Sunday, November 21, 2010

The conventional wisdom is that the Mexican Cartels get their guns from the U.S. The usual culprits are gun shows, sleazy gun dealers who knowingly sell to "straw" buyers and, of course, guns stolen in the U.S. in the course of burglaries.

The usual number we hear is that 90% of the guns confiscated in Mexico can be traced back to the U.S. The truth is, that of all the guns confiscated by the law in Mexico, only a small percentage can actually be traced. And of that small percentage, 90% came from the U.S. No one has ever presented a clear picture of where the rest of the "untraceable" guns come from.

With the recent extradition of Viktor Bout, the notorious ex-Soviet military arms smuggler, it's worth considering once again the scope and volume of international illegal weapons trafficking. Below are two images of weapons confiscated after a huge firefight with a Cartel.

The images above should tell anyone with even minimal knowledge of weaponry that these are not the type you can buy at a gun show or steal from grandpa's closet. This is military weaponry. The top image shows  Russian made RPGs - Rocket Propelled Grenade. That's a standard weapon for Soviet bloc ground units and a favorite of insurgents and criminals wordlwide. Needless to say, it's not available for love or money in the U.S. You need to be seriously connected to get your hands on these.

The lower image shows a suitcase full of loose hand grenades and linked grenades. Like the RPG, there's no way these came from the U.S. through the "accepted" avenues of gun shows, straw buyers or burglaries. Those linked grenades are made to be fired from a full-auto grenade launcher. I'm not well-versed enough to determine which grenade launcher fires this particular round but the Russians, Chinese, U.S., Germans and virtually every arms-building country in the world has some version of a full-auto grenade launcher.

Did this stuff come from Viktor Bout or some other arms peddler? Probably. For sure it didn't come from a gun show or a kitchen table gun dealer.

Other images exist of confiscated equipment that isn't as sexy as the parade of firepower on display above. Here we're talking about Satphones linked to transponders on Chinese comms satellites, fully encrypted military radios with either Chinese, Korean or Russian markings and other fun stuff like plastique, remote controlled detonators and NVGs.

The simple fact of the matter is that Cartels can get anything they want on the clandestine weapons market. They've got the deep pockets to buy anything and they control the ports of entry.

Friday, September 24, 2010

In an editorial yesterday, the L.A. Times came out against legalizing Cannabis - at least as the law is currently consituted in Prop. 19. The Times focused on two major points. One, is that Prop. 19 would leave regulation to individual counties and towns. The confusion that would follow is obvious; what's legal in L.A. County would not be legal in Orange or Humboldt. The other big problem with legalization according to the Times is that whatever legalization measures are taken, the law would still violate Federal statutes. Both are valid objections. What's the point of passing a local law if the Feds suddenly decide to enforce the law of the land?

While it's refreshing not to hear the "Legalize it, tax it and screw the consequences" from the usual Left-leaning newspaper, you sort of wish the Times would adopt a more consistent position on local laws complying with Federal law. For instance, the paper has never run an editorial against cities with "Sanctuary" laws because those laws violate Federal statutes. Just the opposite. The Times, through its staff columnists and on the editorial pages, has consistently sided with Sanctuary cities and called for blanket amnesty. In other words, they don't like the Federal immigration law and they want to change it.

You have to wonder wonder why the Times doesn't call for a change in the Federal law on Cannabis. Just something to think about.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

According to the L.A. Times, the LAPD reports that Los Angeles is on track to record the lowest homicide rates in decades. Compared to 1992 when homicides reached 1,200 for the year, 2010 looks like it's on track to record somewhere around 300.

This is frankly astonishing. For one, it flies in the face of conventional wisdom that says a bad economic climate triggers higher crime rates. Clearly we're in an economic sinkhole. So how do you explain this drop?

I've got a few theories, but I'd like to hear from readers. What's your take on this?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The issue legal pot seems to morph with every headline. Just when you think you've got a handle on it, something pops up from left field and forces the thinking person to re-evaluate his position or question the very premises on which that position was based.

When the issue first became public discourse, the players, advocates and opponents were fairly well established. The proponents for legalized cannabis were, of course, the stoners, the genuinely sick who found relief in the herb and the growers and sellers. Cops? Nope. Didn't want it. Politicians? They weren't sure. Their position, as with every position they take, centered on whether they could 1) ensure re-election and 2) if there was some way lard the slush funds and public treasure they're in charge of.

Alliances seem to have shifted and they seem to defy the old logic. Now, most cops, as we saw last week, are in favor of complete legalization. They want the issue out of their lives so they can focus smaller budgets on bigger fish. Stoners, of course, are all for it. Ditto the genuine patients. Even the Teamsters Union, hard up for membership and union dues, is reaching out to legal pot workers in a bid to unionize them. Free suggestion for a name: CANNABIS WORKERS TEAMSTERS LOCAL 420.

The old line growers in the NORCAL green triangle, the one group you would think was on the forefront of total legalization, isn't so sure anymore. They foresee a future where anybody with a few square feet of dirt in the back yard, is suddenly either a competitor or a self-sustaining user. In either case, their profits suffer. In addition to competition eating into the proceeds, they see the government stepping in and demanding business permits, corporate taxes, individual taxes, payroll taxes, workmen's comp, FICA, unemployment insurance, OSHA inspections, Department of Agriculture interference and the rest of the red tape that seems to be the government's sole reason for existence. And if the Teamsters get their way, the pot growers will have to deal with sick-outs, sit-down strikes, mandatory collective bargaining, shop stewards, picketers, paid holidays, retirement plans, repetitive motion injury lawsuits and all the other problems that unionized shops have to deal with. Think General Motors.

Sam Quinones wrote a piece touching on some of this in the LA Times some weeks ago. The reality of legalization flies in the face of the advocates whose mantra has been, "Legalize it and tax it." Well the very people providing the product aren't so sure they're on board with that any more. It turns out that dope growers have a lot more in common with Libertarians than they do with Socialists and Liberal activists. They don't want to be taxed and gummed up with paperwork any more than the most avaricious Wall Street hustler.

And let's not forget that the criminal element has a vote. Would wholesale legalization drive the criminals out of the business? Absolutely not. It may reduce the crime (and that's debatable), but it won't take criminals out of the equation.

For instance, who is currently in the perfect position to supply tons and tons of low cost product to the market? If you guessed the Mexican cartels, you guessed right. They can outproduce and undercut the big NORCAL growers and they can do it without government interference, taxes, the Teamsters Union or OSHA standards. They may even make a backyard grower think twice about going through the pain of growing a private crop. If it's cheaper to buy than grow, they'll buy. Think Mexican assembled TV sets and patio furniture. Mexico can undercut any manufactured product built in the U.S. There's no reason to think they can't do it with Cannabis.

If this scenario sounds over the top, consider this. When you make pot legal, (truly legal, not just decriminalized) it should be legal to import, transport, distribute, package, sell, re-sell, give samples away, use in public, promote and advertise.

You can see the time when the giant loads of hay driving south on the 5 from the Central Valley will be in the company of flatbeds  loaded to the stakes with bundles of Cannabis. If it's legal, why not? Your thoughts.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

She says "insurgency." He says "not so fast, Mrs. Secretary." Our last post articulated Hillary Clinton's position on the MEXTEL (our term for Mexican Drug Cartel) violence. She correctly called it an insurgency. Naturally, any accurate statement made with regard to anything in Mexico is met with a blowtorch of backlash and "how dare you?" posturing from the ruling kleptocracy in charge of the mess.

It's no surprise that the President forced Mrs. Clinton to walk back her assertion. He's notoriously reluctanct to criticize any foreign power not matter how barbarous, medieval or oppressive. Stoning women and hanging gays in the Middle East elicits at most a tepid response. Most of the time, there's no response at all.

What Mrs. Clinton meant, she now claims, is that the level of violence in Mexico resembles the same level as the Colombian cartel insurgency. Okay. Thanks for the clarification. But we know what she still believes.

On the other hand, when it comes to criticizing the U.S., he's right there at the head of the line. Or cheerleading from the sidelines. In his eyes, and Calderon's, Arizona cops asking a speeder for a driver's license is clearly on a level with the Sturmabteilung dragging people out of their beds and throwing them into Nazi dungeons. And when cops enforce the laws of the land, it's obvious they must be punished by the Justice Department.

Let's get real clear about this. When car bombs are detonated in front of police stations and news agencies to prevent them doing their jobs, it's an insurgency. When newspeople, street cops, judges, lawyers, prosecutors, elected officials and social activists are kidnapped, tortured and executed, it's an insurgency. When an 18-truck convoy complete with helicopter air cover shows up at the gates of a Mexican penitentiary and forces the cops to give up 57 cartel convicts, it's an insurgency. When 72 innocent men, women and children are lined up and shot to death for committing the unpardonable sin of not having enough extortion money on them, and nobody seems to know who did it, and no one seems to care, it's an insurgency. When MEXTELS make deals with Middle East terrorists to equip and train cartel operators in the fine art of insurgency, it's a freaking INSURGENCY.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Today's LA TIMES delivers the earth shattering news that the criminal situation in Mexico is an "insurgency." This term comes from the lips of none other than the woman with her finger on the pulse of world affairs - Hilary Clinton. She finally came around to that startling conclusion almost four years after those words were uttered by this blog. I said as much on at least a half dozen radio interviews in the past two years.

The evidence has been there for anyone to see. An insugency is an attempt by an organized group to destroy civil authority. The cartels have been at that game for years. It could not have been more evident. Naturally, I, and those who agreed with me, were branded the usual assortment of epithets. "Racist" being the go-to term for daring to call something what it actually is. You have to wonder if Hilary is now going to be branded a racist as well.