Category Archives: Essays and Articles

Orlando Was the Site of Terrorism. Not Homophobia or Failed Gun Laws.

Remember that at the time of 9/11 the meme the government wanted to forge was that it was the work of terrorists who were part of an international (dare I say) conspiracy to attack this country and our beloved freedom. No one dared focus solely on airport security or cockpit door reinforcement. No, the message was it’s international and therefore wars with natural resources and asset-rich countries like Iraq and Afghanistan were necessary. Had you dared suggest that these hijackers were lone wolves or self-radicalized (we can obviously eliminate homegrown as a descriptive) you would have been pilloried. The Orlando message is different. You are to focus solely and particularly on the role of firearms and not any terrorist network that may have contributed and you absolutely are not to so much as mention in any wise whatsoever the shooter’s father’s connection to the nameless Afghan satellite channel, Payam Afghan, said to be widely-known in Southwest Asia as a CIA-Pakistani ISI construct. These messages are not constructed by accident. They are scripted and you are members of the choir.

America. The republic, usually misunderstood as a democracy. Where anyone with a pair of neurons and a functioning synapse can vote. Or not. We love the simple issue. Basic. Tissue thin and unidimensional. Trite and uncomplicated. The meme, the phrase. The ribbon, the hashtag the filter. The rote, the memorized, the patellar and Pavlovian. The rehearsed but never researched. Revisionist history and popular culture. Overarching themes. A country that confuses religious faith and piety with mythology and superstition. Uneducated, uncultured and uncouth. America loves to hate, its public and loud alleged aversion to hate notwithstanding. We love to hate the candidates, the networks, the talk radio loudmouths, the other side. We hate them, the opposition. We hate the Bible thumper and leftie loon. We hate the gun owner and gun advocate and gun fanatic. N.B. The fanatic. Translation: someone who expresses a belief or penchant for an idea or practice that we don’t understand or agree with. The other guy. Terrorist = the other guy. Impuissant and gutless leftie and liberal = the other guy. Right wing lunatic = the other guy. Hillary and Trump are both “presumptive” candidates and code words and attack commands, signaling the recitation of the usual statements from the usual suspects. We delude ourselves into thinking that our debates are rational and comprehensive and fact-based and well-thought. It’s not so much that we have a position, it’s that we loathe and detest the proponents of the other side, the other position. America loves to coopt issues that redefine vagueness and make it an art form. One faction has taken as its own the fight against gun violence, as though anyone could possibly be in favor of it. Another faction wraps itself in the Constitutional without so much as a correspondence course in basic historical precepts and rudiments. Doesn’t mater, I seized the image first, it’s mine. Out of a republic with 319 million people we have as presumptive candidates two of the most vile, despicable and unworthy kakistocrats that central casting could have ever created if not hatched. We get what we deserve. And though our republic will endure and survive – after all, we came through the Franklin Pierce years relatively unscathed – prospering and advancing are another issue altogether. These are dark days for Americans but an absolute gold mine for those of us who make our living through political commentary and analysis.

Remember the rules of terror. When there’s a Democratic administration, terrorism is domestic, considered lone wolf, homegrown, self-radicalizing. Think Ruby Ridge and Waco. That enables them to seize weapons, guns, infiltrate militia groups and constitutionalist Tea Party types. When Republicans are in office terrorism’s foreign, Islamist, al Qaeda-esque. Think UBL. Both permit the disintegration of constitutional freedoms and attacks privacy with heightened surveillance and full spectrum panopticon control.

Rule. We are a country of clichés. Trite and hackneyed phrases. Kneejerk and patellar Pavlovian responses. Rote, rank and repetitious.

Please focus carefully on the words of Obama and Hillary. If you don’t know what they mean, you’ll miss their import. Obama referred to “homegrown terrorism.” That implies a local, non-systemic, non-international, non-Islamic form of organized terrorism. It’s just like the term “lone wolf” that Hillary used. Be very familiar with the particularity of language. These words mean something. They will avoid at all costs Islamic terrorism as the cause. If they do, they then plead guilty to an impuissant policy against such. Especially when they keep cozying up to Saudi Arabia, the Al Sharpton of the Middle East. Nothing sticks to them.

Americans, especially those who focus solely on our pathetic mainstream media have no conversance with history or issues especially regarding their beloved Obama. Operation Fast and Furious was launched by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The gunrunning operation, which lasted from 2009 to 2011, resulted in the ATF losing over a thousand firearms. Two of those weapons were linked to the 2010 murder of a Border Patrol agent in Arizona and many of the weapons are suspected to have landed in the hands of Mexican drug cartels. When this was brought up to the Obama administration, who rails against gun violence and crime, the crickets sounded and not a peep was mentioned by the media. This shows the schizophrenic mindset of an administration and a public who’s frankly too busy apply he latest hostage or Facebook filter to read and research and care.

Don’t fall into the trap of dismissing Pulse as just a gay bar. It was more than that. It was a source of communal meeting and celebration. A town hall of sorts. Think Stonewall. It’s where the LGBT community felt safe and merely wanted to have fun and enjoy their life. And be not mistake, their lifestyle and sexuality were the subject and target of this terrorist’s targeting.

We are becoming soft. We’ve been lucky enough to exist for 240 years in relative peace save 9/11 and now this. You’re not used to war or having an avowed enemy. You think you can get all squishy and send prayers and love and remind us constantly how your heart is broken and how we have to get along and love and trust and reach out and sing Kumbaya. You’ll flash the de rigueur Orlando filter or the latest pithy hash tag. You pray for Orlando, stand with Orlando and miss the point altogether. For such a supposed tough country we’re apparently unable to really understand what’s happening. This is war. And that means getting surgical. And precise. And the first thing you’re going to have to do is read and explore and research and unearth the unspeakable truth of who our enemies are and what your government has done to hide, deflect and distract your attention from what needs to be done. Look to foreign and alternative media. Turn this mindless pro-Hillary dreck off and grow a pair, America.

Remember, ask about the #Orlando shooter’s psych background. This is a tricky thing. Why? Hillary and Trump want to avoid any insanity and psyched connection. Hillary has Big Pharma to placate and that means avoiding any connection whatsoever to adverse reactions and side effects. Trump wants an ISIS Islamic terrorism connection and having a lunatic versus a terrorist scotches those plans. But, mark my words. Scratch the surface and you’ll see indicia of mental illness.

History. When Rudy Giuliani and others targeted the Mafia and LCN they didn’t in an effort to seem fair and even-handed start targeting Swedes. And no one objected. They never called organized crime hate. They called it crime and focused on Italian-Americans who happened to inhabit the ranks. In fact it was a known requisite. No one suggested that all Italian-Americans were connected, just that the Mafia as we call it had very few Cambodians among its ranks.

Experience and verity. As anyone who’s ever worked around criminal savagery will tell you, it is often the case when deranged and mentally ill people commit heinous crimes they say a number of things that accompany or precede the behavior. They might cite the Bible, Qur’an, Ozzy Osborne, a dog as David Berkowitz first suggested, name it. Or they might reference Rush Limbaugh or conservative writers. Violent movies, suggestive lyrics, domestic violence, his list is endless. And in the case of a shooting the issue remains had they not possessed the weapon the shooting would and could not have occurred. This is obvious and a matter of fact. What we instinctively look for is the cause. That causal connection. What made someone do it. We often confuse cause with correlation. Or motivation: why some one did it versus what caused and produced the behavior. What’s more distressing and frustrating to many who’ve never encountered it is that mental illness is often the cause, the correlation and the motivation. While mental illness – which covers a range of behaviors – is usually benign as to victimization of others, in some it manifests itself terribly. If I could only ask one question, I’d ask if the Orlando shooter was either taking psych meds or recently discontinued them. It is all too often that connection that is never addressed for a host of reasons including the death grip that Big Pharma has on Washington and lawmakers. But that is for another time. Simply put, this horror was caused by a deranged and mentally ill person. It’s that simple. And that complicated.

Media Distortion: It’s Not Just a Russian Thing

When many consumers and presenters of “news” review anything involving Russia, there seems all too often to be an almost a priori patellar and Pavlovian reaction. Why?

The reasons are multiform as I will attempt to delimit.

In search of the Manichaean. This describes much of mainstream media (MSM) to a tee. The dualistic view of the world as either good or evil, the good guys and the bad guys. Apodictic proof with blinding certainty. The reflexive application of forced and absolute moral certitude when parsing and deconstructing any issue, especially of international import. Once you understand that, then you can see precisely the reality disconnect of the western MSM to what’s actually happening in the Middle East, especially as to Syria, Turkey, NATO, Russia and the fight against IS and its host of initialed aka’s.

The first question without fail. In every media analysis and appearance of mine especially as of late as to anything Russian-Syrian in context, my prolegomenon necessarily consists of “Here’s what the media don’t understand and can’t fathom.” Just think of that, before I even begin to assess and attempt to describe the salient issues I must start with an explication of the media disconnect. And if there was ever an Exhibit A of the effects of having a rodeo clown media to distract and redirect the attention and perception of the audience – a sleight of news, if you will – this is it. Imagine, the first rule of media analysis is not to believe the media.

The crow and mice studies. In a 2011 study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society entitled “Social learning spreads knowledge about dangerous humans among American crows,” murders of corvids when threatened by mask-wearing experimenters not only remembered the particular facial configuration of the masks but effectively conveyed the “grudge” to others within the community and their offspring. And speaking of crows, Donovan Crow cites a 2013 Emory University study that found that mice trained to fear a specific odor presented to them would actually pass their emotions and fears on to their offspring and future generations. Hatred, fear, distrust are not only communicable and communicative but inheritable and inherited.

Connection, please? Much of the almost reflexive reaction to anything Russian is in so many instances based on years of Cold War ideology and recurring media and popular culture incantations, rote recitations of decades-old ideology as to anything Moscow-centric. This from observers too young to even remember Cuban Missile Crisis days, grainy footage of a furious Khrushchev at the UN or anything vaguely causative of their Russian view. I respectfully submit, it’s learned and perhaps genetic. And when American MSM repeaters (versus reporters) regurgitate these hoary memes and tropes along with news chatterbox gaggles with mynah bird (switching from the crow theme deliberately) yammerings about the deliberately diabolical posturing of anything Russian, well, can you not see this connection?

Boris Badenov. When I as a wee lad of the 60’s I faithfully watched Rocky and His Friends and The Bullwinkle Show, two identical shows with different names. But I digress. Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale were favorites. Badenov, whose surname is a play on 16th-century Russian Tsar Boris Godunov, “was revealed in an advertisement as an active member of Local 12 of the Villains, Thieves, and Scoundrels Union.” Like the crow that was taught by fellow corvids to fear, I was conditioned through seemingly innocuous and playful cartoons who the enemy was. And I respectfully submit, like mice who inherited olfactory aversive stimuli, that disposition and worldview was passed on.

Acronyms, initalisms and utter confusion. I can remember first hearing various commentary as to the mindlessness and futility of the Vietnam adventure. When leaders were dismissed as benighted hawks with no rational understanding of a war whose participants were without the slightest understanding of who the participants were. Who was the enemy (harkening back to the initial Manichean discussion)? Villagers of all ages, “Mama Sans,” even kids were known secrete a grenade and detonate it while an unsuspecting GI was duped into showing kindness or inattention. Well, by comparison to today’s theater of war Playbill, that was child’s play. Enter al Qaeda, AQI, ISIS, ISIL, IS, Daesh, Boko Haram, Khorosan or al-Nusra Front. Most Ted Baxter echo chamber, media sockpuppets are still trying to distinguish Sunni from Shia, Persians from Arabs – not to mention distinguishing the taxonomy of moderate rebels, rebels, terrorists and central casting “bad guys.”

Historical nescience. Tolstoy remarked that history would be a wonderful thing if only it were true. I submit that history would be a wonderful thing if only it were read and appreciated. There have been countless references to Russia’s support of Assad’s Syria as though it were a strange Russian preoccupation or obsession versus the product of decades-long cooperation and bilateral relations. History is indeed a wonderful thing if one cares to even read it.

The neocon con. No term today is more overused (next to “hilarious”) than neocon. Or misunderstood. Neocon is not synonymous with conservative or paleocon or even liberal interventionism. It is a unique and historically singular political and ideological denomination that permeates much of the American political discussion. From the hallowed halls of government to the vaunted pages of opinion, neocon A-Listers write the script that the media as amanuenses transcribe almost verbatim. And virtually unknown to Mr. & Mrs. Sixpack and to the members of today’s narcotized MSM is this ideology that taints the discussion. When a neocon opines about Russia or Syria or intervention, knowing the script and ideological fundamentals explains the perception and description that the MSM produce.

Think tanks, institutes and propaganda factories. You’re undoubtedly familiar with the concept of Deep State. Peter Dale Scott citing Washington Post reporter Dana Priest defines it as “two governments: the one its citizens were familiar with, operated more or less in the open: the other a parallel top secret government whose parts had mushroomed in less than a decade into a gigantic, sprawling universe of its own.” What I’m referring to isn’t anything vaguely top secret, secret or even hidden. No, I refer to groups and think tanks and organizations and consortia with websites and Twitter and Facebook accounts and nothing to hide or fear that frame the perspective and are architects of opinion. They are the architects of our battles.

The presumption of correctness and authenticated validity. The final problem that contributes to the collective disconnect that many have is the presumption of correctness that media websites provide. They seem legit, appear valid and are presumed authenticated. With the trappings that accompany blogs, sites and pages, the pathetically susceptible reader is duped into believing that what appears before her eyes is true. Yet despite the stories of bogus claims and allegations, fraudulent war scenes, misquoted casualty data and the like, there’s not a resounding call to validate, authenticate and verify.

Clarity, limpidity and pellucidity as to any and all matters bellicose require and demand accurate reference, historical perspective and a decontamination of anachronistic historical memes and narratives.

It’s that simple.

Whither Probable Cause

Now you see it. Now you don’t. The vanishing and disappearance of probable cause.

As a tyro prosecutor, slogging through the criminal courts system, I’d often joke that the definition of probable cause was “He probably did it” because it seemed that whenever the standard was required for arrest or search, it was always miraculously and sometimes magically met. Probable cause or PC hereinafter (before its more contemporary referencing) denotes the belief and suspicion framework that established the basis for initial and incipient law enforcement involvement. The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution refers to it as, again, that initial threshold.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. [Emphasis supplied.] U.S. Const. amend. IV.

PC has been taken to mean those conditions and facts that are present, say in the case of PC to arrest, when an officer has knowledge of such facts as would lead a reasonable person to believe that a suspect is committing, has committed or is about to commit a crime. And further, the officer must be able to articulate the facts and circumstances forming the bases for such probable cause. Er, theoretically, that is.

So, what seems to be the problem? Simple. Enter the mystical, magical world of legal semantics and euphemisms. My beloved profession gave you not only PC but reasonable doubt, reasonable suspicion, prima facie, preponderance of the evidence, proof evident and presumption great, clear and convincing – all designed to denote various articulable levels and gradations of proof that are supposed to be readily accessible to the public. Let me give you an example.

Let’s assume arguendo I ask you what you ate for breakfast and you replied, “A bagel. Toasted.” Let’s assume further I demanded that you prove it. Prove it how? By what standard? You could enlist a PC standard of proof. Or perhaps provide a prima facie case of your breakfast fare. You might up the degree of proof by proving your breakfast case by the preponderance of the evidence, where it would me more likely than not that you ate the referenced bagel. Or, to really impress your interrogator, prove you consumed the item beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt. If this is confusing, join a very large club.

But let’s make this even more complicated. And I refer to the aforementioned definition of a constable’s necessity and ability “to articulate the facts and circumstances forming the basis for probable cause.” Let’s take a DUI roadblock where drivers are corralled into an area wherein each is inspected for evidence of illegal inebriety. Or a border search where suspected illegals are stopped and isolated en masse. The officer(s) made no prior determination, no evidence evaluation. Nothing. Everyone was “dragnetted” and ordered into an area and therefore presumed guilty. Whither probable cause?

Stop and frisk (or stop, question and frisk) is the source of great controversy and media attention, especially here in New York. The Supreme Court in Terry v. Ohio392 U.S. 1 (1968), gave us the Terry Stop that was codified by legislatures. Stop and frisk is not profiling (which, by the by, is not per se verboten). The criterion employed to stop and detain a suspect – as opposed to arresting them – is  reasonable suspicion. Now, this is in no wise meant as a tutorial on detention law but rather an exhibition of the ambit and range of the tissue thin compartmentalization and variations of juridical euphemism.

And let’s wade into the even more complicated. Think of accident investigations, fingerprinting, lineups, drug sniffing dogs, drug courier profiles (to be distinguished from the more offensive and in fact illegal forms of “profiling,” such as stopping someone merely because of race or ethnicity), cyber crimes, just to name a few. What probable cause was and is required then? And now, think what happens if a law enforcement agent merely thinks or suspects you’re a terrorist or involved in alleged terrorism or anything “shady.” Probable cause requirements are being whittled and pared and shredded. But what about the Fourth Amendment, court orders and judicial review? And what was that business about no warrants issued without probable cause? As we have seen, the public has been so frightened (and deservedly so) by the specter of another 9/11 that these constitutional formalities are seen as trifling due process etiquette. After all, it’s axiomatic that the Constitution is not a suicide pact.

The times they are a changin’. Does this sound familiar?

The Obama administration is seeking to make it easier for the FBI to compel companies to turn over records of an individual’s Internet activity without a court order if agents deem the information relevant to a terrorism or intelligence investigation.

The administration wants to add just four words — “electronic communication transactional records” — to a list of items that the law says the FBI may demand without a judge’s approval. Government lawyers say this category of information includes the addresses to which an Internet user sends e-mail; the times and dates e-mail was sent and received; and possibly a user’s browser history. It does not include, the lawyers hasten to point out, the “content” of e-mail or other Internet communication. [Washington Post]

Can they even do that? (I believe they just did.)

And one more wrinkle. With the advent of “Minority Report” predictive policing utilizing algorithms and the like such as the UK’s CRUSH (Criminal Reduction Utilising Statistical History) as well as NSA mass vacuuming of metadata, not to mention the data and information that you’ve most probably consented to being uploaded and utilized by virtue of your mobile phone and cloud agreements, citizens may very well have consented to the government’s access to everything and anything thus obviating the necessity of even advancing a preliminary probable cause determination.

Cue Taps. Probable cause is sadly becoming an historical vestige, an anachronism. Diluted and disposed of, whose utility and protections have been obliterated through our hysteria over terrorism and the public’s acceptance of and habituation to ubiquitous, Panopticon surveillance.

Probable cause. So long, old friend.