The Memorial Day weekend training event was another success story for our militia. We had some good fun! I trained a couple of newbies on how to safely handle and shoot a firearm. It is always a good day when we get to introduce newcomers to shooting. You can see the pictures in the photo gallery. The most fun we had was blasting 2 liter bottles full of water with 3" 12ga. slugs. The water bottles literally vaporized! I got to let everyone shoot my Mosen Nagant rifle which was fun! Sledge Hammer and I shot our 9mm's some also. There were a few zombies killed as well.
I just wanted to invite all Militia members out to the annual Memorial Day Shoot/Training event on Sunday May 27th and Monday May 28th. We will have a quick lunch following Sunday church services, then shooting/training event will commence. Bring your shotguns, rifles, and pistols. I will demonstrate a solar still if time permits. Be prepared to demonstrate your camouflage techniques.
On Monday we will have a lunch with the family. Probably BBQ. See Ma Deuce for details on what to bring. See you there!
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to build a custom, self-defense AR lower if you follow these step-by-step instructions. By Bryce M. Towsley (RSS)
June 13, 2011
The AR-15 rifle has a place in any home-defense strategic planning, and every gun owner who cares about the safety of his family is well advised to have one ready for trouble.
The concept of this article originally was to build a home-defense, AR-15-style rifle from parts and save money. That might have worked at one time, but just as I started this project, the Obama sales stimulus plan for AR-15s slammed shut. The boom ended and all those back-ordered rifles ended up in warehouses. The result is that some companies are selling ARs for low prices just to move inventory. But, with those rifles, you get what you get. Remember, these are guns nobody is buying. That means most of us will be removing some parts and replacing them with what we really want, and suddenly the price becomes much higher.
Advertisement I decided to design and build an AR-15-style carbine with parts from Brownells—a company that has emerged as a one-stop shopping source for all things AR. My idea was to keep the features and options in line with what I want, not what somebody else is trying to move out the door. The budget goal was $1,000. My mind must have been infected by the “Congressional Spending Virus” from watching too much of the health care debate on TV. I could have made that tight budget, but I got carried away in places, which I’ll explain as we progress.
During trigger assembly, the author recommends to first confirm the holes for the fire-control pins are aligned.
This is the first of the two-part series on how to assemble the rifle, covering the features I chose and why. Instructions on how to put it together are also included. Part two runs in the July issue and will cover the upper receiver, as well as accessories I added.
One tool very helpful for this project is a Brownells AR-15/M16 Lower Receiver Vise Block. This inserts into the magazine well and allows you to clamp the bottom end in a bench vise to hold the lower while you work on it. Brownells also has a DVD called “How to Build an AR-15,” as well as several helpful books.
The key to any good project is the foundation and on an AR-15, that is the lower. Think of it like a house. You can build the most incredible house imaginable, but it will never be solid if the foundation is not good enough to support it properly.
The buffer tube must be screwed into place, centering the buttstock without canting it. The edge of the buffer tube captures the buffer tube retainer.
The lower starts with a receiver. Spikes Tactical makes a stripped lower receiver that Brownells sells for $89.95. That’s the least-expensive lower receiver I could find on its website. There were seven customer reviews and all were favorable, but they were back-ordered. I had a deadline, so I upgraded to the CMMG MOD4SA for $149.99. It whacked my budget a little right out of the gate, but it’s turned out to be an excellent receiver. It’s amazing how important budgets become when you don’t have other people’s tax dollars to spend. I checked as I am writing this a few months later and Brownells has the Spikes Tactical receivers back in stock.
The High Standard Lower Receiver Parts Kit contains all the smaller parts you will need, including the trigger and grip for $89.99. Again, the DPMS version would have been $30 less expensive, but it was out of stock.
You will also need a buttstock and related parts. I think that an adjustable buttstock is the only way to go for a home-defense carbine. I selected the Brownells AR-15/M-16/M4 Six Position Adjustable Buttstock, which comes with everything you need.
Putting It All Together
My grandfather told me years ago, while teaching me to build auto engines, that the best strategy is to do the toughest job first. He was a part-time gunsmith and noted that philosophy applied to anything mechanical, including guns. So with that in mind, tackle the trigger assembly first.
As DPMS founder Randy Luth pointed out, there is another good reason to start there. He explained, “The alignment of the trigger or fire control pins is critical to how well that receiver is going to work. If they are off, even a little bit, you have a problem. So, install the trigger assembly first to be certain the holes are located properly on the action. Better to find out first thing than to do all that work on the other parts, only to tear them down if the action is not true.”
Installation of the magazine catch involves compressing the spring between the magazine-catch shaft and magazine-catch button. Doing so forces the shaft back through the receiver.
Step 1: Install the Trigger Group
•Hammer and Trigger Pins (2)
•Hammer Spring (the larger of the two similar springs in the kit)
•Trigger Spring (the smaller of the two similar springs)
•Disconnector Spring (this is similar to the bolt-catch spring, but is identifiable because one end is wider than the other)
•5⁄32-inch pin punch (Optional)
Install the trigger spring on the trigger. The top square loop will hook under the front of the trigger and the legs will point forward with the bent tips pointing up. They will push on the bottom of the receiver when the trigger is in place.
Install the disconnector spring in the hole at the top-rear of the trigger. The larger end goes in the trigger. Push it in until it locks.
The disconnector goes into the trigger and a single pin will hold both in place.
Insert the trigger assembly into the receiver and align the hole with the back one of the two pin holes in the receiver. You will have to push on the trigger and/or disconnector assembly to load the springs and to help align the holes for the trigger pin. It helps to use a straight-sided 5⁄32-inch pin punch as a slave pin to keep everything in alignment before you install the trigger pin.
The trigger pin has two grooves in it, but it doesn’t matter which way it is inserted. The accepted method is to push it left to right, with the groove on the left side. I don’t know why and it doesn’t really matter.
Install the hammer spring on the hammer. The legs of the spring should point down; the square, looped portion of the spring will be on the rear side of the hammer. Install the hammer in the receiver with the spring feet pointing back and resting on the trigger pin. When the spring is loaded, the legs will point to the back of the gun and one leg will fit in the groove on the trigger pin. Use a slave-pin punch to align the hammer as you compress the spring. Then install the hammer pin, pushing the slave pin punch out as you do.
*The author went with a Timney trigger in his lower build.
Cock the hammer. Pull the trigger and make sure it releases the hammer. Do not let the hammer hit the receiver. The Brownells AR-15 Hammer Drop block is a great tool for dry firing as it stops the hammer before it hits
Keep holding the trigger back. Push the hammer back and the disconnector should catch and hold the hammer. Releasing the trigger should cause the disconnector to release the hammer, which should then catch on the trigger sear in the cocked position. Repeat this test several times to ensure the trigger, hammer and disconnector are all working properly.
Step 2: Install the Safety and Grip
•Safety (called the fire-control selector in AR jargon)
•Fire-Control Selector Detent
•Fire-Control Selector Spring (this is similar to the pivot/takedown detent springs, except there are two of them and only one fire-control selector spring—look them over carefully and you can see the difference)
•Pistol-Grip Lock Washer
•Screwdriver or Allen wrench to match the grip screw
Insert the safety from the left side. Check to see that the safety turns freely and that it locks the trigger so the hammer will not release when in the safe position.
Turn the receiver upside down. Insert the detent into the small hole at rear of the trigger guard on the left side of the upside-down receiver. Insert the spring in the hole in the pistol grip and install the grip, aligning the spring with the detent and the hole in the receiver. Make sure the safety is in the “fire” position. Carefully push the grip in place while compressing the spring. Secure the grip with the screw and washer. Most are slotted for a screwdriver, but some require an Allen wrench. I like to add a drop of #242 blue Loctite.
Turn the safety to make sure it rotates to the safe and off positions and that it locks into those positions. Note that the hammer must be cocked for the safety to move to the on position.
Check again to ensure the safety is preventing the trigger from releasing the hammer, by putting the safety on and pulling the trigger forcefully, multiple times. Push the safety off and verify the hammer stays cocked. The trigger should release the hammer when the lever is in the “fire” position.
Step 3: Install the Magazine Release
•Magazine Release Button
•Magazine Release Button Spring (largest spring in the parts kit)
•A punch or dowel
Slide the shaft of the magazine catch through from the left side of the receiver. Put the spring over the shaft and then put the button on the end and push, letting the magazine catch slide back until the button is captured in the hole on the right side of the receiver. Keep finger pressure on the button, push on the mag catch and turn to start the threaded end of the shaft into the threaded hole on the button. Using a punch or dowel, push the mag button deeper into the receiver. Screw the mag-catch holder until the end of the threaded shaft is flush with the top of the release button. Be very careful not to hit the receiver with the mag catch, as that can damage the finish.
Push the button down flush with the receiver. Make sure the mag catch is still captured in the receiver. If it comes out of the receiver enough so that it can turn, you must make another revolution of the threads. Make sure the mag catch will go past flush on the inside to ensure it releases the magazine.
Insert an empty magazine and make sure it is captured tightly. Push the mag-release button. The magazine should release cleanly and easily.
A Brownells Bolt Catch Pin Punch makes drifting that small roll pin into place a heck of a lot easier.
Step 4: Install the Bolt Catch
•Bolt-Catch Pin (the smaller of the two roll pins in the kit)
•Bolt-Catch Spring (easily confused with the disconnector spring, although the disconnector spring is wider on one end)
•Small hammer, plastic and brass tipped preferred
•3S pin holding punch (optional)
•3⁄32-inch roll-pin punch
•Brownells Bolt Catch Pin
Insert the roll pin into the pin-holding punch, or hold it with needle-nose pliers as you start it into the rear side of the pin hole, tapping lightly with the hammer to start it in the hole. Place the spring in the hole centered under the bolt catch and follow with the plunger. Install and push down on the bolt catch to compress the spring and insert the Brownells Bolt Catch Pin Punch from the left to act as a slave pin. This tool is machined to allow using it from the left side as a slave pin or to remove an installed bolt-catch pin by driving the pin out to the rear. Without, it you risk scratching the finish on the receiver. Trust me, I speak from experience and have gotten very good at touching up the marks. But they will always show, so not scratching the finish is a much better option.
Using the 3⁄32-inch roll-pin punch and hammer, drive the roll pin into place, using it to push out the slave pin. Insert the pin deep enough so that it is of equal depth on each side.
For now, make sure the bolt catch operates smoothly and does not hang up or bind. You will test it further once the upper is installed.
With the trigger guard roll pin installed, complete installation by pivoting the guard into the top portion of the trigger well while using a punch to depress the trigger guard detent.
Step 5: Install the Trigger Guard
•Trigger Guard Roll Pin
•Small hammer (plastic and brass tipped preferred)
•4S pin-holding starter punch (optional)
•1⁄8-inch roll-pin punch
•1⁄8-inch pin punch (optional)
The front of the trigger guard should have a spring-loaded detent already installed. Compress this and insert the trigger guard into the front, making sure the detent is on the same side as the hole.
Put the receiver on a bench block to support it. A block of wood will also work. Use the roll-pin-holding starter punch to start the roll pin, or hold it with needle-nose pliers as you start it. It’s usually a tight fit and it’s easy to damage the end of the roll pin. It is better to use a slave pin as you gently start the pin through the receiver and into the trigger guard. Carefully use the roll-pin punch and hammer to drive the roll pin into the receiver. Check to ensure it is of equal depth on both sides.
Depress the detent on trigger guard and make sure that the trigger guard will pivot open.
The receiver lock-plate houses the rear takedown pin’s detent and spring, while the lock nut secures the stock to the lower receiver.
Step 6: Install the Buttstock
•Buffer Tube Retainer
•Buffer Tube Retainer Spring
•Carbine-Length Buffer Spring
•Receiver Lock Plate
Wrench for locking nut—I suggest the DPMS Multi-Tool
Insert buffer tube retainer spring and buffer tube retainer into the hole in the threaded section to the rear of the lower. Thread the locking nut onto the buffer tube and spin it all the way to the rear.
Place the receiver lock plate over the buffer tube and thread the buffer tube into the receiver while compressing the buffer tube retainer. The buffer tube must go in enough to capture the buffer tube retainer, but not enough to bind it.
Place the takedown pin in the receiver. Insert the detent and spring in the hole in the rear of the receiver. Push the receiver lock plate into place to align the buffer tube while compressing the detent spring. Now tighten the lock nut. There are several wrenches to do this, but the DPMS Multi-Tool will also perform many other functions on the AR-15 and represents an excellent value. There are pre-cut locations for staking the nut to the receiver lock plate if you wish. Most, including myself, don’t bother.
Cock the hammer, depress the buffer tube retainer and insert the buffer spring, followed by the buffer. Push them in past the retainer and allow the retainer to pop up to hold them.
Remember I said we would do the toughest job first? I lied.
Installing the front pivot pin is simple on the surface and aggravating in reality. If you are going to attempt this without the correct installation tool, make sure there are no children present, because this job will make even the Pope cuss like a drunken sailor.
With the aid of a 3⁄32-inch pin punch, you can easily compress the spring inside the receiver.
Step 7: Install the Pivot Pin
•Pivot-Pin Detent Spring
•Pivot-pin installation tool
•3⁄32-inch pin punch
•A big jar swollen full of swear words
This can be done with just the pin punch, but it’s not pretty. You must compress the detent and spring and then insert the pivot pin. Sounds easy, but it’s not. The detent and spring will fly out and you will be spending a lot of time on your knees looking for them.
Brownells sells two tools for this job. The one for $14.95 will reduce your swear words by about half, as it requires a learning curve. It is simply a bent shaft with a drilled-in hole. It works well in theory, but execution requires you can chew gum, walk, talk, text and dance all at the same time. I, apparently, cannot.
Trust me; you want the two-piece set. It costs more, but it works much better. Install the jig on the front of the receiver to align over the right side. Insert the tool pin from the left and rotate until the hole is lined up with the hole in the receiver. Insert the spring and detent. Push them into the receiver using the 3⁄32-inch pin punch until you can rotate the tool pin to capture the detent. Now lay the pivot pin in the tool guide with the slot toward the detent and push until you hear the detent click into the slot. Remove the installation tool and then you are done building this lower.
Say three Hail Marys as penance for your foul language and then start thinking about your upper, because this thing is a wrap. When you’re ready to tackle building an upper receiver, here are complete instructions.
Last Friday, Amine El Khalifi, a 29-year-old Moroccan citizen, was arrested by FBI agents as he made his way to the U.S. Capitol for what he believed would be a suicide mission. Thankfully, El Khalifi had been under surveillance by the FBI and he never got close to achieving his goals of conducting an attack on American landmarks and innocent civilians. However, El Khalifi’s arrest once again shines the light on a significant issue that seems to be ignored by many lawmakers in this country. El Khalifi is an illegal alien who has been living in the United States unlawfully since 1999 after his visa expired.
According to a Center for Immigration Studies report conducted by Janice Kephart, between the early 1990s and 2004, 59 of the 94 foreign-born terrorists who operated in the United States had "committed immigration fraud prior to or in conjunction with taking part in terrorist activity." Six of those foreign-born terrorists included in the report were 9/11 hijackers.
The 9/11 Commission Report highlighted the importance of preventing individuals from entering the country and remaining undetected.
The challenge for national security in an age of terrorism is to prevent the very few people who may pose overwhelming risks from entering or remaining in the United States undetected.
-- 9/11 Commission Report
There are 11 million illegal aliens in the country, and our government has shown little regard for the “undetected” persons in this country. Granted, El Khalifi was eventually detected, but it’s not feasible to detect everyone. Yes, I know… most of the 11 million illegal aliens living in the United States are not here to commit any terrorist attack or crimes. But I also know that of the 11 million people here illegally, some of them hope to carry out an attack against the United States.
Many people in this country have the unfortunate misconception that the term "illegal alien" refers to a person of Hispanic heritage who crossed our Southern border illegally. That is so far from reality. Thousands of "Other than Mexican" (OTM) persons, many from "terrorist countries", are detained at the Southwest border each year. With that said, how many OTM persons do you think are not arrested? In addition, 40% of the illegal aliens in the United States right now are individuals who entered this country on a visa and overstayed the time allocated by their visa - just like El Khalifi.
To put things in perspective, there are millions of people here illegally and thousands of which hail from countries known for producing terrorists. During testimony last week before the Homeland Security Committee, United States Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano made statements in regards to our country’s entry/exit system. The Secretary said the entry portion was close while the exit (important for identifying visa overstays) was a very expensive process.
The Secretary continued by saying, "we have biographical data that works just as well.”
Sorry to burst the bubble here, but the “biographical data” is clearly not working when you have illegal aliens plotting to blow up the U.S Capitol. This country needs a functional entry/exit system that works and prevents visa overstayers from staying in the country illegally.
The days of fighting in the trenches and battles composed of men standing in lines firing at one another in open fields are long gone. Our enemies are no longer identified with a country, rather a cause. Our enemies can now integrate themselves within our communities and can show no signs of harm. For those who enter, or remain in the country undetected, the goal is to make it too difficult for them to continue going undetected.
As more details come out on El Khalifi, it will be interesting to see if, and where, he worked? How did he manage to stay in the country illegally for so long? As of now, many states like Virginia, where El Khalifi resided, do not require employers to use E-Verify, an internet-based system that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States when hiring new employees. Also, Illegal aliens can rent homes mostly anywhere in the country, so the idea of El Khalifi remaining in the country for so long should not come as a surprise to anyone.
El Khalifi’s arrest is a great thing. It shows the strength of our country’s counter-terrorism and the great job being done by the men and women who are responsible for protecting our homeland. But let’s not get complacent. There are many people out there just like El Khalifi, who are out there waiting for the opportunity to strike. Over time, someone is destined to fall through cracks and strike this country, just as they did on 9/11. If that happens, we should at least know we did everything we could to stop it. As of today, we simply cannot say we are doing everything we can.
ELIANO YOUNES is an Assistant for the Content and Activism team. He is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University and began working at NumbersUSA shortly after his graduation in May of 2011. He studied political science and homeland security.
NumbersUSA's blogs are copyrighted and may be republished or reposted only if they are copied in their entirety, including this paragraph, and provide proper credit to NumbersUSA. NumbersUSA bears no responsibility for where our blogs may be republished or reposted.
Seven states are asking a federal judge to block an Obama administration mandate that requires birth control coverage for employees of religious-affiliated hospitals, schools and outreach programs.
The lawsuit in U.S. District Court of Nebraska alleges that the new rule violates the First Amendment rights of groups that object to the use of contraceptives.
The rule, announced as part of the federal health care law, has come under fire from religious groups that object to the use of birth control. In response to the criticism, Obama administration officials have said they will shift the requirement from the employers to health insurers themselves.
Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning says the proposed change still fails to address their concerns.
Joining the lawsuit are Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas.
Read more on Newsmax.com: 7 States File Suit Over Obama Birth Control Mandate
MOGADISHU, Somalia -- There are few success stories here in this tortured country on the eastern coast of Africa. For nearly two decades, this drought-ravaged land and the long-suffering Somali people have been "off the radar" for most Americans. It might still be so if it were not for radical Islamist Somali terrorists -- al-Shabab -- and their financiers, the seagoing pirates who seize merchant vessels plying the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden. All of that is about to change.
Last week, as our two-man Fox News unit was en route, Ayman al-Zawahri, the Egyptian cleric who inherited Osama bin Laden's mantle as leader of al-Qaida, released a videotape declaring that al-Shabab is now formally part of the "global jihad" against the Western world. Zawahri's desperate bid for attention didn't do his Somali allies any favors. The announcement may well presage the demise of al-Shabab.
The brutal Somali terror group is now on the run. Remnants of the organization that once threatened to make Mogadishu its capital have fled west -- driven from the city by well-trained, disciplined Ugandan troops dispatched and supplied by the African Union. We accompanied them over terrain once trodden by U.S. Marines in the early 1990s and stained with the blood of American special operators who set out to capture the notorious warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid in 1993. The heroism and perseverance of those who made that effort were captured in the book and film "Black Hawk Down."
Unlike U.S. troops who fought here almost two decades ago, the African soldiers who freed this city and now provide security for its 2 million residents -- nearly half of whom are refugees displaced by drought, famine and violence -- receive few accolades in the Western media. They deserve better. Many of them are graduates of U.S. military schools and are applying "low-profile" counterinsurgency tactics the way they are meant to be practiced. One of their officers put it bluntly: "In the U.S., we were taught to learn from your mistakes."
From a week on the ground here in Somalia, that appears to be a theme -- one that is proving devastating to al-Shabab. About 160 miles to the northwest of this long-suffering city, Ethiopian troops have liberated Baidoa, a terror stronghold in south-central Somalia. This victory comes on the heels of a political triumph -- a "constitutional assembly" in Garowe, capital of the autonomous state of Puntland, the largest such national gathering ever convened in Africa. There our Fox News team witnessed the signing of an agreement for a new constitutional framework. The document -- drafted by and for Somalis -- specifies a bicameral legislature, ordains an executive branch with enumerated powers, requires an independent judiciary, rejects a foreign-imposed "caretaker government" and offers universal suffrage to every man and woman in Somalia.
Much of the hard work done to achieve the new constitution and a stable government based on the rule of law instead of lawless rulers is being done by Somalis who were once refugees. Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali and Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole were but two of the dozens of U.S.-Somali dual citizens we met at the assembly in Garowe. They all gave up comfortable lives in America to help rebuild this devastated country.
In our interview with Farole, he expressed hope that the U.S. and European governments will support his initiative to establish an effective maritime police force to "eliminate the scourge of piracy" because it "threatens the global economy" and jeopardizes the foreign investment that Somalia so desperately needs. He already has found a reliable partner in this effort. The United Arab Emirates has stepped up to provide funds for recruiting, training and equipping a police force to defeat the pirates on land and at sea -- while respecting the rights of the people it protects.
We seized the opportunity to accompany the fledgling Puntland Maritime Police Force on an aerial reconnaissance of pirate dens along the Somali coast and documented how the PMPF trains for missions on land and conducts near-shore interdiction and inspections of vessels at sea. When the organization is fully manned and outfitted, it will have more than 1,000 police capable of enforcing the law along Somalia's coastline -- the longest in continental Africa.
Creating such a force is no small task in a country that has suffered from more than 40 years of horrendous hardship. The breakdown of civil order and descent into chaos that began here in the 1960s drove away businesses essential to employment, devastated a thriving agricultural economy and wrecked the hopes of exploiting Somalia's resources. A record-breaking drought has added to the misery of millions. Formal education has all but vanished -- yielding an illiteracy rate that exacerbates the economic collapse.
None of these problems will go away overnight. But, as Farole noted during the historic constitutional assembly in Garowe, "we must start with law, order and justice," or "lawless piracy and brutality will continue." Such an outcome is what al-Shabab -- now on its heels -- wants. And that would turn the promise of suffrage for all Somalis into a tragedy for all of us.
So we should all be grateful that President Obama is just now coming out for a corporate tax rate cut? But does anyone really believe he's had a supply-side epiphany?
That this is an election year surely wouldn't have anything to do with his apparent change of heart, would it? He's been president for more than three years, and Republicans have been clamoring all that time for a reduction in the world's second-highest corporate tax rate. So don't you think that if Obama truly favored this, it would have happened long ago?
But there's something more cynical about Obama's new proposal. It wouldn't operate as advertised.
As we get closer to the 2012 general election campaign, Obama wants to be positioned to compete with the eventual nominee on this issue. Newt would cut the current 35 percent rate to 12.5 percent. Romney would reduce it to 25 percent. And Santorum would reduce it to 17.5 percent for all corporations except domestic manufacturers, which would be exempted from the tax.
Obama calls for a modest reduction, to 28 percent, which would still be reason to cheer coming from him, but it's not quite that simple. Underneath the smoke and to the side of the mirrors, we find it's just another ploy to empower Obama to pick the winners and losers.
He pretends he'd merely be leveling the playing field by "closing loopholes," which for him is code for eliminating legitimate deductions. So with one hand, he would extend corporations their tax rate reduction, but with the other -- the one donning the magician's white glove -- he'd grab it back by eliminating the deductions -- I mean sinister loopholes -- for the evil corporations he's made a practice of demonizing and bullying the past three years.
With his magician's sword, he would stick it to -- surprise -- the insurance demons, the oil and gas monsters, and those evil owners of private jets, as opposed to the ones he, his family and his dog fly -- sometimes separately, no less, in the interest of racking up their carbon footprint while ordering the reduction of everyone else's.
Who would be outside his sword's reach? Why, his green-energy cronies, of course, who would receive preferential tax incentives to encourage them to invest money in ways no non-subsidized entrepreneur would dare.
There will be no accounting for his most recent botched magic show, in which Solyndra and other clean-energy donees made off with goodies from his stash based on his bogus promise of creating permanent jobs and growing the economy. No, he will just pat himself on the back for his good intentions, expect us to forget that he created virtually no permanent jobs and that the ones that were created often cost millions of jobs apiece. Then he'll do it all over again, demanding we bow down and praise him for his monarchical largesse.
Obama also has something in his trick bag for multinational corporations located in the United States -- something they probably wouldn't like too much: He'd tax their foreign earnings more heavily, which could very well induce them to high-tail it out of the United States or just sell out to a foreign buyer, thus defeating the alleged purpose of raising more revenue.
Sen. Orrin Hatch said the president's plan is "a set of bullet points designed more for the campaign trail than an actual blueprint for fixing our tax code." That's being charitable. For though Obama is billing his plan as a corporate income tax reduction, it just so happens that he plans on it raising $250 billion of revenue over the next decade.
Lest you still believe Obama has become a tax cutter overnight, let me also remind you of his other little scheme to increase the tax rate on corporate dividends to 39.6 percent. When coupled with the phased-out deductions, the effective rate could reach 41 percent. And that's not counting a 3.8 percent investment surcharge from Obamacare, bringing the rate up to 44.8 percent -- nearly three times the current 15 percent rate.
As usual, Obama claims this tax hike would apply only to the wealthy, but as The Wall Street Journal's editors tell us, corporations have historically responded to these tax rates by increasing dividends when they're lowered and reducing them when they're increased. So in the name of punishing the rich, he would be trickling down the misery to those same people he claims are benefiting from his latest $40-a-month payroll tax extension. As I said, he gives with one hand and takes with the other -- all in the name of compassion and good intentions.
If you like how the Obama administration's multibillion-dollar "investments" in bankrupt solar companies have turned out, you'll love the latest federal loan program to nowhere. It's the Obamacare loyalty rewards program for progressives.
To appease liberal Democrats pushing for the so-called "public option" (the full frontal government takeover of our health care system), the White House settled for the creation of a $6 billion network of nonprofit "CO-OPs" that will "compete" with private insurers. It's socialized medicine through the side door. House Republicans sliced about $2 billion from the slush fund in last spring's budget deal and proclaimed the program dead. Hardly.
On Wednesday, the White House trumpeted the release of nearly $700 million in taxpayer-funded low-interest loans for seven CO-OPs in eight states. Administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the fund will pour more money into CO-OP plans nationwide throughout the next year. In 2014, according to Washington bureaucrats, the plans will be offered on the federally approved and federally monitored state health exchange "marketplace."
Some marketplace. Given how Team Obama has dispensed special Obamacare waivers to scores of campaign donors, it's a sure bet the CO-OP/exchange mechanism will be brazenly rigged against non-subsidized, for-profit insurers. And against taxpayers. Obama health officials assure us that there will be an "early warning system" in place before loan recipients get into financial trouble. But we know from the half-billion-dollar Solyndra scam that when this administration sees red flags, it's full speed ahead.
In fact, the Obamacare CO-OP overseers already predict a nearly 40 percent default rate for the loans, according to Kaiser Health. Welcome to the Chicago-on-the-Potomac reverse rule of holes: When you're in one, keep digging.
So, who are the lucky winners of the Obamacare slush fund lottery? Freelancers CO-OP of New Jersey, New Mexico Health Connections, Midwest Members Health in Iowa and Nebraska, Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative in Wisconsin, Freelancers CO-OP of Oregon, Montana Health Cooperative, and Freelancers Health Service Corporation in New York.
You won't be surprised to learn that the Freelancers Union -- the largest CO-OP loan beneficiary to date, with a total $341 million subsidy -- is a left-wing outfit founded by a self-described "labor entrepreneur" and MacArthur "genius." Sara Horowitz has already snagged countless grants from the city and state of New York, the liberal Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation.
Horowitz and Obama served together, along with former green jobs czar Van Jones, as advisers for the progressive think tank Demos -- which in turn partnered with fraud-ridden community organizers ACORN and Project Vote. She also runs a political action committee called "Working Today" that crusades for an expanded government safety net. Crowing about the CO-OP loan from her fellow progressive warrior, Horowitz exulted: "It's like venture capital for health care." Or more accurately, to borrow South Carolina GOP Sen. Jim DeMint's phrase, venture socialism.
While Horowitz plots to rope in 200,000 new clients, existing customers protested in The New York Times over lousy customer service and abrupt changes that resulted in "higher premiums, higher deductibles and more holes than their current plans." Horowitz is more preoccupied with ensuring that the "social-purpose company" meets social and environmental justice goals than with customer needs.
Another of the Obamacare slush fund winners, Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative in Wisconsin, scooped up a $56.4 million federal loan. The group describes itself as a "coalition of religious groups and other organizations." Its pedigree is much more radical than that. As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel noted, Common Ground "is the Milwaukee affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation, founded in 1940 by Saul Alinsky, a famed community organizer and author of 'Rules for Radicals.' The organization, based in Chicago, bills itself as the oldest and largest community organizing network."
The Industrial Areas Foundation was funded largely by the Gamaliel Foundation, which employed Obama in Chicago. As I first reported in 2009, Gamaliel's Gregory Galluzzo wrote that he "met with Barack on a regular basis," that Obama "acknowledged publicly that he had been the director of a Gamaliel affiliate," and that "we are honored and blessed by the connection between Barack and Gamaliel." No kidding. As Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson put it: "These grants/loans reek of political payola."
Cronies reap. Taxpayers weep.
So, the ECB decides to exchange one type of Greek bond for another. The exchange, in essence, puts the ECB on a different playing field from other bondholders.
For instance, profits may be gleaned that others may not obtain.
The ramifications of changing the rules are slowly starting to hit home as bondholders such as Bill Gross exhibit displeasure. Haven’t we seen this happen before?
When the rule of law got in the way for Barack Obama, he took to the airwaves. Speaking directly to all those moms-and-pops who desperately depended upon GM bond interest in order to survive, the President reminded them that going to the back of the line was the patriotic thing to do.
Anyone who thought that owning a senior subordinated AAA rated General Motors bond for safety and income was wildly disappointed.
For years, the term senior subordination meant that other than taxes, all other claims against the assets of the corporation were secondary to the senior bonds.
One could take comfort in the fact that on the remote and almost impossible bankruptcy of General Motors, mom-and-pop were protected by all of the corporate assets.
It was General Motors for goodness sake, and the rule of law.
Unfortunately, today, neither the Obama administration nor the ECB consider anything other than what is expedient for themselves. In light of both government and central bank willful disregard for the rule of law, how should any bondholder feel?
Afraid, very afraid.
Since the ECB has been orchestrating the flow of funds into sovereign debt markets, the so-called professionals have maintained a wary eye knowing full well that at any instance the rules of the game could change.
The worst thing of all is that the public, including institutions, have accepted what is being thrust upon them.
Where was the outrage regarding Obama’s GM caper? Has there been dramatic protests because of the ECB’s questionable actions?
The answer is no.
The world seems to be mesmerized by meetings, deadlines, flourishing announcements, and by the ever upward push of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
Principles such as the rule of law don’t really matter until we’ve lost them, and then it’s too late.
Only then, maybe people will start paying attention.
In this week's Geopolitical Weekly, George Friedman discussed the geopolitical cycles that change with each generation. Frequently, especially in recent years, those geopolitical cycles have intersected with changes in the way the tactic of terrorism is employed and in the actors employing it.
The Arab terrorism that began in the 1960s resulted from the Cold War and the Soviet decision to fund, train and otherwise encourage groups in the Middle East. The Soviet Union and its Middle Eastern proxies also sponsored Marxist terrorist groups in Europe and Latin America. They even backed the Japanese Red Army terrorist group. Places like South Yemen and Libya became havens where Marxist militants of many different nationalities gathered to learn terrorist tradecraft, often instructed by personnel from the Soviet KGB or the East German Stasi and from other militants.
The Cold War also spawned al Qaeda and the broader global jihadist movement as militants flocking to fight the Soviet troops who had invaded Afghanistan were trained in camps in northern Pakistan by instructors from the CIA's Office of Technical Services and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence directorate. Emboldened by the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, and claiming credit for the subsequent Soviet collapse, these militants decided to expand their efforts to other parts of the world.
The connection between state-sponsored terrorism and the Cold War ran so deep that when the Cold War ended with the Soviet Union's collapse, many declared that terrorism had ended as well. I witnessed this phenomenon while serving in the Counterterrorism Investigations Division of the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) in the early 1990s. While I was in New York working as part of the interagency team investigating the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, a newly appointed assistant secretary of state abolished my office, declaring that the DSS did not need a Counterterrorism Investigations Division since terrorism was over.
Though terrorism obviously did not end when the Berlin Wall fell, the rosy sentiments to the contrary held by some at the State Department and elsewhere took away the impetus to mitigate the growing jihadist threat or to protect diplomatic facilities from it. The final report of the Crowe Commission, which was established to review the twin August 1998 bombing attacks against the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, explicitly noted this neglect of counterterrorism and security programs, as did the 9/11 Commission report.
The 9/11 terrorist attacks triggered a shift in international geopolitics by leading the United States to concentrate the full weight of its national resources on al Qaeda and its supporters. Ironically, by the time the U.S. government was able to shift its massive bureaucracy to meet the new challenge, creating huge new organizations like the Department of Homeland Security, the efforts of the existing U.S. counterterrorism apparatus had already badly crippled the core al Qaeda group. Though some of these new organizations played important roles in helping the United States cope with the fallout of its decision to invade Iraq after Afghanistan, Washington spent billions of dollars to create organizations and fund programs that in hindsight were arguably not really necessary because the threats they were designed to counter, such as al Qaeda's nuclear briefcase bombs, did not actually exist. As George Friedman noted in the Geopolitical Weekly, the sole global superpower was badly off-balance, which caused an imbalance in the entire global system.
With the continued diminution of the jihadist threat, underscored by the May 2011 death of Osama bin Laden and the fall in Libya of the Gadhafi regime (which had long employed terrorism), once again we appear on the brink of a cyclical change in the terrorism paradigm. These events could again lead some to pronounce the death of terrorism.
Several developments last week served to demonstrate that while the perpetrators and tactics of terrorism (what Stratfor calls the "who" and the "how") may change in response to larger geopolitical cycles, such shifts will not signal the end of terrorism itself.
The Nature of Terrorism There are many conflicting definitions of terrorism, but for our purposes we will loosely define it as politically motivated violence against noncombatants. Many terrorist acts have a religious element to them, but that element is normally related to a larger, political goal: Both a militant anti-abortion activist seeking to end legalized abortion and a jihadist seeking to end the U.S. military presence in Iraq may act according to religious principles, but they ultimately are pursuing a political objective.
Terrorism is a tactic, one employed by a wide array of actors. There is no single creed, ethnicity, political persuasion or nationality with a monopoly on terrorism. Individuals and groups of individuals from almost every conceivable background -- from late Victorian-era anarchists to Klansmen to North Korean intelligence officers -- have conducted terrorist attacks. Because of the impreciseness of the term, Stratfor normally does not refer to individuals as terrorists. In addition to being a poor descriptor, "terrorist" tends to be a politically loaded term.
Traditionally, terrorism has been a tactic of the weak, i.e., those who lack the power to impose their political will through ordinary political or military means. As Carl von Clausewitz noted, war is the continuation of politics by other means; terrorism is a type of warfare, making it also politics by other means. Because it is a tactic used by the weak, terrorism generally focuses on soft, civilian targets rather than more difficult-to-attack military targets.
The type of weapon used does not define terrorism. For example, using a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device against an International Security Assistance Force firebase in Afghanistan would be considered an act of irregular warfare, but using it in an attack on a hotel in Kabul would be considered an act of terrorism. This means that militant actors can employ conventional warfare tactics, unconventional warfare tactics and terrorism during the same campaign depending on the situation.
Terrorist attacks are relatively easy to conduct if they are directed against soft targets and if the assailant is not concerned with escaping after the attack, as was the case in the Mumbai attacks in 2008. While authorities in many countries have been quite successful in foiling attacks over the past couple of years, governments simply do not have the resources to guard everything. When even police states cannot protect everything, some terrorist attacks invariably will succeed in the open societies of the West.
Terrorist attacks tend to be theatrical, exerting a strange hold over the human imagination. They often create a unique sense of terror dwarfing reactions to natural disasters many times greater in magnitude. For example, more than 227,000 people died in the 2004 Asian tsunami versus fewer than 3,000 on 9/11, yet the 9/11 attacks produced a worldwide sense of terror and a geopolitical reaction that has had a profound and unparalleled impact on world events over the past decade.
Cycles and Shifts A number of events last week illustrate the changes happening in the terrorism realm and demonstrate that, while terrorism may change, it is not going to end.
On Feb. 17, the FBI arrested a Moroccan man near the U.S. Capitol in Washington who allegedly sought to conduct a suicide attack on the building. The suspect, Amine el Khalifi, is a clear example of the shift in the jihadist threat from one based on the al Qaeda core group to one primarily deriving from grassroots jihadists. As Stratfor has noted for several years, while these grassroots jihadists pose a more diffuse threat because they are harder for national intelligence and law enforcement agencies to focus on than hierarchical groups, the threat they pose is less severe because they generally lack the terrorist tradecraft required to conduct a large-scale attack. Because they lack such tradecraft, these grassroots militants tend to seek assistance to conduct their plots. This assistance usually involves acquiring explosives or firearms, as in the el Khalifi case, where an FBI informant posing as a jihadist leader provided the suspect with an inert suicide vest and a submachine gun prior to the suspect's arrest.
While many in the media tend to ridicule individuals like el Khalifi as inept, it is important to remember that had he succeeded in finding a real jihadist facilitator rather than a federal informant, he could have killed many people in an attack. Richard Reid, who many people refer to as the "Kramer of al Qaeda" after the bumbling character from the television show Seinfeld, came very close to taking down a jumbo jet full of people over the Atlantic because he had been equipped and dispatched by others.
Still, the fact remains that the jihadist threat now predominantly stems from unequipped grassroots wannabes rather than teams of highly trained operatives sent to the United States from overseas, like the team that executed the 9/11 attacks. This demonstrates how the jihadist threat has diminished in recent years, a trend we expect to continue. This will allow Washington to increasingly focus attention on things other than jihadism, such as the fragmentation of Europe, the transformation of global economic production and Iran's growing regional power. It will mark the beginning of a new geopolitical cycle.
Last week also brought us a series of events highlighting how terrorism may manifest itself in the new cycle. On Feb. 13, Israeli diplomatic vehicles in New Delhi, India, and Tbilisi, Georgia, were targeted with explosive devices. In Tbilisi, a grenade hidden under a diplomatic vehicle was discovered before it could detonate. In New Delhi, a sticky bomb placed on the back of a diplomatic vehicle wounded the wife of the Israeli defense attache as she headed to pick up her children from school.
On Feb. 14, an Iranian man was arrested after being wounded in an explosion at a rented house in Bangkok. The blast reportedly occurred as a group was preparing improvised explosive devices for use against Israeli targets in Bangkok. Two other Iranians were later arrested (one in Malaysia), and Thai authorities are seeking three more Iranian citizens, two of whom have reportedly returned to Iran, alleged to have assisted in the plot.
While these recent Iranian plots failed, they nonetheless highlight how the Iranians are using terrorism as a tactic in retaliation for attacks Israel and Israeli surrogates have conducted against individuals associated with Iran's nuclear program.
It is also important to bear in mind as this new geopolitical cycle begins that terrorism does not just emanate from foreign governments, major subnational actors or even transnational radical ideologies like jihadism. As we saw in the July 2011 attacks in Norway conducted by Anders Breivik and in older cases involving suspects like Eric Rudolph, Timothy McVeigh and Theodore Kaczynski in the United States, native-born individuals who have a variety of grievances with the government or society can carry out terrorist attacks. Such grievances will certainly persist.
Geopolitical cycles will change, and these changes may cause a shift in who employs terrorism and how it is employed. But as a tactic, terrorism will continue no matter what the next geopolitical cycle brings.
This article was reprinted by permission of Stratfor.
Commie Killer is a sergeant in the Defenders of Faith Militia.
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