The US Navy’s Attitude About Releasing UFO Videos is More Disturbing Than the UFO Videos

The US Navy confirms that three online videos showing two military air encounters with what it calls “unexplained aerial phenomena,” and the rest of us call “unidentified flying objects” are authentic, Popular Mechanics reports.

The videos are interesting, and some might find them disturbing. What’s more disturbing to me is that the Navy thinks they’re none of our business 15, or even four, years later (the incidents occurred in 2004 and 2015).

Pentagon spokesperson Susan Gough tells The Black Vault website, “[t]he videos were never officially released to the general public by the DoD and should still be withheld.”

The videos aren’t classified. They just haven’t been “cleared for public release.”

No such long-term category as “not cleared for public release” should exist with respect to information generated or acquired by government.

There are legal standards for “classifying” information as “confidential,” “secret,” or “top secret” based on supposed degrees of damage to national security disclosure of that information might cause.

I’m personally against allowing the state to keep secrets at all. They claim to work for us. If we’re really their bosses, we should get to look over their shoulders any time we please.

Of course, that won’t happen. But given the fact that the classification system does exist, there should also be a non-negotiable time limit within which any given piece of information must either be classified or made available to the public.

I’m not referring to deniable requests for information filed under the Freedom of Information Act. All government information not classified within 30 days of its creation or acquisition should be stored in databases that  the public can search at will.

UFOs have been a matter of intense public interest since at least as far back as the 1947 Roswell incident, which still spawns rumors of alien craft and corpses held in secret government facilities.

I don’t know, and am not going to claim to know, whether we’re being visited by extraterrestrials and if so what they’re up to while they’re here. I don’t have strong opinions on which sighting and abduction stories are true and which aren’t.  I’m just exactly smart enough to understand that I don’t have the information I’d need to reach such conclusions.

What I do know is that it shouldn’t be the government’s prerogative to conceal such information from the rest of us indefinitely, tell us tall tales about weather balloons and swamp gas, and offer lame “national security” excuses when caught out.

Nor are UFOs the only subject this problem touches on. The post-World War Two national security state has developed a culture of general secrecy that we accommodate at our peril. Concealing information from the public should be incredibly difficult, not a matter of course.

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Federal Gun Control in America: A Historic Guide to Major Federal Gun Control Laws and Acts

For Americans, the crux of gun control laws has been how to disarm dangerous individuals without disarming the public at large. Ever-present in this quest is the question of how the perception of danger should impact guaranteed freedoms protected within the Bill of Rights.

Not only is such a balancing act difficult as-is, but there are also two additional factors that make it even more challenging: America’s federal government is constitutionally bound by the Second Amendment, and politicians notoriously take advantage of tragedies to pass irrational laws when emotions are at their highest. As President Obama’s former Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, once famously remarked:

You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.

This line of thought is not new to American politics. From the emancipation of enslaved Americans and the organized crime wave of the 1930s to the assassinations of prominent leaders in the 1960s and the attempted assassination of President Reagan in the 1980s, fear has proved a powerful catalyst for appeals about gun control.

Below is an overview of the history behind major gun control laws in the federal government, capturing how we’ve gone from the Founding Fathers’ America of the New World to the United States of the 21st century.

Second Amendment in America’s Bill of Rights: Ratified December 15, 1791

Congress added the Bill of Rights to the Constitution of the United States specifically “to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers.” The Second Amendment is the foundational cornerstone of every American’s right to bear arms, stating:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

The right to bear arms was second only to the first – the most vital freedoms of religion, speech, the press, the right to assemble and the right to petition government for redress of grievances. Meanwhile, conflicting views have left government and personal interest groups struggling to reconcile technological advances, isolated but significant violent anomalies and the constitutional mandate protecting the natural right to self defense and this most basic aspect of the Bill of Rights.

Continue reading Federal Gun Control in America: A Historic Guide to Major Federal Gun Control Laws and Acts at Ammo.com.

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Trump and Netanyahu: “Mutual Defense” or Just Mutual Political Back-Scratching?

On September 14, US president Donald Trump tweeted (of course) the suggestion of a US-Israel “Mutual Defense Treaty,” citing a call with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Hopefully there’s less going on here than meets the eye: The tweet may just be another mutual publicity back-scratch of the type Trump and Netanyahu frequently exchange when they find themselves in political pickles. And Netanyahu is likely in the biggest such pickle of his career.

After failing to put together a ruling coalition in the wake of April’s general election, Netanyahu called another election for September 17.

Netanyahu also faces imminent indictment on three corruption charges, with a court hearing on the charges scheduled for early October. In June, his wife Sara took a plea deal and paid a fine for misusing state funds.

Netanyahu’s personal future may well depend on him having a political future. He’s pulling out all stops to change the April results, from approving new Israeli squats (“settlements”) in, and even promising to annex parts of, the occupied West Bank, to conducting military attacks in Syria and Iraq and along the Lebanese border.

Talk of a “Mutual Defense Treaty” with the US may well drive some badly needed votes his way, especially to the extent that such a treaty might be thought available only to Netanyahu and his Likud Party but not to Benny Gantz’s Blue and White alliance (the platform of which, by the way, bars indicted politicians from serving in the Knesset, Israel’s legislature).

So maybe Trump’s tweet is just politics. But if it’s for real, it’s a bad idea for the US, a bad idea for Israel, and a bad idea for world peace.

The US doesn’t need Israel’s assistance to defend itself. It already spends far more than any other state in the world on its military,  that amount is many multiples of any amount reasonably related to actual defense, and it faces no existential military threats other than attack with nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles, which Israel couldn’t plausibly reduce.

Israel hasn’t faced a military threat to its existence since 1973, and given the web of US-influenced and US-financed relations it’s created with Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, isn’t likely to face any such threat not of its own making for the foreseeable future .

As for peace in general, Trump proposes a “Mutual Defense” pact with a rogue nuclear garrison ethno-state in a tinderbox region. What could possibly go wrong?

A “Mutual Defense Treaty” with the US would only encourage further bad behavior and saber-rattling on the part of the Israelis toward e.g. Iran and Syria. That’s the kind of behavior bound to eventually CREATE a real military threat, resulting in the Israelis demanding US support pursuant to the treaty, on a claim of “Mom, he hit me back FIRST.”

It’s time for the US to start furling its post-World War Two “security umbrella” instead of inviting suspect new partners to join it beneath that umbrella. America’s future, if it is to have one, requires a non-interventionist foreign policy.

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Added “Friction” Does Greater Harm to Good People

In my continuing “Scott Adams (is wrong) on guns” series (that’s a new tag), I have looked at many of his “halfpinions” (his word) concerning guns.

Here’s the next installment. Yes, this is something I’ve brought up before, but it bears repeating since he’s still misrepresenting the issue.

When people object to his anti-gun ideas by reasonably pointing out that bad people will still get guns and suicidal people will still kill themselves he likes to say that of course they will, but any new “law” will add “friction” to the process, and “add friction; get less of that behavior (crime/suicide)”.

Again he’s acting on the faulty premise– the assumption– that guns are bad; that they are the problem; that cutting back on their availability even a little is generally a good thing. They aren’t, and it isn’t. Starting from a flawed premise, he arrives at a dumb “halfpinion” of his own.

Yes, you might “add friction” to a bad guy getting a gun with which to violate innocent people but those aren’t the only people to whom you are adding friction. You also add friction to the good, innocent people looking to get a gun for defense at the same time you add friction to the bad guys looking to violate the innocent. You are adding friction to the girl whose crazy ex is promising to kill her. I lost a friend to this added friction about 26 years ago as she waited for governmental permission to buy and carry a gun for self-defense. Guess who didn’t bother following the friction-causing “laws”.

Who is more accustomed to dealing with added friction on a daily basis?

Who has the connections to do an end-run around your added friction? It’s not usually the good people.

It’s always going to affect those who want a gun for self-defense more than it will affect the bad guys who want a gun for offense. Add friction, you get less self-defense.

You might “add friction” to a suicidal person’s attempt to get a gun with which to end his own life. This might save a few lives– the lives of those who don’t have some other method immediately available and who will soon change their mind about committing suicide– but how many innocent lives are you sacrificing in the process? Do you really believe it’s worth the cost to trade one person who wants to die for one person who wants to live— even if those wants are temporary whims?

He pretends he’s already considering net “gun deaths”, but he can’t be. There is no way to record how many lives are saved with guns, so how can you credibly consider them? Very few of those cases ever get reported– to government or the media. Most cases of self-defense don’t result in the gun being fired. And even in the small number which do, unless a shot is fired and you’re in a town where the gunshot will attract unwanted attention, who’s dumb enough to call the cops on themselves? Even if you are in town, I’d bet in most cases the sound of a gunshot isn’t currently pinpointed if no one reports being shot. No one can know even a reasonable estimate of how many lives are saved with a gun, so there is no possible way to calculate the net “gun deaths”.

He’s only looking at half of the picture and ignoring the inconvenient part– just as he does in all his “gun control” [sic] ideas. This is his definition of a “halfpinion” which he claims everyone else is exhibiting while he’s the only one who isn’t…while he does it right in front of the world. And it’s because he starts with the predetermined assumption that guns must be bad, that guns are a problem, even as he paces gun owners by claiming to be “pro-gun; pro-Second Amendment“.

If you start with a faulty premise you’ll come to dumb conclusions because you’re thinking of the topic incorrectly.

I’ve tried to get his attention, but he ignored my attempts. He probably blocked me if he saw my tweets since I wasn’t kind or gentle with my criticism, and yes, I did make it personal because he’s personally advocating this toxic mindset. I didn’t expect to change his mind, anyway, but I want to give you the mental tools to refute the claims of anti-gun bigots whenever they crop up. They are wrong, even if they are popular and believe they are smarter than you and me.

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Michael Drejka is a Political Prisoner

Just over a year ago, Michael Drejka fatally shot Markeis McGlockton in a Clearwater, Florida convenience store parking lot. On August 23, a jury found Drejka guilty of manslaughter.

Drejka should never have been charged with a crime.

Pinellas County sheriff Bob Gualtieri initially, and correctly, concluded that Drejka’s actions were protected under the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law. The charge was only filed after a calculated public relations campaign to create a “public outcry” based on political issues of gun rights and racial injustice.

Let’s review the facts:

McGlockton physically attacked Drejka, blind-siding him and taking him by surprise, driving him to his knees in a parking lot with no plausible place to flee (even if Drejka had been obligated to attempt to do so), then loomed aggressively over him as a second potential assailant (McGlockton’s girlfriend) moved to Drejka’s right. Drejka drew his weapon and shot McGlockton. All of this transpired in a matter of about five seconds.

Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law required a reasonable belief on Drejka’s part that firing his weapon was “necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm.”

Jury foreman Timothy Kleinman admits that “Markeis Mcglockton unnecessarily provoked Mr. Drejka by pushing him,” but claims that “[a]t the same time, using the gun wasn’t needed.  … He had time to think, ‘Do I really need to kill this man?’”

Forgive me if that statement causes me to doubt that Kleinman or any of the other jurors have ever found themselves in a situation where they were required to make “a kill or possibly be killed” decision over a of span of five seconds or less.

Speaking of doubt, let’s talk about the jury’s obligation. Their job was to find, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Drejka acted maliciously or negligently rather than in legitimate self-defense. Based on the key piece of evidence — surveillance video from the store — such a conclusion borders on the impossible.

Even Kleinman admits that Drejka was acting in self-defense up to the instant he pulled the trigger: “I think simply drawing the gun would have been enough.” Kleinman had as long to think about that as he cared to take in the comparative safety of the jury room. Drejka had seconds to think about it, on his knees, in a parking lot, during a violent physical assault that took him by surprise.

So why are we here? Because some politicians and political activists found a “lightning rod” case to push their agendas with. That’s a bad reason, an inherently corrupt purpose, for charging a man with a crime.

Yes, Drejka started an argument. But McGlockton started a fight. That bad decision cost Markeis McGlockton his life. It shouldn’t cost Michael Drejka his freedom.

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You’re Better Than the Mob; Don’t Forget it

There seems to be a strange willingness to destroy real individual human lives in defense of abstract imagined threats.

Watch the way people get excoriated on social platforms if it is believed that their actions, words, or even thoughts, are potentially not proactively in line with whatever imagined doomsday threat is en vogue. They don’t have to even do anything concrete or harm any specific individual in a specific way. They themselves only need to be perceived as a threat to the crusade against some big unsolvable boogeyman that no one actually really cares about but everyone pretends to.

What if we reserved active disdain for only those times when a real person took an action that caused us firsthand harm?

I cannot imagine any way in which the world would be worse.

The burden of proof would be on those rallying everyone against a public stranger to demonstrate such harm and show why additional parties ought to consider themselves part of the harmed in explicit provable material ways.

The danger of bad individuals – even “evil” if you insist – is utterly dwarfed by the danger of self-righteous mobs seeking to crucify them.

Mobs aren’t human.

They represent a reprehensible sub-human animal spirit that lurks behind mass man at all times. It is the spirit that believes some men ought or need to rule others. It is the spirit that suppresses the individual will with a nebulous collective death cult. It is a spirit that revels in the suffering of those envied more than individual progress.

In religious terms, it is Satan. In political terms, it is The State. They are essentially the same spirit. They exist only based on belief in and fear of them. Their incantations are collectivist words like “We” and obligatory words like “Ought”. They place an unfulfillable burden of responsibility on everyone while making accountability for anyone obscure to the point of impossible.

Their message is always one of what cannot be done without them. Their psychology is that of an abusive spouse angling at co-dependent manipulation. They desperately and cruelly whisper and shout a repeated hammer drum of what horrors and impossibilities await those who don’t yield to their necessity. They don’t pretend to be good. Their lie is that they are necessary. That without them you would die. But they are death. Of soul even when not of body.

Don’t give in.

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