Grab Bag: September 2017

Try and start a new format and suddenly everything around the world breaks.

The Hearing Protection Act is merged into a massive gun bill, Ben Shapiro at Berkeley, and a quick check on (yet another) terror attack in London.

1.) SHARE Act. My InSov colleague over at This Is The Line, has been following the SHARE Act, which is essentially a combination of multiple pro-gun bills. The notable portion of that act is the including of the long-awaited Hearing Suppression Act.

The SHARE Act has led to the requisite “end of civilization” subroutine that we’re all used to by now, including a stunningly overdramatic</a. attempt at sarcasm-as-commentary that goes to absurd lengths to slam the bill(s).

So far as I can tell, National Reciprocity is not included in the bill. That bill is still stuck in committee, whereas the SHARE Act sailed through its committee

2.) Ben at Berkeley. Former free-speech haven and modern day protest backdrop Berkeley University hosted conservative speaker Ben Shapiro this week, under tight security, and despite the University’s efforts to dampend attendence with one hand and intimidate the student organization sponsoring the event.

By all accounts, Shapiro lived up to expectations. Conservatives called it a guide to “shutting down Antfia,” while protesters did what was largely expected and got arrested in the process.

3.) London. At this point, terror attacks in London are becoming far too regular. The latest event is an explosion onboard a London Underground train. An 18-year-old has been arrested, 30 people have been injured, but nobody has died. The UK government’s terror threat level is at its highest point, meaning that intelligence believes further attacks are imminent.

We don’t know anything about the suspect, and police are asking people to at least make the effort to not speculate.

Next time, we return to much more broad discussions. In 2 weeks, a discussion on the militant left, Shapiro’s speech in detail, and a few updates to Midnight Run: Megaphone.

Hope Within Hatred

The intention last week was to cover Harvey in detail as a matter of learning about being prepared for severe weather. While we’ll briefly touch on that this week, I think there is another angle that simply needs to be shown in the context of the current political climate.

It wasn’t even a month ago that the events in Charlottesville between right-wingers white nationalists, and Antifa took place. Given those events (and a host of others), the idea of a deeply polarized nation with no real recourse led to the belief that we were essentially headed for increased violence bordering on civil war.

And then Harvey happened.

Since then, we have seen a ton of stories of people putting politics aside (if they even acknowledged it in the first place) and working to help others in need. From Team Rubicon, to the National Guard units of multiple states, to individual Americans; the pictures coming out of Texas paint a very different picture than the one the media has been putting up for the last few weeks.

We’ll start with all of that. Then we will discuss preparations. My intention tonight is two-fold. The first is to demonstrate the truly all-hands-on-deck approach to disaster relief going on in Texas. The second is to use that demonstration to reinforce the July updates, and prove that the country isn’t nearly as divided as some extremely ignorant people want it to be (or need it to be).

1.) Osteen. First off, let us at least couch most of this with a tactical base. Houston mega-church pastor Joel Osteen took a ton of heat on social media for his Lakewood Church being closed in the immediate aftermath of the storm. Multiple sites, many with a grudge against Osteen to begin with, saw this as hypocrisy. The belief was that Osteen purposefully closed the building, even though it would have been the perfect shelter.

But, as is normal with outrage mobs and context-starved stories that are so very popular now, the reality on the ground was considerably different from the narrative presented.

First of all, portions of the building were flooded. Secondly, many Lakewood staff members were not at the building on a count of needing to themselves be rescued from flood waters. In other words, part of the building was flooded and there was not enough staff.

For it’s part, Lakewood notes that the doors were never closed but that the building was A.) extremely difficult to get to where it wasn’t flooded and B.) running on skeletal staff to begin with.

Disaster relief is not as simple as many would like. Apparently the church wasn’t officially designated as a shelter until Tuesday, several days after the storm had passed (and when the flood waters receeded). Disaster relief, like all major operations, are incredibly complicated.

Frankly, going past that to score political points speaks volumes about the people looking to score. Operations like what is going on in Houston require a ton of resources and people. Even national news outlets have been trying to do that.

2.) Rubicon. However, on the ground, such people are vastly outnumbered. Barring a handful of looters (who are taking their lives into their own hands, apparently), the vast majority of people in and around Houston are more interested in helping those in need. We’ll start with the one and only Team Rubicon, a veteran-focused disaster relief organization. One of their volunteers, Breaux Burns, wrote a piece for The New York Daily News describing Rubicon’s work and providing a first-hand account of what was happening there.

They have also been producing regular updates as to their part of the relief efforts.

Team Rubicon is probably one of the best organizations on the planet, focused on disaster relief and giving veterans getting out of the services a way to reintegrate into civilian life. If you can, consider donating to their efforts.

2.) Military. The entire Texas National Guard has been activated in response to Harvey. We also have Guard units from Louisiana and Georgia among others. Georgia National Guard Capt. Benjamin Moody put it like this when he spoke with Atlanta’s WSB-TV:

“They’re our brothers and sisters and fellow Americans. They called and we answered, and we know they would do the same thing for us, so we’re happy to be here.”

The US Coast Guard has been hauling ass in this as well, working with the Texas State Guard and assisting in water rescues.

3.) Cajun Navy. Let us move from the military/veteran community to civilians more generally. The Cajun Navy, a group formed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, has also deployed to help Texas. (Louisiana was hit by Harvey, but not nearly to the same degree Texas was.) The story of the Cajun Navy is actually quite remarkable, and The Advocate, a major news serivce in Baton Rouge, interviewed numerous Cajun Navy members for an extremely detailed article.

4.) Civilians. Rather than attempt to set up each individually, it is honestly best to provide a list of stories from around the Internet regarding how individual Americans are assisting in relief efforts. The reports have been coming so quickly that most outlets have decided to simply combine their individual reports into a running record.

ABC News: Incredible acts of kindness in Hurricane Harvey’s wake

Conservative Review: Heroes of Houston: Pictures of true Americanism

11Alive’s Jeremy Campbell: Animal rescue

CNBC: Texas Pizza Hut workers paddle through flood waters to deliver free pizzas by kayak

Twitchy: Meet the 15-year-old and his buddies rescuing people (and bunnies) in Houston [Kudos to my InSov colleague Catty Conservative for finding this one.

Breitbart Texas: ‘Texan’ Defined: ‘I’m gonna try to save some lives,’ says volunteer rescuer

5.) Survivalism. With our case study well handled, let us move on to practical solutions for surviving a storm, and being able to assist in its aftermath.

In the past, we have discussed finding raw data streams, namely the National Weather Service’s NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts that cover the vast majority of the US mainland, Hawaii, and portions of Alaska. In Midnight Run: Improvement, we discussed being physically ready to assist others, and discussed the dangers obesity poses both to the individual and the country as a whole.

I would like to turn your attention onto an aspect that is quite important, but that I am certainly not the expert in: backup power. Jack Spirko over at Survival Podcast has done multiple broadcasts on the subject, and his work is worth looking into in regards to survivalism generally. He has been podcasting for years, and his work packs a ton of information, delivered in a rational way.

As I am sure that mentioning that someone is a survivalist has already turned some off, I recommend starting with the program “What Is Modern Survivalism.

6.) Bottom line. All of this is to demonstrate a nation coming together, despite what an increasingly divisive media would like to see. (President Trump once called the media the source of most of the division in the country. He’s not wrong.) It is also to demonstrate that civilians, individual Americans, can have a huge impact in the aftermath if they are prepared to help.

We have discussed severe weather prep in Lethal Ignorance and physical fitness in Improvement. Harvey has shown parts of disaster relief we haven’t gone over.

It has also shown us how many are eager to get involved.

It has been a few days since Harvey recovery efforts got underway. In that timeframe, the media has attempted to fade those efforts out of view, but it simply isn’t working. The idea of a truly divided nation was severely damaged this week, and many seem intent on keeping the stories coming out of Houston alive, including the Run.

Whether this proves a turning point remains to be seen, but there is now very good evidence that the idea of a “deeply and irreparably divided nation” is little more than a lie perpetrated by people whose existence depends on prolonging it. The storm has seen people from quite literally all walks of life; from Soldiers, to football players, to even pizza deliverer people; operate as a cohesive unit with no expectation of reward or fame.

If the lie that we are irrevocably divided vanishes, we will all be better off for it.

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.

Shifting

Before we go anywhere, an important note about the frequency and content of the Midnight Run.

The Midnight Run has been updated almost once a week, since November 2013. Over time, the style has evolved. The updates in July versus the updates that surrounded it taught me one thing and it needs to be addressed.

Put simply, the news has gotten repetitive. There is very little motion from week to week in the Midnight Run’s main focuses; gun rights, survivalism, etc.. But shifting to the July updates, which cover a single topic in-depth, rather than multiple topics in rapid succession, not only led to a better update but also led to a much more thorough and clinical discussion of the Run’s main subjects. They were, to be direct, a more interesting, more entertaining, and frankly more fun-to-write series than what has become attempting to find a narrative out of extremely little movement. In addition, since the launch, I have taken on several projects unrelated to the Run.

All of this is to say that the Midnight Run is changing. Starting after next week’s update, the Run will enter a bi-weekly update format. Regular news work will more regularly give way to longer form discussions on survivalism, first aid, gun rights (and individual rights in general), and more. This switch will lead to two major things. The first is being able to go in-depth on a topic, the second is to be more analytical than focusing on the bullet points of a particular story. These have always been the Run’s strongest points, from the Tactical Reviews, to the Blowback and post-Blowback updates this year and last.

It’s about time I play to those strengths on a more regular basis. The final weekly update of the Run will be next week, and we will then be bi-weekly from that point onwards.

So with that out of the way, let’s get to business. This week, the Southern Poverty Law Center says Charlottesville proves the need for gun laws, an update on the Bergdahl case, and an update on Rep. Scalise’s recovery.

1.) Charlottesville. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which at this point is known as a left-wing outfit that sees conservatives as hate groups, saws the events of Charlottesville prove the need to change open carry laws in the state. This is, of course, despite the lack of any incidents involving firearms and one involving a car. The president of the organization said that “Peaceful protesters being met with men carrying military-style weapons. Many of those unarmed were probably intimidated. I certainly think I would have been.”

It has lead to a really interesting situation where the SPLC and the ACLU, two groups known to be fairly-left leaning, are taking two completely different tacts to the event. The SPLC is going after gun laws, the ACLU is defending the right of the protesters to speak, regardless of how repugnant their views are. (As we have discussed here multiple times, supporting someone’s rights is not the same as supporting their actions.

2.) Bergdahl. The trial of Bowe Bergdahl is taking its sweet time to get started. The latest development suggests that the trial will now be one resting on a single judge and not a trial-by-jury. Bergdahl’s lawyers wanted it this way, arguing that it would be near impossible for an impartial jury to be selected.

This case has been almost three years in the making.

3.) Scalise. The headline on the Daily Wire is all you need to know, “Scalise Must Lear To Walk Again After Congressional Baseball Shooting“. The 51-year-old Scalise was shot on June 14 as Congressional Republicans were gearing up for the annual baseball event between the GOP and the Democrats. House Speaker Paul Ryan would only say that Scalise would need to relearn how to walk again, but that he is speaking, and joined a conference call this week to discuss the GOP’s agenda for the fall.

Ryan, however, was unequivocal about the fact that Scalise has a long road to recovery ahead of him.

Next week, we enter our new bi-weekly schedule with a ton of notes on Harvey, and survival of natural disasters.

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.

Lawless

Antifa, political violence, and gun confiscation.

This week could not have been worse.

1.) Antifa. The group famous for starting riots in Berkeley was also in Charlottesville, although the national media didn’t seem to want to give them much attention. Gruntworks republished their excellent history of the group, and it’s also worth noting that the group put a few journalists in the hospital and then tried to lie about it.

Granted, a meeting between two groups of the worst people in the country (neo-Nazis and Antifa) was never going to end well. As Jonah Goldberg notes, however, given the history of Antifa and their penchant for violence, “fighting Nazis doesn’t man ‘antifa’ the good guys.”

In other words, yes Neo-Nazis are scum of the Earth with a completely backwards worldview….but that only means that there were two incredibly violent groups there instead of one. (Also, as one of the most efficient Nazi killers was Joseph Stalin, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are a great person.)

2.) Political violence. But, it’s now worth discussing the broader picture of political violence, and frankly who has the upper hand in that. Now, we’ve all seen almost cartoonishly over-the-top 3% pages; people who seem to think that a violent overthrow of the government is no more complicated than opening a Chick-Fil-A.

But as David Hines points out over at Jacobite, political violence is something the right-wing cannot win at for reaons ranging from organizational structure to the force of the media behind the left-wing extremists. (Again, notice how people are conveniently side-stepping Antifa’s brutality.)

He has additional thoughts on the Charlottesville events from Jacobite that are also worth your time.

Kudos to my Insov colleague Catty Conservative for finding those bits.

3.) Oregon. Gun confiscation, by simply filing a petition with a court. Guns.com gives us the following description:

The law, SB 719A, allows police, or a member of a subject’s family or household, to file a petition with the court which could lead to an order prohibiting firearms possession if it is believed they pose an imminent risk to themselves or others. The bill passed the Senate 17-11 in May and the House 31-28 last month, picking up only one Republican supporter along the way.

Gun-rights supporters basically said it allows people who aren’t qualified to be making any sort of judgement on a person’s mental state or point-of-view to be allowed to take someone’s firearms based on that judgement regardless.

4.) Talking to Klansmen. Finally tonight, there is a note from, of all places, the Independent Journal Review about a black man who got a ton of people in the KKK to leave the organization by talking to them.

It is an incredible story, really. A man who has put a pretty significant dent in the Klan’s numbers through a hobby of befriending white supremacists.

Absurdism

Doubling down on “domestic terrorism” rhetoric, and how Gorsuch is an “illegitimate” Supreme Court Justice.

1.) Baltimore. First, we’re going to kick off with something that was going on during the last Midnight Run. Baltimore had basically called for this past weekend to be something of a ceasefire. In other words, declaring that the city could at least make the effort to literally go two days without somebody being shot to death. It lasted one day, but many who called for the ceasefire see that as progress. (And, in semi-fairness, it is. Though the fact that “a day without murder” is progress speaks to the dire circumstances Baltimore is in.)

Essentially, the weekend initiative is seen as the start of a movement.

2.) NRA. You know things have gotten desperate when the NRA is spun as a “domestic terrorist threat” (despite the collapse of violent crime rates, the phenomenon of crime dropping around NRA conventions, and of course the the surge in gun permits nationwide). But that apparently is exactly what has happened, as Democratic Representative Kathleen Rice labeled the NRA’s members as domestic terrorists. She singled out NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch, who responded on the organization’s streaming video network. This also has led to an expansion of the NRA’s now long-running “Freedom’s Safest Place” campaign, taking direct aim at the cozy relationship between anti-gun politicians and a large portion of the news media.

3.) Wisconsin. Madison Police Chief Mike Koval, meanwhile, has taken a considerably different tack to handling his city’s spike in violent crime. According to Guns.com Chief Koval says that the surge can be traced to a few dozen people.

“Whenever we have an incident command post following a serious shooting or homicide, I am always amazed that the same names keep coming up on every board!” Koval said. “Sometimes they are friends of currently affected parties to the crime, sometimes they are family members, or have children in common, or have gang ties . . .but the overlapping spheres of connectedness are uncanny.”

So, obviously, he intends to go after the “few dozen” people directly. It is a bit different than Sheriff Clarke’s approach for the last few years, but it certainly appears to be a solid plan regardless.

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.

Grab Bag: August 2017

Michael Bloomberg vastly overstates gun deaths, a lawmaker in Ohio wants elected officials to carry, and a few stories from Team Rubicon to reinforce basically all of July.

1.) Bloomberg. Did you know that more Americans have been killed in the US than the entire history of military deaths (yes, including Civil War and WW2.) Of course, the Civil War alone saw upwards of 600,000 deaths.

It has all of the characteristics of a new anti-gun campaign; simultaneously over-dramatic and wrong on a historic level.

2.) Ohio. Following incidents around the Ohio Capitol (and of course the Scalise shooting), a lawmaker in Ohio is proposing to allow elected officials to carry in government buildings. The bill’s sponsor, State Representative Nino Vitale, said “there’s so much of a hyper-charged negative culture that people think if they disagree with someone’s viewpoint on something the way to resolve that is take a gun out on someone and take their life.”

He notes that, while no direct threats have been made on his life, there have been incidents of Vitale being followed into committee rooms, the Capitol parking garage, and having “less than pleasant” (a rather obvious euphemism) conversations.

It should come as almost no surprise, however. In a culture as outrage-driven as this one, where death threats are almost the default setting in any outrage-mob gathering, it stands to reason that legislators and other elected officials would want to be legally able to defend themselves. The Scalise shooting made that blatantly obvious.

3.) Team Rubicon. There is a story from disaster relief/veteran assistance network Team Rubicon that I want to bring up this week as we get into August. Midnight Run: Improvement, and it’s prequel from last year, Lethal Ignorance, were built around the simple concept that stronger people lead to stronger communities. To reinforce that point, I with to turn to three reports from the blog of TR, all of which highlight that concept in a different light. Whereas both Improvement and Lethal Ignorance were built around the individual, these reports are more about the experience in a team environment helping with disaster relief. (Severe weather being point 7 in Lethal Ignorance.)

The report, titled “Service is a Lifestyle“, is written by Army veteran Jeremy Gaal. It is a short, quick read from Salt Lake City, Utah on how assisting in disasters (which, for the record, is not limited to military and first responders, Team Rubicon also is open to civilians.) both is much appreciated by the survivors and is immensely gratifying to the people involved.

4.) Severe weather. It is worth noting that we are entering what WTVT FOX13 meteorologist Paul Dellegatto calls “prime time for tropical development.” Thankfully, we got through most of summer with nothing like the Georgia tornado outbreak. However, the key lesson from the Georgia outbreak, considering that Georgia isn’t in Tornado Alley (nor are the three states to the west of Georgia, for that matter), and that it was the middle of winter, “it can’t happen here” is dead wrong.

As we wrap up the summer months, it is prudent to be aware of severe weather, and the final weeks of the 2017 hurricane season.

And if you have the ability, whether with Red Cross, Team Rubicon, or CERT, try to get involved. As with Lethal Ignorance and Improvement; the reasoning is the same. Improve yourself, to be ready to help those around you.

Stay alert. Stay informed. Stay free.

Normalized 2017

This week, we’re back to the news. Starting with incredible news about concealed carry permits, and a discussion on the irony of anti-gunners suddenly finding issue with licensing systems they once supported. Also, 2 anti-gun mayors have been charged with corruption.

1.) Permits by-the-numbers. John Lott’s Crime Prevention Research Center has a new study out showing that there are 16.3 million CCW permits in the country. This, of course, is on the heels of a series of record-breaking months for CCW permit applications across the country. The report notes, in particular, the massive jump in permits from the start of former President Obama’s administration in 2007 to the start of President Trump’s administration earlier this year. In addition, the report notes the expansion of permitless carry, and how 1/3 of the new permit holders are women.

Despite all this, the crime rate has not surged with the rise in CCW permits. Presumably because nobody actually believes people are waiting to “legally” commit first-degree murder.

2.) Anti-gun response. Liberty Park Press has the new narrative from anti-gun types. Gun control groups used to support the idea of licensing, however it appears they no longer do so. Everytown For Gun Safety is apparently side-stepping this minor conflict in order to gin up fears about the idea of national reciprocity.

They always said we should treat guns like cars, but apparently that does not extend to the ability to cross state lines.

3.) Anti-gun mayors. Mayors Against Illegal Guns cannot seem to have people avoid being indicted on criminal charges. News this week of two Pennsylvania mayors being indicted on federal corruption charges. US attorney Louis Lappen, according to Guns.com, said “the mayor of Allentown and the former mayor of Reading charged in the two indictments unsealed today sold their offices to the highest bidder — violating the trust and confidence of the citizens of their cities. Both mayors, working with other corrupt officials and business-people, directed lucrative contracts to companies who agreed to provide campaign contributions in exchange for work.”

Stricter laws for the rest of us to follow, and (at least allegedly) for them to circumvent to their benefit.

The modern anti-gun movement in a nutshell — or at least in a court document.

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.