are becoming distended, it makes my heart break.  But don't worry - the government has a "protocol [to]..euthanize animals" affected in this round up.  My guess is that it's similar to the one they used to euthanize otherwise healthy but endangered desert tortoises - the very animals BLM claims they are trying to save by moving the offending cattle off of the range.  And this is an important point, because...

  6. The family's arguments against the government's actions are valid.  This isn't about tortoises or unpaid fees.  This is about the value of the land to special interest groups.  The extensive law enforcement build up resulting from this preceded the influx of concerned citizens.  And this build up apparently includes snipers and heavy handed actions of law enforcement.  Make no mistake - there are very powerful forces here at work, and none of them care about the tortoises.
Tonight, I pray for a peaceful resolution to this.  And I also pray that more Americans will begin paying attention to the growing power of the government at all levels.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Daily Briefing for Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Stop Worrying About "The" Event...Prepare for "Any" Event.

No doubt you were shocked like me to read the latest report from NASA to hear that the collapse of American society is inevitable, if not soon.  From their report:

"Collapse can be avoided, and population can reach a steady state at the maximum carrying capacity, if the rate of depletion of nature is reduced to a sustainable level, and if resources are distributed equitably."

Yes, I was shocked by this.  Not by the predictable conclusions that the cure for what ails us includes sentencing everyone to drive Toyota Priuses for life and redistributing wealth from the evil rich to those who think lottery tickets are a sound financial investment.  What shocked me was the agency issuing the report:  the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.  The agency previously devoted to kicking ass by putting Americans on the moon and running the Space Shuttle program has been relegated to writing reports on Mathusian theory. 

I shouldn't be surprised.  Yet I am.  Just like Charlie Brown is every time he tries to kick the football.

Yet surprises don't come to me as often as they used to.  I suspect that's a function of getting older and/or becoming more cynical about the affairs of the world.  It may also be a function of realizing that the Team Red/Team Blue paradigm is more than a distraction than a meaningful juxtaposition of opposing political theories.

And so when I heard this story - which apparently I missed when it came out eight months ago - that Russia approached China about running a coordinated financial attack against the United States during the Great Recession, I wasn't surprised at all. 

Don't be fooled into thinking this isn't a big deal.  According to the BBC (and since reporters at the BBC sound like those actors in Downton Abbey or whatever that cheap knock off of Melrose Place is called, they must be telling the truth):

Now this is where we enter the territory of a geopolitical thriller. Mr Paulson:

"Here I'm not going to name the senior person, but I was meeting with someone… This person told me that the Chinese had received a message from the Russians which was, 'Hey let's join together and sell Fannie and Freddie securities on the market.' The Chinese weren't going to do that but again, it just, it just drove home to me how vulnerable I felt until we had put Fannie and Freddie into conservatorship [the rescue plan for them, that was eventually put in place]."

For me this is pretty jaw-dropping stuff - the Chinese told Hank Paulson that the Russians were suggesting a joint pact with China to drive down the price of the debt of Fannie and Freddie, and maximize the turmoil on Wall Street - presumably with a view to maximizing the cost of the rescue for Washington and further damaging its financial health.

The ramifications for the United States of such a plan during a period of already great economic distress would have been dramatic to say the least.  Fortunately for us, oddly enough, the Chinese own so much of our debt they didn't want to risk losing that much money.

Fast forward to this week.  CNN is breathlessly tracking down the Malaysian Airliner that may or may not be in the ocean.  (I'm inclined to believe the plane was hijacked...and unless the plane is at the bottom of the ocean, some terrorist group just got a new toy to play with.) Meanwhile, Russia is fast tracking its plans to annex Crimea, gleefully taunting the United States in the process.

What does it all mean?  Will Russia's incursion trigger World War III?  I doubt it.  Then again, history shows that wars in that region do get triggered over events like this.  Just because it's not logical doesn't mean it won't happen.

And even if it doesn't trigger what we normally think of as a World War III conflagration, it could trigger many other problems which we might experience here in the United States.  This might include more financial attacks like the one contemplated by the Russians just a few years ago. 

From time to time, I'm asked what "the" event will be that will trigger the need to rely upon our preparations.  And I think that's short sighted.  The event may be something relatively benign - like a tornado outbreak (benign in the relative compared to a long term regional emergency), or it could be ramifications from an international geopolitical event.  I encourage you not to get fixated on one particular peril, lest it not come to fruition.  Prepare for a wide spectrum of perils instead.  Focus on the "any event possible" possibility to ensure you are in fact prepared for any event.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Daily Briefing for Wednesday, Februrary 26, 2014

Kiev Coming to America?

I know, I know –  there are more important things to think about right now. Like the Oscar nominations that came out today.

Yet for those of us who are not consumed with gossip and entertainment news (or whatever new rule the NFL is coming up with this week to try to soften its image), there are other things occupying our intellectual bandwidth.  Take, for example,  this clip of Democrat pollster Pat Caddell:

I don't know if this would ever come to fruition.  But for those of us who are open to looking at the big picture –  eroding civil liberties, ever-increasing national debt, escalating government surveillance into our lives, increasing dependency on government social insurance programs - we see a bleak picture of the future awaiting us.

It doesn't need to be bleak, of course, and I still believe there is time to turn things around - provided we have the intestinal fortitude to do so.  But make no mistake: we are not immune from the problems that face those countries "over there" (wherever "over there" might be).  History is full of examples of how great empires have cratered.  Simply claiming "we're different from those examples because we have a Constitution and stuff" doesn't make it so. 

Given that, what can we do on an individual level to soften the blow?  First, let's start with a quick educational video of just how bad things would get if Kiev came to America:

I get nauseous watching that.  Those people are the brothers, sisters, children and parents of others.  It's easy to dismiss it as happening "in one of those places that's always messed up" except for the fact that a) Ukraine isn't "always messed up" and b) the increased militarization of our police forces makes one wonder if they are preparing for something like this.  (And if they aren't preparing for this, what are they planning to do with the hardware they're acquiring?)

I know, I know.  It sounds crazy.  Talking about the Oscars or professional sports is much easier on our brains. 

Be prepared to shelter in place for several days....because of a storm, a power outage, a pandemic, or more frightening emergency.  Be prepared to conduct business transactions without the use of credit cards, checks or the Internet.  Be prepared to feed your family without utilities for a few days.  Be prepared to protect your family when police, fire department or EMS personnel aren't able to get to you right away.  Be prepared to help your neighbors do these things to the extent you can.  Be prepared to be a good citizen. 

And be prepared to help rebuild and be a part of the solution.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Daily Briefing For Friday, February 21, 2014

It's Been A While.

My busy season at work began in earnest about a month ago. I've been on the road a fair amount as a result. It's been busy, but good.

I know I have not blogged in a while. I will tell you that I am working on some writing projects involving preparedness, rather than trying to blog on a regular basis. I have no idea what will become of my latest project, if anything. But I'm enjoying it, which makes it all the more worthwhile.

There's certainly a lot to keep in mind these days. Recent civil unrest in Kyiv and Caracas serves as a reminder that we need to pay attention to world events.

I do not have a crystal ball (or even a magic eight ball for that matter), and so I don't have a sense for what he might expect to happen in the next 90 days. Let me encourage you to keep up with your preparedness efforts, whatever those might be. This is not time to slack off.

If you need some motivation or incentive, note that National Severe Weather Preparedness Week runs March 2 –8. 

I'll drop by the blog from time to time to send a shout out. I also want to post some more videos to the YouTube channel in the coming weeks. Be on the lookout for those.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Daily Briefing For Saturday, January 25, 2014

Save the Date - Saturday, January 10, 2015 - Third Annual Suburban Dad Survivalist Preparedness Conference

We'll be returning to Cabela's for a third year next January.  I'm planning some changes to the format and presenters, based in large part on the feedback from this year's attendees.  Stay tuned for more details.

Cattle Herd at Multi-Decade Low; Shortages of Organic Food.  But Hey, Payton Is In The Super Bowl Next Week!
Take a few minutes away from your steady consumption of Justin Beiber Leif Garrett Gary Coleman to check out this story.  Think about it - as the world population grows (and food demand grows with it), our national cattle herd has reached a 61 year low. 

Start thinking about how this might affect your family at some point and play accordingly.

Hopefully, Your Bank Won't Cash Block You When You Try To Go Buy Extra Food
The BBC - those wonderful people who brought us intellectually stimulating programming like the Benny Hill Show - yesterday reported that HSBC Bank has begun a policy of restricting depositor's abilities to withdraw large sums of cash from their accounts

Bank customers reported HSBC refused to allow certain withdrawals of sums between £5,000 and £10,000 ($8,250 to $16,500 USD) without sufficient explanation of what the money would be used for. 

Don't believe me?  The article quotes from HSBC:

"We ask our customers about the purpose of large cash withdrawals when they are unusual and out of keeping with the normal running of their account. Since last November, in some instances we may have also asked these customers to show us evidence of what the cash is required for."

The bank then stated that due to customer feedback, it was revising these rules (which, by the way, it never bothered to tell their customers about) regarding withdrawals of large sums of currency.

Why do the banks care why a customer, who presents satisfactory identification to prove their identity, wants their money out of the bank?  There are number of answers to that question, none of them satisfactory and most of them quite alarming.

If your bank imposed a limitation on your ability to withdraw funds - as one of my readers experienced and shared their story with me in a previous blog entry - how would you deal with that?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Daily Briefing For Thursday, January 16, 2014

Suckage Factor On The Rise?

Okay, I'll admit - I just made up the term "Suckage Factor."  But I am calling copyright or trademark or whatever that thing is your supposed to do when you want to make other people pay you money for using your tag line.  I'll sue any of you people that use it without paying me a royalty.

It looks like our Suckage Factor is on the uptick, as evidenced by these heartwarming stories:

America's Dwindling Economic Freedom.  We're now out of the top ten nations for economic freedom.  Yes.  Us.  'Murica.  You'll note residents of both Mauritius and Estonia enjoy more economic freedoms than we do.  (And I'll admit - I'd never heard of Mauritius until today.  Turns out it's a small island in the Indian Ocean east of Madagascar.)

What was paranoia absurdum five years ago is apparently standard operation procedure at the NSA.  The alternative media has been talking about this (and been ridiculed for doing so) for quite some time now.  Anyone want to believe the NSA isn't using this technology on domestic computers?  "...A covert channel of radio waves that can be transmitted from tiny circuit boards and USB cards inserted surreptitiously into the computers. In some cases, they are sent to a briefcase-size relay station that intelligence agencies can set up miles away from the target."  Yeah, I'm sure it's legit.

Stock market technicians are starting to see eerie parallels in this market and other ones that didn't go so well.  I don't read charts much anymore, having learned a while back that, candidly, I'm not that good at it. 

So what are we to do?  I don't know that we are to do anything differently than what we are doing now.  Continue to pay attention, learn new skills, and keep your financial house in order.  There's a lot out there we cannot control.  Focus on what you can.

Jonathan Turley Says We're Facing "The Most Serious Constitutional Crisis I Have Viewed In My Lifetime." 

Let me start by saying that Jonathan Turley is one liberal I like.  Not that he and I agree on a lot of stuff (we don't), but I find him to be intellectually consistent and a proponent for the rule of law.  In a world where "when-my-guy-does-it-it's-okay-but-when-your-guy-does-the-same-thing-he's-wrong" passes as a legitimate tool of public policy creation, Turley states his core beliefs and calls balls and strikes consistent with those beliefs.  I admire that in anyone, regardless of where they fall on the political spectrum.

And so when he spoke on the issue of the executive branch's encroachment into other branch's powers, I took note.  And in typical Turley fashion, he pulled no punches.

Here it for yourself:

Now many are holding up this testimony as a dig at the Obama Administration, yet he clearly says this encroachment began during the Bush 43 presidency. 

Friends, the awakening continues.  More people, from both sides of the political aisle, are paying attention now than ever before.  And they're electing not to simply camp with the Red Team or the Blue Team, instead opting to take a fresh look at their long held beliefs and the current policy positions that the Reds and Blues are taking. 

Encourage your friends to challenge their own beliefs and to analyze what's really going on.  Find common ground with those who are politically different than you are in an effort to encourage others to do the same.  Encourage them to make those common issues a priority for them when choosing a candidate to support. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Daily Briefing for Thursday, January 9, 2014

Three Conferences For Your Consideration

The SEC, the ACC and the Big 12.  Consider them.

Okay, that's NOT the type of conference I was talking about. Instead, I'm referring to the conferences where you actually learn something.

I know of three conferences coming up in the next 90 days that many of my Texas readers might want to consider attending.  Here they are:

Leslie Buck at Tactical Arts in Austin - yes, the same Leslie Buck who presented at this year's SDS Preparedness Conference - is holding three different workshops on edged weapons, impact weapons and handgun disarm skills.  Leslie is a fantastic presenter and shares his experiences and knowledge without much of the bravado one encounters at these types of seminars.  These will be really good training opportunities for those who are wanting to learn more about these subjects.

Karl Rehn at KR Training is bringing Massad Ayoob to Austin on March 8 and 9 for his MAG-20 course.  I am a big fan of Ayoob, as his experience and observations in the courtroom reflect the realities of the litigation environment.  For those of you who are concerned about managing the pre and post shooting environments effectively, this is an outstanding way to learn.

Caleb Causey at Lone Star Medics has a two day Field and Tactical Medicine Conference in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area on March 29-30.  Take a look at the number and diversity of speakers who will be presenting at this event.  Early bird pricing ends on January 15.  For those of you wanting to jump start your medical training or get some specialized guidance in a particular area of tactical medicine, this workshop would be a good place to start.