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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ANSWER THE DOOR IT’S EBOLA & the ISIS Headhunters With Our Teaching Moment



IT’S just EBOLA & the ISIS Headhunters

As revised 11-1-14



Analysis by Jay B Gaskill

                       Also posted at –



For a host of reasons, philosophical, historical and situational, the USA is the last best hope of Western civilization. The USA is virtually the only creative-adaptive model of modern civilization that still has the capacity to defend itself and, in selected instances, to defend key elements of modern civilization that are at threat elsewhere.  But capacity without the will to act, especially in the defense of civilization, is a short-lived exercise in suicidal risk-taking.

At no time in the last 80 years (i.e., since the decade before the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941 has our nation) our nation seemed as much like a toy tiger as it does now.  But this analysis goes far beyond mere military preparedness.  We are disabled and disarmed at several levels, including the moral, biological psychological, and strategic. Nature always provides teaching moments to those willing to recognize them. The tragedy is that we have so far ignored our teaching moments.

The Islamist fanatics have been seeking a nation to control and convert, creating a new force in world affairs, an “Islamostan,” a radically fundamentalist Islamic state endowed with superpower status by virtue of its control of deliverable nuclear weapons. This goal was evident to many analysts back during the second Clinton term, when the first World Trade Center attack was made, the USS Cole was bombed, and other attacks took place around same time, all against Western targets, all driven by the same fundamentalist, suicidal Islamic ideology. The 9-11-01 attacks on major US targets were part of the same attack pattern, and resulted in a temporary awakening among members of the US security establishment. Flash forward to the sudden appearance of ISIS in Iraq and nearby territories, well-funded, well organized, totally brutal and explicitly devoted the end of western civilization. If you trace the logistics and the money, you discover Iran.  If we follow Iran, we find an atomic bomb program on the verge of the point of no return.  And why should Fortress America worry?

Iran has almost enriched enough uranium to make several atomic bombs.  All it will take is a comparatively short run with its centrifuges, and possibly within a few months – far less than a year – they will be able to announce, “We have the bomb!” and thereafter no Western power will dare take them on directly.  The radical regime controlling Iran already has long range (not yet intercontinental) missiles. The ‘hands-off, we already have the bomb” moment will buy them all the time they need to build an arsenal. Iran is supporting ISIS. Connect the dots/

Now, this is what you probably do not know:


New climate modeling estimates, reworking the “nuclear winter” scenarios of the 1960’s, now raise the dire prospect that a much smaller nuclear exchange will have equally catastrophic world consequences.  These chilling research findings, using more powerful computers than were available in the 1960s, jointly released by Alan Robock[1], professor of climatology at Rutgers University and associate director of the school’s center for environmental Prediction, and Owen Brian Toon[2], chair of the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder and a fellow of the laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics there.

Even a small regional nuclear bomb outbreak can “cripple global agriculture” with “the effects [that] would last for at least 10 years” dramatically reducing food supplies and producing mass starvation directly affecting “around one billion people” and indirectly affecting all the rest.[3]

This was never just about Iraq, Afghanistan, or any other single theater of armed conflict and unrest in the region or the world.  It was and is about restraining and eventually disarming a 12th century, fundamentalist jihad that is seeking to use 21st century weapons and the platform of a superpower Islamist state or coalition.  This vision potentially unites the Muslim nations of the Middle East in one glorious purpose: to use war to cancel the unjust sense of inferiority visited on them by the decadent modern societies that have out-produced and outperformed them on almost every measurable level.  Even the Saudi royal family recognizes ISIS as a dangerous apostasy and Iran as a mortal enemy to be stopped.

I have compared this entire situation with a Star Trek episode wherein the Enterprise sent a crew down to study a primitive culture.  When some of the loosely primitive aliens wrapped got their hands on a modern weapon, Captain James Kirk made short work of problem.  No Phasers left behind. Flash to the present day: We modern earthlings still live in a world inhabited by some tribes with 12th century minds, neighbors who are acquiring 21st century weapons. The cultural and civilization gap is approximately the same as that between the enterprise crew and the aliens, yet we dither.  Yes, we dither while not being able to say, “Beam us up, Scotty!” No, we are stuck on the same planet with these dangerously suicidal fools.



Ebola, a kind of viral hemorrhagic fever, is now an ugly, quite deadly pandemic that has killed thousands by sweeping through Western Africa; and it now has found its way through the porous borders of Europe and the USA. Complacent US officials began by asserting that we will never be in any real danger because, after all, we are not a third world country.  But pandemics expand exponentially; and even a first world country’s medical system like ours lacks the capacity to isolate and treat more than a few thousand infected patients all at once.  Here is the elephant in the room: Even a “small” epidemic of Ebola inside the USA would wreak havoc by crippling transportation and overwhelming the US medical system for all the “lower priorities” – i.e., almost everything else that requires a hospital setting.

All viruses mutate. Typically they start in an animal population before they find their way into a human one.  For a time they propagate in small human populations but eventually break out. Without proactive containment any one of several pathogens can spread rapidly through any population, given the right conditions.

The easiest infections to contain – at least under modern conditions – are the bloodborne ones, such as Hepatitis A, B & C, West Nile and AIDS.  Bloodborne viruses can be sexually transmitted by individuals who are not symptomatic. AIDS was – and is – no trivial threat.

The airborne pathogens are exceedingly difficult to contain.  The liquid and infected-blanket infection vectors for Ebola, smallpox and its epidemiological cousins represent more a containable threat than airborne contagion vectors do.  But infected bodily fluids can easily travel through the air[4].  An airborne variant of Ebola is just a mutation away.

The problem with deadly plagues that get out of the box is that the resulting chaos destroys or profoundly degrades civil society. The set of liberties and protective institutions that make a creative civilization like ours possible are more fragile than most people realize. Fear can dissolve any civil government into authoritarian tyranny in a matter of months.

Dangerous pandemics, like deadly Ebola virus, and virulent, atavistic ideologies, like the ISIS jihad, can always erupt outside the boundaries of advanced civilizations. But in the profoundly interconnected world of the early twenty first century, our boundaries are so porous that external threats swiftly mutate into grave internal problems.

The current American administration has been far less than vigilant, competent and effective in addressing these threats, stubbornly treating each large-scale threat pattern as a scattering of disparate, almost one-off events.

Now, not later, is the opportunity, the perfect time to inaugurate and deploy a national epidemic defense, infrastructure, including but not limited humane quarantine and isolation facilities, far, far better capacity to monitor and restrict potentially infectious travelers, including returnees, and so on. We need much more attention to all of the potential, invasive pathogens.  Recall the problem when a ship dumbs bilge in a new harbor, discharging invasive species?  The entire biosphere is much more rapidly being mixed than ever before.  Aboriginal peoples lost 85% of their populations when the germ-bearing Europeans arrived.  Given today’s stirred and re-stirred population, everyone is potentially an aboriginal target for new pathogens.

I am not being alarmist here.  So far, these are just teaching moments.  But think how close we are to a worst case scenario: A fully nuclear armed Jihadist state, inevitably with lead to an arms race.  Even a “small” regional nuclear exchange could trigger the loss of crops around the world for a year, causing the starvation of hundreds of millions. If history is any guide (and it is) that scenario will lead to war.  And war will lead to pestilence.

And we are not prepared.



History is knocking at our front door.

The Roman Empire fell from stage of history, having missed all of its potential teaching moments. Postmodern Western civilization refused to answer the door – seemingly bent on ignoring its teaching moments.

I assert that the next three years will be later identified by historians as the critical turning point when modern civilization began its collapseor averted it. Why worry about civilization, you ask?  …Because a smart fish needs to worry about having water to live in.

It is not too late to learn from these teaching moments.  Better quarantine protocols, detection and emergency transportation and treatment will require an infrastructure that we can still deploy. We will be thankful now, and for the inevitable next time.



With the use of sufficient, sustained force Iran can still be compelled to abandon its dangerous atomic-bomb ambitions. The feckless misuse of a meaningless “red line” warning by our president has essentially taken ordinary persuasion off the table. European style soft power did not work on Hitler.  It will not work now.

The clock is running. There are a number of workable military scenarios, all unpleasant.  

The following scenario is just for illustration. Shockingly brutal as it might seem to the “soft power” crowd, it is actually sufficient to the cause. It very likely will work. I leave it to the experts whether something less would also be sufficient.

The locations of Iran’s enrichment plants are now known. …As are the locations of most of Iran’s missiles.  Using heavy conventional weapons, these targets are repeatedly hit for thirty days.  After a pause, a blue line is announced: Cooperate in full measure with a permanent shutdown and cleanup of Iran’s atomic weapons program, starting with open inspections in 7 days, or Phase Two begins. A blue line in this case is one that cannot be avoided by silence or mere words.   Phase Two is the elimination of all of Iran’s oil refineries, its remaining air force and navy. In Phase Three, if necessary, we get serious.

If we take strong and sufficient action to avert an Islamist nuclear power, we will be criticized, even vilified, but the world will be a better place.

Iran is a beautiful country with an intelligent, beautiful population. So was Japan in the 1940’s.  No Eastern power came to Japan’s aid.  No Middle East power will intervene on Iran’s behalf. 

The cost in military resources and casualties will be far less if the US takes strong and sufficient action  within the next few months, than if we attempt to do “whatever it takes” after Iran has squirrelled away 20 kg of weapons grade uranium and / or plutonium.

Doing nothing effective at this critical juncture is tantamount to ignoring a burning fuse leading to an explosive chain reaction that can take down civilization itself.

Rome was a decadent bureaucratic state in which the capacity for creative, adaptive responses to serious challenges never took hold.  You might think that we in the USA – blessed as we are with an envied standard of living and a reputation for civil liberties, can weather any storm by hiding in Fortress America. Clinging to isolationism in the modern world is suicide, whether the threat is a rampant murderous ideology or a rampant deadly plague.

Sadly, it may well be us to us.  …Just us. Ideally, the USA should not have to act alone. But if we fail to effectively address such grave threats, no one else can pull it off in time.  And it will be all over but the weeping.

I would much rather cheer.


Copyright © 2014 by Jay B Gaskill

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This is a license to my readers to forward links to this article and to use pull-quotes from it, with full attribution.


Jay B Gaskill

Alameda, CA


More about creative civilization and it challenges from JBG:





A compelling political thriller (2104 Central Avenue Publishing)

[3] “New analyses reveal that a conflict between India and Pakistan, for example, in which 100 nuclear bombs were dropped on cities and industrial areas—only 0.4 percent of the world’s more than 25,000 warheads—would produce enough smoke to cripple global agriculture.”

[4] I noted this recent New York Post article < > CDC admits droplets from a sneeze could spread Ebola …Ebola is a lot easier to catch than health officials have admitted — and can be contracted by contact with a doorknob contaminated by a sneeze from an infected person an hour or more before, experts told The Post Tuesday. “If you are sniffling and sneezing, you produce microorganisms that can get on stuff in a room. If people touch them, they could be” infected, said Dr. Meryl Nass, of the Institute for Public Accuracy in Washington, DC. Nass pointed to a poster the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quietly released on its Web site saying the deadly virus can be spread through “droplets.”



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A Moral Analysis

By Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law

Also posted at –


John Adams, the composer, is an American genius. Among his truly remarkable achievements are the operas, Nixon in China (1977 and Doctor Atomic (2005). His orchestral works include The Transmigration of Souls (2002), commissioned by the New York Philharmonic as a memorial to the 9-11-2001 attacks on the USA. That work received the Pulitzer Prize.

His opera, Death of Klinghoffer (1991), was picketed in New York recently, in a revival performance at the Met. The problem was not with Adams’ music but with the libretto. In key passages singers emphasize with the Palestinian cause, and romanticize the murderers of the wheelchair-bound Jew, Dr. Klinghoffer.

The protesters’ charges are not unreasonable, although other works – thinking of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, have been given a pass.

I choose not to go farther with the libretto, except to say that the Met chose the worst possible time for this performance. The opera struck a particularly offensive note in the context of the recent eruptions of rampant anti-Semitism in Europe, and even here in the USA.



Old fashioned liberalism had a strong moral compass rooted in traditional American values. Harry Truman, who was the first to support Israel at its inception, is a perfect example of a morally-centered old fashioned liberal.

Our culture’s problem is postmodern liberalism. The litmus test is the failure of the postmodern ethos to recognize of evil as a relevant, central moral category.  Hitler and bloodthirsty child killers, mass murderers and those ruthless jihadists who single out infidels for beheading, belong to a special category of evil, one not amenable to medical treatment, one not worth an ounce of our precious empathy – and, yes, empathy is a limited resource.

I have written several important essays on evil, among them  (  and and  ).

My fiction writing (see the thriller, Gabriel’s Stand*) is rooted in a moral system that recognizes the existential and moral danger of evil (narrowly defined, but terrible to behold) and the concomitant moral duty of all civilized persons to resolutely oppose.

Dr. Klinghoffer’s murder (and any murder is more than a death) was the outcome of an evil force, perhaps less well understood and recognized in 1991 than now), but true evil nonetheless.


Copyright © 2014 by Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law

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* Gabriel’s Stand is a compelling and entertaining thriller for intelligent readers. More at

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As posted on The Policy Think Site –


Opinion by Jay B Gaskill


Most of us by now have read the account of a decent man, a good Samaritan who helped carry a sick pregnant woman to an African hospital, became infected with her Ebola, then traveled from Liberia to the USA, and in that trip he has potentially exposed hundreds of people to the deadly virus.  Now he lies in a quarantined section of a Dallas hospital, in critical condition, close to death.

Texas authorities are reportedly mulling over the question whether to prosecute him.

At the same time, the trained medical personnel who examined this man and then sent him home; and the travel authorities who may or may not have been culpably careless; and the federal authorities who have yet to address the travel issues that a potential pandemic presents – all these players seemingly get a pass from accountability.

When the horse has left the barn, it is time to see to the other horses.  Recriminations can wait.

Deadly disasters have a way of illuminating the dull, the slow and the careless for all to see.  Think of a battery of searchlights suddenly lighting up to reveal railroad tracks filled with cavorting children, just as the charging locomotive has already wreaked deadly havoc a quarter mile away.

Former Vice President Cheney caught a lot of flak for being too vigilant about threats to our security. In his famous 1% doctrine, he was quoted as follows: “If there’s a 1% chance that Pakistani scientists are helping al-Qaeda build or develop a nuclear weapon, we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response. It’s not about our analysis … It’s about our response.”

Let me restate the 1% doctrine in terms of the grave health threat posed by the Ebola virus:  If there is a one percent chance that someone or some set of circumstances will constitute a contagious vector for spreading Ebola  to the USA – or otherwise mutate it from epidemic to a pandemic, then we must treat that chance as if it were 50%.

Allow me to hazard two predictions:

[A] Ebola will prove to be more contagious than we have been led to expect.

[B] Commercial travel bans to and from Ebola hotbed destinations will only belatedly be imposed, if at all, with the result first world medical establishments, even in the USA, will overwhelmed. 

I do NOT want to be right.

But the battery of searchlights shining on the American health care establishment has exposed a fragile system, slowed and dumbed down by embedded bureaucratic institutions, suffering from inadequate training at the intake level, and all too often characterized by a complacent mindset. This is a system (exceptions noted) that is ill-adapted to curb an epidemic like the one that now looms. On the whole, it is a still-broken system whose front-line representatives are too accustomed to delays and far too burdened by common, but non-fatal health issues.

We often use the term, Rude Awakening.  This time, I fear it is to be a Brutal Awakening.




The Ebola crisis is a grave threat with implications for public policy that can’t be ignored.  The chilling political thriller by the author (Jay B Gaskill’s Gabriel’s Stand ) is an all too plausible exercise in speculative fiction that has suddenly become  disturbingly relevant to the issues surrounding  Ebola threat.  Readers are praising it as a satisfying a page turner, but also as an object lesson.

Gabriel’s Stand is now available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble as a trade paperback; and as an e-book for Kindle, Nook and i-Pad.



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Also posted on The Policy Think Site –



A Note of Concern for our President and the Country

By Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law

The inevitable meltdown of a narcissistic personality is a terrible thing to behold. The term inevitable is appropriate because the world never quite conforms to the aggrandized fantasies of the true narcissist.


For the confirmed narcissists among us, such moments of truth are too difficult to bear. The classic narcissistic personality typically insists that the world must be wrong, and reacts unpredictably when the world pierces his or her illusions.  Such confrontations with reality are particularly dangerous if a narcissist occupies a key position of power and responsibility.  The responses to such unpleasant realities (they can manifest singly, serially or in combination) include these five:

  1. Blame your subordinates.
  2. Double down on your mistakes.
  3. Retreat from the world by avoiding decisions, seeking distractions,  hiding in the trappings of success, protected by a circle of approving acolytes.
  4. Indulge in paranoia.
  5. Escape through high risk (even passively suicidal) behavior.

This is no armchair diagnosis, but I am far from the first observer to call attention to the  narcissist elements in our president’s personality.  This president was at his happiest appearing before uncritically adoring crowds.  Those moments are gone.  Now the president seems happiest on the golf course or flying aboard Air Force One, surrounded by the trappings of power at least 40,000 feet away from his nearest critics.

I worry that only a conformed narcissist, caught up in the attractive delusion that no one would seek to harm “such a beloved leader as myself”, would tolerate lax security at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

In such a situation, security personnel would be conflicted. Trying at the same time to please and protect a classic narcissist is an impossible task.

The cure for narcissism is character. Unfortunately, character is acquired over time; and cannot be quickly acquired.

There is no character app.



Narcissists sometimes dream of posthumous vindication, of the grieving multitudes suddenly sorry that they ever doubted the wisdom and greatness of the wonderful person they have just lost.  “How could we have ever doubted his leadership?”

In this self-indulgent dream, everyone rallies around the cause of the fallen hero, who looms larger in demise than ever in life.

That POTUS might, consciously or unconsciously , indulge in this dream is my personal nightmare.

I fervently pray that I am wrong.  But I have been disturbed by the thought that someone with a narcissistic personality caught in a large scale failure mode might secretly entertain some  version of that dark dream.

The recent security laxness at the White house was a tell.

Fortunately, this president does not seem to exhibit Nixonian paranoia. Mr. Obama’s attachment to his family is a heathy sign.  But his seeming laxness about his personal security (and of our national security for that matter) is unacceptable.

My concern goes well beyond party politics.


Copyright © 2014 by Jay B Gaskill [Permission to forward, or to use pull quotes with full attribution, is granted. For everything else, contact the author via email

The Ebola crisis is a grave threat.  What would happen if modern medical defenses were curtailed? See the timely and chilling political thriller by Jay B Gaskill, Gabriel’s Stand – a page turner, now available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble as a trade paperback; also as an e-book for Kindle, Nook and i-Pad.  More… < >

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My September 11, 2014 reflection

On August 19th or 20th of this year, Journalist James Foley (a Roman Catholic) was beheaded by an Islamist fanatic. Once again, the gory event -remember Daniel Pearl?- was released on video.  The same Islamist fanatics have recently beheaded other captives, even children. Suddenly, a number of commentators are reacting to this outrage as if it is something new. Think of it – a fanatic Islamist movement that seriously intends to set up an Islamist state.  Who would have thought?  …And a beheading? What were they thinking?

Go to – LATE TO THE PARTY at his link

Never give up.


Jay B Gaskill



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Analysis and Commentary

By Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law



If I were to credit the earliest accounts that precipitated violent protests in this small Missouri town,  ON THE EVENING OF AUGUST 9, 2014, A BRUTAL WHITE RACIST COP GUNNED DOWN A HARMLESS AFRICAN AMERICAN LAD NAMED MICHAEL BROWN FOR THE CRIME OF WALKING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET.


Mr. Brown (age 18), a towering, formidable character, weighing in at almost 300 pounds, was first seen walking in the middle of the street with a cohort, the two having just committed a robbery/theft at a nearby store[1]. A confrontation occurred when the officer, Darren Wilson, who was a fraction of Mr. Brown’s size, reportedly first spoke to the two men through the patrol car window.  Some sort of struggle ensued during which the officer was struck in the face, reportedly fracturing the bone socket of one eye. If the latest report is to be credited, his gun was fired once at that point.

Following that confrontation, the picture is murky, but something then happened that put the three men on the street.






I was not there.  No one in the unruly protest mobs was there.  But, clearly, if Officer Wilson had been present during the demonstration, he would have at risk of being beaten to a pulp by an angry mob.

…And the media would have been complicit.

The hair trigger reflex in my title does not refer to the police officer’s pistol trigger finger.  Officer Wilson may or may not have been in legitimate danger of severe bodily injury; and he may or may not have sincerely and reasonably believed that he was in danger of suffering serious bodily harm. That’s what he American system of justice was designed to resolve. And that’s why we hope and expect that politics and impartial justice are kept at a safe distance from each other.

No: the hair trigger response was among the local, mostly African American community.  These included people carrying a burden of real and perceived grievances that primed them to uncritically accept that the killing of Michael Brown was a race-motivated murder by a member of a racist police establishment.  For them, only a huge protest would ensure that the miscreant was punished.

This is the tragic picture of the breakdown of social trust, and its exploitation by professional activists who should know better.

There is more to be said about this tragedy, but first let’s note similar incidents.

[+] Los Angeles (1992 – Rodney King) A large African American man who resisted arrest was surrounded and subdued by officers who were using what appeared to be greatly excessive force.

[+] Cincinnati Ohio (2001-Timothy Thomas) See the details below.

[+] Oakland, Berkeley (2009/10- Oscar Grant) See the sketch below.

[+] Ferguson, Missouri (2014 – Michael Brown – pending)

[+] Oakland, Berkeley (2014 – Michael Brown – pending)


The precipitating facts underlying these uprisings (except the unfolding Ferguson case) are now well established.  Full details are available on the web.

Look at the less well known of the precipitating incidents, the 2001 Timothy Thomas shooting.  Here is a quick overview, gleaned from WIKI:

In the early morning hours of April 7, 2001, Cincinnati police in Over-the-Rhine attempted to execute an arrest warrant against 19-year-old Timothy Thomas, an African American male. Thomas was wanted on 14 nonviolent misdemeanor counts, including 12 traffic citations Thomas was pursued for 10 minutes by nine officers, who were later joined by Patrolman Stephen Roach. The pursuit culminated at 2:20 a.m. when Thomas rounded a corner in a dark alley and surprised Roach, who shot him in the chest at close range. Roach stated he believed Thomas was reaching for a gun in his waistband, but investigation later determined Thomas was trying to pull up his ‘baggy pants.’ Roach also stated he was not aware of the nonviolent nature of Thomas’ charges and that Thomas ignored an order to stop. Thomas was rushed to a hospital, but died of his injuries.”

Now consider these additional observations from Cincinnati journalist, Heather MacDonald:

City Journal 2001

What Really Happened in Cincinnati
Heather Mac Donald

Advocates of the city’s status quo, whether opposing competitive bidding for city services or blocking the investigation of low-income housing fraud, can bring the City Council to its knees by playing the race card. For the last two years, black nationalists calling themselves the Special Forces have turned up regularly in the delicately carved council chambers of Cincinnati’s Romanesque City Hall to spew anti-white and anti-Semitic diatribes. Two days after the Thomas shooting, on Monday, April 9, they were back, accompanied by hundreds of angry black residents, by Timothy Thomas’s mother, and by her attorney Kenneth Lawson—Cincinnati’s answer to Johnnie Cochran.

The Council meeting instantly spun out of control. Backed by constant screaming from the crowd, lawyer Lawson and another racial activist, the Reverend Damon Lynch III, masterfully inflamed the crowd’s anger by suggesting that city officials were willfully withholding information about the Thomas shooting. Lawson, and doubtless Lynch, too, knew full well that disclosing Officer Roach’s testimony after the shooting would jeopardize the investigation and possible prosecution of the case, yet both threatened to hold every chamber occupant hostage until Roach’s testimony was released.”


When the smoke cleared in these tragic police shootings, no credible evidence had surfaced of any actual racist motivation for the civilian shootings in the line-of-duty (or of the excessive force in the King case), except that an unarmed black male was shot and killed by a white police officer (or in the Rodney King case set upon and subdued by several police officers).

Police shootings of this type tend to take place a general atmosphere of police-vs-community racial tensions. One common denominator links all such cases:

These and the other similar cases took place in the context of inadequately staffed, mostly white police forces, stressed by aggressive criminal elements in mostly black neighborhoods.  In the Oscar Grant case, that describes the context outside the well -protected commuter train station in the city of Oakland. Inside, a nervous Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer trying to subdue a struggling arrestee used catastrophically excessive force by reaching for his service pistol instead of his Taser.

A confused and poorly trained officer dealing with forcible resistance is not the same as a brutal racist committing murder.  Nor is the impulsive action of a frightened police officer who thinks he’s about to be severely beaten. Nor is the use of force by any officer who is trained to act quickly when a suspect seems to be drawing a gun.

The Hollywood and television images aside, most American police officers never fire their weapons outside of the practice range during their entire police careers.  All of them hope to return from the patrol of sometimes dangerous streets safe and sound to their loved ones. 

Police training stresses that officer safety comes first.  The law does likewise – giving latitude to police and ordinary citizens those who are placed in apparent danger.  The police have special legal protections because of the nature of their duties. A fleeing felon can be legitimately shot by a police officer in the line of duty.  A police officer is not expected to turn and flee when attacked, but is entitled – and expected – to use all necessary force to avoid being disabled or killed.  An officer is not to be second guessed in those tragic instances where the threat was only apparent and there was no time to verify it without risking being shot him or herself.  Think of the realistic toy gun cases. Assume that a confronted officer is a loved one of yours: Would you really expect him or her to wait until the trigger figure of a suspect resolves the “simulated versus deadly firearm” question?

Even civilians are entitled to use deadly force to repel an unprovoked, apparently immanent threat of death or serious bodily harm.  For civilians, a sincere fear of such impending harm is a partial defense to criminal assault or murder charges, and a sincere and reasonable fear can be a total defense.

Without the protection of the laws of self-defense we would be required to sacrifice our lives to thugs and other assailants while hoping for a miraculous response to a 911 call.  If police officers were denied the same legal protection, society would be at grave risk.





The real tragedy of the Ferguson incident and of the other communities that suffer from inadequate police protection is that the common people, especially the minority populations, are all too often denied that most fundamental of all entitlements: to be secure from criminal predation, free from fear of the thugs who inhabit every corner of every city, whatever its ethnic makeup. The wealthy and privileged can live in gated communities, employ private security and enjoy lives essentially secure from street crime.



It is no accident that in LA, Oakland and other similar high-crime areas, that the vast majority of crime victims are the so called minorities who are the first to rise up in a hair trigger response to a putative racist police contact.

No American community should ever have to suffer from inadequate law enforcement at the basic street -crime level. In my moral universe, there is one entitlement that trumps all the rest: 

It is the right of all Americans, regardless of wealth, status or social standing, to be secure from the thugs and other predators that blight neighborhoods, cause peaceful citizens to live like prisoners with bars on their own windows, and to be forced to live in fear of thugs and crooks, and to endure broken car windows and other acts of vandalism because the police are too busy, too overburdened to attend to the investigation.

A visible, active neighborhood police presence deters criminals.  My Jewish friends repeat the aphorism – “There’s always money for the doctor.” I would add another one for my African American friends to consider: There must always be enough money for public protection, especially for the poor who cannot afford to provide it for themselves.

I’ve seen the same pattern appearing over and over in my long “criminal” career.  It starts when resources are a bit tight.  Then when the good neighborhoods are relatively safe, the elites become casual about underfunding police services for the “bad” neighborhoods that they never frequent.

But an underfunded police department will cut corners and all too often make up for lack of street -enforcement power by ramping up aggressiveness. This can ignite a vicious circle leading to a general breakdown in trust and cooperation.  An anti-police attitude begins to take hold with many malign consequences.  There were several years during the 1970’s in Oakland, California when crime victims simply failed to appear causing the cases to be dismissed.

The deterioration of criminal law enforcement is always dangerous.  There are too many places in our country that hold significant populations of under-supervised young males. Law enforcement gaps in these areas will start a slippery slope to chaos. Soon, entire neighborhoods are written off. Then, as the police began to lose the struggle against the thugs, the police mindset can shift from law enforcement to a virtual wartime setting. This can easily deteriorate into an “us versus them” or “tribe versus tribe” street contest for dominance. It is a natural but tragic next step for a particular minority population, especially African Americans, to think of themselves as a target of the police; and for the beleaguered police forces to think of those unrealistic judges as obstacles to winning the war.

When New York Mayor elect Giuliani confronted a similar slippery slope in the huge venue of New York City, he and an astute police commissioner attacked the crime problem on several levels simultaneously, elevating the police presence and professionalism, and dramatically ramping up the overall police staffing levels.  In a few short years, New York became almost boringly safe.

Little towns, like Ferguson, may lack New York’s resources, but they should not, cannot be shortchanged on public protection resources, whether in officer staffing, support, technology or training. …Becauswe public safety is not just a basic right; it is the basic right.



The solutions are not rocket science.  The effective solutions  include more officers; greater community police presence and interaction; better officer training; cameras on all patrol vehicles and patrol officers; a policy of no crime too small and no crime victim to unimportant for careful attention.   We know these measures work because they have worked.

But there is a wrong approach: The feds charge in with a racist witch hunt; court officers place the police department on probation, imposing demands that require more resources be diverted from public protection and direct policing.  This was tried in Oakland and helped cripple that cash-starved police department for years.

Will there be more Fergusons? Of course there will.  Will communities make progress in reducing tensions over the police presence in their lives? Yes they will… provided that they can summon the will, and muster the necessary resources to provide public safety services equally across all class, status and wealth divisions. The immediate practical lessons of Ferguson are straightforward: (1) avoid jumping to conclusions in a police shooting; (2) get more cameras in play to eliminate doubts and promote transparency.

But the critical lesson of the Ferguson incident is that we are all accountable from the state level down to the smallest enclave of threatened citizens to step up and take the realistic steps needed to make all communities safe for cops and the rest of us, turning them into unwelcome environments for thugs and predators. 


Copyright © 2014 by Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law

First published on The Policy Think Site and the Out*lawyer’s Blog. Forwards and attributed pull quotes are hereby authorized. For other permissions and all your comments, please contact Jay Gaskill via email at

Before the author left his “life of crime” for public policy consulting and his long deferred creative projects, he was a career public defender, spending his last ten years of government service as the chief Alameda County California Public Defender.  Mr. Gaskill’s latest novel, the political thriller, Gabriel’s Stand, (Central Avenue Publishing –  2014 – ISBN-978-1-771698-009-7), is a page turner. It is available from major book vendors. For more, go to this link:

[1] A robbery is a theft accomplished by force or fear.  Robbery is a felony.  Simple theft is a misdemeanor when the value of the goods stolen is below a threshold and there are no other aggravating circumstances. Security cameras reportedly show a theft took place, but the media has not gotten or released enough additional details to determine whether the clerk was threatened of intimidated.

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