The USDA Farmers Bulletin, an Untapped Resource

Cover of USDA Farm Bulletin # 1

How many folks know that the USDA was not always a vehicle for farm subsidies and welfare administration and to some extent even still does useful things for the American farmer?  Given the current political environment i would guess that the number is low.  However, throughout its history (the Department was created in 1862 by Abe Lincoln), one of the main things it has done is try to assist American farmers in increasing their agricultural output.  One of the ways it has done this is through the issuance of USDA Farm Bulletins on all kinds of topics related to farms and farming starting in 1889.  It was especially active in doing this during the first half of the 20th century, especially during the Depression years.

Because these bulletins are government products they are in the public domain and archive.org and some other groups have led the way in digitizing these bulletins and making them available for free download, they even have a searchable index page with links to digital copies – https://archive.org/details/usda-farmersbulletin. The USDA National Agricultural Library also maintains an index by title, author, number, or subject on their page at – https://pubs.nal.usda.gov/sites/pubs.nal.usda.gov/files/fb.htm#sortnbr.

These are invaluable resources for the prepper who expects societal collapse as many detail long forgotten pre-farm mechanization/industrial farming cultivation methods.  Methods that many modern farmers are no longer proficient with because they are no longer used.  I urge all preppers to at least browse the index, you might be surprised what you find in there.

Gear Review: AVAWO Hunting Rifle Bipod

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received this article free from the vendor for review purposes. Other than the article reviewed I was not paid by the vendor and and the opinion expressed in this review is purely my own]

I use a Remington 700 as my hunting rifle and I currently have a VOKUL bipod that I use when I go hunting that I paid less than $20 for and is perfectly serviceable.  The AVAWO bipod is at roughly the same price point as the VOKUL selling for $17.99 on Amazon at the time of this writing.  As I always do when reviewing products, I tried to research where the item is manufactured.  That I could not easily figure out.  A quick Google search overwhelmingly takes you to Amazon links for the vast array of products sold under the AVAWO brand name.  There is also a company website at http://www.avawo.net/ that has only an email address on the contact page.  A little further digging reveals that the AVAWO brand is a registered trademark in Hong Kong and the US to a holding company called HONGKONG EASYTOP TECHNOLOGY CO., LIMITED incorporated in 2013 in Hong Kong that has registered several brand trademarks.  Since there is no place of manufacture data on the packaging or bipod itself and given the location of the company that owns the trademark, I am left to conclude that the bipod was most likely manufactured in China, which explains the price point quite well.  That does not mean this is not a good product, just that I am a natural cynic and want to know the origin of the products I buy or recommend.

First, the specs of the bipod off the manufacturer’s website:

  • Material: Hardened steel, aluminum; Color: Black; Leg Height: 6″ / 152mm (retracted) –  9″ / 225 mm (fully extended) Light weight: 10ozs
  • Features: Ultra-light spring loaded folding mechanism bipod; Compact and light weight; Non-rust black anodized finish ;Rubber padded on top to protect fore-end of gun
  • Durable with new design high quality that you can quickly attaches to sling swivel stud.
  • Lleg height: 6 to 9 inches.
  • Adjustable leg length (5 settings) with return springs.
  • The legs can be folded forward or backward.
  • Heavy duty and made of hardened steel and aluminum.
  • With a non-rusting black anodized finish.
  • Compact and light weight.
  • Quickly attach or detach from the rifle using the existing swivel stud.
  • This bipod does not have a swivel top and does not tilt from side to side.
  • Adjustable height & foldable arms with spring tension

I got the AVAWO Bipod in the mail and interestingly the box it is package in was labelled as a fishing adjustable swivel holder.  Opening the box, it is packed in bubble wrap and there is no data sheet or instructions for mounting.  Mounting is actually straightforward but if you are a novice and have never messed with a swivel mount bipod I could see how the lack of instructions could lead to confusion as it takes a bit of thought to figure out how to mount the bipod.

Upon unpacking the bipod, I examined it and at first glance it is fairly sturdily constructed.  After closer examination, aside from some minor cosmetic differences such as phillips head screws vs allen head screws, and different types of rubber for the pads, it is exactly the same as the VOKUL bipod I have and not a lot different from the much more expensive Blackwhawk!! Bipods.  I suppose that has a lot do with the fact that form follows function and other than materials and craftsmanship, a bipod is pretty much a bipod.

The legs of the bipod are adjustable and spring load when fully closed such that if you press the release button they spring to fully extended and it is possible to adjust the leg height at roughly 1/2 in interval from fully retracted to fully extended.  It is possible to mount the bipod with the legs either forward or backward on the rifle.  I mount mine with legs forward to keep the fore-grip unobstructed but it is preference thing.  When opened the bipod legs are quite stable.  If you abuse them I am sure they would bend but they are plenty sturdy for typical hunting and target shooting.

The bipod mounts to the rifle easily and is quite stable once tightened down.  I suppose you could loctite the lock down screw to prevent loosening but I do not since I remove the bipod when I clean the rifle.  The sling mount on the bipod fits standard rifle slings, I have a real-tree sling from BassPro and it goes on quite easily.

All in all, this is a great value for the price.  Personally I have issues with it being made in China but if American or European companies insist on pricing themselves out of the casual market then I cannot help them.  I refuse to pay 4-5 times more for a similar quality American product.  I am not rich and I assume most of my readers are not either.  If two products of are equal quality then I will pick the greater value every time, that is basic economics at work.

This is an excellent bipod at an excellent price and if you are looking for a quality, low-priced bipod for a hunting rifle, the AVAWO bipod fits the bill quite nicely.



It only takes one idiot to f*^k it up for everybody

I saw an article this morning when I satisfied my daily news junkie.  Kansas man accused in bomb plot feared social collapse.  Two things struck me about the article.  One, the defense is bullshit and two, stories like this give preppers a bad name.  It reminded me of a saying we had when I was in the military; “it only takes one idiot to f*^k it up for everybody”.  The guy in the story is that one idiot.

This clown in the story is trying to use prepping and his irrational fears as an excuse for being stupid.  He proved his stupidity by the very plan he came up with and confirmed it by not vetting everyone he was conspiring with well enough. He was not a prepper but a member of a militia group calling themselves The Crusaders, just the name should tip you off that he is not a prepper so much as some type of political activist.  Further, he is not a prepper if he is planning on blowing something or someone up, he is a terrorist just as surely as is an ISIS suicide bomber or a BLM protester that decides to shoot at the cops or a SJW activist that starts a riot when a conservative speaks.  All such people deserve nothing but our contempt and derision and politics has nothing to do with it.  Those that actively hope for and/or work towards bringing about a SHTF scenario should not call themselves preppers, at best they are millennialists.

As preppers, we have to ask ourselves one question.  Why do we prep and if we prep out of some sort of political conviction are we really preppers?  My answer is to why is that I prep because I think learning the skills required is enjoyable and natural cynicism about the state of the world.

I grew up on a farm and loved spending time in the outdoors as a kid hunting, fishing, and hiking.  I also loved helping my grandparents and parents with things like gardening, canning, taking care of the animals, etc.  Those are things I think of as fun and therefore are not work to me.  Those are also things that being truly prepared are required skills so those things fit together.

As a historian and a natural cynic I look around at what is going on in the world and think it is better to be prepared as the modern world is more vulnerable to societal disruption than it has ever been before.  Little more than a century ago things would have been bad if the electricity stopped working or government collapsed but most people had the skills to get by and global population was not so large as to preclude feeding most people without modern agriculture.  That is no longer the case.  A collapse in modern agricultural methods alone through some sort of engineered attack would inevitably lead to widespread famine even in the developed world and all the societal issues that would arise as a result.  Therefore, prepping to me makes sense.

That being said, I hope a societal collapse never happens and I will work actively to try and prevent one.  I don’t romanticize a SHTF scenario as nothing good can come of such uncertainty.  I hope to die peacefully of old age many years from now with a full crisis storage that I never had to use.

I expect that my viewpoint expressed in this piece will not be popular with some, and I am ok with that.  I also hope that more people share my views.  Yes, society seems to be fracturing and there are plenty on both sides of the political divide that are not prepared to compromise on anything.  I think of myself as a conservative leaning moderate as I think as a nation and a world we would be better off focusing on the things that bind us instead of things that divide us and working to find common ground.  This leads me to reject political extremism of every stripe and most types of identity politics.  The guy in this story IS that one idiot that is going to f*^k it up for all of us preppers, because by appropriating the label he is going to let those that disagree with preppers and the prepping mindset paint us in a light that does not reflect who we really are.

Let us all ask ourselves, “Why do I prep?”  and if the answer is anything other than I would rather have and not need than need and not have, perhaps you need to examine your motivations for prepping a little more deeply.

Please discuss as I am more than willing to engage in reasonable debate.

 

GOTH Kit – Example

GOTH (Go to Hell) Kit

This post is largely an excerpt from my book: The Simple Survival Smart Book available as paperback, kindle, or audiobook from Amazon.

It struck me recently that I have made several posts in the past about what kits to use/have immediately available in a crisis but I have not posted an example.  This post is an attempt to begin to rectify that.  Let me preface this post by saying that there is tons of advice and checklists available in books and on the internet about the kinds of kits to have, how many, and what to put in them.  This is none example and is the one I have in all my family’s vehicles.

What kit and/or kits each person builds is going to reflect their appreciation of what they need as well as what level of resources they have to devote to preparedness.  There probably is no 100% correct answer when it comes to what to put into a kit as everyone’s needs and requirements are a little different.  I have three kits that I keep prepared at all times.  The GOTH kit that is the subject of this post, a Semi-BOB (Bugout Bag) that I tote around with me everywhere, and a larger BOB Bag based off an ALICE ruck that I keep in the basement if I have to unass the house in a hurry.  The GOTH is not so much a survival kit, although it has that function, as an everyday emergency kit that has everything needed for two people to survive in relative comfort for 24-28 hours except for water of which I always have a ½ gallon or so in my vehicle anyway.

Now, the thing to remember when planning any kit be it GOTH, BOB, or household storage is that there is no single correct answer.  That is because everybody’s needs are different.  Sure, there are general needs that everybody is going to have such as food, clean water, shelter, first aid supplies, and fire making. Everyone is also going to have specific needs that only apply to them such as glasses, medicine, specific dietary requirements, perhaps even disabilities that must be accounted for.  The kit I describe is pretty generic and it works for me because other than wearing glasses I have no specific requirements and I am not going to carry spare glasses in my car kit anyway as I already have a pair in my glove box.

As you plan your kit take care to keep space limitations and absolute necessities in mind.  A mistake that everybody makes when planning kits is taking too much.  In a SHTF scenario too much gear can be just as deadly as too little.  An analogy is the gear soldiers take into combat.  Every new guy to combat tends to tote too much gear.  Gear they don’t need and won’t use but have decided they have got to have.  As you gain experience you start to throw things away or leave it in the rear and strip your gear down to bare essentials.  Since you won’t be able to use your kit in a real-life SHTF scenario until very bad things happen planning and practice will have to make up for the real thing.  If possible, try to do an experiment and live off your gear for a few days to figure out what is essential and what is not.

Lastly, quality matters.  Prepping can be expensive and while it is possible to prep on a budget there are some things you absolutely don’t want to pinch pennies on and water filtration is one of them as are storage food and a good knife.  How ironic would it be if you got everything together, have to use and die from some food or waterborne illness or your blade breaks with no replacement because you decided to go cheap?  Like everything else in life, where survival is concerned nothing beats careful thought, consideration, and planning.

EXCERPT BEGINS HERE:

This compact kit can be carried in the car, on the boat, or in a small ruck/backpack while hunting, hiking, exploring, etc.  Most of the contents will fit in an Army 7.62mm ammo can which doubles as a pot for melting snow and device with which to dig an emergency snow shelter. (However, if you can carry it, include a small shovel.  It is far, far better than trying to use an ammo can.)

GOTH Kit laid out

Carrying container

  • US Army Surplus 7.62mm ammo can (can be purchased at local Army Surplus tore or online)

General Items

  • 550 Parachute Cord (25 feet)
  • Signal Mirror
  • Matches (2 boxes)
  • Magnesium Fire Starter
  • Bic® Lighter
  • 40 Alcohol prep-pads for first-aid & use as fire starters
  • Compass (learn how to use)
  • Paper and pencil
  • Fishing line, hooks, split shot leads
  • Pocketknife
  • P-38 GI Can Opener
  • Money
  • Garbage Bags (3 large size bags)
  • Dental floss (It’s strong and useful as thread for sewing, fishing line, or for lashing branches for improvised shelters.)
  • Gardening Hand-Shovel (carried externally)

First Aid Kit (Recommended contents)

  • Moleskin
  • Sterile pads (2 x 2 and 4 x 4)
  • Sterile Gauze
  • Neosporin
  • Band-Aids
  • Aspirin
  • First Aid Tape

Food & Water

  • Water Filter Straw
  • Iodine Water Purification Tablets
  • Emergency Rations (3 day supply for one person)

Optional/Nice to Have Items

  • Instant Soup or tea (3-4 packages)
  • Camp Cup/Canteen Cup
  • Emergency Wire Saw
  • Emergency Tent
  • Campfire starter sticks (optional)

GOTH Kit packed

All contents will fit in a US Army Surplus ammo can, I use a 7.62mm can that I have from long ago. It is waterproof and closes very securely.  If there is extra room (there should not be) you can keep things from rattling in the can by wadding up some wax paper and stuffing it around the items.  The wax paper stays dry and also doubles as a fire starter.

My G.O.T.H. Kit weighs 8.5 lbs. and the ammo can fits perfectly behind the back seat of my pickup.

Civil War/Revolution, Is it a Possibility?

I saw this on Infowars this morning: The United States Is On The Precipice Of Widespread Civil Unrest

Yeah, Yeah, I know this is Infowars and thus to be taken with a very hefty grain of salt but the piece brings up a very valid point. Would a Trump assassination or even an attempt on his life ignite widespread civil disturbance? There is no doubt that his election has been one of the most divisive events in modern history. Just about every action he has taken since his inauguration has brought about protests heck, even the inauguration itself brought on protests.  The only event even remotely similar in US history that I can think of is Lincoln’s 1860 victory.

If you were not serious or only half serious about prepping now is a good time to rethink your prepping priorities.  Don’t forget that anonymous is a left-wing group and the American left is increasingly unhinged and moving to extremes.  When extremes go mainstream we should all be worried.

A Collapse: 8-Civil War/Revolution

I am reposting this now in the face of all the idiocy from the left and the right since the inauguration.  Things have been getting more interesting by the minute since January 20th.

Originally posted on 16 Aug 2016. I initially wrote this piece over a year ago and as I got it ready for posting I was continually struck by how eerily prescient this seems to be.  In many ways, civil unrest is the most likely collapse scenario and even harder to predict.  Given the current state of American politics and the sorry choices presented by both major parties this year I fear that this is a real possibility in the near future unless the politurds in Washington show more leadership ability than they have recently.  This post is also hugely long for a blog post.

Some of the following is an excerpt from one of the books I am working on as a follow up to The Simple Survival Smart Book  and some are additions to that.

This post verges on the political and regardless of how hard I try my conclusions and predictions are inevitably colored by my own political beliefs and convictions.  I just wanted to make that clear up front and encourage those that disagree with me to debate where and why they think I am wrong in the comments section.

Note that I am deliberately excluding from the below discussions what I call the conspiracy theory wackos, these are Truthers, Birthers, the AGW crowd, and the rest of the tinfoil hat brigade who can fall on either side of the political spectrum.  Folks that are only dangerous individually and who I personally think suffer from some sort of mental illness because they obviously cannot accept facts, do not understand logic, and therefore have to conjure up boogiemen to satisfy themselves.  These are the same type of people that were condemning housewives as witches in 17th century Salem, MA or denouncing their neighbors to Torquemada’s henchmen in 15th century Spain; they don’t see demons around every corner anymore, instead they see aliens, government agents, or toadies from the Illuminati, Trilateral, Bilderberg, Global Corporations, The food and/or medical industries, Big Pharma, etc. I personally refuse to debate these people as they have an uncanny ability to ignore and even subvert rational thought.

Between the Occupy Wall Street crowd, BLM, Sovereign Citizen types, illegal immigration advocates, far-left anarchists, eco-terror groups, and ethnic/racial grievance mongers, there are plenty of angry folks walking the streets of America and indeed, the Western World.  Many groups with similar points of view exist throughout the Western world (some examples include the PEGIDA protesters and AfD party in Germany, UKIP in the UK, and the Front National in France) .  Groups that believe the current system is broken and see no real way to effect change from within the system even though some are trying.  I find it ironic that so many people at protests wear the Guy Fawkes masks made famous by the movie V for Vendetta because Guy Fawkes was at best a stooge and potential regicide and at worst an unredeemed anarchist depending upon which history you read.  Fawkes sought to change the order of things through violence, it very well could happen again within our lifetime.

Lots of people like tossing around this line from Thomas Jefferson made during the debate on the ratification of the US Constitution: The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”  That line is pretty striking but it is somewhat out of context.  Better context can be gained from knowing what he said before and after uttering that sentence.  In full it is:

We have had 13. states independant 11. years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century and a hA.L.F. for each state. What country ever existed a century and a half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure. Our Convention has been too much impressed by the insurrection of Massachusets: and in the spur of the moment they are setting up a kite to keep the hen yard in order. I hope in god this article will be rectified before the new Constitution is accepted.”(sic)

The rebellion referenced in the quote is Shay’s Rebellion of 1786-1787, which occurred in Massachusetts.  Shay’s Rebellion was started ostensibly because of elites economically and legally oppressing the yeoman farmers of western Massachusetts.  It was not much of a rebellion as far as rebellions go, with less than 10 dead for no result.  It probably affected how strong the Federal government was made when the Constitution was written but even that is debated. What it did though, was set a precedent.

What that means for today is that a spirit of rebellion persists in America.  That spirit has existed throughout American history from the anti-tax Whiskey rebellion of 1791, the states’ rights and slaveholders of the US Civil War, Bootleggers of Prohibition, Ant-Vietnam War Protesters of the 60’s, to the modern movements of Occupy Wall Street, Sovereign Citizen types, illegal immigrant advocates, and ethnic/racial grievance mongers.  It is one of these four groups that will precipitate any Civil War in the US.  My bet for the instigators would be on Occupy Wall Street/Leftist types or Sovereign Citizen types activists.  In either case it will be people on the fringe of either movement that cause a break that sucks more moderate people in.  To clarify, Personally, I fall into the Sovereign Citizen crowd but don’t think conditions are quite bad enough to warrant armed insurrection at this point although that point may indeed be someday reached.

Since I don’t care if I piss off some lefties we will start with them.  Specifically, we will start with

OWS Logo

OWS Logo

Occupy Wall Street, or just OWS.  OWS started in 2011 with protests in New York City against the supposed excesses of investment banks, bankers, and essentially business in general.  From the occupywallstreet.org website about page OWS is defined as: Occupy Wall Street is a people-powered movement that began on September 17, 2011 in Liberty Square in Manhattan’s Financial District, and has spread to over 100 cities in the United States and actions in over 1,500 cities globally. #ows is fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations. The movement is inspired by popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, and aims to fight back against the richest 1% of people that are writing the rules of an unfair global economy that is foreclosing on our future.”  OWS advocates love to claim that they represent the voice of the 99% who don’t have the economic power to effect change.  Ironically enough, most OWS protesters were college kids whose parents were putting them through school.  Even the Huffington Post, not considered a bastion of conservative thought called them out on that lie finding that OWS protesters were “overwhelmingly white, highly educated and employed.”  That finding comes from a report prepared by the Joseph F. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies at the City University of New York.[1]  The report itself can be found at this URL: http://sps.cuny.edu/filestore/1/5/7/1_a05051d2117901d/1571_92f562221b8041e.pdf and makes pretty interesting and at times entertaining reading as it is clear that the report authors are unhappy about the results they found from their survey.  I gathered that they expected different results from the ones they got.

The OWS crowd is not the real danger on the left though, that honor goes to the far left anarchists and ecoterrorists/advocates.  These are groups like Anonymous, Earth First!, and the Animal Liberation Front (A.L.F.).  These are groups that are way out there on a limb but believe in their base ideologies with the fervency and faith of the worst religious fanatics in history.  The hard core of these groups have the same asceticism and intensity of religious zealots as well.  They live lives devoted to righting the wrongs that only they can truly perceive.  These fanatics often exist among more moderate groups and since they are unwilling to compromise they have a tendency to lead more moderate groups inexorably down the path to more and more radical acts.  The core of these types of folks end up in fringe groups like those mentioned above.  These are groups that follow the dictates of whatever it is they think there higher calling is.  The danger in such groups is not that they themselves can start a Civil War, but that their actions cause more moderate people to start drawing line that they will not cross and thus narrowing the room for societal compromise.  On their own, Anonymous, Earth First!, A.L.F., and similar groups are problems for law enforcement, it is only when they influence larger groups as they did during the OWS phenomenon that they become dangerous to society at large.

Let’s look at my big three lefty groups Anonymous, Earth First!, and A.L.F..  Anonymous is a very

Guy Fawkes Mask used by Anonymous supporters

Guy Fawkes Mask used by Anonymous supporters

shadowy hacker group that engages in brazen computer attacks against any groups or individuals that attract their ire.  They seem mostly to go after companies that want to protect copyrighted material but in the past several years have branched out into taking more political type targets such as government agencies they feel infringe on information freedom.  Anonymous was prominent in supporting OWS protests as well as supporting rebels in many Arab nations in the “Arab Spring” of 2011.  For a long time anonymous was active in supporting Wikileaks but withdrew their support in 2012 when WIkileaks erected a paywall to access the information they hosted.[2]

The danger with anonymous is that they will get so upset that they execute a cyberattack on some computer controlled infrastructure that causes real physical damage instead of just shutting down a website or causing financial loss.  Once they demonstrate such a capability they become very dangerous and their generally left-leaning politics makes them attractive to other leftists groups who may seek to coordinate attack with them.  The capabilities anonymous brings to any left inspired insurrection make them a force multiplier in military speak but not necessarily a power in their own right.  It is kind of hard to really control anything when all you have is a computer.  It may reduce capabilities to remove machines from the network, but it will not kill us.  Anonymous and their capabilities are probably with a whole other article that would rapidly get very technical on the ubiquity of data, the risks associated with the increasing networking of aspects of basic services, and why groups such as anonymous are potentially so dangerous.

EF fistEarth First! Is one of those wacky, far out environmentalist groups that get very little play in the media because I suspect that the media or at least most journalists, largely agree with them.  If you want to see their wackiness for yourself Just visit the About page maintained at earthfirst.org.  They engage in random acts of civil disobedience, sabotage, and admittedly terror aimed at attempting to force companies and individuals to respect and treat the earth’s environment as Earth First! thinks it should be treated.  Some of the first actions by Earth First! were tree sit-ins in the Pacific northwest to stop logging, this was followed by tree spiking.  Tree spiking is the act of putting long nails into random trees in logging areas, the hope is that when a logger goes to cut down the spiked tree the chainsaw will catch on the spike  hopefully breaking the saw blade.  Tree spiking has the potential to injure or kill loggers and is a felony in the US.  They have went on committed more acts of sabotage such as vandalism at ski resorts,

One thing about Earth First! is that they are a small group, probably only a few hundred to thousand members in the whole US.  That makes them hard to track and they have also instituted a cell type structure meaning that even if one cell is busted the rest are relatively secure.  Such a structure is a necessity if you are going to go on the kind of crime spree they have.  They have also continued to radicalize since their founding and now spout not just an environmental line but increasingly use anarchist rhetoric about the “man”, corporatism, and the modern system in general.  The continued descent of Earth First! into further radicalism is worrisome because the fit into a wider anarchist subculture that increasingly see humanity itself as a problem and it is not a leap to think they could one day decide to fix the root of the problem, mankind itself.  Even scarier is that most radical environmentalists are not stupid people and they have the skills to cook up some serious stuff if they so desire.   It is entirely conceivable that they could come up with and execute a Daybreak style scenario as John Barnes posits in his Daybreak books that disables modern technology through the use of nano-tech and engineered biologicals.

ALF LogoThe Animal Liberation Front (A.L.F.) is another far left group that engages in illegal, terroristic type activities in pursuit of an agenda.  Their agenda is animal rights and I have often thought of them as the dark side of PETA.  They have an interesting website where all their wackiness is on display for the world to see.  Their mission and objective statements say just about everything anybody needs to know about them:

The ALF Mission Statement: To effectively allocate resources (time and money) to end the “property” status of nonhuman animals.  The Objective of the Mission: To abolish institutionalized animal exploitation because it assumes that animals are property.”

A.L.F. engages in animal rights related terrorist and disruptive activities ranging from vandalizing store windows to releasing animals on farms, breaking into medical research labs, and targeting people working in industries that work with animals in the extreme.  They push the idea that an animal has just as many, if not more rights than does a human being.  These are the meat is murder types who take that position to its logical extreme.  They even have a section on their website where they proudly list all the illegal activities that there members worldwide engage in that they call ALF Actions.  These are not the people who see a pig and think bacon, they see a pig and see a kindred spirit in need of protection and of course they are the only ones who want to provide that protection.

Since the original writing of this post the Black Lives Matter (BLM) crowd has gained increasing visibility. This started as protests against the police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri of a young black man named Michael Brown in August, 2014 in circumstances which were eventually ruled justified by a local grand jury. After Ferguson, the movement gained speed and reach with just about every officer involved shooting involving blacks in the country precipitated at times massive protests. Of note were protests and near riots in NYC and Baltimore in 2015. Most times the shootings have been ruled legitimate uses of force and when they are not the officers are generally charged. That being said, I have been led to wonder at times if the prosecution of policemen for on-duty conduct in the wake of the BLM movement have not been politically motivated. At times the protests have turned violent themselves and police response has been muted due to fears of unfair treatment at the hands of politicians if they use force to quell violent protests.

Personally, I have not managed to wrap my mind around the whole BLM movement. It seems to me that many of the problems in the black community are to a degree self-inflicted. That is not to say that there are not societal and historical reasons for blacks to be underprivileged, there are. It does mean that many, but not all, in the black community have taken the easy way out of their problems by blaming them on others and refusing to take responsibility for fixing it themselves. I particularly blame the so-called leaders of the black community such as Ta-neshi Coates, Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton for this. Instead of taking the high road they have traveled down the road of demanding redress instead of fixing problems.

As for the potential for violence, BLM protests have shown again and again that they can and do turn violent. So far, it has been formless violence, rioting, looting, and such, but the potential for organized violence is there. What makes that potential worse are the racial and anti-government elements of the BLM rhetoric. Essentially, the BLM movement is anti-white and anti-government and if it does turn violent in an organized manner there is a potential for large portions of many American cities to become very dangerous places indeed and it is next to impossible to predict an exact even that will set them off.

That does it for the most radical groups on the left, but what about radicals on the right?  They exist as well.  Groups such as the OWS, Earth First!, and ALF are just the radical fringe on the left of the political spectrum.  It is that radical fringe that will drag the moderates into a Civil War though.  Just remember, John Brown was a radical abolitionist who decided the political system was not working fast enough and took matters into his own hands.  The raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859 was not the spark that started the civil war, but his actions caused the hardline slave-owners to determine that they would not compromise in the debate about the right to own slaves and it was this hardening of opinion that eventually led to secession and Civil War in 1861.  Just because radical groups are small does not mean they cannot have effects all out of proportion to the size of the group, especially if they pick an issue that many feel can be galvanizing.

That was just a taste of the types of groups on the radical left.  The left has no monopoly on radicalism though, there are plenty of radicals on the right side of the political spectrum as well and in some ways they are potentially even more dangerous.  While plenty of people might get upset about over-logging, CO2 emissions, water pollution, and animal testing, not many are upset enough to go to war over these issues.  That is not the case with some of the issues on the right.  There are plenty of people willing to go to war because they feel their freedoms and liberties are violated on a regular basis and that is a feeling that is just getting stronger as the Government and voting public ignore these concerns.  Some of these concerns even cross political boundaries such as that of the militarization of local police.  The main issues that motivate and galvanize the political right however, are mainly political with a dash of cultural/ethical/moral thrown in. These are issues such as government spending, government infringement on Constitutional liberties and freedoms, welfare spending, religious exclusion, parental rights, gay marriage, and of course the atom bomb of wedge issues; abortion.   There is a smidgen of racism on the right in American politics but it is on the fringe of the right and disowned by the vastly overwhelming majority of conservatives and so should rightly be ignored but commentators on the left never is an opportunity to claim the right is full of racist bigots.

This section is probably going to raise a few people’s hackles if you have gotten this far in reading, but an objective appraisal means that even those of us on the right have to acknowledge there are some strange types on the conservative bench also.  I won’t even pretend that I understand the motivation of some groups, be they left or right so wherever I can I will use their own words as examples.  The radicals on the right, and they are there, although contrary to the media they are not everywhere.  The common target for left-wing media ire is the TEA Party, which is anything but radical.  The TEA Party is all about government accountability and fiscal restraint although to hear the media and left talk they are a bunch of revolutionaries foaming at the mouth to tear the system down and rebuild a pre-civil war slave state while simultaneously deporting or expelling everybody not of European stock in the country.  What the TEA Party really wants is for government to get out of citizens daily lives and let them go about living how they choose so long as they do not hurt others.  It really is that simple.  That means lower taxes, less bureaucracy, and less regulation of everything from business to what flag you fly in front of your house.

the-tea-party-political-party-2There is a fringe of nominal TEA Party adherents that in my opinion use the TEA Party as a convenient label.  These are the Sovereign Citizen types and Ron Paul libertarians that think just about any government is too much and it almost appears as if they manufacture grievance out of thin air.  Some of these guys are just as volatile as any A.L.F. member or Eartfirster! And just as liable to violence.

It is important to note that most rightist extremists generally don’t organize themselves in groups the way the lefty’s do.  Most are just ideological movements or a shared philosophy among individuals that exchange information through newsletters, websites, and magazines.  There are probably not leaders for any of them that everyone listens too although there are some that come close. Some of the right extremist groups are the Sovereign Citizen/Posse Comitatus Movement, Christian Identity,, Oathkeepers/III%, and of course that perennial bugbear of the left, the Militia Movement.

Sovereign_Citizen_Movement_LogoSovereign Citizen/Posse Comitatus Movement first as that ideology probably has the largest number of adherents of any group on the right.  I am sure we all remember the standoff at the Cliven Bundy Ranch in Nevada in the April of 2014.  The facts in the case were ignored by both sides in the media storm that followed the BLM’s admittedly heavy handed tactics to get his cattle off of Federal land.  Here is a succinct summary from the Las Vegas Review-Journal in an article about an accident that occurred 2 days after the stand off ended: “The rancher’s federal grazing permit was canceled 20 years ago after Bundy stopped paying his grazing fees in a dispute over the BLM’s new range restrictions meant to protect the desert tortoise. The land since has been closed to grazing, but Bundy kept his livestock on the range, and the government kept assessing fees and penalties that now exceed $1 million.”  Bundy has espoused some views that fit into both the Sovereign Citizen/Posse Comitatus Movement repertoire.  Of course there was also, and more recently, the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in the winter of 2015/2016 in whivh one of Bundy’s sons was onvolved and was resolved for the most part without violence except for the police killing of Robert Finicum, which predictably immediately gave rise to cries of murder although I am not certain even yet that the full facts have come out or will ever come out.

Bundy StandoffWhat is a Sovereign Citizen?  At root, a Sovereign Citizen is someone who rejects the authority of the federal government specifically, and most state governments as well.  A Sovereign Citizen believes they are sovereign in and unto themselves and thus beholden to no earthly law.  Forbes did a really good piece exploring what Sovereign Citizenship is a few years ago.  At root the Sovereign Citizen movement is an anti-authority and especially anti-tax movement.  Sovereign Citizens don’t often get violent, what they do instead is clog up the courts with petty and frivolous lawsuits, engage in tax fraud, money counterfeiting, wacky diplomatic immunity cases, and such.  Most Sovereign Citizens engage in what I like to call lawfare.  That is they attempt to use the laws of the US in ways they were not supposed to be used and often in direct contradiction to the text of the law itself.  They engage in some creative interpretation of the law and case precedent.  You know you have stumbled across a Sovereign Citizen website when they throw in a citation to some obscure precedent from state, local, or federal law just about every other line.  Check out this explanation of Sovereign Citizenship at civil-liberties.com for an example.  While I normally disparage the Southern Policy Law Center as a bunch of liberal hacks, they did put together a very good special issue detailing Sovereign Citizens and the methods and beliefs they hold.

Sovereign Citizens are zealots and they have a tendency to get violent when confronted by police.  Hell, it has happened again recently.  A Sovereign Citizen was shot in Alabama on 30 December, 2014 while struggling with police after refusing to show ID when trying to turn in a stray to an animal shelter.  That being said, there is no one central leader or even group of leaders of the Sovereign Citizen movement.  It is a potpourri of individuals and some groups that share a basic set of beliefs.  The Sovereign Citizen can be scary and dangerous as an individual but they pose no more than an individual threat.  What they could do though is multiply any collapse by seizing the opportunity to make their rants real and contribute to the chaos around them.

Another movement associated with the political right is the Christian Identity movement.  I say they are associated with the right but no true conservative will have anything to do with them.  It is a fringe movement that like other fringe movements attracts the hopeless and helpless in search of meaning who have found it nowhere else.  Christian Identity is one such group.  The movement is essentially a racist perversion of Christian beliefs.  From the Kingdom Identity church of Arkansas’ website they self-describe as “Politically Incorrect Christian Identity outreach ministry to God’s chosen race (true Israel, the White, European peoples.”  How that can be any clearer I don’t have a clue.  The FBI produced an informative fact sheet about the Christian Identity movement in 1999 that is still available on their archives page.conquer1

There have been some Christian Identity attacks or incidents in the past but virtually all were racially motivated.  The Christian Identity movement is more ideological and about its adherents finding salvation than it is apocalyptic.  I can see them taking advantage of a collapse but not acting to begin one.  In fact, the odiousness of their beliefs to the vast majority of people would rapidly make them outcasts in a collapse situation.  When the SHTF what matters is trustworthiness and usefulness to the group, not the color of a person’s skin.  Christian Identity types are out there but are not a threat unless you are the wrong ethnicity and they catch you in a dark alley one night.

I am personally ambiguous about the Oathkeepers/III%. I am not sure whether they are seditious and harmless, misguided, or just plain silly. First off, who and what are the Oathkeepers/III%? They have a website at http://www.Oathkeepers/III%.org. The short version of who they are is: “Military, Veterans, and peace officers who will honor their oaths to defend the Constitution, will NOT “just follow orders,” will stand for liberty, and will save the Republic, so help us God. Our motto is: “Not on Our Watch!”” They further have a list of 10 orders that people who identify as Oathkeepers/III% will refuse to obey. The list is below.

  1. We will NOT obey orders to disarm the American people.
  2. We will NOT obey orders to conduct warrantless searches of the American people
  3. We will NOT obey orders to detain American citizens as “unlawful enemy combatants” or to subject them to military tribunal.
  4. We will NOT obey orders to impose martial law or a “state of emergency” on a state.
  5. We will NOT obey orders to invade and subjugate any state that asserts its sovereignty.
  6. We will NOT obey any order to blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps.
  7. We will NOT obey any order to force American citizens into any form of detention camps under any pretext.
  8. We will NOT obey orders to assist or support the use of any foreign troops on U.S. soil against the American people to “keep the peace” or to “maintain control.”
  9. We will NOT obey any orders to confiscate the property of the American people, including food and other essential supplies.
  10. We will NOT obey any orders which infringe on the right of the people to free speech, to peaceably assemble, and to petition their government for a redress of grievances.

OathKeepersTheir list of illegal orders is actually pretty good and pretty much covers all the bases. Now here is what gets me about the Oathkeepers/III% and why I have problems with them. I am not sure about police but I know that the Oath of Enlistment in the armed forces according to Title 10 U.S. Code § 502 specifically requires only that lawful orders be followed making the Oathkeepers/III% promise at a minimum redundant and at best borderline seditious.

I guess my biggest problem with the Oathkeepers/III% is the tinfoil hat paranoia of its proponents. As if they think LEOs, military, and vets are unthinking sheep that would gladly mow down fellow citizens if ordered to just as easily as SS thugs rounded up and murdered Jews in World War II. As a vet myself I take personal offense at the notion that the groups or type of person the Oathkeepers/III% are targeted at are considered so base and ignorant that they must be reminded their job is to protect civilians, not murder them. Not only are we so stupid, they are encouraging us to take an additional oath affirming what we have already sworn.

My last and biggest problem is the rebellious nature of the whole Oathkeepers/III% project. The whole point of the oath seems to be to incite rebellion amongst the military and police. The entirety of the concept behind the Oathkeepers/III% is that our local and national leaders are deceitful, spiteful, viscous, and vengeful despots just looking for an excuse to really bring the hammer down and enact their tyrannical fantasies on an unsuspecting, compliant, and stupid public. If that is the case then no number of people swearing an oath that there is bridge too far can save the Republic. As to whether Oathkeepers/III% are a potential fifth column or an expression of freedom, I think that is up to the individual.

One thing is clear, people who take Oathkeepers/III% pledge probably violate their oaths of service when they put conditions on that service, many of which are explicit or implicit in the very oath they swore upon their enlistment or commissioning.

militia-movementFinally, we come to the last group/groups, the Militia Movement.  Anyone alive and politically aware in the 90’s remembers the outpouring of angst about the Militia Movement.  This was especially true after the 1995 OKC bombing by Timothy McVeigh.  The rise of the movement was a result of the incidents at Ruby Ridge, Idaho and Waco, Texas in the early 90’s.  In neither incident were the Feds entirely at fault for what happened.  The Feds made some stupid decisions but there was plenty of stupidity to go around on both sides.

Simplified, at Ruby Ridge, Idaho Randy Weaver was not a saint, he was wanted for federal firearms violations and his son reacted violently to the US Marshal’s that came to arrest him.  This caused a stand-off that led to a sniper opening fire on the cabin where Weaver and the rest of his family were holed up.  The Feds were too quick to use deadly force, but so were Weaver and his family.

The short version of Waco.  David Koresh was a cult leader, his cult was located in a compound just outside Waco.  The cult was a millennial doomsday cult that broke off from the Seventh Day Adventists known as the Branch Davidians.  The group was involved in both legal and illegal activities to include gunrunning and selling guns t gun shows.  It was the gun running that got the ATF interested in the group.  In February, 1993 the ATF attempted to serve a search warrant the Waco compound, they were fired upon by cult members as they approached the door.  The ATF tried to storm the compound but were driven off.  The fighting on this first day was caught on video by a local news station and broadcast live.  After the firefight at the compound the Feds laid siege to the compound.  The siege ended 50 days later when the whole complex burned to the ground, apparently set afire by smoke grenades used as the feds attempted to assault the compound again.  In the aftermath, 76 cult members including David Koresh, the cult leader and 21 children died in the fire.


Those were two of the defining moments that inspired the militia’s of the 90’s, I could not even begin to tell you what they are today.  Fact is that militias are on the rise again.  Whether you buy the line from the left that a black president, illegal immigration, economic downturn, and a huge racist component are to blame is irrelevant.  What is a militia and what is the general goal of such groups.?

Most, if not all, militia groups claim legitimacy because of colonial and evolutionary war concepts of the militia being every able-bodied male in the population.  They claim further legitimacy based on Title 10 U.S. Code § 311, which is the militia law.  It states that:

 “(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.

(b) The classes of the militia are—

(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and

(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.”

That is all fine as far as it goes and there is actually nothing wrong with belonging to a militia.

The issue comes when it gets down to ideology.  Nobody gets involved in a militia because they see no threat and need something to do on the weekends.  Many folks feel the country is not going in the right direction and think the Federal Government is out to stomp on their rights and grind them into pieces in the process.  How else do you explain all the talk about FEMA camps, Impending Martial Law, Chemtrails, Truthers, Population Control, Birthers, the North American Union, New World Order, Bilderberg, Trilateral, you name it.  There are plenty of conspiracy theories out there so pick your poison.  Militia ideology comes in many shapes, forms and sizes from constitutional militia, racist based (black & white supremacists), state sovereignty, states’ rights, Christian Patriots, and more.  All share a common belief that something is not right with the USA and the way it is currently run.  The overwhelming majority just get together and train on military tactics and weapons, share books and videos, and generally reinforce each other’s beliefs.

Concept sketch of the Citadel, a militia based community currently being planned for construction in Idaho

Concept sketch of the Citadel, a militia based community currently being planned for construction in Idaho

What do militias do?  They generally meet and engage in military training and plan for contingencies in which they think they will be needed.  This defines most communal prepper groups as well as far as government is concerned.  Some groups even go so far as to build compounds and camps in remote locations to use as secure locations should the need arise.  What is of most concern to law enforcement is that militias also have a tendency to stockpile large caches of weapons and sometimes illegal explosives.  They represent a challenge to government authority, which is their whole purpose after all.  The danger from such groups is that they will start to think change is not happening soon enough and then seek to kick start or implement the change they desire by themselves using the training and skills they have developed in their meetings to instigate something.

Mostly, I consider that the likelihood of Civil War/Revolution hangs on governmental actions and the average person’s reaction to them.  It will take a goodly percentage, likely between 30%-50% of the population being outraged enough to do something to make the prospect of Civil War/Revolution viable.  That will take a lot of pushing in the decadent state of modern American society.  I just don’t see the political class being stupid enough to pass some grand gesture type of infringement on rights to provoke such a reaction.  In all probability, they will continue as they have throughout the history of the Republic and nickel and dime chip away at rights and liberties until we wake up one day and realize we have none and w further do not have the means to fight back and restore our lost liberty.  They might even be slick enough to convince people that such loss of liberty is in their best interest.  That is how the USA Patriot Act got passed in the wake of 9/11 after all.  Good despots convince people that oppression is good for them, just look at history.

Now that I have all of that covered, mostly very briefly, what do I see the likelihood of a new Civil War/Revolution being?  ? I actually do think the chances of Civil War/Revolution have risen in the year since I initially wrote this. I do however; see the various avenues that it could begin multiplying.  Here are my cloudy crystal ball predictions.

Short-term-the next 5 years – roughly 1% chance of a Civil War/Revolution occurring

Medium-term-in 5-15 years – roughly 3% chance of a Civil War/Revolution occurring, this changes greatly depending on who wins the election this fall and how radical they are once they get into office.

Long-term-more than 15 years from now – roughly 10% chance of a Civil War/Revolution occurring

The Importance of Reliable News Sources

I am a news junkie and always have been.  One of the reasons my wife says I am a cynic.  There has been much talk about how untrustworthy the media is in the past decade or so.  I agree with that as far as politics go but there is more to it than that.  There are plenty of other news sources that are also untrustworthy or at a minimum guilty of gross hyperbole.  It does nobody any good when a pedestrian news story is blown all out of proportion, you could even call it panic-mongering.  Among the prepper community I see this a lot.  Some simple story is blown out of proportion in order most likely drive sales.  One of the sites that I see do this a lot is survival life, they probably have the most aggressive and sensationalist marketing I have seen within the prepper community.  Other sites do it too and here is an example I found this morning while checking Drudge as I do every morning.

solar-weather-forecast

NOAA Space Weather Center 3-day forecast for 29 Sep, 2016.

Drudge linked to a story from the UK Daily Express about a solar storm.  The info in this story is so over the top it is unreal.  The story is here: Solar storm heading towards Earth threatening to break your Sky TV and mobile phones and just the headline is misleading.  Read the story and then compare it with the 3-day solar weather forecast from NOAA.

It pays to be both knowledgeable and skeptical when it comes to the news.  The last major solar storm that struck the earth and caused a power outage occurred in 1859 and is known as the Carrington Event.  A storm that powerful could happen and here is a good piece form National Geographic (What If the Biggest Solar Storm on Record Happened Today?) about what might happen if it did, but if one were heading this way not only would the major media outlets pick up on the story but governments would get involved in warning people as well.  Our government may be incompetent at a lot of things and they may not serve the people well, but they are also not actively trying to destroy civilization either.

A Couple of Great Reference Sites for Military Publications

Not everyone knows it but everything produced by the US government is in the public domain unless it has been classified or otherwise specifically restricted from public distribution.  This includes everything from USGS maps, to government produced photos and videos, to all manner of printed material.

Many of those publications are useful to the prepping community, especially those from the Engineer series having to do with with obstacles and fortification.  Since these manuals are by and large public domain, except for the newest versions in general, I have added a few links below to PDF versions of these manuals.  These links will also go up on the references page of the site.

As I announced a few weeks ago I am taking some of these manuals and editing them to make them available as print editions.  Often these manuals are already available in print but at a significant cost.  My goal is not to make money with these although i would be lying if I said I did not make any, the goal is to make them available at affordable prices.  I am going to try to keep all of them priced at under $10 although some of the larger ones will have to go for more than that simply because of the printing costs involved.

The first couple of these are already out and an example is the Operator’s and Direct Support Maintenance Manual for the M1911A1.  I have combined both the operator’s and the direct support maintenance manuals into one volume and priced it at $7.49 while just the operator’s manual is available for $10.40.

Of course the most current updates are available online from the Dennis J Reimer Training and Doctrine Digital Library but that is only available to current military and DoD civilians and most of the pubs there are restricted from distribution.

Here are the doctrinal pubs links:

The GlobalSecurity.org Army Field Manual page: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/policy/army/fm/

The Federation of American Scientists Army Intelligence and Security Doctrine page: http://fas.org/irp/doddir/army/#fm

 

 

I have recently started a new project taking select military FMs and TMs in the public domain that are available as PDFs but hard to find and/or expensive as hardcopies and releasing them as affordable hardcopies for people to add to their prepping libraries. Let’s face it, if the SHTF one of the first things to disappear will be the internet and shortly after that electronics will run out of juice without reliable electricity. The advantage of hardcopies is paper doesn’t have to be recharged.
I have the first ff these already available. It is the Operator’s and Direct Maintenance manuals for the M1911A1 .45 pistol. The -12 and -35 in army parlance it is available through Createspace at: https://www.createspace.com/6456315
The next will be FM 23-35 Combat Training with Pistols and Revolvers from Oct 88. I will probably be releasing these at the rate of one every other month or so for a while as I have a list of about 30 manuals I would like to make available. There is a dizzying array of manuals that the military has put together over the years and not all of them deal directly with closing with and destroying the enemy. Many are directly relatable to non-combat prepping tasks. I will primarily be using the Army versions of these manuals because they are what I personally am most familiar with.
If anyone has ideas for good manuals that should be available as hardcopies but are not lets discuss which ones should be out there. Thoughts?

NAT Geo just made all USGS maps easily printable from Home

I posted about free downloadable USGS maps of the United States last year here: USGS Topo Maps for Free.  The official USGS site is great for finding accurate small-scale (1:24,000) topo maps of whatever part of the US you would like to have.  The problem with the site, or at least the maps you can get is that they don’t easily print at home because the sheets are sized for large format printers that are typically only found at commercial printing centers forcing you to download the files and pay to have them printed.

National Geographic Maps Page

National Geographic Maps Page

National Geographic has fixed that with the debut of a new site on their page called PDF Quads that lets you search for and download home-printable copies of every USGS quad for the US.  NatGeo has packaged each quad into a 5-page package that includes:

  • Page 1 is an overview map showing the Quad in context
  • Pages 2 through 5 are the standard USGS Quads cut in quarters to fit on standard printers
  • Hillshading has been added to each page of the PDF to help visualize the topography

They are sized such that you can print them from home, cut off the white edges, and tape them together to have a navigation ready map of the quad you want.  The page includes and interactive, zoomable map similar to the google maps interface that lets you quickly find the map quad you are looking for and download it.  I have included the PDF file for Mine Mountain in the Nevada test site so you can look at it and see what the NatGeo file looks like.

To repeat, the link to the NatGeo maps page is PDF Quads.

Mine Mountain Map PDF file

I am on the lookout for map products as useful the USGS quads for the rest of the world but while there are some good map sites out there, I have yet to fins free map products anywhere else in the world that come even close to matching what the USGS provides for the United States.  If anyone knows of some good sites please eave a comment.

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