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A Reflection


Jay B. Gaskill


We survive and thrive because we humans are the apex predators on planet earth.



A former apex predator at work

Our secret weapon as apex predators is our dramatically enhanced capacity for social cooperation, in a word – for civilization. Our single most important technology is the social organization made possible by language, literacy and a common moral order.

The current postmodern ethos is a muddle of incoherent ideas where confused notions of cultural and moral relativism cohabit with vague notions about “rights”.

A return to the common sources and ultimate authority of fundamental human moral wisdom is central to any recovery from this cultural dead end. The alternative is a descent into a form of cannibalism.


Let me open the discussion by posing a question:

Why are there reasonably consistent rules that apply within a working cohort of thieves?

The short answer is that the so-called “thieves’ honor” rules were acquired and perpetuated during the hunter-predator era of the human story.

Gangs of thieves are really hunting teams; they are predator cohorts that cooperate in a common endeavor – to acquire resources by a combination of force and stealth. For success, a certain basic trust must be established, and a division of spoils agreed to. While modern thieves tend (in my professional experience) to screw up, this happens because they tend to violate their own agreed norms. But the utility and validity of the rules they apply to themselves are real, and surprisingly instructive for the rest of us.  Five rules are necessary for the success of any criminal enterprise:

  1. Veracity 

Without some minimum truth fidelity and avoidance of significant deception, the baseline cooperation for any criminal enterprise quickly disintegrates.  There is a kind of Darwinian selection in operation here. The criminal cohorts that fail to follow the rules are the first ones caught.


  1. No theft from fellow thieves


  1. No serious assault on fellow thieves


  1. Promise fidelity among fellow thieves


  1. Obedience to leadership


These “thieves’ honor” precepts are often observed in the breach, but that begs the point: These five norms are at the core of all moral systems that are necessary to support civilization.


Think about it: The rules needed for the close cooperation of a criminal cohort or a Paleolithic predator-hunter team are the same rules necessary for the accomplishment of any similar, survival-related task among otherwise independent, intelligent actors.

The rules that are the foundation of civilization’s necessary moral infrastructure are the “thieves honor” set writ large. The evolution was from hunting team to clan, to village, to tribe, to country, and so on. Within a given cohort, these essential norms apply equally to all members, but are subject to an agreed or imposed leadership principle. In primitive cohorts, this is the alpha-predator / follower model. There are other more sophisticated models as well, especially for larger, community-based cohorts.

Any working civilization represents, at a minimum, the extension of these hunter-cooperation norms to the entire civilization’s scope of authority; and therefore represents at least a partial universalization of the predator-cooperation rules.  This creates an expectation of equality of rule application within specific cohorts, one that has gradually been universalized to apply to humanity at large.




 We humans are now the planet’s dominant predators.  However we now choose to order our individual lives, whether by eating sprouts and beans, or shrink wrapped mammal parts, our species-as-civilization exists in a predator-prey relationship with the rest of the ecosphere.

We need not feel guilty. Our predator heritage is the inevitable end result of the successful emergence of intelligent life on any planet.  The question is not whether we will continue to be predators, but whether we will be responsible ones.

Aboriginal peoples, like the North American and Greenland Inuit, preserve a tradition of prey-reverence, a deep respect, both spiritual and practical, for the animals we humans kill to feed ourselves.

The predator-prey relationship eventually carries the obligation to conserve, i.e., the conservation ethos is concomitant with long-term predator status. The protection and preservation of prey in all its forms “goes with the territory”. 

Pre-intelligent predators tend to overgraze. Early humans acted like other pre-intelligent predators. But we were provided with the gift of intelligence for a number of reasons (e.g., in order to self-organize into civilization), but one of them was to develop the capacity to solve the overgrazing problem.



Several group norms form the “normative architecture” of civilization. They can be restated as an integrated set of moral injunctions.  Biblical scholars find them among the Ten Commandments. Think of “Do not murder, assault, steal, or lie” as applications of a larger body of core principles and norms that are designed to ensure the reciprocal respect for human dignity.  The resulting general rule can be stated in one sentence: 

“Respect the volitional autonomy of others within the context of a rule set that restrains others from impairing your own.”

Without the recognition, allegiance to, and enforcement of core moral (or normative) principles that are accepted as impersonally valid, that is as “objective,” any human organizational system will decay into a corrupt form of predator-perversion –  a system that consumes its own young for “the greater good.”.

Human-on-human predation is a form of cannibalism – whether literal or metaphoric, because the outcome is the consumption of individual human dignity.

The worst 20th century authoritarian states were products of the same cannibal mindset, often disguised as a humanitarian project that “of necessity” treated millions of people as disposable objects. The process of such degenerate behavior begins with a single tendency: Any system of governance that is not founded on a principle-driven respect for individual human dignity inevitably degrades into a base and deadly tyranny.

In practice, a vital, morally based civilization must generate and utilize institutions that uphold the entire set of objective normative principles in a real-world framework. The day-to-day operations of these institutions are worked out on a case-by-case basis. This is the function of law and legal institutions.


Any such principle-driven system also entails a logical hierarchy of main and subordinate moral (or ordinal) principles. And, of course, those pesky application issues will inevitably arise — all principles tend to conflict at the margins. Their resolution is the function of adjudication by fair, honest, principled judges.


In any principle-driven regulatory environment, a policy of reasonableness is essential to allow necessary flexibility and adaptability. A dynamic stability that upholds the objective principles follows. But without objective principles that are reasonably applied, moral authority declines and a civilization degrades into chaos. Without principled, objective principles, all adjudication devolves to personality and politics. Then, as the poet Yeats warned us, “the centre does not hold[i].”


The term “predator civilization” is redundant because all civilizations are predatory.  But not all are founded in the essential moral principles. There is a minimum set:


  • The respect for one’s volitional autonomy, as a reciprocal obligation of citizenship within civilization (I will respect your human dignity as you respect mine) writ large;

The arrangement supported and optimized by bright-line rules of conduct as in-do not lie, cheat, steal, pillage, rape, assault or murder.

  • Mutual respect for human dignity is the only model of moral order, and reasonable accountability is the only enforcement regime that can sustain any viable, peaceful, working civilization of predators over the long haul.


There are only two competing models: a civilization caught in decay and dissolution; or one brought down in brutal totalitarianism.


We humans are still predators and cannot escape that role.  Our choices remain as follows:

  1. to be a prey-conserving civilization, or to become extinct;
  2. to remain free, responsible predators, or to become prey.





Copyright © 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2015 by Jay B. Gaskill


A license to link to this article or to publish pull quotes from it (with full attribution) is hereby granted. For all other permissions and comments, please contact the author via email at




The author served as the chief Public Defender for the County of Alameda, CA, headquartered in Oakland for 10 years, following a long career as an Assistant Public Defender. Then, Mr. Gaskill left his “life of crime” to devote more time to writing.


His website, the Policy Think Site, is at —


[i] William Butler Yeats, The Second Coming, 1919, in part – “…Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity…”

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Hillary’s Medical Condition – The Issue that will not go away

Hillary Clinton –

The Medical Issue That Won’t Go Away

In her 2008 campaign for the presidency, candidate Hillary Clinton pointedly argued that candidate Barack Obama, the upstart junior Senator from Illinois had not been vetted.  The situation is suddenly reversed. It turns out that Mrs. Clinton has some not-trivial legal problems to resolve – one should never be careless with classified data.


We are now informed that she has been living with significant medical issues.


Will these medical issues become a “DQ” … or merely a caution?



Let me state our pending medical concerns plainly: Mrs. Clinton presents an uncomfortably high-risk medical profile for someone in her mid-50’s, let alone a candidate for President of the United States who will turn 70 the year of our next president’s inauguration.



We now know that Hillary Clinton is prone to blood clotting and fainting spells. She is, to put it plainly, a stroke risk.  Her famous 2012 collapse near the end of her grueling term as Secretary of State was more dangerous than the public was told at the time. Having spent much of her term as Secretary of State flying in aircraft, Secretary Clinton fainted in early December 2012, striking her head with sufficient force to cause a concussion. It is not unreasonable to conclude that she temporarily lost consciousness.


There is a conflict in accounts about where she fell and why.  But in all versions, Hillary Clinton was hospitalized and her physicians discovered a dangerous blood clot in her head, described as a “right transverse venous thrombosis” – a clot located between brain and skull. Intravenous blood thinners were administered over three days and eventually succeeded in dissolving the clot, averting what could have been a catastrophic stroke.


Mrs. Clinton’s medical records also reveal at least two earlier blood clot incidents (in 1998 and 2008). After her release from the hospital, Hillary Clinton was seeing double for at least two weeks. Double vision often accompanies a severe head injury.


Because of Mrs. Clinton’s continuing risk of further blood clotting, she was placed on high-potency blood thinners (Coumadin) for the rest of her life. According to President Bill Clinton, she “required six months of very serious work to get over” the incident.


Another credible story has surfaced: Mrs. Clinton will eventually require heart valve replacement surgery. If true, she should undergo periodic tests. When or if open heart surgery is performed, Mrs. Clinton’s Coumadin doses will be stopped for about two weeks prior to the procedure. Stopping Coumadin raises the risk of a blood clot, even a stroke for someone with her profile. If we assume her open heart surgery is successful, a rapid, full recovery is not a slam dunk outcome.


So far, reporters have been given only one report – from Dr. Lisa Bardack, Hillary Clinton’s personal physician since 2001. The cardiologist, Dr. Allan Schwartz of New York Presbyterian Hospital where Mrs. Clinton was treated for the “potentially life-threatening blood clot”, is reportedly likely to be able add to Mrs. Clinton’s medical profile. When approached by reporters for more information, Dr. Schwartz declined. Mrs. Clinton has not yet released her full, pertinent medical history. Nor will she, in my opinion.


To be fair, heart beat irregularities traced to heart valve malfunctions may be tolerated for years before open heart surgery is indicated.  But eventually, it will.


One can reasonably conclude from all this that Mrs. Clinton presents a high-risk profile for someone in her 50’s, let alone someone who will turn 70 in 2017, the year the new president takes office. If it were you or me, no life insurance agency would issue us a policy.


There are no “unexpected POTUS vacancy” insurance policies, except the selection of a highly prepared and well qualified vice president. No matter how you look at it, the death of any sitting president is a disruptive event, something that, in my opinion, the United States cannot afford during a time of international peril. Any material risk of such an event should be a pass-fail vetting topic when candidates for POTUS are under consideration.


This may, but probably will not be a campaign issue. A medical risk profile like Hillary’s can reasonably justify voting for a different candidate on health grounds alone. But Republican candidates are not likely to raise it, fearing a partisan-feminist backlash. Ah, but the Obama surrogates are not so inhibited – the bitterness between the two camps (Clinton and Obama) seems to still run deep.


So, the issue still has legs, and it will probably work in the background, changing alliances, shifting loyalties. The current administration can be expected to turn up the heat on Mrs. Clinton’s other problems (her seeming carelessness with classified information is just one); and her health issues may provide a face-saving way for her to back out of the race. In this connection, I note that a number of current and former Hillary Clinton supporters have commented, privately – and with caution – in the public square, that she seems tired, appearing at times to just be going through the motions, like someone who is reluctantly keeping a promise, now regretted.


Time will tell, but who can miss the irony? Remember when then Senator Clinton asked voters “Who do you want in the White House when the phone rings at three the morning?”


Her point was sound, but now many will ask: “Without disclosure of all candidate Clinton’s pertinent  medical records, who indeed?”




A license to link to this article or to publish pull quotes from it (with full attribution) is hereby granted. For all other permissions and comments, please contact the author via email at The author served as the chief Public Defender for the County of Alameda, CA, headquartered in Oakland for 10 years, following a long career as an Assistant Public Defender. Then, Gaskill left his “life of crime” to devote more time to writing.  Learn more about Jay B Gaskill, attorney, analyst and author, at






Some References



Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton released a letter from her doctor Friday … as the first candidate for president in 2016 to release detailed information about her personal health. [The report was by}…Dr. Lisa Bardack, an internist who practices near Clinton's suburban New York home.


Hypothyroidism is a very common condition, and Bardack said other notable events in her medical history include deep vein thrombosis — or a blood clot, usually in the leg — in 1998 and 2009, a broken elbow in 2009 and a concussion in 2012.


..Due to her family history, she had full cardiac testing, including an ultrasound exam of arteries in her neck, and all was well.


Bardack said that Clinton got a stomach virus while traveling in 2012, "became dehydrated, fainted and sustained a concussion."…doctors found a blood clot in a vein in the space between the brain and the skull behind her right ear. Clinton spent a few days in New York-Presbyterian Hospital for treatment and took a month-long absence from her role as secretary of state.

… the concussion's effects, include[ed] double vision, which Clinton wore glasses with specialized lenses to address.


Clinton’s current medications include a thyroid hormone replacement, …Coumadin…to prevent new blood clots from forming. ” ___







Updated July 31, 2015 5:57 p.m. ET



according to the letter from Dr. Lisa Bardack , chairman of the Department of Medicine at the Mount Kisco Medical Group in Mount Kisco, N.Y., and Mrs. Clinton’s personal physician since 2001.… Mrs. Clinton … has suffered from deep vein thrombosis in 1998 and 2009, an elbow fracture in 2009 and a concussion, which was well documented in 2012.… the concussion came in December 2012, after Mrs. Clinton suffered a stomach virus after traveling and became dehydrated and fainted. During follow-up evaluations, she was found to have a transverse sinus venous thrombosis. She began anticoagulation therapy, which reduces the body’s ability to form clots. Because of the concussion, the doctor wrote, Mrs. Clinton had double vision for a while and benefited from wearing glasses with a Fresnel Prism.…she continues to take a daily drug to prevent clotting.



ABC NEWS May 14, 2014



Hillary Clinton Took 6 Months to ‘Get Over’ Concussion, Bill Says of Timeline


The former president revealed that his wife’s injury “required six months of very serious work to get over,” he said during a question-and-answer session at the Peterson Foundation in Washington.




…the 42nd president also revealed that he knows questions about his wife’s health and age can’t be ignored as the 2016 presidential race comes into focus. In fact, he called it “a serious issue.”



Ed Klein, Author of Blood Feud”

“She had managed to keep her medical history secret out of fear that, should it become public, it would disqualify her from becoming president.”

Page 193

… Hillary fainted while she was working in her seventh-floor office at the State Department, not at home, as Reines told the media. She was treated at the State Department’s infirmary and then, at her own insistence, taken to Whitehaven to recover. However, as soon as Bill appeared on the scene and was able to assess Hillary’s condition for himself, he ordered that she be immediately flown to New York–Presbyterian Hospital in the Fort Washington section of Manhattan. When Reines subsequently released a statement confirming that Hillary was being treated at the hospital over the New Year’s holiday, it naturally intensified speculation about the seriousness of her medical condition. …

She …a blood clot between her brain and skull. She had developed the clot in one of the veins that drains blood from the brain to the heart. … Hillary had an intrinsic tendency to form clots and faint. In addition to the fainting spell she suffered in Buffalo a few years before, she had fainted boarding her plane in Yemen, fallen and fractured her elbow in 2009, and suffered other unspecified fainting episodes. Several years earlier, she had developed a clot in her leg and was put on anticoagulant therapy by her doctor. However, she had foolishly stopped taking her anticoagulant medicine, which might have explained the most recent thrombotic event.

“The unique thing about clotting in the brain is that it could have transformed into a stroke,” said a cardiac specialist with knowledge of Hillary’s condition.

Page 195
… She also suffered from a thyroid condition, which was common among women of her age, and her fainting spells indicated there was an underlying heart problem as well. A cardiac stress test indicated that her heart rhythm and heart valves were not normal. Put into layman’s language, her heart valves were not pumping in a steady way. … sources who discussed Hillary’s medical condition with her were told that Hillary’s doctors considered performing valve-replacement surgery. They ultimately decided against it. Still, before they released Hillary from the hospital, they warned Bill Clinton: “She has to be carefully monitored for the rest of her life.”



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As Published in




Copyright © 2015 by the Post Register

Copyright © 2015 by Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law

JBG head



Guest column: Respect for our prey

August 12, 2015 1:43 a.m.

By Jay B. Gaskill

The serial killing of animals for sport tarnish the reputation of honorable hunters everywhere, writes Jay B. Gaskill.

By Jay B. Gaskill

The recent outrage against Dr. Walter Palmer, the lion assassin, was followed by titillating media focus on Sabrina Corgatelli, the big game hunter from Idaho.

Ms. Corgatelli was pictured with a dead giraffe, kudu, and wart hog in South Africa. She is reportedly an excellent shot with her Winchester; and there seems to be nothing unlawful about her recent African excursion.

Who’s next in the crosshairs? A jackrabbit hunter from Arco? A squirrel killer from Ammon? Dr. Palmer has gone to ground. Ms. Corgatelli has unapologetically pushed back.

We need perspective. This can’t be about killing animals as such. We humans are the alpha predators on planet earth (anthropologists use the term, apex predator). Farm animals are our former prey, tamed into a symbiotic relationship with us. We kill animals all the time. Why this outrage?

Our fellow mammals, especially the furry ones, are almost universally perceived as cute, unless, of course, you are running from one. Cuteness confers a survival advantage on young mammals. It is one thing to kill a dog. But a puppy?

What about our innocent water-dwelling friends? When was the last time anyone went ballistic about a cruel dentist abusing a fish? The message seems to be: Fish all you want, but don’t mistreat furry mammals! Our sympathy for whales is thin. Fur matters.

Something essential is missing from this discussion: the ancient traditions of predator reverence for and conservation of prey. That tradition is alive, well and relevant.

Wyoming poet and writer Gretel Ehrlich (“The Solace of Open Spaces,” “This Cold Heaven: Seven Seasons in Greenland”) lived with an Inuit tribe in Greenland and wrote movingly about the tribe’s respect, sorrow and gratitude when they needed to sacrifice a large mammal to feed and clothe themselves.

Almost nothing was left to waste. Deep respect (even reverence) for prey remains a common thread among Native American spiritual practices, and is prevalent among the older natural hunting traditions.

We still hear versions of that ethos expressed among the better hunters here in the West … although with a bit less sentimentality. We can even hear the echo of the prey-conservation spirit among the hog packers of early Chicago: “We use everything except the squeal.”

When the wolf population gets out of scale, hunters are enlisted to bring the numbers back in balance. Elk hunters tend to go for the older males, a practice that does not threaten the herd’s survival.

It seems we intelligent predators have an important function: keeping the prey-predator ecological relationship in balance. I personally believe that the biblical injunction that we humans have dominion over the animal kingdom means the dominion of a caretaker, not of a serial sport killer.

I’m not repelled by hunters, whether African big game hunters or Idaho deer hunters. But I am offended by the cavalier hunting practices of some of the wealthy trophy hunters. Their profound disconnection from the honorable and ancient hunting traditions is shameful; and it unfairly tarnishes the reputation of honorable hunters everywhere.

The Post Register is a regional newspaper for Eastern Idaho

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LUBITZ, the Killer Co-Pilot

Three Takeaway Points



By Jay B Gaskill

Attorney at Law

{ Also posted on The Policy Think Site at this link – }


If you’re just joining the parade, Andreas Lubitz is the name of the German copilot of the French airline that dived into the Alps. The plane was under his control all the way down.  The consensus so far is that Mr. Lubitz locked out the pilot while he calmly and deliberately aimed the Airbus jet – and its passengers – at the ground from its safe cruising altitude.  By all accounts, this was a mass murder.  A voice recording was recovered from one of the two “black boxes” kept aboard leaves little doubt.


Everyone naturally asks the same questions:



How could this happen?

How can it be prevented?


The New York Times trumped the other news outlets today.


Adreas Lubitz, “27, is believed to be responsible for slamming Germanwings Flight 9525 into a mountainside in the French Alps on purpose, killing all 150 on board, while en route to Düsseldorf from Barcelona, Spain.”


“…among the items found at Mr. Lubitz’s home was a doctor’s note excusing him from work on the day of the crash, and another note that had been torn up. These documents “support the preliminary assessment that the deceased hid his illness from his employer and colleagues…”


“…there had been an instance six years ago when Mr. Lubitz took a break from his training for several months. He said that if the reason was medical, German rules on privacy prevented the sharing of such information…”



Here are the takeaway points:


  1. No commercial aircraft carrying passengers should be allowed to fly with only one person inside the lockable flight deck.  The US has a two person rule, Europe, so far, does not.
  2. Pilot privacy can never be allowed to trump passenger safety.
  3. Suicide is homicide. Allow me to briefly elaborate on this point.


Years ago in the process of defending a murder case, I interviewed a famous forensic psychiatrist, Dr. B. My client had first attempted suicide; then he later murdered his wife. It was a long and illuminating conversation.  Suicide is a homicide is which one’s self is the primary object of the killing.  But the line between a suicide-homicide and the killing of someone else-homicide is razor thin.


My expert told me that when one compares Tokoyo, say in 1980, with Dallas in the same year, the data reveal a very similar rate of killings per 100,000 of population, if suicides and homicides are lumped together.  The difference is explained by cultural and moral norms. In Tokoyo of the day, it was more honorable to take one’s life, but far more shameful to kill another.


When we read of some miscreant (my former clients tended to call these people, “sick f**ks”) who kills his or her spouse and children then commits suicide, my comment (only partly in jest) is that the killer got the order wrong – Why not try suicide first?


The most serious takeaway is that suicidal thoughts and urges are a red flag.


Applicants for responsible positions like the pilots of international flights with hundreds of passengers, tend to know that “mental issues” can be an employment bar.  We already know that people will train to the test.  Young pilots are no exception.


We are living in a secular era when people tend to project false self-images; are undeterred by the prospect of justice being visited on them by a higher power after they die; and we inhabit a culture in which some of the most heinous acts are medicalized, effectively drained of their moral significance.


There is growing and disturbing evidence that some medications approved for depression or anxiety can, in some cases, work the opposite. This is why the labels suggest that if you have suicidal thoughts, please immediately inform your physician. Even if you are a pilot? Even if the releation might end your career? 


One final observation:  Character still matters. More now than ever. It is not really about the determination of the long distance runner. Character is a moral condition. It is about moral strength. It is about the moral courage to turn away from doing the wrong thing no matter what.




A license to link to this article or to publish pull quotes from it (with full attribution) is hereby granted. For all other permissions and comments, please contact the author via email at The author served as the chief Public Defender for the County of Alameda, CA, headquartered in Oakland for 10 years, following a long career as an Assistant Public Defender. Then, Gaskill left his “life of crime” to devote more time to writing.  Learn more about Jay B Gaskill, attorney, analyst and author, at


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Posted at:



By Jay B Gaskill


Today AP exclusively reveals heretofore secret details of the Obama-Iran atomic bomb program “negotiations” with the Islamic Republic of Iran.I must quote Charlie Brown: “Oh good grief!” Under the deal, it appears that Iran will keep 6,000 centrifuges and the most punishing sanctions will be lifted. No intrusive inspections will be allowed by the regime.  And Iran gets to keep its missile program. 



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Trust Moderate Iran or NOT




…       And why not trust the Obama administration?

►      After all, everything is under control, isn’t it?


Also posted at


You wake up and look out the window: You see a ghost on the horizon, standing astride the world like a colossus. This is no ordinary dream.  It is a premonition, the ghost of the future.


In that future, you will learn that the Islamic Republic of Iran, the declared enemy of western civilization, of Israel, of the USA, the primary state sponsor of terrorism for the last two decades, has covertly armed itself with the atomic bomb.  When that day arrives, it will be too late to recover the lost time. Because of the reluctance US leaders to use tougher measures, a grave threat was allowed to gestate and grow until it has become a fait accompli. Those voices who told you that the USA would have “options” are now silent. Negotiations have failed.  Maybe, some leaders now suggest, we can live with this nuclear Iran.


But a chain reaction leading to large scale genocide will almost certainly follow.  A dire threat has faced us, but no American president has so far been willing or able to effectively stop it.  Who will now bell the cat, now that the cat has atomic weapons? 


You think I exaggerate?  Please keep reading.


The good news is that we still have some time, though possibly not the months left in the current president’s term. A number reasonable people are still willing to side with our president’s less-than-strict approach to Iran’s atomic bomb program. But already it is clear to many – including the Iranian regime – that Mr. Obama has effectively ruled out the use of force.


As a result, an airstrike, using our bunker-busting bombs to disable Iran’s nuclear weapons’ fuel enrichment facilities is not a credible threat to the Iranian regime. Having bluffed before, our president now lacks credibility.


Let’s assume for the sake of discussion that Mr. Obama’s supporters see the same world that the rest of us can see. If so, they would be relying on two assumptions:


  • That Iran will gradually liberalize during the life of the sanctions agreement, eventually seeing the light: a more democratic regime, a voluntary renunciation of aggression and a rejection of the pursuit of an atomic bomb;
  • Assuming Iran cheats and rushes for “breakout” (the fait accompli moment when actual Iranian atomic bombs are in play), some think that the US will then be willing and able to act with sufficient swift and decisive force to effectively destroy Iran’s WMD capacity before it can be used.


But what if the supporters of Mr. Obama’s current sanctions-without-war approach are not relying on those assumptions? What if, instead, they actually believe that a nuclear armed Iran would not be a real threat to us, just another player in the international sandbox that can be tamed?  If so, Mr. Obama’s supporters/advisors would not be looking at the same world that the rest of us inhabit.


They would be delusional.


I will limit my comments just to Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, and to rebutting the assumptions that Iran will liberalize in time or that we would be able to quickly and safely snuff out the nuclear threat once that regime quickly breaks out with a fait accompli bomb.


Some reasonable minds apparently are willing to entertain the two assumptions. But the trap we reasonable types often fall into is that we like to assume that we are dealing with reasonable people. It is the wishful thinking trap.


Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) during the Cold War was a dangerous standoff that almost failed (study the Cuban missile crisis closely). The MAD standoff of the Cold War involved just two rational opponents.  Add more players with far less rationality; and you have a war far too close for comfort, far dangerous to tolerate.


From all the available evidence, Iran’s current regime (a) is well entrenched, and (b) is hell-bent on getting the bomb.


Yes, Islam is in transition, but for most of its current adherents, it is several centuries behind modern Christians, Jews and secular humanists in the developed West.  A thoughtful article in the Catholic journal First Things, CHALLENGING RADICAL ISLAM, An Explanation of Islam’s Relation to Terrorism and Violence, By John Azumah, January 2015, makes all the appropriate distinctions between peaceful Muslims and the radicalized ones that run terrorist organizations and control terror-sponsoring nations like Iran.



Whatever is the case with Islam sui generis, Iran is a terror sponsoring Islamic state, one with a regime that exhibits the classic disconnect between technological sophistication and a radically retrograde culture, 21st century weapons wielded by 12th century minds, if you will.


Moderate figures like Rafsanjani or Hassan Rouhani (both are “liberals” in the Iran context) are not in charge of that country’s security policy, nor have they ever been, any more than Putin’s puppets are or have ever been in charge in Russia.  In effect, the “moderate” Muslims in Iran are hostages, whose visible presence works to stay the forces of the west.


Meantime, the radical clerics, principally Ali Hosseini Khamenei, a key figure in the Iranian revolution, pull all the strings all the time.


Many reasonable people believe that the harsh regimes in the world, like Iran, cannot ignore the needs and sensibilities of their people; and the consumerist benefits of modernity forever; that they must “liberalize” in the end.


The key phrase is, “in the end.”


Just how peaceful and trustworthy is the current regime in Iran? When will that “in the end” stage come?


The Iranian PR apparatus has apparently floated the notion that there is a fatwa in the supreme Leader Khameni’s name (dating to the Iraqi war when Iran was behind in Iraq in WMD development). This never-produced fatwa was to the effect that the possession of nuclear weapons is against Muslim beliefs.  I think that is a deception.  See the linked Washington Post piece for background. .


The pursuit of nuclear weapons is the only rational explanation for the number of centrifuges Iran has producing pre-weapons grade uranium levels. The 20% levels of fissile concentration in Iran’s stockpile are well beyond any reasonable civilian use. In context, their pursuit and possession constitute the “smoking gun” – “Yes we are trying to get away with making atomic bombs.”


Moreover, “popular expectations” in Iran are not against their country becoming a nuclear power, nor would the ruling mullahs have to yield to popular opinion in any event. Once Iran “goes nuclear,” most analysts think that the “liberalization” of that regime would be even farther away that at present.


So the danger is clear, growing and grave, and the current regime there cannot be trusted.


The Saudis have announced an intention to pursue their own uranium enrichment program to the very limits of whatever is allowed the Iranians per any US agreement.[1] Their concern is obvious.  They want the same breakout time to bomb manufacture as the Iranians will enjoy.  The obvious implication: Iran’s nuclear breakout would guarantee that other ME regimes will follow suit ASAP. This is a recipe for a regional nuclear war, whether by miscalculation, terrorist overreach and retaliation, or some other dire turn of events.


At the end of this piece, I am providing links to some of the pertinent “raw” information. The best of these is the first, a detailed report about the Iranian program, and the capacity of its huge number of centrifuges to rapidly produce useable bomb material, especially starting from the retained stock of 20% enriched uranium that it already has. That source is the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, and the pull quote is:


By using the approximately 9,000 first generation centrifuges operating at its Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant, Iran could theoretically produce enough weapon-grade uranium to fuel a single nuclear warhead in about 1.7 months.


Iran’s more advanced IR-2m centrifuges, about 1,000 of which are installed at Natanz, would allow Iran to produce weapon-grade uranium more quickly.


Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium is now sufficient, after further enrichment, to fuel approximately seven nuclear warheads.


Because Russia has a ten-year contract to fuel Iran’s only power reactor at Bushehr, Iran has no present need for enriched uranium to generate civilian nuclear energy.


Iran could fuel approximately 25 first generation implosion bombs if it had the ability to enrich the uranium needed to supply the Bushehr reactor annually.


The second piece is a 2014 report by the BBC in which Iran reportedly diluted half of its 20% enriched uranium stockpile as a gesture of good faith.  The key points here are three:


  1. This action was a result of the US freezing Iranian funds. When told of the “voluntary” reduction in the 20% stockpile, the Obama administration reversed that sanction.
  2. At the same time, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned the negotiators that that Tehran will never give up its nuclear program.
  3. Iran has never agreed to effective on-site nuclear inspections.


The remaining piece is an excerpt from the World Nuclear Association that explains the enrichment process, and makes a couple of key points: Civilian reactors run on 3 to 5% enriched fuel. Fuel enrichment processes pose an inherent threat, requiring “tight control.” To put differently:  Iran’s centrifuges are inherently “dual use” tech, i.e., both civilian and military in nature.


The sheer number of known centrifuges in Iran, not to mention its secret centrifuge installations (a point made by Netanyahu) are a red flag.  No one worries about the French centrifuges.  But Iran is a rogue state with imperial designs.


Of course, the Saudis are worried.  So are the Egyptians.  So are the Jordanians. None of the Middle Eastern players will sit still while Iran exploits the Western naiveté in pursuit of the unholy grail – an atomic bomb arsenal.  They, too, will arm themselves.  Peace will not break out in that region.  Too much tinder.  Too many sparks.  MAD worked for two relatively rational players.  But the Islamic fanatics will introduce MAM (Mutually Assured Martyrdom.


The damage from a “modest” nuclear war in the region war cannot be contained. The reasons have already been outlined (even a moderate regional nuclear exchange can plunge world agriculture into dead-crops nuclear winter, even a couple of years of which could starving up to a billion people): see my earlier article —


A catastrophe on that scale will damage civilization as we know it, possibly beyond recovery.


Now, let’s take this analysis to the next level. Assume that Iran tries a covert breakout. What will be the state of US military preparedness then? Which allies will join us? Will the US administration then have the will and the means to launch a fully effective preemptive strike? Suppose that Iran – at the breakout detection point – already has just one atomic bomb and may be capable of using it on Israel.


Would we act? Really?


So it boils down to this: Given the stakes, what risks are we willing to take right now, and for how long must we wait before we must do something decisive?


We already know that the Iranian regime responds to a chokehold on its economy.  We already know that international sanctions are difficult to enact and maintain, especially rapidly and decisively.  And we know that the earlier referenced cutoff of access to funds (prematurely withdrawn by the administration, in my opinion), produced a quick concession by the regime.


The inescapable conclusion: The concentration should be on really tough, relentless sanctions imposed now, long before the breakout scenario presents. The approach needs to be (dare I say it?) more ruthless and much more effective.


Kinetic sanctions can stop far short of all-out war. They are particularly effective for two reasons: (1) They demonstrate to the adversary a willingness to cross the line into a new category – the really tough measures that cannot be gamed or avoided. (2) They hold back a full-on war, while sending the unambiguous message that noncompliance will bring on far worse consequences.


Here is single example of the kind of thing I am suggesting (used for illustration only):


A sudden” disaster” takes out a major Iranian gasoline refinery. It is coupled with a back channel message that we will fix it, of course, but only if the nuclear program is dismantled.  If this kind of diplomacy seems familiar, take a few hours to watch the Godfather. A dead race horse in one’s bed is a special kind of message. …As in a burning refinery.


We are dealing with thug minds here, dressed up in religious trappings to be sure, but their language, their mindset, is right out of an earlier era.


Who will bell the cat?








The BBC article


The World Nuclear Association piece


The Nuclear Timetable Piece from Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control



A license to link to this article or to publish pull quotes from it (with full attribution) is hereby granted. For all other permissions and comments, please contact the author via email at The author served as the chief Public Defender for the County of Alameda, CA, headquartered in Oakland for 10 years, following a long career as an Assistant Public Defender. Then, Gaskill left his “life of crime” to devote more time to writing.  Learn more about Jay B Gaskill, attorney, analyst and author, at



[1] This prospect of the Saudis beginning an enrichment program was broached earlier this month at the Munich Security Conference. Sen. Lindsey Graham asked Saudi Prince Turki al Faisal, the kingdom’s powerful former intelligence chief, if any final agreement that allowed Iran to maintain an enrichment capability would cause Saudi Arabia and other Arab states to invoke their own right to enrich uranium. “I think we should insist on having equal rights for everybody, this is part of the (Non-Proliferation Treaty) arrangement,” the prince said.


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This is a revision by the author of an earlier article of the same title that went viral after its release in 2004 – at least 6,000 readers saw it before 2008.






An Ongoing Analysis by


Jay B Gaskill


A pull quote


As I revisit and revise this essay, the progressive liberal establishment finds itself confronted by the murderous intolerance of a malignant mutation in Islam.  Our current president, Barack Hussein Obama, purports to speak for his fellow liberals when he refuses to use the term “Muslim extremists” much less “Islamo-fascists”, “Islamo-Nazis” or even “radical Islamists,” seemingly in order not to offend the delicate sensibilities of all peace-loving Muslims, multiculturalists, or even the Wahhabi Muslims who rule Saudi Arabia.


Thus the postmodern liberal mind has turned tolerance into an endorsement of intolerance.


A recent article by Dr. Dennis Prager describes an incident where “Bill Maher, a man of the left on virtually every issue, began by defending liberalism’s honor against liberal hypocrisy on the subject of Islam.” Maher took hell for it from some of his fellow liberals.



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Analysis by Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


Sunday evening in Berkeley another destructive demonstration took place.  It followed the typical pattern.  First, we see the “nice” people who “only” want to stop freeway traffic (they succeeded on Interstate 80, delaying a pregnant woman’s rush to a hospital).  Then a fire is lit. Finally people start breaking things and stealing (Whole Foods, for example, was trashed).  “The California Highway Patrol said some tried to light a patrol vehicle on fire and threw rocks, bottles and an explosive at officers. There was no immediate word of how potent the explosives were.” (Fox News)


I know that some of my friends don’t want to hear this, but the causes are interchangeable.  The demonstration patterns remain the same.  After a brief display of signs, shouted slogans and some singing, the activists and thugs take over. Businesses and police are attacked. The “nice” people lament this unexpected turn of events.  But they are addicted to the thrill; they will show up again…and again.


Someone I know recently confessed on Facebook “Disobedience is right response to injustice.
&, you know, being on a freeway is thrilling when you’re with your people and your people number MANY


This is a culture in which a ginned up sense of grievance, always directed at authority figures, substitutes for moral judgment; and the grand gesture substitutes for the much harder work at crafting better policy. And demonstrations can be thrilling.  And thrills can be addictive.


In an earlier era, the town marshal stands up against the mob that wants to lynch someone instead of waiting for a trial.  But in this postmodern era, the marshal stays indoors, hopes for the best, and sends a publicist out the next day to sooth the angry beast.


In this era far too many people are blithely unaware of just how fragile the social order really is, just how many latent thugs inhabit our communities and just how very swiftly these thugs will opportunistically materialize to be activated and mobilized to burn, loot, steal and assault.


One veteran of the 1960’s era protests has commented that “it’s worse now; we never did that.” This is because the moral underpinnings of the social order have been weakened.


I refuse to defend the use of a choke hold to subdue a man whose only crime – before he resisted being taken in – was selling cigarettes.  There were so many better ways this could have been handled, including not enforcing a cigarette ban at all, in the same spirit that certain law enforcement jurisdictions have “gone soft” on marijuana crimes.


Yes, the causes de jure will change.  But certain things will remain as a constant. Grievances, like the poor and oppressed, will always be with us. The thugs, also, will be always with us, waiting for an opportunity to act out.


There is a common denominator in all the recent police use-of-force events. It is that the hair trigger communities where the trouble is concentrated are in or proximate to those parts of town that are seriously under-policed.  When police resources are stretched too thin, the police mindset tends to mutate from careful law enforcement to a wartime setting. Corners are cut, and mistakes are made.


There is one true entitlement that trumps all the rest. It is the right to be secure in our homes and persons from the predation of thugs, vandals and thieves.  Sadly, the subgroup that suffers the most from crime is the poor – the families that must live in the “bad” areas know exactly what I am talking about.  The poorest among us are entitled to the same level of police protection that the very rich get automatically. But police protection is not free.  Good police protection is not cheap.  Because the thuggish predators are concentrated in poor communities, the task of providing good police services for them is more expensive per capita. Poor communities, more than anything else, need safe spaces for their children to be able to live and play without fear.  For these good people, the property that the rich would disdain as “not worth a garage sale” is dear – and is very dearly missed when stolen.


As someone who has spent a career working in this danger zone of the human condition, I am absolutely confident that, when police services in the hair trigger areas like Ferguson are sufficient to reduce the street crime problem to that in, say, Beverly Hills, CA, police-citizen tensions will fade away and the use-of-force issues will fade with them.




Copyright © 2014 by Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law

Forwards and pull quotes are encouraged. For comments and all other permissions, please contact the author via email . The author served as the 7th chief Public Defender for the County of Alameda, CA, headquartered in Oakland. More about the author is posted at .

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The president is counting on an ineffectual congress.


A new tool is urgently needed to restrain the illegal and/or unconstitutional exercise of power by the president.  Beyond the major policies at issue, the very relevancy of the legislative branch is at stake.  This article outlines a new legal weapon (more properly a shield) that will actually work.  At the moment, congressional leadership seems caught between ineffective grand gestures and a politically perilous strategy of relying exclusively on the power of the purse. In this proposal, the Congress would enact a streamlined response path for the Federal Court of Appeals to invalidate specific Executive Orders (or directives tantamount to Executive Orders) that violate federal law, the Constitution, or both.


Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law

December 4, 2014


The full article needs to be read by all key House and Senate leaders.


Here are the links:





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Saving Our Damaged Country from a Damaging President – Proposing a Legal Weapon

ASSOCIATED PRESS — Militant leaders from the Islamic State group and al-Qaida gathered at a farm house in northern Syria last week and agreed on a plan to stop fighting each other and work together against their opponents, a high-level Syrian opposition official and a rebel commander have told The Associated Press. Such an accord could present new difficulties for Washington’s strategy against the IS group.

INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY – [As ObamaCare 2015 looms] the lowest cost bronze plan will increase an average of 7 % in many cases, the lowest cost silver plan by 9%, and the lowest priced catastrophic policy by 18 percent. Double digit rate hikes are anticipated in Kansas, Iowa, Louisiana, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Iowa, and Virginia, among others.  2014 subsidies provided ¾ of the premiums for the federally-run exchanges. Businesses with 100 or more employees in 2015, 50 or more in 2016 will be required to offer affordable and subsidized health plans to at least 70 percent of their full time employees or face a $2,000-$3,000 penalty per employee.

NEW YORK TIMES – President Obama will ignore angry protests from Republicans and announce as soon as next week a broad overhaul of the nation’s immigration enforcement system that will protect up to five million unauthorized immigrants from the threat of deportation and provide many of them with work permits, according to administration officials who have direct knowledge of the plan.


Saving Our Damaged Country from a Damaging President

Proposing a Legal Weapon, Damage Remediation & A Recovery Path



By Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law


A wounded narcissist in power is a scary sight, but history has knocked at the door of the new Congress.[1]

There are four critical tasks for the new Congress. They are outlined here, along with a secret weapon. All this will be very challenging.  Whatever the odds of success, all four tasks will require the urgent focused and relentless attention of the new Congress.  This will be a full-on political and policy struggle, a task for which a typical congressperson or senator has not been prepared.

But that’s why elected officials hire staff. Time is of the essence. Staff is urgently needed: highly competent, dedicated political, legal, national security and policy experts – separate teams assigned to work each task area. If General McArthur’s team could remake Japan after WWII, then Congress can remediate federal policy.

There is one immediate undertaking – fixing the Obama Care. It is a web as tangled as the Gordian knot of Greek legend. Just cutting that knot (as Alexander did) might disrupt medical care for existing patients –a bad idea on both policy and political levels. Untangling that web without doing harm will be particularly staff intensive, fully employing a special set of experts. This is a one-off opportunity to rescue American medicine from a strangling bureaucracy.  The hard staff work on solutions will pay dividends for years, but the clock is running out.

And there are three other tasks, one of which – stopping the Islamist nuclear threat in its tracks – is of life and death significance to all Americans.



 [1] Rescue American medicine from the bureaucratic tangle of the Affordable Care Act and its attendant regulations, side effects, intended and unintended consequences, without making things even worse. This legislation is an epic Gordian’s knot tangle.

[2] Absolutely and securely prevent the Islamist-controlled state of Iran from acquiring an atomic bomb capability; and from making, deploying or developing missiles capable of delivering the same; and from retaining any significant nuclear bomb-making infrastructure for future use.

 [3] Restrain the dangerous federal borrowing and get a handle on the grotesquely bloated national debt without crippling US military preparedness or economic progress.

[4] Maintain secure national borders while protecting American health, security and jobs from unrestrained and un-vetted immigration, all the while shooting down the false charges of racism; promoting upward mobility; making room for lawful immigrants who can be readily assimilated. This president intends to present the new congress with an immigration fait accompli, the wholesale legalization of in-country, undocumented foreign nationals via Executive Order. This will be another Gordian’s knot tangle to be addressed with great care.

Taking leadership in each of these areas will pit the new Congress against a recalcitrant, passive-aggressive Executive Branch superintended by a president not known for keeping his promises. It will call on the new congress to exercise more leadership than it ever has before. The vehicle, the legal weapon of choice, is a disciplined and relentless Joint Resolution strategy, using the process proposed below as both a sword and a shield[2].  This will demand the highest standard of party discipline and the most effective effort to recruit key allies from across the aisle since the height of interparty Cold War cooperation.

Popular support must be constantly courted and maintained.

A shadow presidency committed to these aims will be needed. It would consist of well-known, articulate and sincere proponents of the new agenda, mean and women accessible to the media, accountable, ready to explain and defend Congressional policy initiatives.

The goal is that four Congressional initiatives will so dominate the discussion that all presidential candidates must be tested against the new Congressional agenda.[3] The GOP proponents should be credible.  Recruiting a leader like Florida’s second-generation Cuban Senator, Marco Rubio (for example) will be needed make an effective case for immigration and borders policy reform, item four.

Key congressional committee leaders and well known national security figures will need to be enlisted to speak out in public forums in support of items three and two, respectively.

New leaders will necessarily emerge from this process. That is a good thing. If democratic members of congress are critical of the administration’s record and approach in the four areas and have something constructive to add, they are to be welcomed. Absolute ideological purity is less important than achieving a practical consensus about remediating the damage this president has done to the country and preventing him from doing even more harm in his remaining two years.

Much damage has been done and more looms in prospect. Yes, the stakes for America’s future are grave, but this is a no-lose program on the political stage.  Any success is a plus, and failure is never the end of the effort. That Shining City on a Hill[4] will not be rebuilt in a single year.

Successes and failures aside, this two year struggle will establish bright-line clarity, a preview of the constructive opposition alternatives, preparing the playing field on conservative terms for the 2016 POTUS election.




A Legislative Strategy


Using a Joint Resolution procedure, the new Congress opens up a full-court-press effort to amend the jurisdictional and procedural statutes that deal with the authority and procedures of the US Court of Appeal essentially as follows:

Notwithstanding any other provision in law,[5] Any Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals has original jurisdiction to decide the validity of Presidential Executive Orders when challenged by a Resolution of Congress. Any sitting Member of the Congress has legal standing as a proper party to file, pursue and present a case before the US Court of Appeal, opposing the validity of an Executive Order of the President under this section, when designated by a Resolution of Congress for that purpose. Any Executive Order of the President of the United States that has been determined by any panel of the United States Court of Appeals, from any Circuit thereof, to be in violation of the US Constitution or of any existing Act of Congress, shall be immediately stayed, and provisionally rendered void, unless and until that Executive Order is declared valid by a final decision of the United States Supreme Court. 

This will be a very powerful tool because it will create a clear path to obtain a stay of any challenged Executive Order from a federal appeals panel that will remain in effect pending Supreme Court decision.  Of course, this measure will be opposed by the president.  So the first introduction of this will greatly benefit from key bipartisan support. That means that the first Executive Order to be challenged will need to be a very unpopular one. There are many to choose from.

If successfully vetoed, this measure is resubmitted in two forms:

  1. It is submitted in the form of a constitutional amendment (which is veto-proof by law). The vote on the Amendment will be strategically delayed for negotiations between Congress and POTUS.
  2. For negotiation purposes, the measure attacking illegal Executive Orders is also resubmitted as a regular joint resolution.

This places POTUS in a bind, because ratification of a constitutional amendment can be obtained by the agreement of the legislatures of 3/4ths of the states, and in 2015 2/3rds of state legislatures will be under GOP control. In the current political landscape, a threatened constitutional amendment is no idle one, especially because it is aimed at patently illegal Executive Orders. Unhindered by party discipline, a number of Senate democrats may well switch sides.

Therefore, negotiations would begin with the understanding that the constitutional amendment version will be withdrawn only if the president signs the measure, or allows it to become law by not vetoing it within 10 days during which congress is in session.

Congress needs to dead serious, and unless the president signs or vetoes the measure, both chambers would remain in continuous session for the 10 day period, as necessary.

Meantime the search for the veto-proof 60 senate votes for the original Joint Resolution intensifies. Many holdouts may well reconsider because the constitutional amendment scenario will be perceived as the greater threat.

This will be a major battle, one that should be relentlessly pursued for the good of the order.



A joint resolution is a legislative measure that requires approval by the Senate & House and is presented to the President for  approval.  Joint resolutions that propose amendments to the Constitution do not require  the approval of the President. Joint Resolutions have the force of law and can be vetoed.   But they become law with a veto override vote, or without the president’s approval, if ten   days elapse while Congress is in session. Joint resolutions may declare warAnd only joint resolutions may be use to propose amendments to the US Constitution.

If the Joint Resolution Strategy against unlawful Executive Orders works, then the president’s most unpopular Executive Orders would be undone, one by one.   Additionally, each of the Executive Orders used to save Obama-Care from its internal contradictions and wildly unpopular consequences would be attacked in series by using Joint Resolutions, followed quickly by a court challenge. Then, in each instance, an appropriate remediation measure would be submitted as legislation.





The misnamed Affordable Care Act is a complex legislative and regulatory monster. Using this strategy for a redo will require a great deal of very technical advance planning requiring additional Congressional legislative staff – medical, legal, political. All these experts will be tasked to carefully work through the Affordable Care Act, identifying the real-world consequences of repeal and replacement, wholesale or through increments.  The key is to reverse the bureaucratic takeover of American medicine without further disrupting existing medical care relationships to the patients’ detriment.



A huge separation of powers issue is presented: Only the President can determine foreign policy. But there are cracks and vulnerabilities in the presidential monolith.  Neither the Pentagon nor the other players in the national security apparatus are on the same page with the president. If Vlad Putin could intimidate Mr. Obama to erase a red line, the Congress can intimidate him into allowing the military to do its job. Mrs. Clinton’s surrogates have begun to unload on the president’s foreign policy and security weakness.  This is an opening, psychological and political permission to pile on. It is time for fully televised Congressional Hearings.

These hearings must focus like a laser on the most accurate and troubling estimates of the dangers and state of readiness to bomb-making status of Iran’s hostile regime. After that is clearly established, focus should be on the president’s information feed and his waffling and indecision.

The single most dangerous presidential advisor – from the national security perspective is the Iranian-born Chicago operative, Valerie Jarrett. The congressional tool here is the investigative hearing on national television. Scandal is a lever. It is time for hardball and no time to be squeamish.

The fulcrum for the national security challenge to a weak president is “The United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012” passed by the House but stalled in the Senate.  Here are some key provisions:

Since 1948, United States Presidents and both houses of Congress, on a bipartisan basis and supported by the American people, have repeatedly reaffirmed the special bond between the United States and Israel, based on shared values and shared interests.

The Middle East is undergoing rapid change, bringing with it hope for an expansion of democracy but also great challenges to the national security of the United States and our allies in the region, particularly our most important ally in the region, Israel. Over the past year, the Middle East has witnessed the fall of some regimes long considered to be stabilizing forces and a rise in the influence of radical Islamists. Iran, which has long sought to foment instability and promote extremism in the Middle East, is now seeking to exploit the dramatic political transition underway in the region to undermine governments traditionally aligned with the United States and support extremist political movements in these countries. At the same time, Iran may soon attain a nuclear weapons capability, a development that would fundamentally threaten vital American interests, destabilize the region, encourage regional nuclear proliferation, further empower and embolden Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, and provide it the tools to threaten its neighbors, including Israel. … the strategic environment that has kept Israel secure and safeguarded United States national interests for the past 35 years has eroded.

To reaffirm the enduring commitment of the United States to the security of the State of Israel as a Jewish state. To provide Israel the military capabilities necessary to deter and defend itself by itself against any threats. To veto any one-sided anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations Security Council. To support Israel’s inherent right to self-defense.

Provide Israel such support as may be necessary to increase development and production of joint missile defense systems, particularly such systems that defend the urgent threat posed to Israel and United States forces in the region.

Senior presidential advisor Valerie Jarrett is notoriously opposed to a strong Israel and has consistently advised Mr. Obama go soft on her native Iran. The United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012 was passed by the House but stalled at the Administration’s urging in the Democrat controlled Senate. That measure should be strengthened and reenacted in a 2015 Joint Resolution.  Any Executive Orders contrary to the security of Israel should be scrubbed.  Sympathetic pentagon and intelligence officials need to be compelled to testify. Hence the hearings.



President Obama created the Simpson-Bowles deficit commission in 2010; then he betrayed the very process he had created.  After that, an unpopular sequester game ensued. Military spending was held hostage while social spending, including Obama Care ran largely unrestrained.


The federal debt is about equal to the Gross Domestic Product. Mere service of that federal debt is now a budget line item running just under half a trillion dollars, at current interest rates. That number is well over half the entire military budget. Mandatory spending, i.e., the entitlements, burn through 2/3rd of the federal budget, leaving precious little latitude to trim so-called discretionary spending. This has allowed the Administration to hold the military budget hostage.  In light of the power shift in the Congress, this may open an opportunity to attain a compromise with the president, but only if the Congress stays in front and stands firm. Interest rates are not as volatile as the experts once feared. Caution should trump panic[6].  A goal worth fighting for: Move some of the entitlement pending sector into the discretionary category, and relocate some the essential part of the national security sector out of the discretionary sector into the non-discretionary.


But at all times, heed the bottom line: Avoid the traps. Resurrect the Simpson-Bowles model. Protect the military. Avoid shutdowns. Wait for 2016.



Congress controls immigration. A perfect storm for the open-borders progressive liberals has arrived. This is an opportunity.

The open-door immigration nightmare has three features that leave the current administration and its supporters vulnerable to a new approach from the opposition:

I.            The Ebola virus crisis is a stark reminder of an old truth: Open borders can kill.

II.            Meantime, the pampered elites of the left have lost touch with two core constituencies – the unionized and non-unionized mid-to-low end workers, and the African American communities. Both groups are losing job opportunities to foreigners. Both groups oppose the administration’s wide-open immigration policies.

III.            The open-immigration burden is falling heavily and differentially on these same groups, overwhelming the very health and education institutions that serve them. The flood of immigrants has damaged and continues to damage them economically. The left’s answer is to trot out that overused opiate of the masses – more welfare. This is the path that robs these men and women of the dignity of work, earning and upward mobility.

Therefore, Congressional immigration reform must perform careful surgery on the president’s predicted wholesale legalization Executive Order, by aiming like a laser on these three goals:


(1) Adopt a guard-dog approach to immigration-borne public health and security threats, meaning total border accountability for any and all entrants who pose a security or health risk to the rest of us.  Anything less amounts to pathologically misplaced compassion to the detriment of those migrants who will quickly contribute and assimilate.

(2)  Preserve and expand the employment opportunities for the Americans who are already here with particular sensitivity the needs of the newer arrivals, foremost of which is the need to achieve rapid assimilation.

(3)  Proactively promote education and upward mobility for all Americans, again with emphasis on the assimilation of newcomers.

NOTE: The US military is one of the best educators in the country’s educational system, especially remedial education; it is also one of the great engines of cultural assimilation. The armed services should be allowed to recruit and train all qualified in-country immigrants, and after a full and honorable service to the country, a soldier’s status should be that of a lawful permanent resident eligible for citizenship.  The administration should not be allowed to dumb down the patriot training, teaching standards and ethos of its internal education programs with inane politically-correct diktats from the left.


The first among several implementing Joint Resolutions would make these three objectives official American immigration policy.

As a result, no new immigration would be lawful unless it is certified not to burden employment, health care and the employment opportunities of Americans and others legally resident here. The executive branch would be required to submit to the Congress periodic impact reports about the effects of its immigration policies and enforcement patterns on the employment of Americans, their health, safety and education (much as environmental impact Reports are required). Negative impacts must be averted as a condition precedent to allowing any more immigrants other than bonafide tourists, diplomats and other special invitees to come inside US borders. Any and all so called subsequent amnesty orders issued by the president or under the color of presidential authority attempting to confer even provisional lawful status for the unlawful migrants currently living in the USA would be void, unless and until authorized by the Congress.




Of course, the foregoing proposals and goals are large scale and thematic.

Of course, the details do matter.  There is heavy lifting ahead. This is why careful staff work is absolutely necessary.

Conservatives, the few remaining old fashioned liberals, and their allies must not repeat the mistakes of the Affordable Care Act mess by rushing through poorly executed and structured reforms

And this is why I need to reemphasize that the key threshold step is to hire the needed staff and get well ahead of the White House in each of the four critical areas, and stay ahead.

The Congress than must take the leadership role and keep it until a better president has been selected by the American people.

History has called the new congress to lead.  Will they?



The author is a California trial and appellate lawyer who served as the 7th chief Public Defender for the County of Alameda before leaving his “life of crime” to begin a second career as analyst and writer.




The Graduate Course in American Exceptionalism


The Emerging Coalition of the Creative Non-Left

Liberty Indivisible

The American Creative Surge



[1] The premise for this discussion is that an 18 month battle to impeach a lame duck POTUS in order to replace him with a lame duck VP is a non-starter. Impeachment is tantamount to political suicide. I don’t need to spell out my reasoning here. But please note an important caveat: What if criminal misuse of the IRS to harass political opponents of the administration and / or its agenda is actually proven and – more importantly –classic “smoking gun” evidence surfaces that such an odious anti-democratic abuse of power was ordered, initiated or approved by the President of the United States? In that scenario, a swift impeachment and removal from office would be necessary. But I do not see the stars lining up for such a scenario in 2015 or 2016.

[2] See the appended POLICY ILLUSTRATIONS.

[3] Even Hillary, for example, will have little choice but to support the second objective or fail to differentiate herself from the president she served.

[5] The detailed drafting is left to others. The following language is offered to outline the approach: 28 US Code, Section 1295 (jurisdiction of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit) is amended: (Added) The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has original jurisdiction to rule on any dispute between the Congress and the President over the validity of an Executive Order of the President over an alleged conflict between the specified order and the Constitution or any Act of Congress. The action may be filed in any Circuit by designated parties under the authority of a Resolution of Congress (not requiring the approval of the president) to that effect. If the decision of the Court of Appeals is that the challenged Executive Order violates an Act of Congress or the Constitution, a stay shall be immediately issued and remain in effect until the full Supreme Court of the United States has agreed to review the decision.

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