“The Kardashians Of Politics”

The headline comes from an analogy made by Erin Palette on Episode 130 of the GunBlog Varietycast regarding nominations to the Supreme Court. Sean Sorrentino and Erin were discussing the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court to fill the seat vacated with the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. They also noted that there are currently 117 district and appeals court judgeships waiting to be filled.

Erin said, “Supreme Court nomination are the Kardashians of politics.” As with the Kardashian of the day, they get virtually all the attention unlike your neighbor down the street. However, that neighbor down the street will have a far stronger impact on your life than the Kardashians. Likewise, the judges that will fill those empty District Court and Appeals Court slots will probably have a stronger impact on your constitutional rights – and especially your Second Amendment rights – than the justices on the Supreme Court. The reason, of course, is that very few cases ever are accepted for certiorari by the Supreme Court.

You can listen to the discussion between Sean and Erin here starting at the 22:20 mark.

I was struck by Erin’s analogy and how apt it was with regard to not only judicial nominations but also politics at the local, state, and national levels. With even local newscasts discussing Trump said this and the Democrats said that, it is hard sometimes to remember that County Commissioner Billy Bob Jones will have a bigger impact on your day to day exercise of your Second Amendment rights. How Commissioner Jones and his colleagues grant variances or pass zoning ordinances will determine where you can buy a firearm and if there is a range where you can practice with it. Moreover, unless you live in a state with statewide firearms law pre-emption, Commissioner Billy Bob and his good friend Councilwoman Maura McGillicuddy will determine where you can carry, the penalties for a firearms discharge in the city even if it is in self-defense, and even what firearms and accessories you are allowed to possess.

I’m not saying either national politics or Supreme Court nominations are irrelevant like the Kardashians. Rather that for every 10 minutes we spend on those, we need to be spending the other 50 minutes of the hour on stuff closer to home.

Can You Say Ironic?

The Washington Post ran a story yesterday regarding Hillary Clinton’s new push for gun control. They note that this marks a shift in presidential politics and is an effort on her part to out-lefty Bernie Sanders who has actually been not (too) bad on gun issues.

Hillary thinks it is good politics to run on restricting gun rights. What struck me about the story is this photo by Jim Young of Reuters that is used to illustrate the story.

Hillary is standing in front of the Iowa state flag which contains the motto, “Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain.” If that isn’t irony, I don’t know what is!

I don’t know if the photographer is a gun guy but he, either consciously or unconsciously, just illustrated the conflict between supporting Clinton and supporting Constitutional rights. The two just don’t go together.

Extra Tourists This Summer In Philly

If the scuttlebutt is correct on CleanUpATF.org, the City of Philadelphia will be getting some extra visitors this summer from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. It seems that the ATF will be surging 20-30 agents into Philly for 120 days in an effort to tamp down violent crime. They could also be doing similar surges in Detroit, St. Louis, and Oakland.  VCA or Violent Crime Agency is a snide reference to the ATF and how they formerly called themselves the DOJ’s “violent crime agency”. The post by “FUBAR” is below.

The latest with the “mobile” Violent Crime Agency:

Here in Philly, we’re getting “surge” detail of 20-30 agents for 120days — June 4 through October 1 or so.

Mayor Nutter went to AG Holder and told him that Obama needs to win PA to get re-elected. The only way Obama can win PA is to get out the vote out in Philly and the only way he’ll get it is if something is done with the rampant everyday violence here. Holder called in the FBI and the VCA and basically, the FBI ignored Holder. VCA jumped all over it since it fits in with B Todd’s vision.

Agents from around the country have already received notification of the detail. An “advance” team of bosses and Intel people are in town already, identifying home invasion rings and Hobbs Act robbers so that when the detail agents get here, there will be targets for them.

Dare I note, if these targets already exist, why hasn’t anything been done yet? Why are we waiting? Well, I think that’s due to the fact that the USAO declines everything left and right, EVEN FBI cases. And who runs the violent crime section here in the Philly USAO? Kathy Stark — Tony Tropea’s old friend [more on him later].

Besides bringing in agents from out of town [let’s see, travel, per diem, hotel—what will that cost?] — and let’s not wonder, for now, what will happen to their cases Back Home — the Philly groups all have to give up a couple of agents for this surge.

The group made out of the out-of-towners will be run by PIO Steve Bartholemew. It’s the second time in his brief tenure as Philly PIO that he’s been made an Acting RAC. A little background on Steve — he worked Philly HIDTA with Tony Tropea under Sam Rabadi. The three of them got transferred to Trenton when one of their cases got screwed up. Tropea cried like a little bitch when he got transferred — tough Philly boy that he is. He’s gotten to spend his whole career in his home town and has a sense of entitlement that he deserves to get promoted without transferring. But I digress — Tony cried that he couldn’t do cases in Trenton [only 30 miles north of Philly] because he HAD NO LOCAL CONTACTS. He got back to Philly within weeks. Steve stayed in Trenton; Rabadi made it back to Philly as ASAC when Stankiewicz literally got caught trying to pull down his pants on Intel GS Jill Tucker during the Coatesville Serial Arson case [the same case which made national headlines].

Steve went on and passed the -14 AC. The Trenton RAC slot opened when Rabadi went to Philly, so Steve thought the job was for his taking. However, Mat Horace gave it to Kent Montford. Steve got upset and wanted an explanation from Horace, who told him he didn’t have the breadth of experience [I paraphrase — I don’t think Horace knows the meaning of breadth except maybe the lisping plural of bread?] So, Rabadi and Tropea, who had Philly SAC Mark “Cadillac” Potter’s ear, got Steve transferred into Philly as the **new** PIO [even though Philly hadn’t had the need for a PIO for two years] in exchange for our Philly based FIC [we now have an FIC who works 70 miles away in Reading].

Almost immediately upon his arrival in Philly, Steve was made acting GS of Tropea’s group, the band of merry thugs, while Tropea was anointed acting ASAC, replacing Russ May. This being the same Tropea who has worked his whole career in one city doing only HIDTA cases.. This, in the same city in which we have two GS’s with HQ experience, both of which has actually passed the GS-15 AC. Steve then got to work as a GS for almost a year. He went “back” to PIO back in January, but five months later, he’s given another group to run.

As for the local agents tasked for this surge, they will work in an “expanded” Tropea “super” group. This detail will work 0900 to 1700 [and I know exactly who will get those easy hours since Tropea’s group is known for “owning the late afternoon” –whereas the NYPD Street Crime Unit “owns the night”] and noon to 2200 or so. I don’t know who responds to those shootings after 2200 which seem to be the plurality here.

From a separate source, I hear that a surge is also planned for Detroit [Madea should get a kick out of that], St Louis and Oakland. How much money are we going to spend on details when it could be used to actually hire agents?

Yes, the new mobile Violent Crime Agency. It’s just that arson and explosives aren’t considered violent any more.

The Special Agent in Charge of the Philadephia Field Division is Sheree Mixell. In her former job, she was the Chief of the Office of Public Affairs where she served as ATF’s national spokesperson. This would seem to me the ideal place to run such a surge if you wanted to get the most media attention possible and to have someone experienced in dealing with the press. As to doing it for political purposes to help Mayor Nutter and President Obama, that does disturb me. Moreover, having these teams run by a Public Information Officer just doesn’t pass the smell test.

While the webmaster of CleanUpATF has since redacted some of the information with respect to the cities involved, I happened to see it before he did that. Nonetheless, it is not hard to figure out that it is Philadelphia.

(A quick translation of some of the acronyms above – RAC is the Resident Agent in Charge, GS is a Group Supervisor, HIDTA is high intensity drug trafficking area and PIO is Public Information Officer.)

A Cold Civil War?

Jennifer III at the I’ll Take Liberty blog has a very thought provoking post about what she calls the Cold Civil War. She says that we now live in a mass society where you may have more in common with someone a thousand miles away than with your next door neighbor. This has led to a breakdown in communications and it is especially evident in politics.

Without shared assumptions it’s completely impossible to communicate verbally. And without communication, politics can’t work peacefully. And when politics don’t work peacefully for this reason, each side wonders why the other doesn’t just get with the program. Where debate once aired, name-calling prevails. It’s the end of intelligent discourse.

It doesn’t go to violence immediately. Interaction must pass through every shade of gray until it reaches those shades of black. It starts with what happened in the 20th century. The progressives in both political parties neutered the Constitution because they assumed it had no meaning. They preferred the rule of men over the rule of law. Now people who want the rule of law are labeled as ‘extremists’.

Read the rest of her post.