Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Daily Briefing for Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sandy And Candy

Tonight, we hand out candy as the New Jersey/New York area begins to piece together their belongings after Sandy came ashore.  As sewage, gasoline and bacteria permeate the New York flood waters,  people struggle to get gasoline for their cars and deal with looting.  Which, once again, serves as ample evidence that we need to be prepared by having our own food, water, gasoline, sanitary supplies and self defense tools to live life off the grid for an extended time so we don't have to drink poo water, ride a bike to the store or get our stuff jacked by looters.

I spent time in Miami post-Hurricane Andrew in 1992.  The post storm environment is not fun.  It sucks.  Bad.  Those people suffering right now really are suffering - make no mistake. 

Much of the political talk surrounding the storm stems from whether Romney wants to abolish FEMA.  As a Libertarian, I take a dim view of most government agencies and programs these days.  I do however believe there is a role for government in public safety.  In past disasters, we struggled to determine who that should be (Hurricane Katrina comes to mind), as well as the degree of help the federal government should provide.

A number of people have chided former FEMA director Michael "Brownie" Brown for his comments about President Obama's response to Sandy.  Given his history with FEMA, I'm not sure he's the best critic of any President's response to a disaster.

But for a moment, I'm going to take up for Brownie.  Not because he was a Bush appointee or because he took a shot at Obama.  Brown's tenure as FEMA's director came at a challenging time within the organization, having been once a stand alone agency, then incorporated into the Department of Homeland Security.  DHS circa 2005 was focused primarily on defending the country against terrorism.  Hurricane preparedness, it seems, didn't rank too far up the disaster depth chart.  During Congressional hearings, then-Secretary for DHS Michael Chertoff aptly testified FEMA's response demonstrated the agency was utterly dysfunctional.  This dysfunction has its roots in the politics of Washington - not Democrat or Republican politics, but that of turf, budgets and misplaced priorities.  I would submit the dysfunction is far greater than any one person.  To be sure, Brown had a hand in all of this.  But to lay the brunt of the blame on him, given the facts, I think is unfortunate and unfair.

If we are going to have FEMA, then we need to have a discussion about its proper role in a disaster.  And once that role is established, it needs to train relentlessly for various scenarios that might affect the United States - just as law enforcement, fire departments and EMS do on a regular basis.

Speaking Of FEMA, Are They Authorized To Take Our Food?

Remember the South Park episode where the people come back from the future to get employment in the present?  The workers who are displaced are often heard saying "they took our jobs!"  Awesome episode.

That episode reminds me of the question you read on prepper boards every now and then - can the government come and "take your food" during a crisis?

I wrote an article about this several years ago, which unfortunately I cannot find.  I will share this statutory authority (meaning it's a law passed by Congress, as opposed to the Executive Orders we often read about) with you.  I'm of the opinion this statute does in fact authorize the government to come and "take your stuff."

Before you freak about this, relax.  As a practical matter, I don't see how a government agency is going to confiscate enough supplies from preppers so as to make it worth their while to do.  Further, many preppers will probably resist such government takings without due process, further complicating matters.

I hope this helps those of you who are concerned.

Update On Preparedness Conference

We have a date - put it on your calendar.  On Saturday, January 5, 2013, the first annual Suburban Dad Survivalist Preparedness Conference will be in the Austin area.  I've confirmed some of our speakers, and the agenda continues to develop.  More details will follow in the coming days.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Daily Briefing for Monday, October 29, 2012

The Adrenaline Dump - A Cautionary Tale

In case any lawyer ever asks me about this blog entry, what you are about to read is a subsequent remedial measure.  If you're not a lawyer, don't worry about what I just said.  If you are, you will understand why I said it shortly.

So I'm trying to go to sleep last night.  I'm skimming through YouTube looking for Bob Ross videos (who would have turned 70 years old today, by the way) to help me sleep.  Instead, I stumbled upon the Gentleman's Rant channel, also on YouTube (which, by the way, is absolutely hilarious, despite its anti-gun bias).

As I lay in bed around 12:15 AM, chuckling at the irreverent humor, I heard a very loud pounding outside, so loud and rapid that it sounded as if someone was banging on our back door.  My endocrine system dumped a massive load of juice into my system.  It was go time.

Just as a side note, don't ever knock on some one's back door in the middle of the night.  Unless their house is on fire and you're trying to get them out of it, it's just not a good idea.  I had no idea why someone would be knocking on my back door.  I speculated that perhaps our dogs had gotten out and that one of my neighbors knew that they belonged back inside the back of the house, but even then, DON'T KNOCK ON SOME ONE'S BACK DOOR IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT.  You will learn why that's a bad idea momentarily.

Since switching to the V Line safe for my Glocks, I've had to learn a new system for getting my gun out of the safe.  Not that the system if difficult to use - quite the contrary - but nonetheless it works differently than my other gun safe.  The buttons are smaller and closer together, which means that under stressful conditions, it's hard to open.

Here's why.  When your body releases a large amount of adrenaline into your system, a number of physical changes happen right away.  One of those changes includes the degradation of fine motor skills.  Pushing little buttons in the right sequence when you think someone is pounding on your back door in the middle of the night is much, much more difficult than you can imagine.  I found that out last night, when it took me two attempts to get the safe to open.

I realized at that moment, Glock in hand, that I wasn't dressed appropriately.  In hind sight, I shouldn't have worried about it - whoever is pounding on my back door will be far more focused on the Glock 34 in my hand than the Under Armor logo stitched in the waistband of my boxer briefs. 

I finally pull on a pair of shorts, sprint to the stairs, and try to hit the light switch.  On this particular switch plate, there are three switches.  I manipulate these switches at least once if not several times a day.  For the life of me, I struggled to get the light I wanted on to come on.  I ended up just taking my hand and in one motion, throwing every switch into the up position so that enough lights would come on so as to allow me to get down the stairs without falling down.

Let me digress here for a minute.  I've left the bedroom at this point.  When I did, I left the flashlight I keep in my gun safe for emergencies.  I also left the iPhone I was using to watch videos moments earlier lying on the bed.  Think about that - two hugely important tools, just lying there, because I didn't think to grab them on the way out of the room.  "All  you have on you is all you have," to quote the great Tom Givens.  I'd unnecessarily deprived myself of two things I could really use.

Back to the story.  I got down stairs, quickly walked down the hall to the back door where I thought I heard the banging.  I went through the laundry room, where our dogs are put up every night.  Interestingly, the dogs were not alarmed at all, which should have been my first clue that everything was okay - had someone been banging on that door, their heads would have been exploding at that point.  I disarmed the alarm system so I could start opening doors without setting off the alarm.

I stepped into the garage where the back door was.  I hit the flood lights right above the back door, which gave me a sense of comfort, knowing now that if there's someone out there, they will be illuminated.

Dropping the muzzle of the gun to low ready, I opened the door, staying back inside the garage.  I immediately noticed that my next door neighbor's back yard flood lights were on, and I heard someone talking back in his yard.  I immediately surmised he was the one doing the banging (their pool pump is on the side of their house nearest ours) and concluded that it wasn't on our back door after all but rather on the privacy fence adjoining us. 

I stepped out onto the back step and yelled out my neighbor's name.  No response.  I did it a second time.  Still no response.  (The pool pump is quite loud).  The back yard flood lights from his house went off.  I heard a door close.  I went back inside, locked the doors, armed the alarm system, and went back upstairs.

My pulse was racing once I got back upstairs - well over 150 BPM, if I had to guess.  It took well over 30 minutes for me to calm down enough that I thought I could go to sleep.

Admittedly, there were a lot of things I didn't do well last night.

  • I lacked clarity of mind when I decided to get out of bed.  That in turn slowed me down in getting out of the bedroom.  I should have had the safe set up to make it easier to access the guns quickly.  I should have practiced getting the flashlight out first thing, and then taking the gun out.  I should have also practiced getting my phone into my waistband before leaving the room.  Fail.
  • There was no need for me to turn on the hall light to go down the stairs.  I don't always do it anyway.  I've even counted the steps so I will know where I am.  Last night, I completely forgot all of that.  Keeping the house dark would have provided me with a lot of protection from someone trying to break in.  They can't shoot or stab someone they can't see in the dark.  Fail.
  • I should not have opened the exterior door.  There was absolutely no need to do that.  The alarm was on; the dogs weren't upset.  After checking to see if the dogs were still inside and not snuck out (as they are prone to do from time to time) I should have taken up a defensive position downstairs, in the dark, and waited.  If the dogs started to bark or the alarm system went off, that would have been the time to act.  I could have even turned on the flood lights from inside quite safely.  There was zero reason for me to go poke my head out there.  Looking back on it, I did experience a degree of tunnel vision (a normal response during an adrenaline dump), which means there were probably things outside I was missing when I stepped out of the doorway - things that could have killed me had they been there.  Fail.

Now I know all of you are perfect and none of you would have ever made those mistakes.  Nor would any of you had an adrenaline rush in those circumstances.  And I can hear you right now: "why don't you practice for those types of scenarios?"

The truth is - I do.  However, I'd not practiced that particular scenario.  I'd not practiced getting the right gear on me before leaving the bedroom.  I haven't practiced going down the stairs in the dark in some time. 

Experience is often the best teacher.  Despite a fair amount of advanced training, last night's event will certainly make me more diligent about training for a wider spectrum of situations.  Some changes in the training curriculum and nightly procedures, effective immediately, include:

  • Getting the safe ready to open without a lot of drama.  This is an easy fix.
  • Practicing to take the flashlight out of the safe first, along with grabbing the cell phone, before leaving the room.  This is easy to train for.
  • Looking and listening for clues, like the dogs barking or the alarm system going off.  If either of those things happen, we are dealing with a completely different scenario.  This will take some practice.
I share this with you in an effort to get you to be more purposeful in your training.  Don't go easy on yourself.  Have a friend come over and walk you through scenarios and challenge your response to them. 

Speaking Of Training, This Is A Good Idea.  I Think.

Doyle sent me a link to this article entitled "Marines, police prep for mock zombie invasion."  I pooh-pooh a lot of this zombie nonsense, because it's just that - nonsense.  Dead people aren't going to walk around eating brains of non-dead people.  It's just not going to happen.  Sorry to burst your bubble.

The article however makes some very good points about training and using zombies as the bad guys.  It's worth the time reading it if you're done overdosing on Hurricane Sandy coverage. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Daily Briefing for Friday, October 26, 2012

Seven Out Of Eight

I travel a lot with the new job.  I spent seven out of the last eight nights on the road in five different cities (not including Austin). 

One of my trips took me to Salt Lake City.  I met a client there who was gracious enough to give me a tour of downtown Salt Lake.  He is a bishop in his church, which is LDS.  I asked him why Mormons put such an emphasis on preparedness.  His response, without hesitation: "we believe we should be self-sufficient." 

Since there are so many LDS members in Salt Lake City (SLC), it's no wonder that preparedness supply providers have retail stores there.  While I was in town, I had an opportunity to visit on of the Emergency Essentials retail locations.  It was a great opportunity to not only see some of the catalog items in person, but it gave me an opportunity to talk to the staff there about trends they are seeing in the store.

The young lady who waited on me in the store was more than happy to talk about the company and the typical customers.  She was an enthusastic supporter of preparedness products and her employer - something you don't see every day in the retail world.  I asked her what trends she had seen over the last year.  Here are some of her observations:

  • Sales have exploded in 2012.
  • A large part of their business comes from LDS members getting their one year food supply assembled.
  • The other parts of their business come from preppers getting ready for any and every perceived peril, including the Mayan 2012 crowd, the zombie crowd, and the economic collapse crowd.
  • One group she singled out for special recognition are those preparing for earthquakes in the Utah area. 

Looking Into The Crystal Ball

What would an Obama re-election mean for preppers?  What would a Romney election mean for them?

Given the fact we are only days away from the election, I thought I'd give you some thoughts as to what we might expect within the movement under each of them.

Obama:  If he is re-elected, the movement picks up steam the first year of his presidency.  I am getting emails from people I never thought would be interested in preparedness, and they all say the same thing - they fear what might happen in an Obama second term. 

This fear stems from a few things.  First, any American president has more flexibility in his or her second term.  Obama said so himself; in fact, it's the exchange documented in that link which worries a number of people.  Rightfully so, in my opinion.

In the second presidential debate, Obama expressed interest in renewing the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994.  If re-elected, look for gun sales and demand for gun training classes to remain strong. 

Finally, our economy continues to show symptoms of ill health - stagnant GDP growth, stagnant unemployment numbers, a Federal Reserve that is running out of effective stimulus options.  To date, the president's record doesn't give me or other preppers any comfort that things will get better in 2013 or 2014.  This, in turn, will lead to more worry among average Americans.  People will continue to prepare, most likely in larger numbers than the past.

Romney:  A Romney win presents something of an irony.  People voting for Romney do so in large part because Romney will supposedly make it a priority to decrease government dependence and emphasize self reliance.  And yet many preppers - maybe even a majority of them, for all I know - will slow down dramatically in their preparedness efforts if Romney is elected.

The rationale here is that preppers will believe Romney will fix the economy and thus avert whatever financial disaster awaits us if we don't get our finances in order.  Many preppers will let their guard down.  Gun sales will drop, along with the demand for ammunition and concealed handgun licenses.  Demand for storeable foods will decrease as well.

Of course, the problems we face have been developing for fifty years.  Romney hasn't put any plan forward, at least not to my knowledge, that explains how he will right the nation's finances.  Thus, the community lowers its guard at its own peril.

The Preparedness Conference

I mentioned last week I am conceptualizing a conference here in Austin to discuss preparedness issues from a suburban perspective.  I'm pleased to report this is coming along nicely.  I hope to have a date to share with you in the coming weeks - it will be a Saturday in January or February.  Stay tuned.  And if you have suggestions on topics you'd like to have covered, please email me

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Daily Briefing for Sunday, October 21, 2012

Killing Time By Shooting Things

This past weekend, Kendel and I spent a few days in Memphis for her college reunion.  I've lived in Memphis a couple of times in my adult life.  I really enjoy the city.

Whenever I am there, I try to take a class out at Rangemaster, one of the best gun schools in the country.  This weekend, they were offering their Level 2 class.  It's for students who have passed their CHL test and are looking to learn more about concealment and drawing from a holster.  While the material was a little basic for me, I enjoy taking classes like this from Rangemaster as it gives me ideas on ways to improve my own CHL instruction.

I'm going to share some random notes and thoughts I compiled during the class this weekend:

  • One goal the CHL holder should strive to meet is to get one good hit 1.5 seconds on a target at three yards, starting with the gun being concealed.  Rangemaster staff estimates it takes a normal person who trains regularly about one year to acquire this skill.
  • Speaking of timing, one fun fact - the FBI reports (again, according to Rangemaster staff) that for citizens using a gun in self defense, 92% of those gun fights occur between six to ten feet.  The fights usually involve the citizen firing just over three shots, and the entire fight is over in 3.5 seconds.  As Tom Givens, the boss man at Rangemaster often says, "you will run out of time before you run out of ammo."
  • Something I stress to all of my CHL students, although Tom said is much more succinctly than I do: "You must be able to articulate why you used deadly force."  I would only add the words "a legitimate reason"  right after the word "articulate."  It's not enough to think someone deserves shooting - you have to have a reasonable belief of an imminent threat of serious bodily injury in order to justify using deadly force.  (Note as a general rule, I do not advocate using deadly force to protect property, although Texas law does allow for it in certain circumstances.)
  • Two ideas on how to desensitize yourself from the noise of the gun.  First, you need to shoot a lot.  That will help.  Second, Tom recommends doing what he calls a mental "misdirection" by playing a loop of audio in your head while shooting which says "front sight, press the trigger" over and over.  I didn't try that on the range this weekend.  I may plug my iPhone into my hearing protectors on my next trip to the range just to see how Godsmack or Pearl Jam played at high volume affects my shooting accuracy.
Finally, and this should go without saying - all of you out there with crappy guns - get rid of them.  Go get a Glock, an M&P, or an XD.  Your daddy's Browning or Uncle Joe Bob's 1911 from the Vietnam War aren't guns you want to take to a gun fight.  We had two students in the class who had less than modern guns.  If you're going to bet your life on a tool, make sure that tool is well made and reliable.

Check Out This Here Chart

Here's a chart of the Dow over the last six months.  Notice how the bar graph at the bottom measures volume of shares traded?  See Friday's stock action - the market closed down 205 on substantially higher than average trade volume.  That's twice in about a month where we've had a down day on sizeable volume.  I keep waiting for someone to explain to me how this market is healthy.

Does The Idea Of A Preparedness Conference Appeal To You?

Let's say Paul were to find us a nice conference room in the Austin area and have a preparedness conference with speakers on a Saturday, from 10am to 2pm.  And since Paul doesn't feel the need to underwrite this, he charges a small fee to attendees (I'm thinking about $10)  to cover the expenses with the room rental and other items that would come up.  Ideally, this would be sometime between the election and Thanksgiving.

Would you attend?  If so, what subjects would you want covered?  Holla at me at with your thoughts.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Daily Briefing for Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Food Storage Unit

I have a friend who has taken to storing part of their food stores in a local storage unit.  I'd like to tell you about it.

He picked the storage unit based upon a number of criteria: 
  • Locality to his house.
  • EMP protection. (this particular unit is essentially a concrete bunker in a climate controlled building)
  • Ability to get access most hours of the day without a lot of hassle.
In his unit, he's left a small walkway all around the food he's storing in the unit.  The walkway is essentially a mine field of rat bait and glue traps, regularly sprayed for bugs.  The glue traps are changed out as needed; he says he visits the unit at least once a week to keep tabs on it.

To help secure the food, my friend stores only food grade buckets and number 10 cans in the unit. 

There's a lot of down sides to having food kept off premises.  Getting it out of the unit can be tricky, especially if there's a lot of it.  I'm pretty sure the owner of the storage unit probably doesn't want food stored in there, although I suspect the way it's being stored prevents it from attracting vermin.  And there's the rental fee every month - money that could be spent on other things.

Overall, I think it's a good concept.  Just make sure you've got as much food stored at home as you can before storing off site.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Daily Briefing for Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Your Debate Prep For Tonight

Before you settle onto your favorite chair or couch, laptop or smart phone in hand to track all the witty things I will unlikely say on Facebook during the debate, spend a few minutes and review two things:

First, Brian shared this video about the NYPD's stop and frisk policy.  It's one of the more disturbing things I've watched in a while.  In a nutshell, the NYPD sets quotas for its officers to do what are known as "stop and frisks" of suspicious people.  In the link, you get to hear the only known recording of one of these stop and frisk incidents.  It is bone chilling to hear what these cops did and said.  And to hear the NYPD officers talk anonymously about the practices of their department - where one supervisor told his subordinates to go out and "violate some rights" - should disturb all of us.

And then there's this piece from the New York Times.  It's not often I link to an article in the Times, but even Jayson Blair got a few things right from time to time.  The article conclusively states that our CIA is arming Islamic militants (that's code for Al Qaeda) in Syria.

So on the eve of debate number two, where Team Blue and Team Red will roll out their guys to regurgitate the usual talking points ascribed to them, remember what you've learned from the links above:  We have to take our shoes off at the airport screening because a) Al Qaeda b) who we're arming in Syria with our tax dollars might c) blow up the airplane we're on allegedly because they despise the freedoms we have guaranteed in our Constitution which d) a major law enforcement agency in the United States routinely violates anyway.

Friends, that is the debate we should be having tonight.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Daily Briefing for Monday, October 15, 2012

Quiet Riot

I first heard of the band Quiet Riot as I began my eighth grade year.  Eventually, I owned one of their tapes (that's what we had back in the was the media du jour between the waning of the 8 track and the genesis of the compact disc) because their music was so awesome.  At least it was back then.

I'm picking up a lot stories and hearing from some of you about the possibilities of post-election riots.  Most of these stories suggest some folks will riot if Romney is elected or if there's a perception that the election is being "stolen" by Republicans.  In a related note, as more states implement Voter ID laws, CNN reports we could experience some delays in getting election returns back in certain precincts, setting up another scenario like the 2000 presidential election.  Such an event certainly would not help things.

Think I'm kidding?  Consider this aggregation of data, with each example well sourced by the author, with a number of examples of people calling for civil unrest if Romney wins.  Some examples (WARNING - graphic language to follow):

  • Thomas Sowell, one of the brightest people on the planet, predicts race riots if Romney wins.
  • “If obama dont get re-elected & romney wins .. on life every white persons getting pistol whipped and im startin a riot.” (SOURCE)
  • “If Obama don’t win lets start a riot so Romney know what he’s getting himself into.” (SOURCE)
  • “You know you ain’t shit if you gotta “MAKE” Mafukas vote for ROMNEY ! …. Mannnn OBAMA better get back in office . Or BLACK FOLKS will riot.” (SOURCE)
  • “If Romney wins im goin on a rampage.” (SOURCE)
  • “If Mitt Romney wins the election I think its our duties as Black folks to riot and fuck shit up.” (SOURCE)
  • “If every action IS met with an equal and opposite reaction ..what should workers do to employers if Romney’s elected? #Riot in the streets!!” (SOURCE)
  • “If Romney becomes president let’s all start a riot.” (SOURCE)
  • “I Heard Mitt Romney , Tryna Take Away Food Stamps , If He Do .”IMA START A RIOT , IMA START A RIOT.” (SOURCE)
  • “If romney wins, imma start a mf’n riot! Rns.” (SOURCE)

How serious are these folks?  Beats me.  I'd like to think they are just running their mouths and trying to be cute.  The 1992 riots in Los Angeles proved we are not immune to such tragedies.  Scenes from Europe over the last year depicting civil unrest stemming from economic hardship further confirms that despite how civilized we think we are, our society is quite capable of rioting over perceived injustices and NBA championship celebrations.

I don't know that there's anything for us to do specifically to protect ourselves from such a threat that we aren't already doing.  Just be aware of the possibility.  And pray it doesn't happen.

Game Ball to Midland Radio

We had some severe weather roll through here around 2 AM on Sunday.  My new Midland WX-100 sounded the alarm, which woke up everyone in the house.  The next morning, Kendel laid down the law - either get the volume of that alarm turned down, or turn the radio off.

I really like this particular model, and so I wasn't about to just shut it off.  I read the owner's manual but couldn't determine how to adjust the volume.

In an off chance that Midland checked their email, I sent them a quick note to ask if they had a solution.  Within four business hours, the Midland folks had emailed me back to discuss my problem.  In the end, it turns out you cannot adjust the volume on the alert feature on the WX-100.  While that's disappointing, it was refreshing to see Midland respond so quickly to my inquiry.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Daily Briefing For Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Suburban Dad Survivalist Politics Edition
When I first started this blog, I made the conscious decision not to discuss politics here.  I did that for the simple reason that I wanted to focus on things we could be doing to better ourselves and become better prepared for the possibility of a wide spectrum of perils.  Besides, it's no secret to the vast majority of you how I roll politically (uber Libertarian), so nothing I will say will shock any of you.
I want to share a few thoughts on how I arrived at my decision on whom to support for president.  I'm not trying to change your mind or call you a moron if you disagree with me (if that's what you want, get a Facebook account).  I do hope this will be instructive to many of you who don't fully understand the preparedness community or gun community as to how we think and vote. 
Why I'm Not Voting For Mitt Romney

Whenever I've expressed deep reservations about voting for Romney, a number of my conservative friends have tried to sway me to Team Red using arguments such as "you have to vote for Romney" or "A vote for anyone other than Romney is a vote for Obama."  If this is the best the GOP can do, they need to work on their messaging.

I supported Ron Paul in the primaries.  I'd never donated to a presidential candidate in my life until this year, when I donated to his campaign.  His message of freedom, respect for civil liberties, and a track record of voting for smaller government is what we need.  I was heartened to see so many young people gravitating towards his campaign.

Interestingly, he was dismissed by many as too extreme.  The Republican faithful complained Paul wasn't "pro-military" despite the fact that as of February (when the primaries were at full speed) he received more contributions from active duty military personnel than all of the other GOP candidates combined, and more contributions than President Obama.  Others claimed Paul was "anti-Israel."  When I quizzed those folks on what Paul's position was on Israel, the usual answer I got back was "well, I don't know, but I hear he is anti-Israel."  (If you care to read one objective assessment of Paul's position on Israel, you can spend about two minutes and do so here.)  In short, Ron Paul is perhaps the most pro-Israel of anyone who ran in the 2012 primaries.

Paul failed to garner the nomination for a number of reasons.  To be sure, he is not the most articulate when it comes to stating his positions in a soundbite-suitable format.  It was his ideas, not his style, that drew so many of us to him.

And so normally the default candidate in this situation would be the GOP nominee.  (Obama's track record over the last four years disqualifies him, in my mind, from any consideration.)  This would naturally mean I would support Romney if I "wanted my vote to count" here in redder-than-hell Texas, where Rick Perry beat the living daylights out of his Democratic challenger back in the 2010 gubernatorial race, despite the fact Perry refused to even debate him.  Voting for someone other than Romney in Texas is like singing off key in a large church service; the only people who will know will be those immediately around you.

Instead of supporting the establishment candidate, I will be voting for Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico and Libertarian Party nominee.  Most people have no idea who Johnson is, which is disappointing.  Rather than extol the virtues of his candidacy, I'd like to share why people like me - preppers, gun owners, people who value liberty - aren't getting on the Romney train.

It's not all about the economy.

As I have chronicled here for some time now, our economy sucks.  Unemployment remains painfully high; the stock market gains come only from repetitive rounds of quantitative easing (and certainly not from increasing volume of shares traded).  We need good jobs, and a lot of them.  And there's no doubt Mitt Romney could move the needle in that direction.

Yet we cannot simply vote our pocketbooks.  Our ability to express ourselves, and live as free Americans, continues to deteriorate.  Just yesterday, the Washington Post ran this piece decrying the loss of free speech in the Western world.  Meanwhile, the Denver Post reports a 55 year old disabled veteran was deemed a "terrorist" by local officials for complaining about the cost of a municipal security system

These are not one off, anecdotal stories.  These stories run every day in main stream media.  And what position does Romney take on protecting our liberties and freedoms?

There are other issues I could stress, but when you couple these alone, along with the fact his running mate voted for TARP raises serious issues in my mind and in the minds of people who share my desire for individuals to be better prepared.  I fear Romney will be, on balance, more of the same thing that we've had in the last 50 years.

The GOP is about to have an identity crisis.

I'm not the one saying this, but I do agree with it.  And I would submit it's necessary and a good thing. 

The GOP establishment has utterly failed to understand the tea party.  The tea party is, in essence, a bunch of pissed off, highly motivated Americans who are tired of the status quo from both parties and are willing to get out and mobilize.  They are willing to do so inexpensively.  They are willing to be generous to candidates who support their ideals.  They are willing to get themselves and their friends to the polls, no matter the date, the weather, or what's on TV that day.

In short, they are the establishment's worst nightmare.

Many on the left like to ridicule the tea party, which is ironic, since it's that very criticism that fuels them.  The tea party runs on instincts, emotions, and the ability to assemble a fantastic ground game come election time.

The GOP must find a way to inculcate the libertarian values of the tea party into its platform.  It must be willing to get behind liberty minded candidates - like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul - if it is to be successful long term.


The gun community and prepper community have changed their focus over the years, shifting allegiance away from the GOP and towards more libertarian type candidates.  It's not uncommon to see some of the well known firearms instructors in the country espouse pro-drug legalization, pro-gay marriage positions.  Many in the preparedness community share those ideals.  The GOP can no longer count on this group as a reliable source of votes. 

It's my hope that as people support Gary Johnson and other liberty oriented candidates, both parties will take note and begin to re-evaluate their positions on the core beliefs upon which the country was founded.  Voting for the best candidate is never throwing your vote away.  Voting for one guy because you dislike the other more is, I would submit, the true throw away vote.  That kind of voting never leads to significant change in how we conduct ourselves as a nation.

Our liberty is what makes America exceptional.  It will continue to do so.  If we let it.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Daily Briefing for Saturday, October 13, 2012

Lots of Stuff

I've been busy as of late, much of it on the road for business.  So I will try to catch y'all up on a few things.

Whose Money Is It Anyway, Part 2

You may recall from a previous blog I shared how a family member of a friend had much difficulty withdrawing his own money from his own account.  Here's an update on that story:

So, I owe you an update about our experience yesterday at Wells Fargo.  We decided to go 'under the radar' with our withdrawals, and we took out 5k each.  The bank was empty, and the same teller provided service to both of us.  Overall, we didn't have any problems - she was bubbly and polite, and went through procedures we've all come to expect regarding our own money. 
However, whether or not it was just her being friendly, or tellers have actually been instructed to ask a few questions of their customers, she did say something that is absolutely worth mentioning.  She asked: "are you by any chance buying a car today?"  Of course, our only answer was no, without elaborating.  She stated that she was just wondering, because "a lot of customers have been doing the same thing."  In other words, she has noticed a significant pickup in cash withdrawals over the past several weeks.  It didn't appear that she had yet put 2 and 2 together. 
We are going to make the same type of smaller withdrawals over the next few weekends to see if any 'red flags' surface.  I just have a feeling that we may get questions at some point when a pattern of withdrawals is obvious.

 On a second note, the coin exchange business we went to on Saturday was completely packed out.

In addition, my friend reports the bank did in fact have the remainder of his brother's money ready when he went back to collect the rest.

72 Hours Sober

I have been hiding a serious chemical dependency problem from all of you for many years now.  I'm pleased to report I'm changing my life for the better.

Last Wednesday, I consumed my very last soda.  I've been able to play through the caffeine withdrawals and the other side effects of getting diet soda out of your system in large part because of the hectic schedule I've had since Wednesday.

I've been on and off the wagon (mostly off) for years now.  Some of the detoxification side effects I've noticed every time I do this include:

  • Intense stomach pains.  As in "bend over your desk and lie there because it hurts so bad" kind of pain.
  • Mental fogginess.  Some would say I suffer from this constantly.  I will tell you it's very noticeable for me as I detox.
  • Vivid bad dreams.  This was a first for me.  Thursday night/Friday morning was a long night for me, as I woke up various times disturbed by the various dreams I was having. 

So why give up sodas?  Here are a few of my reasons.

  1. Price.  As food prices go up, soda moves up with them.  I am literally being priced out of the market.  I estimate I will be able to save a lot of money now (I won't say how much, lest you get an idea of just how addicted I am.  And yes, I am still an addict - once an addict, always an addict.)
  2. The need to be less reliant on chemicals.  I can't feasibly store thousands of gallons of Diet Mountain Dew.  I'd rather detox now rather than during an emergency.
  3. Overall health.  I hope I will see a decrease in inflammation in the various parts of my body that stay inflamed, like my knee and shoulder joints, as well as my digestive track. 

The Elections Are Coming.  Should We Care?

I think the answer is "yes," although Reason magazine did a cover story in this month's issue claiming we were better off not voting.  Tomorrow, I will share with you my thoughts on the coming elections and what it means for the preparedness community.