Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Daily Briefing For Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Hunkering Down Outside The United States

Most of you have probably read articles or papers on the subject of having a second passport and perhaps a retreat of some sort in another country.  The thinking here is that the United States will become a target for a number of possible perils that could be to a degree so horrific that leaving the country is the best option.  Some of these perils include, but are not limited to, currency collapse, terrorism, nuclear attack, and widespread social unrest.

Before I go any further on this, let me say I think the likelihood of any of those coming to fruition to a degree where people have to bug out of the U.S. to survive are remote.  And even if one of them does occur, (barring some sort of civil war, another highly unlikely scenario), it would be quite survivable for most of the population. 

But many preppers feel it's a good hedge to have a retreat of some sort outside the United States to which to flee in case of a widespread emergency here in the U.S.  So tonight, I want to address the subject in case you're feeling down about not being able to afford an Italian passport and a beach compound in the Caymans.

If you have bunches of cash money lying around, and your preparations are home are solid, then by all means do it if makes you feel better.  But let me make the case why it's a bad idea for the vast majority of us.

First, I'd like to draw upon the conclusions reached by Joel Skousen in his book Strategic Relocation, Third Edition.  He does an analysis on the nations that the conventional wisdom holds as suitable alternatives to living in the U.S. during a time of crisis.  His overall conclusion is that the U.S. and Canada are the best all around locations for Americans during times of crisis.  (I highly recommend his book, by the way.)

In summary, Skousen believes that:

  1. Having an appropriate shelter and retreat location in the United States will protect you from the vast majority of perils you might face in the more urban areas.

  2. You already know the language and culture here.  It would take time, effort and expense to acquire the necessary acumen in another country to have a meaningful life there for an extended stay.

  3. The U.S. and Canada are totally self sufficient for its food and water production, and both nations have the technology and know how to recover from whatever peril strikes it.

  4. Liberty and freedom are, for now, a strong part of the culture for many Americans.  They are certainly important values for those who are into prepping.  It's unlikely you would find that same level of affinity for liberty and freedom in many other countries.

I would add to that list:

  1. You have a basic understanding of the laws here.  Doing business in other countries can be much different than the United States.

  2. Your team - those like minded people in your community - would still be here.  Presumably, your extended family would be somewhere in the United States as well.  Those are the people who are going to be able to help you, and not some family in another country you just met last week when you flew into town to get away from whatever is troubling us here in the U.S.

  3. A key to doing well in another country on a long term basis is having a bank account set up there.  Doing so in advance takes time, effort and money.  It is also becoming more difficult to do, thanks to new banking laws here in the United States. 

  4. We need people who are prepared to stay here and help fix the mess once things calm down.  Sipping mai tais in a Santiago bar watching the mayhem from back home on CNN International really doesn't do those of us trying to restore the nation much good.

In the end analysis, being prepared to bolt off shore if things here got really bad would require a tremendous amount of resources.  And in the end, I'm not convinced you would come out ahead, given the fact you'd be a guest in another country, subject to their laws and whims.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Daily Briefing For Monday, July 29, 2013

The Tale Of Two Stories

Back in May, Forbes magazine asked the question "Economically, could Obama be America's Best President?"  On its face, the case seems rather compelling: a 250% return on major equity indices in only four years, consumer confidence in the high 60s (up from its low in the low 30s back in 2008), and the official unemployment rate down below 8% (from a high of near 10% in 2009).

And yet the AP took a different tack on the economy this week, revealing that "four out of 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives."  The article goes on to say

—For the first time since 1975, the number of white single-mother households who were living in poverty with children surpassed or equaled black ones in the past decade, spurred by job losses and faster rates of out-of-wedlock births among whites. White single-mother families in poverty stood at nearly 1.5 million in 2011, comparable to the number for blacks. Hispanic single-mother families in poverty trailed at 1.2 million.

—The share of children living in high-poverty neighborhoods — those with poverty rates of 30 percent or more — has increased to 1 in 10, putting them at higher risk of teen pregnancy or dropping out of school. Non-Hispanic whites accounted for 17 percent of the child population in such neighborhoods, up from 13 percent in 2000, even though the overall proportion of white children in the U.S. has been declining.

—The share of black children in high-poverty neighborhoods dropped sharply, from 43 percent to 37 percent, while the share of Latino children ticked higher, from 38 to 39 percent.

Two articles.  Two starkly contrasting viewpoints.  How do we reconcile these?  Or can we?

I am not an expert in finance or economics by any stretch.  But when you see the official unemployment fall in large part because people have stopped looking for jobs, when more Americans are on food assistance programs than are employed in the private sector, and declining volumes in stock purchase (although this article may explain much of that - I highly recommend you read it), one has to wonder if there's not been some sort of disconnect between the numerical score cards we've traditionally used to measure the economy and how people are actually faring in it. 

I guess what I am trying to say is that those of us who are seeking the truth - and who are planning for the future - are getting many mixed messages these days.  I don't have any solutions for you, other than to remain vigilant with your investing and finances.  I think Jim Rogers would agree.

I Lost A Whopping 0.1 Pounds This Month.  And I Am Thrilled.

I mentioned I began a concerted effort to lose weight in late May.  After a decent weight loss in June, this month's numbers have remained relatively flat.  For many people, this would be a depressing result, but I'm actually pleased with what happened this month.

Despite nagging injuries to my shoulders and knees that flared up this month, and despite some road trips where I had less control over my diet than normal, I managed to maintain a stable weight.  My diet wasn't great, and I didn't work out as often as I wanted to.  But I didn't get heavier!

I took advantage of my already lousy diet to slowly reintroduce diet sodas, on a temporary basis, into my diet.  This resulted in the second huge revelation in my weight loss efforts.  I quickly learned that my hunger levels skyrocketed 50% of the time - for no reason - when I drank Diet Mountain Dew.  I also found drinking sodas curbed my thirst, and as a result I consumed far less liquid than I would have if I'd been drinking solely water.

This short experiment showed me very quickly why I was having so much trouble losing weight previously.  I'd tank up on empty carbs, due to the hunger pains brought on my Diet Mountain Dew, and I wouldn't drink enough water to help me sustain any weight loss plan I was on.

I start a 90 day weight loss challenge at my gym later this week.  I'm looking forward to the weekly offering of new classes, nutrition counseling, and goal setting. 

Much of your preparedness efforts have little to do with guns and solar powered radios; they have a lot to do with executing the basics (like fitness and health) really well. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Daily Briefing For Sunday, July 28, 2013

Where Golf And Guns Intersect On The Venn Diagram

I mentioned previously I was learning to play golf.  My instructor, Gabe McGrew, (who I highly recommend) is former Army and attended sniper school while he was on active duty.  So he is really good at putting golf concepts into shooting terms to help me understand what I need to do.

When he began describing to me how golfers learn the range of each of their clubs in the bag, Gabe told me that each club will yield a different distance depending on where you grip the club, how wide your stance is, and how far you bring the club back.  So I concluded that I needed to make a DOPE book for each club.  Gabe smiled, realizing that as long as he could put golf concepts into gun lingo, I could learn from him.

So tonight, I began making a DOPE book for my pitching wedge.  "DOPE" stands for data of previous engagements.  Snipers create a DOPE book on their rifles to help them get a feel for where the bullet will go when the scope is dialed in a certain way, when the wind is at a certain speed and direction, and when the target is at a given distance, among other things.  All of this data is cataloged into the book, so that a shooter can figure out how much "DOPE" to put into their ballistics calculations for a particular long range shot.

The golf club is no different.  For a given user, the club will hit the ball only so far if the other variables are constantly controlled.  So tonight's exercise yielded the following preliminary data on my Tour Edge pitching wedge:

Distance from pin            Elevation change         Stance                          Back Swing             Hands

14 steps                            +1 foot                         narrow                     2 feet from ball          full choke

19 steps                            +1.5 feet                 4 inch spread                8 o'clock position       full choke

25 steps                            +3 feet                    shoulder width              8 o'clock position       full choke

I share this with you not because my data will work for any of you (I'm not sure it will work for me...yet), but I think it's important to point out an important lesson that has helped me time and time again: the things you learn in your disaster preparedness efforts can often be useful in the other aspects of your life. 

For example, I learned a lot about friction loss of water pressure during my time in the fire department; I used that information to help my father figure out the correct hose diameters for his garden irrigation system.  I learned a tremendous amount about nutrition in making a food storage plan; now I am a huge reader of food labels to get a better idea of what I'm eating and how healthy it is for me.  And now my time on the gun range is helping me accelerate my learnings on the golf course.

Don't assume that your time preparing for disasters or hard times is wasted.  I've learned a tremendous amount about science, history, finances, law, communication, and psychology from my efforts.  And I'm sure you will as well.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Daily Briefing For Friday, July 26, 2013

It's All Good In The Suburban Hood

The news these days is filled with all sorts of interesting stories about our residential venue of choice - the suburbs.  Our friends in Michigan are told by the local police that people enter Detroit at their own risk.  New York City mayoral candidate and professional dirt bag Anthony Weiner planned on locating a "secret sex bunker" in Chicago.  (Given the Windy City's murder rate, a bunker would not be a bad investment, for sex or otherwise.)

Patients face increasing medical bills due to the growing number of physician practices being sold to hospitals, CNBC tells us.  And our efforts to help the environment by banning plastic shopping bags has led to an increase in shoplifting and increased number of deaths from food borne illnesses.

In short, many Americans live in neighborhoods where civil services are dwindling, health care prices are rising, and reusable grocery bags are making us sick - much of which is overseen by politicians who incessantly text pictures of their junk to women half their age.

Of course, to represent that these conditions are somehow novel to the American experience would be misleading.  Chicago's crime rate has been much higher in the past, and it continues to fall despite the fact more people are buying guns.  Many cities have overcome urban decay and bad finances before.  And the history of our country has been determined in large part by politicians whose zippers are chronically stuck in the down position.

There are troubling and unique challenges facing us - no doubt.  The solution to these problems isn't becoming fearful, locking yourself in your home with your freeze dried ice cream and firearm collection (although when it's 100 degrees outside like it is these days, that does sound enticing.)  The solution is for all of us to take action to mitigate these effects of these problems in our lives. 

Like what?

  • Get healthy.  Reduce your need for prescription medications and the likelihood you'll need them in the future.
  • Prepare to be your own first responder.  This is a recurring theme in my exhortations to you.  Cops and EMS cannot be everywhere, all the time.  Get some basic first aid supplies.  Get some training.  Figure out how you're going to deal with home invaders until help arrives.
  • Support politicians who reflect your values. This goes beyond just voting for them.  Volunteer on their campaigns, offer your home for candidate events, and yes, write them a check to help them get elected.  You are a citizen.  Be a good one.
  • Be a consumer of quality news.  And by that, I mean skip TMZ and other useless news programming.  Seek out objective news sources.  I still maintain that the most objective source of news in America right now is reason.com.
  • Start a food storage plan if you haven't already. You can start on your next trip to the store.  Can you live three days without going to the grocery store using food that requires no electricity to prepare? 
  • If you're further along in your preparedness efforts, encourage others - nicely - to start doing the same. 
  • Teach your kids what you're learning.  Scouts and 4-H are great programs for them.  Your kids should know what to do in case this happens.

Strip Your Truck And Stay Alive

If you're not reading Survival And Beyond regularly, you should.  They posted a great article this week on using things found in your vehicle

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Daily Briefing For Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Get Your Twerk On, Detroit Style

I'd never heard of twerking until last week when I was out in Los Angeles. The young lady sitting next to me in a class started talking about it, and when I asked what she was talking about, she promptly took out her iPad and pulled up a YouTube video to explain it.

And so tonight, I am sharing with you not one but TWO twerking videos.  WARNING: THE CONTENT OF THESE VIDEOS MAY BE OFFENSIVE TO SOME VIEWERS.  VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED.  And by the way - you're welcome.

My former colleague in the volunteer fire department, Jay, shared this video last night regarding the disastrous EMS system in Detroit.  The music playing in the background is so awesome I watched the video twice.  While I resisted the urge to twerk to the beat myself, you should feel free to so do while watching it.

This video is a prime example of what happens to emergency services in cities that are poorly run.  The city's recent bankruptcy won't help things.  Jerid shared the 411 with me, which paints a dire picture for Detroit:

"The current plan (for now rejected by creditors) means a 90% loss for muni-worker retirees, 81% loss for unsecured creditors, and a 75% loss for secured creditors."

So when I suggest to you that if you live in an area where the government is in financial straits that you need to take responsibility for your own well being, understand I'm not making that suggestion flippantly.  But don't take my word for it:


This PSA from the Milwaukee County, WI sheriff, David Clarke told his constituents that budgetary constraints means citizens will need to be proactive and, in essence, prepare to be their own first responders.

So tonight, think about what you need to do to be your own first responder until help arrives, even if your city is financially sound.  And don't hurt yourself while twerking.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Daily Briefing For Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Various Tidbits In The News

Here's what I'm reading tonight:

So what do we do with this news?  I think it serves as a good reminder that we should not expect a robust economic recovery anytime soon.  This is bad for many people out of work, but it may create some opportunities for investments and re-prioritization within our personal budgets. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Daily Briefing For Monday, July 22, 2013

I Should Be Working...

But the expense reports from last week's foray into Los Angeles will have to wait. 

I've mentioned before that if you have any unhealthy habits, you should get them out of your life now for a number of reasons.  For me, it was (and still is) junk food, especially candy bars and Diet Mountain Dew.

Today, Dr. Liz shared this link with me regarding the dangers of soda consumption.  With one minor slip up last week as my only regression, I will be soda sober for two months this Wednesday.  I can say I have noticed some improvement in my digestive system, but the other big improvement I was hoping to see - less inflammation in my joints - has not come to fruition.  I'm hoping losing a considerable amount of weight will help my knee, and that I will one day be able to strengthen my shoulder to the point the bursitis is no longer an issue.

Regardless of whether we will face an emergency requiring us to be in good physical health, getting things like your diet under control now will (hopefully) pay dividends down the road long term.  That's my goal - find a healthy lifestyle and diet that's sustainable which will keep me healthy in my later years.  And if in doing so I am in better shape to deal with some sort of crisis, so be it.

People think prepping and living a normal life are completely different lifestyles.  They certainly can be, but that not need be the case.  There are many things you can do to improve your life for the long term that are considered "prepper" activities.  Getting the right insurance coverages for your family, eating well, getting exercise, not putting off preventative care on your body (or your care or home for that matter) are a big part of the equation.  Don't let the AR -15 and MRE crowd convince you otherwise.  Being prepared is in large part an exercise in doing the basics in life really well.

The Story That Just Won't Go Away

So I said I wasn't going to talk about the George Zimmerman matter anymore, but the story just keeps on giving.

Three things:

  1. Check out this story of another Stand Your Ground case....except this time, the defendant is black and the deceased is white.  And yet the jury acquitted the defendant.  Based on what I've read, it sounds like the right call.  What I find most interesting about the story is that the quotes from the parties involved almost mirror what we heard in the Zimmerman matter.  It's like that old Bon Jovi song says: "It's all the same/only the names will change."
  2. What's Georgie up to these days, anyway?  When he's not hiding from the 18.6 million people who want to murder him, he's apparently pulling parents and their kids out of overturned cars in Sanford, Florida.  Read the article.
  3. And what about the lady in Florida - Marissa Alexander - who wanted to use the Stand Your Ground defense but was denied by the court and sentenced to twenty years for firing a warning shot at a man?  Turns out her story of self defense arguably isn't true after all.  And yes, the motion in the link was signed by none other than State Attorney Angela "Travyon-was-a-child-but-I-will-still-prosecute-a-twelve-year-old-as-an-adult" Corey.  Yet that doesn't take away from the fact Ms. Alexander may not have acted in self defense after all.  If she's a victim of anything, it's mandatory sentencing guidelines. 
Okay.  I'm done talking about this case.  Until the next news cycle.

And Now Even The Wall Street Journal Is All "What's Up With The Militarization Of Law Enforcement?"
This article ought to be required reading in every civics class in America.  Thanks to all of you who shared it with me.

Need Some Doom Porn?

Michael Snyder is always happy to oblige.  Sobering data from the Federal Reserve.  Still waiting for one of you to explain to me why a large debt to GDP ratio isn't anything we should fret.  I'd love to be convinced I'm wrong.

Survivalist Play Of The Day

Dara from the awesomest law school class The U ever produced provides tonight's play of the day.  This one involves a dog saving a kitten.  Why?  Because dogs are awesome.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Daily Briefing For Friday, July 19, 2013

Detroit Takes The Ninth

In a move that shocked no one who has watched any financial news program in the last twelve months, the city of Detroit today filed for Chapter 9 protection under the Bankruptcy Code. 

Just how bad are things there?  According to the Wall Street Journal,

[Michigan Governor Rick] Snyder said the city cannot meet obligations to its citizens or its creditors. He noted that citizens wait an average of 58 minutes for the police to respond to their calls, compared to a national average of 11 minutes. Only 8.7% of cases are solved, compared to a statewide average of 30.5%.

About 40% of the city’s street lights were not functioning in the first quarter of the year, and only a third of its ambulances were in service. Its population has declined 63% from its peak and there are about 78,000 abandoned structures.

So how did we get here?  Porter Stansberry laid out his case years ago.  And Detroit isn't alone - there have been 36 other municipal bankruptcy filings since 2010

What is the lesson for us?  Well, if you live in Detroit, you'd better be self-sufficient for your own security and emergency medical care.  If you live in a city with weak financials, I would suggest you not only make plans to  be your own first responder, but also think through how you'd deal with a lack of other municipal services, like trash pick up, water, sewer, gas and electric delivery.

With an official unemployment figure at 11.8 million people and over 46 million Americans on food stamps, it's clear the economy - and thus the tax base funding municipal governments - continues to struggle to make meaningful gains in employment and tax revenues.  Studying this issue may not be as sexy as reading up on freeze dried food or a trip to the gun range; nonetheless, preppers in the suburban environment need to have a good grasp of this topic.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Daily Briefing For Thursday, July 18, 2013

In Other News

While the grumbling over the Zimmerman verdict continues to take up bandwidth in the main stream media, there are other important things going on in the world.  Some things to watch:

Is Stand Your Ground A De Facto Civil Rights Doctrine?

The Daily Caller examined a database maintained by the Tampa Bay Times and concluded "African Americans used 'Stand Your Ground' defenses at nearly twice the rate of their presence in the Florida population, which was listed at 16.6 percent in 2012."  Note I have zero objection to any group using the defense, even if they use it at a disproportionate rate.  If this statutory defense provides additional rights to prevent the government from depriving defendants of their liberty, that's a good thing, right?

Saturday's Training

I'll head out to KR Training on Saturday - this time as a student - to re-take the Defensive Back Up Gun class I took last year.  Here's his article on the class (I'm in three of the pics - I'm wearing a blue t-shirt, olive drab pants, and a John Deere cap...and there's a picture of my target as well.)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Daily Briefing For Wednesday, July 17, 2013

There's Reading, And There's Doing.

I'm sitting in a pizza joint in Los Angeles tonight, blogging on my iPhone.  Technology is awesome.

This is my first trip to L.A.  I am learning that the city is much different than what I've been told or read.  Traffic is bad, but it's not any worse than traffic in Miami or Houston.  There have been some unrest here over the Zimmerman verdict, but most of the city's residents seem focused on their everyday lives.  

Walking to dinner this evening, it occurred to me that many of my preconceived notions about Los Angeles were wrong.  In the end, we need to see and experience things for ourselves rather than accepting the conventional wisdom on face value.

I've been guilt of reading a lot about preparedness but not doing as much as I probably should.  Reading and doing your due diligence is important, but at some point you have to stop studying and start doing.  That's where the real learnings occur.

Experience things for yourselves.  Draw your own conclusions.  Don't simply rely on what others have said or written.  The conventional wisdom is often wrong.

And don't be afraid to stop researching and start doing.

Daily Briefing For Tuesday, July 16, 2013

On Flashlights

This evening, I had dinner with some colleagues and had an occasion to use my flashlight. This generated questions as to why I carry a flashlight and about the particular one I was using.

These two are currently my favorites. The Fenix model on the right runs on two AA batteries.  It generates 205 lumens, has a steady and strobes setting, as well as high-power and low-power settings.  

The StreamLight model runs on 3 V lithium batteries and puts out a whopping 600 lumens.  It, too, has high-power and low-power settings, as well as a steady beam and a strobe light function.  Both flashlights will cost you about $60 on eBay.

Flashlights are invaluable. You can use them for a number of things, as well as a way to temporarily but safely blind someone who is threatening you.

If you are not carrying a flashlight with you on a regular basis, I highly encourage you to do so.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Daily Briefing For Sunday, July 14, 2013

Final Thoughts On The Zimmerman Trial

I wanted to share my friend Parke Morris' thoughts on the case, as they closely mirror mine.  Parke and I spent much time together during our young lawyer days, including one memorable trip where he bravely climbed into the cockpit with me for a 8 hour, round trip flight from Memphis to the Tri-Cities area in northeastern Tennessee. 

After a stint in a tall building law firm in Memphis, Parke spent six years working for Johnnie Cochran's firm, representing those injured and victimized by the negligence of others.  More recently, he's struck out on his own, continuing his work in the area of personal injury.

I share with you his thoughts below, in their entirety:

The Zimmerman trial is the inverse of the Simpson case. Now most black folks know what the whites felt like back in 1995 and vice versa. Whitley and I went for a second time to a mixed race downtown church where many of the needs are third-world and raw-rent money, funeral money, murder charges etc. there are a lot of poor folks who go to church there and it feels real. The white minister told the crowd that this result in the Zimmerman trial was a travesty and that an injustice has been perpetrated.
I must be honest- I wanted to leave. I felt it was inappropriate to mix politics in the church and essentially pander to certain church members who vocally supported such a statement. Whitley has reminded me that in any racially mixed setting its just going to be messy. Its just hard to get out of your comfort zone. There is no doubt in my mind that black kids are inappropriately targeted, that the police profile, that minorities are still screwed over in this country and that the vestiges of slavery still exist where we live. I have filed civil rights cases. I have seen government officials rush to judgment and prosecute the wrong person. I just wish that the political capital and moral outrage displayed in this case had been spent on a different case with better facts. An eyewitness and physical evidence of a received beating are hard to deny. This entire situation is just a travesty but folks need to be careful baiting others or stoking the fires....

Lastly, where is Sharpton here in Memphis when there are black kids consistently killed by other black kids? Why are their deaths somehow less important than T Martin's? Why is the seeming perpetual zone of black on black violence that exists about three miles from our house summarily ignored, forgotten and left out of the Zimmerman discussion? Is it because it does not sell newspapers or 30 second ad spots?
And there you have it.  The media picks one case out of literally thousands of stories of young black men who are killed each year, fan the flames of racial incitement despite the fact there was no evidence that Zimmerman engaged Martin because he was black, all while ignoring the staggering statistics of how often these same young people are killed or incarcerated. 
Zimmerman was acquitted.  But just because he was found not guilty of a crime doesn't mean he is not guilty of bad tactics.  So what can we learn from this?  Here are my thoughts:
  1. Everything you do and don't do, say and don't say, before and after a self defense shooting will be scrutinized.  If a prosecutor thinks it will help convict you if they put your third grade teacher on the stand to say you said a bad word when you were a little kid, expect them to do it.  Your entire life will be put under a microscope.  Before you decide to use deadly force to defend yourself, determine whether it's worth it to go through what Zimmerman went through mentally, emotionally and financially.
  2. Don't stop asking for help after you've stopped the threat.  Both the lead prosecutor on the case and the State Attorney commented separately that one of the things that drove them to prosecute the case was that the yelling for help stopped immediately after the gun was fired.  Would it have mattered if Zimmerman had called 911 immediately after that?  It couldn't have hurt.  Also, to the extent you can safely do so, provide medical assistance to the person who was attacking you - even if all you can do is to call 911 and ask them to send EMS for the person you just shot.
  3. Get advanced training.  Going through a licensing class every few years isn't sufficient to adequately train you for the variety of threats you will face on the street - it's just the bare minimum.  Spend the money to go take a class where you are forced to make decisions - Force on Force training may very well be the best money spent for anyone who is serious about carrying a gun for self defense. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Daily Briefing for Thursday, July 11, 2013

When Do We Get To Start Rioting, Part 2

No doubt some of you will recall my post back in January on this subject.  Only back then, it dealt with those who were upset with the prospect of more gun control legislation.

The latest riot threat du jour is contingent upon an acquittal in the George Zimmerman trial, and these urgings are none too pretty to say the least.  Law enforcement continues their preparations for the possibility as well. 

I have intentionally avoided talking about this much, in large part because it pains me to do so.  As I said back in January to those who were calling for violence if gun control measures were implemented, we must respect the Constitution and the legal process.  There's nothing in the law that permits us to run out and firebomb businesses and kill people if we don't get our way in the legislatures or in the court houses.

Time Magazine takes a different tack, claiming it's racial fear mongering for law enforcement agencies to prepare for riots in wake of a verdict in the case.  Ironically, the author of the article, Mark Polite, claims "the black community has become more sophisticated in protesting injustice, and there is talk already of using economic boycotts and other means that are more effective than upheavals that would only result in heavier police repression."  Nothing like patting folks on the head and telling them they've become "more sophisticated" in their protesting whilst throwing stones at law enforcement for preparing for unrest for which, sadly, many are calling.

The more ominous fear I have has little to do with the Zimmerman trial specifically, but rather the growing culture of generating conflict for conflict's sake we have in our country.  The media was quick to crucify Zimmerman for allegedly making racists comments during the now infamous 911 call; the media and the prosecutors have now backed off of that claim, as there was no credible evidence to suggest that he did. 

We now learn that the Department of Justice sent a team to Sanford in the days following the shooting "to provide technical assistance for the preparation of possible marches and rallies related to the fatal shooting of a 17 year old African American male."  According to the Orlando Sentinel, "[the Department of Justice employees] in their Navy blue windbreakers, polo shirts and dark sunglasses, [ ] look like federal agents.  Their caps are embroidered with the Justice Department's seal. They watch and listen silently. But they say little publicly."  Ostensibly there to help keep the peace, it's clear they were there to apply pressure to remove the police chief and to bring charges against Zimmerman - and not to encourage citizens to let the local government work through the investigative process.

And then there's the growing militarization of our state and local law enforcement agencies.  The Huffington Post reports that the ACLU is investigating this growing trend, which increases tax burdens and conflict between law enforcement agencies and law abiding citizens. 

And of course, the spending on such resources for law enforcement - like large scale purchases of armored personnel carriers, drones, and hollow point ammunition - have to be justified.  The media is all too happy to do their part to create the necessary conflict to justify such expenses, fanning the flames and creating the conflict where none ought to exist.  The cycle continues.

I will be traveling some in the coming days, and I'd be lying if I said I haven't taken the possibility of civil unrest into my calculations.  I will be following the conventional, common sense wisdom you would expect while traveling.  I may be packing a few extras in case I get stuck somewhere, but that's about it. 

I'll conclude by concluding the same way I did back in January:

So, in summary:
  1. Respect the Constitution.
  2. Pray for our leaders, even if you don't agree with them.  Pray for God to heal our collective souls.  Pray for wisdom for yourself.
  3. Educate yourself and others.
  4. Remember you get more flies with honey than you do vinegar. 
  5. Be vigilant about what's going on in the news and in politics.  Stay on top of current events.
  6. Reach out to those who disagree with you.  Build relationships with them.  Let them see you are not a bad person or a nut job.
  7. Value truth.  Don't hide from facts.
  8. Prepare for the possibility of more difficult times ahead, for you and your family.
  9. Support candidates who espouse your values.  This means supporting their campaigns financially.  It also means reaching out to them to let them know what's on your mind.
  10. Be a nice person.  Don't be a jerk, even if someone else is being a jerk to you.  Set a good example.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Daily Briefing For Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Operating In Non Permissive Environments

My work travel does not really permit me to take along all of the gear I would like to have with me.  So what's a prepper to do?

Tonight, I thought I would share with you some of the gear I carry with me on the road on a regular basis.  Everything you see in the picture fits in this Dopp kit.

Some of the items include:

- Plastic bowl with Spork
- 100 feet of Paracord
- emergency bivvy
- Life Straw brand water purification system
- Various sized zip lock bags
- Various sized Band-Aids and bandages
- Wet wipes
- Aleve
- Small AM/FM radio with spare batteries
- Masking tape
- Cough drops

None of this may sound exciting, but it is TSA compliant, adds little weight and takes up little space in my suitcase.  And just by making this list, I've already identified some other items I'd like to add to it.

What gear do you carry with you when you travel?  Or do you think it is a waste of effort and space in your suitcase to do so?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Daily Briefing for Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Happy Independence Day!

If my math is right, 'Murica turns 237 years old tomorrow.  Have you ever stopped to think how blessed we are by the fact we are citizens of this great experiment in self government?  If you haven't, just take a look at what happened in Egypt today

Of course, the entire time I watched the footage, this kept running through my head:

You People Are Divisive.  And A Terror Threat.
According to the Daily Caller, some 26% of President Obama's supporters believe the tea party is America's top terror threat.  I'm scratching my head to come up with one act of terror committed by a tea party member, despite the media's best efforts to blame the Aurora theater shooting and the Boston Marathon bombing on them. 
It should come as no surprise then that some believe we are more divided as a country than ever before.  The Atlantic ran this story, with charts and all, to prove to us just how much we hate each other and wish the other side would crawl into a hole and die.  (If you think I'm engaging in hyperbole with that last statement, just read the comments to the story.)
Yes, we are a divided people.  It's easier to sort people into two bins - us and them - rather than to study issues ourselves and form our own opinions.  We blame politicians for much of this, yet we are the ones who vote them into office.
While we cannot control how the media will portray us, we still need to make sure that we're doing the basics of good citizenship really well.  I blogged about this in the past, and I'd like to think it's good guidance.  At the end of the day, we need to be setting a good example for our causes of preparedness, liberty and personal responsibility.  If someone is going to criticize us, let's make sure it's not justified.

"Lawyers Know Little About Guns, Experts Often Make Mistakes, And Juries Think They Are All Scary."
I made this comment earlier today to Karl Rehn of KR Training fame after tipping him off to the fact that Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) expert Amy Siewert was on the stand in the George Zimmerman trial this morning.  She is the prosecution's expert on firearms, who examined the gun and other key evidence.  Here are bullet points of some of her testimony:
  • The trigger pull (the force required on the trigger to discharge the weapon) measured within factory specifications.
  • She measured the trigger pull to be around 4.5 pounds and said such a trigger pull is normal in her case work.
  • The gun's magazine was completely full when gun was fired, indicating the gun started with a full magazine with a round already in the chamber.
  • Interestingly, she provided no meaningful discussion as the choice of ammunition Zimmerman was using.
  • Testing showed it was a contact shot, meaning the gun was pressed up against Martin's sweatshirt when it was discharged. 
  • Defense counsel establishes gun is a double action only (DAO) gun.  She admitted that the double action design is a "safety feature."
  • She seemed somewhat critical of single action due to lighter trigger pull inherent with single action guns.
  • She admits that the combination of DAO, the hammer block safety feature in the gun, and the fact the gun is never cocked until the trigger is pulled make the gun safe. 
  • She also admits that the trigger travel distance (the distance the trigger must be pulled to discharge the weapon) is an additional safety feature.
  • She agrees that the gun is safe to be carried loaded with a round in the chamber, as police officers carry their self defense weapons like this regularly.
  • She told the jury the gun did not have an external safety which had to be turned off prior to firing.

It was clear to me that the lawyers in this case don't know enough about firearms, and that Ms. Siewert, while polished, said some things that were flat out inaccurate.
Here are my takeaways from her testimony:
  1. You will likely need your own expert to testify on firearms.  I don't know if the defense team has one lined up.  Experts cost a lot of money, so you'll need to be prepared.  One way to do that is to join a group like the Armed Citizens' Legal Defense Network as well as purchasing insurance coverage from the NRA.
  2.  Do not put "trigger jobs" on your self defense firearms.  I will readily admit I am in the minority view on this, as many excellent firearms instructors will tell you just the opposite.  A trigger job reduces the amount of pressure on the trigger that is required to make the gun discharge.  They may also improve the feel of the trigger for certain guns.  Gun owners like this as it tends to make the gun more accurate, permitting more precise shots.  However, I can assure that had Zimmerman had a trigger job on his gun, the prosecution would have used that as evidence of a "depraved mind" that is necessary to get a Murder 2 conviction.  The benefits of trigger jobs are far outweighed by their liability, in my opinion.  Having to explain why you installed one on your gun to a jury is not a position you want to be in.  And that's coming from someone who has in fact had to explain complex issues to a jury.
  3. Do not carry your firearms with the magazines completely loaded.  Not only is this going to be used against Zimmerman as evidence that he had a depraved mind (I would submit it proves nothing of the sort), you run the risk of a gun malfunction if you jam the magazine completely full of ammo.  For smaller magazines, I would carry one less round than capacity; for larger ones, I'd leave room for two rounds in the magazine.  If you're concerned about not having enough ammo, consider carrying a spare magazine on you - it's not just for the additional ammo, but it's also good insurance should your first magazine malfunction.

Open Source On "What To Carry In Restrictive Environments?"

I will be on the road soon, spending time in liberty restricting states.  That being said, I'm looking to revise what I take with me on these trips to be better prepared.

I read this article some time ago - it's a fascinating story of how a gold mining company figured out where the gold deposits were by making all of its geological data public.  The company broke the "OpSec" rules so to speak, and as a result, was rewarded many times over.

And so this evening, I pose the question to you:  If you were going to be spending a lot of time in places like California or Washington, DC, what sort of items would you want on you or near you to deal with possible emergencies?  Feel free to email me or leave comments on my Facebook page. 

Take Time To Learn Other Skills As Well
After swearing for ages I would never do it, I finally realized that my professional skill set would be greatly improved if I took up golf.  And so in June I began lessons to learn how to play.  I even got fitted for custom made golf clubs this afternoon.
I still don't know if I will enjoy golf, but it will give me an opportunity to be more engaged in the nuances associated with government affairs work - namely, attending the various golf tournament fundraisers that both Republicans and Democrats have. 
Learning a preparedness skill may be fun and make you feel better, sometimes there are other skills that are more practical and will help your career long term.  Don't get fixated on just learning self sufficiency.  Go learn to do something that helps your career or that looks fun to you.