“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, December 21, 2015

Iisten Up Assholes - Yes We Are An Empire - Here Is Your Proof

And Yes We Are A Police Security State:

The Logic of the Police State
Matthew Harwood and Tom Engelhardt, December 21, 2015
Originally posted at TomDispatch.

Sometime in late November, after the Paris terror attacks but before the one in San Bernardino, I was walking to New York’s Grand Central Station to catch the subway home. In front of one of its main entrances, the police had set up shop, blocking off part of an avenue. The crew I stumbled upon may, in fact, have been part of the new counterterrorism unit that the New York Police Department had just rolled out. Whatever the case, the cops were up-armored in a purely military fashion (even if their togs were fashionably black and blue) and carrying weaponry the likes of which I had never seen before on the streets of my hometown. Amid flashing lights, they stood there with dogs on leashes looking not like “the police” but figures from some dystopian, futuristic sci-fi flick. Nothing in particular seemed to be happening so, after a few minutes, I entered the vast terminal, passing scattered pistol-packing soldiers in camo, evidently guarding the just-before-rush-hour crowds. It was certainly a spectacle, but also just part of the new American normal.

So consider what I’m about to mention less than newsworthy amid all the reports on the militarization of the country’s police and their brutal behavior. And yet it’s the sort of tiny news story that once upon a time would have been striking. Now, few will even notice. Policing headlines these days, after all, gravitate to graphic videos of cold-blooded police killings in places like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago. (There were 70 fatal shootings by the Chicago Police Department alone between 2010 and 2014. As Margaret Talbot pointed out in the New Yorker, only Phoenix, Philadelphia, and Dallas “had a higher number per capita.”)

When it comes to the arming of the police in a country in which rural sheriffs proudly sport battlefield-grade mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles, or MRAPs, and new militarized urban police units like that one in New York City are being outfitted with Colt M4 semiautomatic assault rifles and machine guns, a report that 20 campus cops at Boston’s Northeastern University are going to be armed with semiautomatic rifles qualifies as distinctly ho-hum news. Or thought of another way, it catches the everyday reality of a country whose police have been up-arming with a kind of passion since 9/11. I can, of course, remember the unarmed campus cops of my own college days and, believe me, we’ve traveled a long road from policing “panty raids” to facing on-campus mass shootings in a country now so over-weaponized that it seems as if both the police and the citizenry are in an undeclared arms race.

In these years, the militarization of the police has taken place amid a striking upsurge of protest over police brutality, abuses, and in particular the endless killing of young black men, as well as a parallel growth in both the powers of and the protections afforded to police officers. As TomDispatch regular Matthew Harwood, who has been covering the militarization of the police for this site, reports today, all of this could easily add up to the building blocks for a developing police-state frame of mind. If you’ve been watching the national news dominated by panic and hysteria over domestic terrorism, including the shutting down of a major urban school system over an outlandish hoax threat of a terror attack, or the recent Republican debate over “national security,” which turned out to mean only “ISIS” and immigration, can there be any question that the way is being paved for institutionalizing a new kind of policing in this country in the name of American security and fear? ~ Tom

Welcome to Cop Land People Are Waking Up to the Darkness in American Policing, and the Police Don’t Like It One Bit By Matthew Harwood

If you’ve been listening to various police agencies and their supporters, then you know what the future holds: anarchy is coming – and it’s all the fault of activists.

In May, a Wall Street Journal op-ed warned of a “new nationwide crime wave” thanks to “intense agitation against American police departments” over the previous year. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie went further. Talking recently with the host of CBS’s Face the Nation, the Republican presidential hopeful asserted that the Black Lives Matter movement wasn’t about reform but something far more sinister. “They’ve been chanting in the streets for the murder of police officers,” he insisted. Even the nation’s top cop, FBI Director James Comey, weighed in at the University of Chicago Law School, speaking of “a chill wind that has blown through American law enforcement over the last year.”

According to these figures and others like them, lawlessness has been sweeping the nation as the so-called Ferguson effect spreads. Criminals have been emboldened as police officers are forced to think twice about doing their jobs for fear of the infamy of starring in the next viral video. The police have supposedly become the targets of assassins intoxicated by “anti-cop rhetoric,” just as departments are being stripped of the kind of high-powered equipment they need to protect officers and communities. Even their funding streams have, it’s claimed, come under attack as anti-cop bias has infected Washington, D.C. Senator Ted Cruz caught the spirit of that critique by convening a Senate subcommittee hearing to which he gave the title, “The War on Police: How the Federal Government Undermines State and Local Law Enforcement.” According to him, the federal government, including the president and attorney general, has been vilifying the police, who are now being treated as if they, not the criminals, were the enemy.

Beyond the storm of commentary and criticism, however, quite a different reality presents itself. In the simplest terms, there is no war on the police. Violent attacks against police officers remain at historic lows, even though approximately 1,000 people have been killed by the police this year nationwide. In just the past few weeks, videos have been released of problematic fatal police shootings in San Francisco and Chicago.

While it’s too soon to tell whether there has been an uptick in violent crime in the post-Ferguson period, no evidence connects any possible increase to the phenomenon of police violence being exposed to the nation. What is taking place and what the police and their supporters are largely reacting to is a modest push for sensible law enforcement reforms from groups as diverse as Campaign Zero, Koch Industries, the Cato Institute, The Leadership Conference, and the ACLU (my employer). Unfortunately, as the rhetoric ratchets up, many police agencies and organizations are increasingly resistant to any reforms, forgetting whom they serve and ignoring constitutional limits on what they can do.

Indeed, a closer look at law enforcement arguments against commonsense reforms like independently investigating police violence, demilitarizing police forces, or ending “for-profit policing” reveals a striking disregard for concerns of just about any sort when it comes to brutality and abuse. What this “debate” has revealed, in fact, is a mainstream policing mindset ready to manufacture fear without evidence and promote the belief that American civil rights and liberties are actually an impediment to public safety. In the end, such law enforcement arguments subvert the very idea that the police are there to serve the community and should be under civilian control.

And that, when you come right down to it, is the logic of the police state. 

Due Process Plus

It’s no mystery why so few police officers are investigated and prosecuted for using excessive force and violating someone’s rights. “Local prosecutors rely on local police departments to gather the evidence and testimony they need to successfully prosecute criminals,” according to Campaign Zero . “This makes it hard for them to investigate and prosecute the same police officers in cases of police violence.”

Since 2005, according to an analysis by the Washington Post and Bowling Green State University, only 54 officers have been prosecuted nationwide, despite the thousands of fatal shootings by police. As Philip M. Stinson, a criminologist at Bowling Green, puts it, “To charge an officer in a fatal shooting, it takes something so egregious, so over the top that it cannot be explained in any rational way. It also has to be a case that prosecutors are willing to hang their reputation on.”

For many in law enforcement, however, none of this should concern any of us. When New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order appointing a special prosecutor to investigate police killings, for instance, Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, insisted: “Given the many levels of oversight that already exist, both internally in the NYPD [New York Police Department] and externally in many forms, the appointment of a special prosecutor is unnecessary.” Even before Cuomo’s decision, the chairman of New York’s District Attorneys Association called plans to appoint a special prosecutor for police killings “deeply insulting.”

Such pushback against the very idea of independently investigating police actions has, post-Ferguson, become everyday fare, and some law enforcement leaders have staked out a position significantly beyond that. The police, they clearly believe, should get special treatment.

“By virtue of our dangerous vocation, we should expect to receive the benefit of the doubt in controversial incidents,” wrote Ed Mullins, the president of New York City’s Sergeants Benevolent Association, in the organization’s magazine, Frontline. As if to drive home the point, its cover depicts Baltimore State Attorney Marilyn Mosby under the ominous headline “The Wolf That Lurks.” In May, Mosby had announced indictments of six officers in the case of Freddie Gray, who died in Baltimore police custody the previous month. The message being sent to a prosecutor willing to indict cops was hardly subtle: you’re a traitor.

Mullins put forward a legal standard for officers accused of wrongdoing that he would never support for the average citizen – and in a situation in which cops already get what former federal prosecutor Laurie Levenson calls “a super presumption of innocence." In addition, police unions in many states have aggressively pushed for their own bills of rights, which make it nearly impossible for police officers to be fired, much less charged with crimes when they violate an individual’s civil rights and liberties.

In 14 states, versions of a Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBR) have already been passed, while in 11 others they are under consideration. These provide an “extra layer of due process” in cases of alleged police misconduct, according to Samuel Walker, an expert on police accountability. In many of the states without a LEOBR, the Marshall Project has discovered, police unions have directly negotiated the same rights and privileges with state governments.
LEOBRs are, in fact, amazingly un-American documents in the protections they afford officers accused of misconduct during internal investigations, rights that those officers are never required to extend to their suspects. Though the specific language of these laws varies from state to state, notes Mike Riggs in Reason, they are remarkably similar in their special considerations for the police.
“Unlike a member of the public, the officer gets a ‘cooling off’ period before he has to respond to any questions. Unlike a member of the public, the officer under investigation is privy to the names of his complainants and their testimony against him before he is ever interrogated. Unlike a member of the public, the officer under investigation is to be interrogated ‘at a reasonable hour,’ with a union member present. Unlike a member of the public, the officer can only be questioned by one person during his interrogation. Unlike a member of the public, the officer can be interrogated only ‘for reasonable periods,’ which ‘shall be timed to allow for such personal necessities and rest periods as are reasonably necessary.’ Unlike a member of the public, the officer under investigation cannot be ‘threatened with disciplinary action’ at any point during his interrogation. If he is threatened with punishment, whatever he says following the threat cannot be used against him.”

The Marshall Project refers to these laws as the “Blue Shield” and “the original Bill of Rights with an upgrade.’’ Police associations, naturally, don’t agree. "All this does is provide a very basic level of constitutional protections for our officers, so that they can make statements that will stand up later in court," says Vince Canales, the president of Maryland’s Fraternal Order of Police.
Put another way, there are two kinds of due process in America – one for cops and another for the rest of us. This is the reason why the Black Lives Matter movement and other civil rights and civil liberties organizations regularly call on states to create a special prosecutor’s office to launch independent investigations when police seriously injure or kill someone.

The Demilitarized Blues

Since Americans first took in those images from Ferguson of police units outfitted like soldiers, riding in military vehicles, and pointing assault rifles at protesters, the militarization of the police and the way the Pentagon has been supplying them with equipment directly off this country’s distant battlefields have been top concerns for police reformers. In May, the Obama administration suggested modest changes to the Pentagon’s 1033 program, which, since 1990, has been redistributing weaponry and equipment to police departments nationwide – urban, suburban, and rural – in the name of fighting the war on drugs and protecting Americans from terrorism. 

Even the idea that the police shouldn’t sport the look of an occupying army in local communities has, however, been met with fierce resistance. Read, for example, the online petition started by the National Sheriffs’ Association and you could be excused for thinking that the Obama administration was aggressively moving to stop the flow of military-grade equipment to local and state police agencies. (It isn’t.) The message that tops the petition is as simple as it is misleading: “Don’t strip law enforcement of the gear they need to keep us safe.”

The Obama administration has done no such thing. In May, the president announced that he was prohibiting certain military-grade equipment from being transferred to state and local law enforcement. “Some equipment made for the battlefield is not appropriate for local police departments,” he said. The list included tracked armored vehicles (essentially tanks), bayonets, grenade launchers, camouflage uniforms, and guns and ammo of .50 caliber or higher. In reality, what use could a local police department have for bayonets, grenade launchers, or the kinds of bullets that resemble small missiles, pierce armor, and can blow people’s limbs off?

Yet the sheriffs’ association has no problem complaining that “the White House announced the government would no longer provide equipment like helicopters and MRAPs [mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles] to local law enforcement.” And it’s not even true. Police departments can still obtain both helicopters and MRAPs if they establish community policing practices, institute training protocols, and get community approval before the equipment transfer occurs.

“Helicopters rescue runaways and natural disaster victims,” the sheriff’s association adds gravely, “and MRAPs are used to respond to shooters who barricade themselves in neighborhoods and are one of the few vehicles able to navigate hurricane, snowstorm, and tornado-strewn areas to save survivors.”
As with our wars abroad, think mission creep at home. A program started to wage the war on drugs, and strengthened after 9/11, is now being justified on the grounds that certain equipment is useful during disasters or emergencies. In reality, the police have clearly become hooked on a militarized look. Many departments are ever more attached to their weapons of war and evidently don’t mind the appearance of being an occupying force in their communities, which leaves groups like the sheriffs’ association fighting fiercely for a militarized future.

Legal Plunder

In July, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Arizona sued law enforcement in Pinal County, Arizona, on behalf of Rhonda Cox. Two years before, her son had stolen some truck accessories and, without her knowledge, fitted them on her truck. When the county sheriff’s department arrested him, it also seized the truck.

Arriving on the scene of her son’s arrest, Cox asked a deputy about getting her truck back. No way, he told her. After she protested, explaining that she had nothing to do with her son’s alleged crimes, he responded “too bad.” Under Arizona law, the truck could indeed be taken into custody and kept or sold off by the sheriff’s department even though she was never charged with a crime. It was guilty even if she wasn’t.

Welcome to America’s civil asset forfeiture laws, another product of law enforcement’s failed war on drugs, updated for the twenty-first century. Originally designed to deprive suspected real-life Scarfaces of the spoils of their illicit trade – houses, cars, boats – it now regularly deprives people unconnected to the war on drugs of their property without due process of law and in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Not surprisingly, corruption follows.
Federal and state law enforcement can now often keep property seized or sell it and retain a portion of the revenue generated. Some of this, in turn, can be repurposed and distributed as bonuses in police and other law enforcement departments. The only way the dispossessed stand a chance of getting such “forfeited” property back is if they are willing to take on the government in a process where the deck is stacked against them.

In such cases, for instance, property owners have no right to an attorney to defend them, which means that they must either pony up additional cash for a lawyer or contest the seizure themselves in court. “It is an upside-down world where,” says the libertarian Institute for Justice, “the government holds all the cards and has the financial incentive to play them to the hilt.”
In this century, civil asset forfeiture has mutated into what’s now called “for-profit policing” in which police departments and state and federal law enforcement agencies indiscriminately seize the property of citizens who aren’t drug kingpins. Sometimes, for instance, distinctly ordinary citizens suspected of driving drunk or soliciting prostitutes get their cars confiscated. Sometimes they simply get cash taken from them on suspicion of low-level drug dealing.
Like most criminal justice issues, race matters in civil asset forfeiture. This summer, the ACLU of Pennsylvania issued a report, Guilty Property, documenting how the Philadelphia Police Department and district attorney’s office abused state civil asset forfeiture by taking at least $1 million from innocent people within the city limits. Approximately 70% of the time, those people were black, even though the city’s population is almost evenly divided between whites and African-Americans. 

Currently, only one state, New Mexico, has done away with civil asset forfeiture entirely, while also severely restricting state and local law enforcement from profiting off similar national laws when they work with the feds. (The police in Albuquerque are, however, actively defying the new law, demonstrating yet again the way in which police departments believe the rules don’t apply to them.) That no other state has done so is hardly surprising. Police departments have become so reliant on civil asset forfeiture to pad their budgets and acquire “little goodies” that reforming, much less repealing, such laws are a tough sell.
As with militarization, when police defend such policies, you sense their urgent desire to maintain what many of them now clearly think of as police rights. In August, for instance, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu sent a fundraising email to his supporters using the imagined peril of the ACLU lawsuit as clickbait. In justifying civil forfeiture, he failed to mention that a huge portion of the money goes to enrich his own department, but praised the program in this fashion:
"[O]ver the past seven years, the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office has donated $1.2 million of seized criminal money to support youth programs like the Boys & Girls Clubs, Boy Scouts, YMCA, high school graduation night lock-in events, youth sports as well as veterans groups, local food banks, victims assistance programs, and Home of Home in Casa Grande."

Under this logic, police officers can steal from people who haven’t even been charged with a crime as long as they share the wealth with community organizations – though, in fact, neither in Pinal County or elsewhere is that where most of the confiscated loot appears to go. Think of this as the development of a culture of thievery masquerading as Robin Hood in blue.

Contempt for Civilian Control 

Post-Ferguson developments in policing are essentially a struggle over whether the police deserve special treatment and exceptions from the rules the rest of us must follow. For too long, they have avoided accountability for brutal misconduct, while in this century arming themselves for war on America’s streets and misusing laws to profit off the public trust, largely in secret. The events of the past two years have offered graphic evidence that police culture is dysfunctional and in need of a democratic reformation.

There are, of course, still examples of law enforcement leaders who see the police as part of American society, not exempt from it. But even then, the reformers face stiff resistance from the law enforcement communities they lead. In Minneapolis, for instance, Police Chief Janeé Harteau attempted to have state investigators look into incidents when her officers seriously hurt or killed someone in the line of duty. Police union opposition killed her plan. In Philadelphia, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey ordered his department to publicly release the names of officers involved in shootings within 72 hours of any incident. The city’s police union promptly challenged his policy, while the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a bill in November to stop the release of the names of officers who fire their weapon or use force when on the job unless criminal charges are filed. Not surprisingly, three powerful police unions in the state supported the legislation.

In the present atmosphere, many in the law enforcement community see the Harteaus and Ramseys of their profession as figures who don’t speak for them, and groups or individuals wanting even the most modest of police reforms as so many police haters. As former New York Police Department Commissioner Howard Safir told Fox News in May, “Similar to athletes on the playing field, sometimes it’s difficult to tune out the boos from the no-talents sipping their drinks, sitting comfortably in their seats. It’s demoralizing to read about the misguided anti-cop gibberish spewing from those who take their freedoms for granted.”

The disdain in such imagery, increasingly common in the world of policing, is striking. It smacks of a police-state, bunker mentality that sees democratic values and just about any limits on the power of law enforcement as threats. In other words, the Safirs want the public – particularly in communities of color and poor neighborhoods – to shut up and do as it’s told when a police officer says so. If the cops give the orders, compliance – so this line of thinking goes – isn’t optional, no matter how egregious the misconduct or how sensible the reforms. Obey or else.
The post-Ferguson pub
lic clamor demanding better policing continues to get louder, and yet too many police departments have this to say in response: Welcome to Cop Land. We make the rules around here.

Matthew Harwood is senior writer/editor of the ACLU. His work has appeared at Al Jazeera America, the American Conservative, the Guardian, Guernica, Salon, War is Boring, and the Washington Monthly. He is a TomDispatch regular.
Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Nick Turse’s Tomorrow’s Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa, and Tom Engelhardt’s latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.
Copyright 2015 Matthew Harwood


  1. Nation Paranoia From The US Security State.

  2. .

    One special mission, WIN?

    How's that working for you?


    1. I'd much rather spend time with the first 100 cops chosen out of the phone book than with 100 Syrian 'refugees'.

      The cops don't have anything against me, I'm always polite to them, and think of the backup if something goes bad !

      The Syrians really don't have anything against me personally either, except that I am in their eyes an 'infidel' and thereby deserving of the death penalty, whether by crucifixion, burning, beheading, stoning (usually reserved for the ladies), or sundry, the choice being up to them.

      I'll take the cops.

  3. Gotta out gun the bad guys dontcha know?

    ... and the bad girls...

    ...torririzing Ms. UNIVERSE in Vegas


    1. Ash, are you sucking your Canadian hash pipe again ?

      I am totally sober, drug free, wide awake, seemingly sane, and I've read your post three or fours times and I can't figure what the hell you are talking about.

      Anyone else out there dare to take a guess ?

      I'd ask Ash to expound a little but that would invariably make it 10X worse, though the humor might make it worth it.

  4. How come the Police are always 15 minutes too late when you call over a home invasion and when they do arrive they find you dead on the phone ?

    Without the Police, most of Detroit and parts of Philly would in a month would be run by the toughest meanest deadliest drug gangs, the middle class areas would have formed self defense committees, and if you don't want to join, your property isn't on the protected list, you're on your own, the courts would not function, and the rich would have hired their own police forces.

    Be careful what you bitch about, you might miss it when it's gone.

    As a last resort the governors would be calling out the National Guards in each state, but there aren't enough of those folks to go around......

    Other than those considerations, things would be great without the Police.

    1. .

      How come the Police are always 15 minutes too late when you call over a home invasion and when they do arrive they find you dead on the phone ?

      It takes quite a while for the cops to get their body armor on.

      When seconds count the police are only minutes away.


    2. .

      Without the Police...

      It's not the police we don't want. It's the domestic military that we have now.

      While I certainly disagree with you I will defend to the death your right to continue making a complete ass of yourself.


  5. Drug pricing - and good news for Hep C carriers -

    Long but interesting article -

    December 21, 2015
    Inside the Impossibly Byzantine World of Prescription Drug Prices
    By Dylan Scott

    A recent investigation by the Senate Finance Committee into the pricing of Gilead’s hepatitis C drug, Solvaldi, is one of the few times that a drug company’s thinking behind a list price has been documented in such detail.

    Gilead executives weighed whether the expanding Medicaid population under the Affordable Care Act and more baby boomers joining Medicare should factor into its pricing strategy because the required discounts for the government programs tend to drive actual prices paid down.

    They also looked at the discounts previously given to private payers for prior hepatitis C treatments and considered what the Solvaldi price would mean for future medicines. A second-wave drug, Harvoni, was in the works, and Gilead knew that the Solvadi price would determine what the company could charge for its follow-up.

    Gilead also considered whether to contract with health plans, and a big part of that equation was the plans’ market share. Plans with large control of their markets were the ones who could block Solvaldi because of its high price. In its final round of pricing discussions, the report said, the company sought the maximum price it could set without risking that a substantial number of payers or physicians would not take to the drug.

    “This presentation shows that Gilead set a price as high as it thought acceptable before significant access restrictions would be imposed,” the report said.

    The final price? $84,000.

    On the other hand, the entire world now has a drug that is 99% effective against Hep C, without the side effects of earlier methods, that often didn't work, and developing an effective isn't cheap, and few companies can do it.

    The price will come down.

    If you're on Obamacare they will most probably say you don't need it until you are Stage 4, which is the last stage.

    If you are with Blue Cross you can get it earlier.

  6. Gallup: Trust in police rebounds in 2015
    posted at 7:01 pm on December 21, 2015 by Ed Morrissey

    Share on Facebook

    Have Americans given a second chance to police? The past year or more has been marked by protests and demands for greater accountability and restrictions on police forces, in some cases for good cause and with some constructive proposals. Mostly, though, the focus has been on angry protests that claim to represent the attitudes of entire communities toward police officers. A new poll from Gallup indicates the opposite — and a rebound in the very communities in question:

    After dipping to 48% in 2014 amid a national firestorm over police treatment of young black men, the rating Americans give the honesty and ethical standards of police has rebounded to 56%. This is more consistent with the 54% to 58% ratings Gallup found between 2010 and 2013.

    Four in 10 nonwhites now rate the ethical standards of police as very high or high — a sharp increase from the 23% who held this view in 2014. A steep drop in nonwhites’ ratings of the police in 2014 was the sole cause of the profession’s overall ratings dip last year. While nonwhites’ attitudes have not rebounded to their pre-2014 levels, the slight increase in whites’ positive views of the police this year, from 59% to 64%, coupled with the rise in nonwhites’ ratings, pushes the overall percentage back to the “normal” range seen in recent years.

    This chart shows the sharp improvement, while also making clear that it’s not a blanket vote of confidence:


    The one point of interest that remains unexplained is the sharp spike of support in 2012 for police among “nonwhites” in Gallup’s poll. It’s the only other time that it ends up in a virtual tie with the level of trust shown by whites. One has to assume that this coincides with Barack Obama’s two successful elections, but the linkage is still a little ambiguous, as is the declines immediately afterward in both cases. The current level of 40% is closer to the historical level (and within the MoE of it) than either the 2014 nadir or the apexes in 2008 and 2012.

    The 2014 nadir is easy to explain, of course; the Ferguson riots took place in August of that year, just three months before Gallup’s polling. Even while the “hands up, don’t shoot” meme got debunked, it still resonated, and the initial paramilitary response of the police raised serious questions about the balance of force in normal police work. That led to the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, which continues to this day.

    The rebound might be a little more difficult to explain. The Freddie Gray homicide in Baltimore, which resulted in charges against several police officers, took place in April of this year, not last year. It also led to riots, and to a pullback of police intervention. The result of that policy may have contributed to a reassessment, in fact, as crime went up and police responded passively. That may have reminded “nonwhites” that an engaged police presence is necessary for their own well-being. That, and the moves made by metropolitan police forces to equip officers with body cams, may have moved the needle back to its historic position.

    The gap is still far too wide, though. We need police to keep the peace, and in order to do that, the police need the trust of the communities they serve. That means we have to enhance accountability without issuing blanket statements of condemnation when misbehavior or worse occurs. That requires rational discussion and cooperation, not silly die-ins in retail stores. The chart above shows how ineffective that kind of outrage theater is, and points us to the path of constructive policymaking instead.


      Dad used to say there was a little unconscious larceny in everybody. Presumable this includes the Police. :)

      This may account for an unconscious suspicion of the Police by all involved.

      Not that any of us would ever do anything wrong.



    Ramadi Braces for Battle as 109 Are Killed across Iraq
    by Margaret Griffis, December 20, 2015

    The Iraqi government has given residents of Ramadi three days to evacuate before heavy fighting begins. However, it may not be possible for civilians to escape the city. The Islamic State militants have been forcing them to remain as human shields.

    Those behind the kidnapping of 26 Qatari hunters last week have issued a demand. They want Saudi Arabia to free Shi’ite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, who is on death row for protesting the government.

    At least 109 were killed and 53 were wounded:

    * Two suicide bombers in Arola village killed 28 Peshmerga and wounded four more.

    * Militants killed nine members, including women and an elderly man, of a Shabak family who were accused of aiding the Peshmerga in Hamdaniya.

    * In Baghdad, a bomb killed one person and wounded seven more. A roadside bomb killed a militia patrolman and five others. Three civilians were wounded in a blast meant for a police patrol.

    * Two people were killed and six were wounded by a blast in Madaen.

    * A rocket attack in Samarra wounded a woman and a child; an airstrike killed the perpetrators. At least three militants were killed in this or a separate strike.

    * In Ramadi, 30 militants were killed, including a leader.

    * Seventeen militants were killed and 26 were wounded during airstrikes on Aiadhia village.

    * Fourteen militants were killed during strikes near Mosul.

    * Security forces killed a Daesh executioner and his companion during a secret mission to Shirqat.

  8. I watched a video of the Iraqi Army participating in a "firefight," earlier tonight. I swear to God, I don't see how they ever induce rigor mortis in anyone, much less win a battle.

    The Iraqi Army is, without a doubt, all up and down the command structure, the absolute worst excuse for a "fighting force" to ever masquerade as a military enterprise.


    Amid all the chaos in the Middle East, the breakdown of borders and states, a new threat is fast emerging. The key strategic bulwark to stabilise the region is a strong Afghanistan. But after 15 years of occupation by western troops and a trillion dollars spent, it now appears to be going the way of the Levant.

    A weak government in Kabul has proved unable to forge a political consensus. The Taleban is resurgent, while other similar groups control much of the Afghan country-side. And this — with the potential spread factor of Isis — means that Afghanistan is probably worse off today than when foreign forces intervened in 2001. You will read very little about this problem, because Afghanistan is now regarded by most western leaders as an old problem, one that dogged their predecessors, one that they don’t want to confront. But expect to hear more about Afghanistan over the next year, because a bad situation is turning much worse.

    Britain joined the United States mission in Afghanistan for a simple reason: to depose the Taleban and introduce a new, stable government. At the time, it was argued that the fanatics had managed to seize power in Kabul but there were plenty of moderate players who would, given a nudge from the West, take power again and return the nation to stability. It took more than a nudge: 456 British soldiers died during this mission and more than 2,200 Americans. The best that was achieved was the pretence of a stable government – which, it was hoped, would last for long enough for troops to withdraw.

    The Taleban are now on their way back and recently captured their first city since losing the country to US forces in 2001. Kunduz, with a population of 300,000 and a strategic position on the border with Central Asia, had been under siege for much of this year, but a surprise attack by a few hundred Taleban just after a religious holiday overran its defences, and the security forces needed two weeks to retake the city.


    1. {...}


      Meanwhile, horrific bombing by US aircraft of a Kunduz hospital run by the international medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières, in which 30 people were killed (including 13 staff and three children), caused outrage around the world. The organisation rejected a US apology and demanded an international investigation. The Americans, lacking in ground intelligence, had mistaken the hospital for a Taleban compound. If such a mistake was possible, it could be repeated — a thought that has led to a large-scale evacuation of UN staff, western aid agencies and diplomats, further disabling humanitarian relief and jobs for Afghans across the country.

      So how safe is Afghanistan now? American diplomats now travel only by helicopter for meetings even inside Kabul. The Taleban control almost all the major road systems in the country, which they could shut down when they choose, thereby isolating Kabul and other cities and preventing the supply of foodstuffs and trade from six neighbouring states.


    2. {...}


      Afghans now make up the second largest contingent of asylum-seekers arriving in Europe. According to UN statistics, they constitute almost 15 per cent of the total number of 650,000 who reached Europe between January and August. Many of them are well–educated middle-class families who held down good jobs as long as foreign forces were in their country.

      And what are they fleeing? The world was shown a glimpse of it this last month when footage emerged of a young woman being stoned to death on charge of adultery. Once, such tales were recounted by western leaders as reason for intervening in Afghanistan. Now they are examples of what many Afghans fear is the state to come. Afghans who can afford to leave are doing so; some purchasing fake death-threat letters from the Taleban for as much as £700. Some 160,000 Afghans are expected to emigrate by the end of this year, quadruple the number of two years ago.

      Officials in Kabul tell me that the Taleban pose a grave threat to more than half of the country’s 34 provinces. Of those, a half-dozen are in danger of falling completely into Taleban control, possibly when the spring offensive starts. They include Helmand in the south — the province that was under British control for so many years. Then there’s Faryab, an isolated but strategic province in the north-west bordering Turkmenistan; Farah in the south-west, bordering Iran; and Badakhshan and Kunar provinces in the north-east, bordering Pakistan and China. The fall of any one of these provinces would cause further panic in Kabul.



    3. {..}

      President Barack Obama’s decision in October to keep 5,500 US troops in Afghanistan beyond 2017 — when he had previously pledged that all US forces would leave before his term expires in just over a year — will ensure that the country is somewhere on the international agenda, but will not actually help defeat the Taleban. The promised number is little more than half the current strength of 9,800, which has been unable to stop the Taleban making their dramatic gains.

      Some 4,000 Nato forces will also stay. Britain is one of several European countries that has pledged to maintain a small military presence alongside the Americans — probably around 500 troops. Sadly, Obama’s legacy to his successor is expected to be exactly the same as his from George W. Bush — an unresolved war and a critical military situation that threatens to destabilise the region.

      The temporary loss of Kunduz triggered widespread alarm, especially in Central Asia, with Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan deploying troops on their respective borders with Afghanistan. There is evidence that foreign fighters from Central Asia joined the Taleban for its attack on the town. Groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and the Eastern Turkestan Islamic Front (made up of Chinese Uighurs) are anxious to secure northern Afghanistan so that they can penetrate their own homelands. President Putin, speaking in Kazakhstan on 16 October, called on other ex-Soviet nations to be prepared to act together to repel a possible attack by ‘terrorists’ now seeking sanctuaries in Taleban-held areas of Afghanistan.


  10. It is a battle of literary memes, and has, contrary to what Gramps Rufus is always insisting, nothing whatsoever to do with 'oil' -

    A Medieval Antidote to ISIS
    [Mustafa Akyol]

    Mustafa Akyol DEC. 21, 2015

    ISTANBUL — THE recent massacres in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., demonstrated, once again, the so-called Islamic State’s ability to win over disaffected Muslims. Using a mixture of textual literalism and self-righteous certainty, the extremist group is able to persuade young men and women from Pakistan to Belgium to pledge allegiance to it and commit violence in its name.

    This is why the Islamic State’s religious ideology needs to be taken seriously. While it’s wrong to claim that the group’s thinking represents mainstream Islam, as Islamophobes so often do, it’s also wrong to pretend that the Islamic State has “nothing to do with Islam,” as many Islamophobia-wary Muslims like to say. Indeed, jihadist leaders are steeped in Islamic thought and teachings, even if they use their knowledge to perverse and brutal ends.

    A good place to start understanding the Islamic State’s doctrine is by reading Dabiq, the digital English-language magazine that the group puts out every month. One of the most striking pieces I have seen in it was an 18-page article in March titled “Irja’: The Most Dangerous Bid’ah,” or heresy.

    Unless you have some knowledge of medieval Islamic theology you probably have no idea what irja means. The word translates literally as “postponing.” It was a theological principle put forward by some Muslim scholars during the very first century of Islam. At the time, the Muslim world was going through a major civil war, as proto-Sunnis and proto-Shiites fought for power, and a third group called Khawarij (dissenters) were excommunicating and slaughtering both sides. In the face of this bloody chaos, the proponents of irja said that the burning question of who is a true Muslim should be “postponed” until the afterlife. Even a Muslim who abandoned all religious practice and committed many sins, they reasoned, could not be denounced as an “apostate.” Faith was a matter of the heart, something only God — not other human beings — could evaluate.

    The scholars who put this forward became known as “murjia,” the upholders of irja, or, simply, “postponers.” The theology that they outlined could have been the basis for a tolerant, noncoercive, pluralistic Islam — an Islamic liberalism. Unfortunately, they did not have enough influence on the Muslim world. The school of thought disappeared quickly, only to go down in Sunni orthodoxy’s memory as one of the early “heretical sects.” The murjia left a mark on the more lenient side of Sunni Islam, represented by Hanafi-Maturidism, most popular in the Balkans, Turkey and Central Asia, but today there is virtually no Muslim group that identifies itself as murjia. The word irja is seldom heard in discussions of Islamic theology.


      With a Moslem, alas, you never know.

      This gentleman may just be practicing taqiyya to confuse y'all.

      How do you know ?

      For sure ?


    2. (I think he's being sincere)


      Nonetheless, barring an unexpected return to the peace table, the spring will likely herald a nationwide Taleban offensive. The West is unlikely to come to the Afghan government’s rescue. The possibility of a Taleban return to power – in its southern heartland, at the very least – is no longer improbable.

      The result will be further destabilisation of Pakistan and Central Asia, creating the perfect conditions for the expansion of the Islamic State. It’s not something anyone in London or Washington will want to admit, but after hundreds of lives lost in Afghanistan, and billions of dollars spent, the worst may well be yet to come.

    4. None of this would have happened with a citizen army and a US government pledged to taking care of US business in the US and minding our own business.

  11. Every member of the US government has voted to defund and impede one of the most effective fighting forces against ISIS. That is Hezbollah.

  12. Unlike its Iraqi counterpart, which has largely collapsed in the face of Isis offensives, the regular Afghan army has proved it can fight. But it has taken heavy casualties: more than 5,000 Afghan security personnel have been killed so far in 2015, twice the number of the same period last year. Meanwhile, there are too many different security forces — regular troops, special forces, village guards and a variety of militias — leading a lack of central leadership and effective lines of command. The Afghan army also urgently needs more air cover. There is no proper Afghan air force and western governments have failed to provide one.


  13. A Taliban attack killed six U.S. service members near Kabul on Monday, U.S. officials said, in the latest sign of deepening violence across Afghanistan and the risks facing President Obama’s plan to leave the most intense fighting to local forces.

    U.S. military officials said the attack, the most deadly insurgent assault on American forces in at least three years, took place a few miles from Bagram air base, when a motorbike rigged with explosives detonated and hit a group of U.S. troops attending a meeting with local figures.


      The attack comes as the Afghan government struggles to beat back a series of large-scale Taliban offensives and contain a nascent campaign by militants linked to the Islamic State. The latest casualties also serve as a reminder that although most American forces have gone home, Afghanistan’s long war is not yet over.


    American military leaders suggest the string of Taliban attacks is an attempt to demonstrate superiority over newly independent Afghan forces. They say it also reflects a power struggle within the Taliban, whose new leader may be seeking to cement control of the militant organization.

    Gen. John F. Campbell, the commander of U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan, has called mounting losses among Afghan forces proof of their increasing independence on the battlefield. Those casualties increased by nearly 30 percent in the first 11 months of 2015, according to Pentagon statistics.

    “For the most part, the Taliban were not able to get any of their strategic goals,” Campbell said during Carter’s visit on Friday. “They took over district centers, they took over Kunduz, as you know, temporarily. What was good is the Afghan forces continued to go back and take that back over.”



    “The military strategy is failing, and the [training] construct is under-resourced and undercapable,” said David Sedney, a former senior Pentagon official for Afghanistan and Pakistan who is now a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

    “The war is transitioning to a new phase,” he said. “Overall it’s clear that the Taliban are both in more places, and where they are, they’re more effective.”


    ...The emergence of militants linked to the Islamic State in Afghanistan has added complexity to an already challenging battlefield. While officials think the Islamic State’s Afghanistan cell is made up of mostly opportunistic fighters from other groups, it is another adversary for local forces, who are already stretched for resources...

  17. Go on, watch the Pentagon video again. It will make you feel much better.

  18. Should the USA and the West in general, not to mention the free women of the world, have any active concern for the women of Afghanistan ?

    Or should they be doomed to servitude and brutality of the worst kind for time out of mind ?

  19. Extremely good and interesting article.

    Dad, who was always saying things, used to say one fine day we'd be pals with the Russians -


    Military to Military
    Seymour M. Hersh on US intelligence sharing in the Syrian war

    One of the constants in US affairs since the fall of the Soviet Union has been a military-to-military relationship with Russia. After 1991 the US spent billions of dollars to help Russia secure its nuclear weapons complex, including a highly secret joint operation to remove weapons-grade uranium from unsecured storage depots in Kazakhstan. Joint programmes to monitor the security of weapons-grade materials continued for the next two decades. During the American war on Afghanistan, Russia provided overflight rights for US cargo carriers and tankers, as well as access for the flow of weapons, ammunition, food and water the US war machine needed daily. Russia’s military provided intelligence on Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts and helped the US negotiate rights to use an airbase in Kyrgyzstan. The Joint Chiefs have been in communication with their Russian counterparts throughout the Syrian war, and the ties between the two militaries start at the top. In August, a few weeks before his retirement as chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Dempsey made a farewell visit to the headquarters of the Irish Defence Forces in Dublin and told his audience there that he had made a point while in office to keep in touch with the chief of the Russian General Staff, General Valery Gerasimov. ‘I’ve actually suggested to him that we not end our careers as we began them,’ Dempsey said – one a tank commander in West Germany, the other in the east.

    When it comes to tackling Islamic State, Russia and the US have much to offer each other. Many in the IS leadership and rank and file fought for more than a decade against Russia in the two Chechen wars that began in 1994, and the Putin government is heavily invested in combating Islamist terrorism. ‘Russia knows the Isis leadership,’ the JCS adviser said, ‘and has insights into its operational techniques, and has much intelligence to share.’ In return, he said, ‘we’ve got excellent trainers with years of experience in training foreign fighters – experience that Russia does not have.’ The adviser would not discuss what American intelligence is also believed to have: an ability to obtain targeting data, often by paying huge sums of cash, from sources within rebel militias.

    A former White House adviser on Russian affairs told me that before 9/11 Putin ‘used to say to us: “We have the same nightmares about different places.” He was referring to his problems with the caliphate in Chechnya and our early issues with al-Qaida. These days, after the Metrojet bombing over Sinai and the massacres in Paris and elsewhere, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that we actually have the same nightmares about the same places.’


      The mid east is really simple if one can ever figure it out.


    The omnibus appropriations measure provides $573 billion for defense operations and another $163 billion for Veterans Affairs Department programs. President Obama is expected to sign the measure into law in the next few days.

  21. Europe has one million new refugees this year. The largest single group are Afghans. Why the European public is not in open revolt against the US and Nato Crusade in the Greater Middle East, Africa and Asia is a puzzlement to me.

    It will come.

  22. Germany’s Afghan refugees face repatriation

    Tens of thousands of people have fled Afghanistan in recent months as Taliban forces step up attacks. Many have found refuge in Germany, but now Berlin is discussing their repatriation with Afghan officials, despite the worsening security situation.

  23. .

    Or should they be doomed to servitude and brutality of the worst kind for time out of mind ?

    If you are concerned, vote for Hillary. She is the only candidate that has even mentioned women and women's issues here and around the world. That is, if you believe she is sincere.

    Only a fool would think the US (and Western) military or occupational presence around the world has in any way improved the lot of women (or minorities, Christians, etc.) In fact, in the chaos we have created, things have only gotten worse for these groups.

    One can see the hypocrisy of those here in the US who cry the crocodile tears over 'the women' when we see the stance of many of these humanitarians as they decry allowing in any Syrian refugee 'women and children'.


    1. The British presence in India helped the women a lot but that's another matter.

      It's not hypocrisy to be concerned about Syrian 'refugees'.

      Besides, this hypocrite has said help them relocate elsewhere, pay for it.

      Or, put them in safe and secure FEMA camps for the duration, then help them relocate back when the proper time comes. FEMA camps might be the high point of some of their lives until now.

      I think of all the women that died in San Bernardino.

      Evidently you do not, you hypocrite.

    2. By the way, and off the topic a little, the woman that drove over all those people in Las Vegas, killing one, wounding thirty something, is said by one witness to have been shouting Allahu Akbar as she drove merrily along the sidewalk.

      The Vegas Police are tight lipped about this so we don't know the truth of the matter yet.

      But they haven't denied it yet, far as I know.

      Vegas has a good Police Department. The Casino owners want it so. A safe environment is best for milking the millions of their millions.

      Certainly they don't wish it to get out that Vegas is a target of terrorists, which would be really bad for bidness.

      We must wait developments.

    3. Also I think I said once let the women and kids in but not the men, though can't recall for absolute certain.

      I have thought about that, though.

      Basically, what I am saying is 'up yours'.

  24. Trumps take a hit it new Q Poll -

    New national Q-poll has Cruz four points behind Trump
    posted at 8:51 am on December 22, 2015 by Ed Morrissey

    Share on Facebook

    Looks like Ted Cruz has begun to peak at just the right moment. A new national poll from Quinnipiac puts the Texas Senator within four points of Donald Trump for the lead, within the margin of error for registered Republican voters. Trump trounces both Cruz and Hillary Clinton for another honor … a dubious one:

    Six weeks before the Iowa Caucuses open the 2016 presidential race in earnest, Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz lead the Republican field nationally, but Trump trails either Democratic candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and 50 percent of American voters say they would be embarrassed to have Trump as president, according to a Quinnipiac University National poll released today.

    Trump has 28 percent of the GOP pack, with Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas at 24 percent. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has 12 percent and Dr. Ben Carson has 10 percent, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University Poll finds. No other candidate tops 6 percent with 8 percent undecided. But 58 percent of those who name a candidate might change their mind.

    This is a big move for Cruz — eight points in three weeks for the Q-poll series. It broke a three-way deadlock for second place, as both Rubio and Carson dropped in the polls, by five and six points respectively. The other somewhat significant move came from Chris Christie, who rose four points to get to 6%, and who now has passed Jeb Bush to gain fifth place overall. No one else’s support changed even close to the margin of error, and the same 8% still don’t have a candidate preference.

    Cruz appears to be improving on his likability, too. He gets a 35/33 rating overall and a 34/28 among independents. It’s not as good as Marco Rubio, whose +9 at 37/28 is the best in the GOP field (and 38/24 among independents), but Cruz has had issues on likability in the past. He’s doing better than Ben Carson on this question, who has slipped to negative numbers overall, 36/38.

    The “embarrassment” question mostly serves a need to find a publicity hook for the poll this deep into the primary-debate cycle. By this time, voters probably can’t easily distinguish which topline result came from which pollster, which is why they have begun to ask provocative and self-answering questions like this, or “Would you vote for Darth Vader or Donald Trump?” Skip that, and take a look at this comparison instead:

    1. Clinton has the right kind of experience to be president, American voters say 63 – 35 percent, while Trump does not have the experience, voters say 67 – 29 percent. But Clinton and Trump are close on several key qualities. American voters say:

      59 – 35 percent that Clinton is not honest and trustworthy;
      58 – 40 percent that she has strong leadership qualities;
      50 – 46 percent that she does not care about their needs and problems;
      55 – 42 percent that she does not share their values.

      Looking at Trump, voters say:

      58 – 36 percent that he is not honest and trustworthy;
      58 – 39 percent that he has strong leadership qualities;
      57 – 38 percent that he does not care about their needs and problems;
      61 – 34 percent that he does not share their values.

      That will be a problem for Republicans if Trump wins the nomination, even apart from any supposed “embarrassment” factor. In terms of personal and emotional connections to voters, he’s basically the Hillary Clinton of the Republicans — and Hillary has a much larger organization already on the ground to get out votes. This is actually Hillary’s big vulnerability this cycle, in that she has no potential for reassembling the Obama coalition, and it is also the Republicans’ big opportunity. However, to take advantage of it, they need a nominee who can both personally resonate with a general-election electorate and run a superior ground organization.

      This is the reason why Hillary can’t get above 44% with Rubio or Cruz, but scores a 7-point lead over Donald Trump at 47/40. These numbers make a strong case that Trump won’t be able to overcome that. And really, can anyone imagine a Trump campaign that would try to make the case that he shares the values of middle America?

      Interestingly, Quinnipiac didn’t ask those series of questions about the other Republicans. I’d bet that they start asking them about Ted Cruz the next time around.

      The American people must be idiots.

      They say Hillary has the right kind of experience to be President by two to one.

      Meanwhile they say she is not trustworthy or honest by nearly the same margin, 59% -35%.

      What can one make out of a people this ?

      Not much, saith the Lord, not much.

      Since another Great Flood is ruled out, how about a meteor strike and back to the clay modeling factory once again ?

  25. .

    I think of all the women that died in San Bernardino.

    You don't think. You emote. How can you compare the millions of refugees around the world many of whom owe their refugee status to the US interventions in Syria/Iraq/Afghanistan/Libya to the number of women who died in San Bernardino. On a hot summer weekend, more women are murdered in many of the major cities in the US than were killed in San Bernardino.

    You jump back and forth from the general to specific with no consideration of geometric progression. You arguments ignore reality and lack any kind of logic.

    You don't think. You emote.


    1. Actually I'm for staying in Afghanistan.

      Syria and Libya are Hillary's problem, a problem created by the Democrats. Iraq too for taking the troops out too soon. I continue to agree with Gary Kasparov on that.

      The women and children might be OK but the kids grow up and get radicalized.

      What do you suggest to do about that ?

      Further most of these people are not 'refugees' as per definition.

      They have made it to safe haven in Turkey, Egypt, Jordan and elsewhere. It is therefore not our problem. Let them stay there, among their moslem friends.

      Think before you emote.

      Again, up yours.

    2. I'll give you an Ethical Gold Medal when I see you taking in a family of 'refugees' into your home, but not until then.

      I don't think it's going to happen.

      Or, I wouldn't offer.

    3. .

      Further most of these people are not 'refugees' as per definition


      Lord, you are dumb.


    4. .

      As a 'champion of Women' you make a good faux farmer.


    5. You're an idiot.

      They are not refugees.

      They have already found refuge.

      Kindly don't get personal when losing an argument.

      it is unbecoming, you dumb fuck dolt.


    6. .

      The women and children might be OK but the kids grow up and get radicalized.

      What do you suggest to do about that ?

      I suggest you get your facts straight.

      Michigan, primarily Dearborn has the highest concentration of Arabs/Muslims in the US. Dearborn also has the largest convocation or Reform Jews in the US. the crime rate in Dearborn is comparable to most other mid-size cities in the US.

      The biggest immigration issues we have in this area are from Mexican and Caribbean illegals coming in through Florida and passing through Detroit in trying to get to Canada.


    7. This comment has been removed by the author.

    8. GOOD LORD !!

      An actual sign of intelligence !

  26. All that is needed for a wonderful Christmas at The Mall of America is a terrorist attack while this is going on (not being serious) - but it might happen. Some of Quirk's beloved 'refugees' - who are totally impossible to 'vet' - might get the wild hair.

    December 22, 2015
    #BlackLivesMatter showdown at the Mall of America?
    By Thomas Lifson

    #BlackLivesMatter leaders in the Twin Cities are vowing to go ahead with a planned and highly publicized demonstration at the Mall of America Wednesday despite plans by the mall’s owners to obtain a temporary restraining order forbidding it, and requiring “organizers to remove posts with plans of the demonstration from social media and to send out notifications that the event has been canceled.” The official filing of the request for a restraining order is here. A ruling is expected today.

    The group is protesting a shooting of a black man, Jamar Clark, by Minneapolis Police, and has already blocked lanes of a major local freeway in protest. It is demanding a special prosecutor, not a grand jury handle the shooting of Clark.

    The Mall of American is not in the city of Minneapolis, but rather in suburban Bloomington. The mall’s owners point to:

    a similar protest held on December 20, 2014 involving approximately 1,000 protesters inside the mall. A number of the demonstrators were arrested and charged with trespassing. The legal action maintains that MOA and its tenants suffered irreparable harm, including reduced guests and sales. The mall says traffic counts for the number of cars entering parking ramps on that day were down 15 percent from statistics from the previous five years, which translates into 24,000 fewer shoppers. Mall attorneys maintain that many retailers reported double digit decreases in sales on December 20,2014, the date of that demonstration.

    As private property, the Mall of America is under no obligation to host demonstrations., and in fact has a policy against demonstrations on its premises.

    If a restraining order is issued and #BLM goes ahead with its plans, there could be quite a showdown at the mall on the day before Christmas Eve. Which, I imagine, is exactly what #BlackLivesMatter wants.

    1. The Lady in the San Bernardino shootings had been 'vetted' three times.

      The man's father and mother ought to be in jail.

      They knew what was going on.

      You can't tell me the old lady didn't notice thousands of rounds of ammo, bombs, rifles in her downstairs living room.

    2. The old witch said she never came downstairs.

      R I G H T

    3. I'm off the topic now.

      Let Quirk babble on as he chooses.

      I want to meet his 'refugee' family, though, when they are peacefully settled in at his pad.

    4. Oh well, one more.

      We ought to be taking in Christians from the middle east.


      But not this Administration, not these lovely Democrats, not this wonder working crypto Moslem Light Bringing asshole President we are cursed with....

  27. .

    I want to meet his 'refugee' family, though, when they are peacefully settled in at his pad.

    I couldn't get any. The demand is too great.

    However, there will be 100 of them coming to Pontiac, Mi. (a few miles west of me) as soon as housing is completed for them.


    1. Gosh, that is saddening, disheartening for you.

      Why not take some Christians instead ?

      The trouble with this idea is President Bozo won't let them in.

      They are only facing genocide, no big deal...

  28. .

    I'm off the topic now.

    You've been off topic all morning.

    Shouldn't you be doing your chores? You know, making up your bed under your bed.


    1. Ho,ho,ho !

      What I should do is vacuum under there.

      I know there are a bunch of potato chips, popcorn, and a bunch of socks, too.

      Much more profitable than listening to your horse shit.

      Now shoo, go way, go way.

  29. .

    They are not refugees.

    They have already found refuge.

    Lord, you haven't a clue. You define the uninformed voter.


    1. I repeat, they are not refugees.

      They have already found refuge.

      They have found refuge in Jordan, Egypt, Turkey.

      By the way the Saudis and the Gulf states don't want them.

      There are 57 moslem countries out there.

      Surely these wonderful folks can step up to the bat.

      But, then again, they really don't have to as they have already found refuge in Jordan, Egypt, Turkey....

  30. Now turning to another serious matter, a much more serious matter, as Uncle Bob has been saying, if totalitarian comes to the USA - is coming to the USA in increments - it will come from the left, not the right -

    The Democrats’ Theme for 2016 Is Totalitarianism

    Hillary Clinton and John Kerry share a laugh in September 2014. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

    by Kevin D. Williamson December 20, 2015 2:00 AM @kevinNR

    At the beginning of December, Rolling Stone writer Jeff Goodell asked Secretary of State John Kerry whether Charles and David Koch, two libertarian political activists, should be considered — his remarkable words — “an enemy of the state.” He posed the same question about Exxon, and John Kerry, who could have been president of these United States, said that he looked forward to the seizure of Exxon’s assets for the crime of “proselytizing” impermissibly about the question of global warming. An enemy of the state?

    That’s the Democrats’ theme for the New Year: totalitarianism. Donald Trump may talk like a brownshirt, but the Democrats mean business. For those of you keeping track, the Democrats and their allies on the left have now: voted in the Senate to repeal the First Amendment, proposed imprisoning people for holding the wrong views on global warming, sought to prohibit the showing of a film critical of Hillary Rodham Clinton, proposed banning politically unpopular academic research, demanded that funding politically unpopular organizations and causes be made a crime and that the RICO organized-crime statute be used as a weapon against targeted political groups.

    They have filed felony charges against a Republican governor for vetoing a piece of legislation, engaged in naked political persecutions of members of Congress, and used the IRS and the ATF as weapons against political critics. RELATED: A Syllabus of the Dangerous Errors of the Left On the college campuses, they shout down unpopular ideas or simply forbid nonconforming views from being heard there in the first place.

    1. They have declared academic freedom an “outdated concept” and have gone the full Orwell, declaring that freedom is oppressive and that they should not be expected to tolerate ideas that they do not share. They are demanding mandatory ideological indoctrination sessions for nonconforming students. They have violently assaulted students studying in libraries and assaulted student journalists documenting their activities.

      They have staged dozens of phony hate crimes and sexual assaults as a pretext for persecuting unpopular organizations and people. What they cannot achieve by legislation or litigation, they seek to achieve by simple violence, left-wing activists having smashed, looted, and burned portions of Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore, where Koreans and other Asian minorities were specifically targeted. As on college campuses, they have made a point of assaulting journalists documenting their violence.

      They have rioted in Philadelphia and in other cities. They are not backing away from that. Hillary Rodham Clinton may do her vice-principal shtick, but Bernie Sanders is calling for “revolution,” and by “revolution” he means crushing the economic and political rights of opponents in order to prevent them from having a say in political debate. Sounding oddly like Henry Ford, he seethes as he talks about scheming foreigners and international bankers working nefariously behind the scenes to undermine American interests, while his admirers brandish such traditional symbols of totalitarianism as the hammer-and-sickle flag.

      RELATED: The First Amendment Is Dying

      They have sought to use the FCC to revoke the broadcast licenses of Rupert Murdoch and other political hate totems, and have long dreamt of using federal regulation to shut down conservative talk radio. They have gone to the Supreme Court to argue that they should be empowered to ban books, films, magazines, and newspapers when they desire to do so for political reasons. They are energetic suppressors of free speech. The Right cannot be indifferent to this: It is our speech that they intend to prohibit first, and it is us that they are attempting to imprison for our political views. It is possible to have a robust, energetic political discourse within the parameters of American liberalism, which cherishes freedom of speech and of inquiry, which distinguishes between public and private spheres, which relies upon the rule of law and the Bill of Rights while placing limits on the reach of the state. But if you reject that, as our so-called liberals have, then you cannot have genuine political discourse, or genuine democracy.

    2. When he was asked about having fabricated a story about Mitt Romney’s not paying taxes, Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid made a straight-up might-makes-right argument: “Romney didn’t win, did he?” You cannot have much of an argument without some level of honesty, which is a problem for a country that probably is going to be subjected to yet another Clinton campaign.

      You cannot have much of an argument without freedom of speech, and you cannot have democracy if political activism is criminalized. The Democrats are seeking to restrict speech, and they already have criminalized politics: Ask Rick Perry about that, or Tom Delay.

      RELATED: Inverting the First Amendment

      The Right cannot be indifferent to this, because we simply do not have that option: It is our speech that they intend to prohibit first, and it is us that they are attempting to imprison for our political views. But the Left should not be indifferent to this, either. There are at least a few (and, one suspects, more than that) liberals of the old-fashioned variety in the Democratic party, and it is not at all clear that they are going to wish to remain part of a political organization that is seriously attempting to create a class of political prisoners, to ban books, and to drive people from their jobs and communities for their political beliefs.

      John Kerry cannot quite answer the question of whether one of his political rivals should be declared “an enemy of the state.” Between now and November 2016, Americans might want to think a bit about whether they wish to invest an openly totalitarian political party with the power of the presidency. — Kevin D. Williamson is roving correspondent at National Review.

      Read more at:

  31. Quirk wrote re Bob:

    "You don't think. You emote."

    True that!

    My view of Bob is that he simply isn't rational. No matter what you say to him, how good your arguments are, it just doesn't make any difference because he is not rational - he simply parrots anything that confirms his per-existing beliefs and assuages his fears, which are many.

  32. Iraqi Troops Storm Center Of ISIS-Held Ramadi

    BAGHDAD, Dec 22 (Reuters) - Iraq's armed forces stormed the center of Ramadi on Tuesday, a spokesman for the counter-terrorism units said, in a drive to dislodge Islamic State militants from their remaining stronghold in a city they captured in May.

    The operation to recapture Ramadi, a Sunni Muslim city on the river Euphrates some 100 km (60 miles) west of Baghdad, began in early November after a months-long effort to cut off supply lines to the city, whose fall to Islamic State was a major defeat for Iraq's weak central government.

    Progress has been slow because the government wants to rely entirely on its own troops and not use Shi'ite militias in order to avoid rights abuses such as occurred after the recapture of the city of Tikrit from the militants in April.

    "Our forces are advancing toward the government complex in the center of Ramadi," the counter-terrorism units' spokesman Sabah al-Numani said. "The fighting is in the neighborhoods around the complex, with support from the air force."

    Iraqi intelligence estimates the number of Islamic State fighters entrenched in the center of Ramadi, capital of Western Anbar province, at between 250 and 300.

    "It's ferocious fight, it's premature to say how long it will take but we can say victory will be achieved in a few days," Numani said.

    Dozens of militants had been killed, said Brigadier Gen. Yahya Rasool, spokesman of the joint operations command, declining to give a casualty toll for the armed forces.


      The offensive to capture the city center started at dawn, said Numani. Military units crossed the Euphrates river into the central districts using a bridge that was destroyed by the militants and fixed by army engineers, and another floating bridge set up to bring in more forces, he said.

      "Crossing the river was the main difficulty," he said. "We're facing sniper fire and suicide bombers who are trying to slow our advance, we're dealing with them with air force support."

      If the attack to capture Ramadi succeeds, it will be the second major city after Tikrit to be retaken from Islamic State in Iraq.

      Islamic State also controls Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, and Falluja, which lies betweenRamadi and Baghdad.

      Retaking Ramadi would provide a major psychological boost to Iraqi security forces after Islamic State seized a third of Iraq, a major OPEC oil producer and U.S ally, last year.

      U.S. officials have cautioned against the use of Iran-backed Shi'ite militias in retaking Ramadifrom the hardline Sunni militants to avoid further fanning sectarian tensions.