Memorial Service and Reading of Names

Memorial Service and Reading of Names

Sunday, October 11, 2020
10:00am Eastern
Watch via Facebook Live

On Sunday morning, October 11, a special service will take place at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial where the 307 names that were added to the walls in 2020 will be read live by representatives of the Police Unity Tour. This will be a traditional police ceremony, featuring the Arlington County (VA) Sheriff’s Department Honor Guard.

This special reading of the names of those officers who died in the line of duty in 2019, as well as others who lost their lives in previous years but were recently discovered, will be broadcast live on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund Facebook page. Please tune in at 10:00am (EDT).

If you would like to make a donation and light a virtual candle in memory of a fallen officer, go to nleomf.org/virtual-candle. Your donation helps maintain the hallowed grounds of the Memorial where our fallen officers will never be forgotten, and supports law enforcement on the front lines of COVID-19.

The Memorial Service and Honor Guard Presentation are made possible by Verizon.

Robert Mazur: FinCen Files Confirm The Elephant In The Room

By Robert Mazur, former U.S. Federal Agent and author of “The Infiltrator”

I’ve had the privilege of working with journalists from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), BuzzFeed News and many other media outlets during the past decade. When approached a few months ago to analyze leaked Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) and offer my perspectives about the significance of the documents, I paused and consulted to ensure that I would not likely be opining about transactions that had occurred so recently that I might be undermining efforts within FinCEN or law enforcement to pursue ongoing crimes. Satisfied that wasn’t the case, I analyzed hundreds of pages for many days.

As time drew near publication, FinCEN suggested that sharing this information with the public could undermine national security, harm ongoing investigations, endanger the safety of witnesses, and chill the efforts of an otherwise spirited participation of institutions in the SAR process. In my view, the opposite is much more likely. 

As we saw in the Panama Papers, Paradise Papers, Herve Falciani’s release of HSBC records, and Bradley Birkenfeld’s disclosures about UBS’s criminal tax conspiracies, truth is critical to fighting large-scale systemic crime and corruption. The reporting of facts relative to these SARs offers that same important factor: truth.

There is no escaping the elephant in the room: the combined efforts of law enforcement, regulatory agencies, and compliance professionals to identify and attack the more than $2 trillion a year in illicit funds moving around the globe is a failure. In-depth analysis by the United Nations on Drugs & Crime (UNODC) also estimates that, of that $2 trillion, roughly $400 billion is generated from the sale of illicit drugs every year. Law enforcement authorities around the globe do not identify and seize anything close to 2% of that drug revenue. I’m talking about real “bad-guy” assets, not fines imposed on banks and paid by shareholders because the bank previously laundered. And yes, I said laundered. I did not say “intentionally failed to maintain an anti-money laundering program” – legal speak for far worse. This fact is the leading cause of the exponential growth of organized crime.

There is a mosaic of reasons for this failure. Although SARs are an important tool, we must face facts. SARs related to significant accounts are reported by bank compliance professionals about what account relationship managers in the same institution know, or should know. Why compliance is constantly blamed for not identifying and cleaning up another department’s mess is baffling. As an excuse, management most often embraces the concept of pointing a finger at an artificial intelligence failure. Of course, you can’t indict failed software. Relationship managers know, or should know, the truth surrounding significant deposits made by their clients because their salaries are tied to those deposits, and it is their duty to know their customer. This isn’t rocket science.

Only one piece of the mosaic lies in the fact that, for decades, major criminal conduct has been facilitated through financial institutions because of the extraordinarily late filing or failure to file SARs concerning transactions that reek with suspicion. Another piece of the puzzle falls at the doorstep of a law enforcement community that apparently isn’t focused or adequately resourced to effectively use the information in the sea of SARs that are filed each year. 

BuzzFeed journalists shared details with me concerning 14 Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) filed by four major international banks during the years 2011 through 2017. Two of the banks are based in the US, one is based in the UK, and one is based in Germany. These SARs consisted of hundreds of pages that collectively relate to more than $45 billion in suspicious wire transfers. Five of the 14 SARs were filed many years after the reported transactions occurred, causing roughly $15 billion of apparent illicit funds movements to have gone unreported for as long as five years.

In nearly every instance, the reported transactions involved shell companies from many corners of the tax-haven world that had nominee owners who clearly were not the beneficial owners of the funds that were moved. Many of the shell entities used the same PO Box addresses, and in some cases had no address. These transactions carried red flags that have been known to the anti-money laundering world for decades, including:

  • The transactions had no apparent economic, business, or lawful purpose.
  • The accounts and counterparty account holders receiving or sending the funds were all nominee companies established in high-risk money laundering jurisdictions, such as Seychelles, BVI, Cyprus, Panama, etc.
  • The entities were formed in countries that were not the same countries in which the entities either maintained bank accounts or allegedly conducted business.
  • The officers and/or directors of the companies were also officers in hundreds of companies that also appeared to be shell companies.
  • The addresses of the company that maintained the account used the same address as hundreds of other shell-like companies.
  • A significant portion of the funds transferred were conducted in large round-number amounts, often times on multiple occasions in a single day, and were sent to the same counterparty.
  • Many wires were sent in repetitive, high round dollar amounts in close periods of time.
  • No definitive information could be found for the counterparties through external research.
  • The relationship between the parties couldn’t be determined.
  • An individual that could be linked to the transactions at times was discovered to have been the subject of bribery, corruption and/or organized crime activity.
  • Many of the transactions appear to involve “Mirror Trades”, a method of conducting simultaneous purchases and sales of stable-priced commodities in order to secretly move funds across borders and conduct unreported currency exchanges.
  • Some of the shell companies were linked to prior tax evasion and fraud investigations.
  • Some companies had very basic websites that appeared to contain identical information taken from other websites

Most of the 14 SARs referenced above were filed after, according to media reports, a series of inquiries were made in early 2014 about the propriety of mirror trades. Those inquiries were logged by the Russian Central Bank, Hellenic Bank, and back-office staff at Deutsche Bank itself.  

In my opinion, the U.S. dollar transactions reported in the 14 SARs appear to have been conducted for the purpose of moving funds connected to illicit activity from Russia, or on behalf of Russian or Ukrainian residents, to places outside of Russia. In my opinion, it is likely that one or more of the account relationship managers or other executives managing these accounts knew that these fund movements were related to illicit transactions at or near the time that the transactions occurred. Such knowledge, if it existed, could constitute a violation of the Money Laundering Control Act (18 USC Code 1956 (c) (7) (B)) and would be punishable in the U.S. as a criminal offense. A violation of this offense could involve imprisonment of 20 years and a fine equal to either $500,000 or twice the amount of money laundered. 

One might wonder how U.S. dollar transactions conducted on the other side of the globe can be prosecuted by authorities in the U.S. It is important to note that the U.S. Money Laundering Control Act has extraterritorial jurisdiction under certain circumstances. Basically, 18 USC Code 1956 (c) (7) (B) notes that:

  • Whoever, knowing that the property involved in a financial transaction represents the proceeds of some form of unlawful activity,
  • knowing that the transaction is designed in whole or in part to conceal or disguise the nature, the location, the source, the ownership, or the control of the proceeds of specified unlawful activity, is guilty of this offense.
  • As used in this section, with respect to a financial transaction occurring in whole or in part in the United States (which U.S. dollar transactions involve regardless of where conducted in the world), an offense against a foreign nation includes many crimes, including robbery, extortion, fraud, or a scheme or attempt to defraud, by or against a foreign bank. It also includes a public official, or the misappropriation, theft, or embezzlement of public funds by or for the benefit of a public official.

The reality of massive laundering through banks in the Baltics deserves an extraordinarily close look by impartial prosecutors and law enforcement in many nations. It’s up to those soldiers of justice to focus on the truth, rather than on shallow excuses offered by senior management of banks that often attempt to use alleged failed compliance programs or inadequate data analysis as the shiny objects of distraction from the truth. In my opinion, it is a problem caused by an industry driven by deposits that oftentimes wraps itself in a blanket of plausible deniability to justify the unjustifiable. It is why governments around the world identify and seize less than 2% of the underworld’s fortunes, and it is why corrupted governments suck freedom, justice, and an even playing field from the lives of far too many.

The SARs I reviewed could also relate to a serious national security issue that our intelligence and law enforcement communities should be closely monitoring – that being the possible attempts to undermine fair and free elections in many nations. It’s no secret that Special Prosecutor Bob Mueller and his gifted team identified this problem that continues today. Undermining the elections of free nations can only be done with the power of funding. It requires money to secretly pay for operatives, equipment, and to unduly influence actors in free nations. The massive export of wealth and power from Russia evidenced in the SARs I reviewed should be a top concern and consideration by everyone in the free world. 

I have spoken publicly to thousands of compliance professionals around the world. The one thing that I have consistently heard from many of them about SARs is that, when filed, they seem to go into a blackhole. Despite the filing of SARs that identify a clear pattern of transactions related to criminality, compliance professionals are very rarely contacted by anyone at FinCEN or at any law enforcement agency. That frustration undermines what otherwise could be a much more responsive SAR filing by the financial community. There are simple ways to correct this problem.

Those in financial institutions, FinCEN, and law enforcement agencies must be held more accountable. Having a system such as SAR filing and evaluation done in a blackhole with no apparent real scrutiny of how well or poorly this system is being administered creates a scenario that, if compromised, could cause important information to never see the light of day. In today’s day and age, with high-ranking public officials in many countries being influenced by the excessive wealth and power of criminal organizations, this should be a concern. Corruption knows all nationalities. 

It is my hope that this matter gets a very thorough review by the Inspector General’s Office and Congress, so the public can be assured that the financial community, FinCEN, and law enforcement are all doing the maximum that can be done to most effectively serve the public through the SAR program.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert Mazur was a highly decorated U.S. federal agent for 27 years. He is a court certified expert in money laundering related matters in both the U.S. and Canada. He is the NY Times Bestselling author of The Infiltrator, a memoir of his life undercover as a money launderer within the underworld, and was an Executive Producer of the internationally released film by the same name based on his book. He is now the President of KYC Solutions, a company that provides speaking, training, consulting, and expert witness services globally.

Special Report: Tonight Sidney Powell Dropped The Hammer On Brennan & The Deep State

The Hammer was disclosed to the public in early March 2017 by investigative journalists Mary Fanning & Alan Jones. On March 19, 2017, General Tom McInerney, with the support of Admiral Ace Lyons, brought  information on The Hammer, for the first time on radio or TV, to The Operation Freedom Show.

 Since then the Deep State and their puppets have taken extraordinary steps to block the information from reaching the public. Sidney Powell discussed The Hammer on May 28,2020 on Fox Business News and then dropped The Hammer again on the deep state tonight.

Those who have supported the existence of The Hammer include:  Dennis Montgomery ( The Hammer Whistleblower), General Tom McInerney, Admiral Ace Lyons, World Renowned Surveillance Platform EXPERTS & Whistleblowers Bill Binney & Kirk Wiebe, IT expert Paul Rosenberg, Investigative Journalists Mary Fanning & Alan Jones and their military intelligence sources.

 In addition, Former Director of National Intelligence John Negriponte invoked The State’s Secret Privilege secondary to National Security Protection Issues on Montgomery due to his work on The Hammer. The Dept of Justice provided two levels of Immunity to Montgomery secondary to his work on The Hammer. Former General Counsel to the FBI James Baker testified under Oath before Congress in October 2018 documenting the existence of The Hammer and it being used for illegal surveillance. WikiLeaks published the CIA Hacking Tools in their Vault 7 release which included The Hammer. This was confirmed by IT specialists.  

Reclaiming Freedom (and Justice): The Barr Hearing

Special thanks to Michael Ingmire of Politichicks.com for this contribution. 

 

In the aftermath of Attorney General William Barr’s testimony, on July 28, before the House Judiciary Committee, there is one phrase that was repeated over and over:

I’m reclaiming my time.

The reason that Nadler and the House Judiciary Committee called Barr to testify before them is quite simple:  They wanted to address the use of Federal Officers that have been used to quell the violence of  so-called “peaceful protestors,” who have instituted anarchy in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

There is nothing peaceful about these anarchists. These are spoiled children of the night who never make sweet music. These Antifa miscreants who sing the songs of chaos and nothing more. The use of Federal force is more and more necessary as we deal, as a nation, with an ever increasing element of violence within the context of these “peaceful protests” in some of our major cities.

If the Governors of the affected states and the Mayors of the affected cities upheld the Rule of Law there would be no need for the use of Federal Force. Cities like Portland are symptomatic of the current  Anarchy in the United States as sanctioned and supported by the Democrat Party.

The July 28th testimony of Attorney General Barr proved that no political decorum exists, in masse, in the Halls of and within the Committees of Congress these days. My understanding of testimony is that you ask a witness a question and you allow the witness to formulate a complete answer.

Yet, in analysis, what I found amongst the Democrat members of the Judiciary Committee was the enacting of a bully pulpit in their pattern of questioning. They continuously “reclaimed their time.”  They used this reclaimed time to pontificate, to interrupt and obfuscate the answers the Attorney General was attempting to communicate.

Representative members such as Nadler, Lee, Johnson and Cohen, among others, were beyond rude. Representative Shiela Jackson Lee, in particular, has built her political career on being perpetually rude and arrogant. I fail to see what Representative Lee has to be arrogant about. She behaves and speaks in a perpetually unprofessional manner. I have never seen her exude even a modicum of believable human warmth or intelligence.

Many of the Judiciary Committee Members spoke about the legacy of recently deceased Congressman, John Lewis, in the context of their statements. Lewis, for the majority of his career, carried himself with a dignity absent from the character of many of those singing his praises.

On a side note, why have few, if any, members of Congress referenced the recent passing of Civil Rights Icon, Charles Evers? Perhaps it is because Evers refused to be a pawn of the Democrat Party? Considering the plantation paternalism and Jim Crow history of the Democrat Party, how could any sane Black American vote Democrat?

There were humorous moments as Chairman Nadler chastised Representative Jim Jordan, and two of his colleagues, for not wearing their masks consistently during the Hearing.

Of course, Nadler’s own mask was on his chin at the time of the chastisement and was not appropriately attached.  Perhaps he was paying tribute to Presidential Candidate, Joe Biden?

Nadler demonstrated how infinitely creepy he is when he “refused” bathroom privileges to the Attorney General towards the end of the over five hour hearing.  But then Nadler is a pathetic, arrogant and yes, a creepy creature. He should be removed from office for the Trump Impeachment farce alone.  Nadler recently disavowed the violence perpetrated by Antifa in Portland as a “myth.” Well, maybe I should also add blind to my description of Nadler, right? Perhaps he should remove the mask from his eyes.

During the hearing Nadler started to resemble a criminal character from the comic books and films of Batman. Yes, Nadler has become the “Penguin of Congress.” Not as entertaining as the Batman character, though.

When people write about or discuss the “political landscape,” I prefer to discuss the political moonscape. A place where I can count the holes. Especially the holes that begin with the letter A, like many members of the House Judiciary Committee.

As I wrote previously, many Democrat members “reclaimed their time” during the hearing. More time for pontification, I suppose. Attorney General Barr, in the course of his testimony, demonstrated far more patience and dignity than some of these fools deserved.

As an American Patriot and citizen perhaps it is time for me to make some “reclaim my time” statements of my own

But, as an American patriot, I prefer to reclaim my freedom.

I reclaim my freedom to not vote for Joe Biden. His time in the Obama White House, his intervention into his son’s dealings in the Ukraine and his questionable behavior and legislative record disqualify him in my eyes. On a minutely, sympathetic plane, his two 1988 brain aneurysms lead me to question his cognitive abilities.

To paraphrase my friend and fellow writer, Lainie Sloane, is Joe Biden a drooling version of a Trojan Horse? A hollowed out candidate who is hiding a more nefarious presence behind him?

I reclaim my freedom to make sure my vote is appropriately counted. By any legal means necessary.  That is my freedom and my responsibility.

I reclaim my freedom to not name nor directly acknowledge any former President(s) that utilize a funeral so that it resembles a political pep rally.

I reclaim my freedom to vote in all elections, however big or small, so that we may oust the bastions of the liberal darkness. Such as Governors, local municipal leaders and national political figures that demonstrate their cowardice when they bow before tyranny.

I reclaim my freedom to look evil, once more, in it’s jaundiced eye and not blink.

I reclaim my freedom to know the direct difference between peaceful protest and violent uninformed anarchy.

I reclaim my freedom to write about whatever moves my intelligence and spirit.

I reclaim my freedom to be a shepherd among compliant sheep.

I reclaim my freedom to never wear a mask on my soul.

I reclaim my freedom to worship God Almighty, whose opinion and presence always matters.

Who Broke General Flynn Upon a Wheel?

The decorated three-star general knew where the bodies were buried. So he had to be ruined.

On July 1, 1967, The Times of London published an article by its editor, William Rees-Mogg, titled “Who Breaks a Butterfly upon a Wheel?” The editorial decried the severe sentence handed out to the Rolling Stones’ frontman, (now Sir) Michael Philip Jagger, for a minor drug infraction. Rees-Mogg’s editorial turned public opinion in the rock singer’s favor and furthered the cause of his ultimately successful sentencing appeal.

It was also tragically prophetic.

Rees-Mogg’s editorial’s title originated in Alexander Pope’s 1735 “Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot.” The wheel in question is a Catherine wheel, upon which torture victims were tied and “their long bones broken by an iron bar.” By placing a butterfly upon the wheel to be tortured, Pope, as was his wont, coined a pithy phrase depicting a quite likely unhinged individual using “superabundant effort in the accomplishment of a small matter.”

Flash forward 232 years later, Rees-Mogg answered Pope’s question of “Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?” The British justice system.

Surveying the time, effort, and expense that the British justice system employed to target, arrest, prosecute, and exorbitantly sentence Jagger, Rees-Mogg believed the famous defendant inequitably received more severe treatment than would a less famous member of the public.

While the majority of conservatives were celebrating Jagger’s comeuppance, Rees-Mogg ominously warned that the legal system’s inequitable application of the law would do more than the counterculture ever could to erode the public’s respect for law and order, and its faith in British justice.

Fifty-three years later, in light of the latest revelations in his case, Americans can now answer the question, “Who broke General Flynn upon a wheel?” Barack Obama’s Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Justice, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s partisan crew, all with an assist by—or is it the orchestration of?—the Central Intelligence Agency.

Whether the perpetrators were Trump-deranged or just cynically using the unhinged resistance and their collusion media cohorts to help cover their tracks, they unleashed the awful power of the federal leviathan upon a decorated three-star general.

Flynn’s transgression? He had the ear and the back of the incoming president and he had earned the ire of the departing president. He knew where the bodies were buried.

He had to be ruined.

So the perpetrators dusted off the unconstitutional (and never before applied) Logan Act of 1799; recorded him; cranked up the smear machine with their media co-conspirators; unmasked him; illegally leaked the transcript; deliberately devised a perjury trap; manufactured an indictment; threatened his son; and—voila!—another “disgraced” American hero deep-sixed by the deep state.

These craven bastards’ vile apologists claim it happens every day. No it doesn’t.

What happens every day is these craven bastards and their vile apologists lying through their bleached teeth. And the frequency of their sins doesn’t excuse their illegitimacy, let alone comfort anyone they’ve railroaded. (Misery loves company, but it would prefer not to be miserable in the first place.)

Despite their venal duplicity, the truth will out—in drips, in torrents . . . inevitably. Yes, the culpable will continue to dissemble and deflect.

Perhaps, they’ll be indicted. Perhaps, they’ll be jailed. Perhaps, they’ll live happily ever after, raking in big bucks, signing books, and singing the blues for progressive audiences from sea to slimy social media sea.

It matters little. Their damage is done. They’re the answer to the first question of “Who broke General Flynn upon a wheel?” But they’ve also unwittingly posed a question they can’t answer. Only you can.

What happens when the party of law and order no longer trusts the American justice system?

For that, our regressive malefactors, we love you. Of course we do.

Postcards from the Pandemic: Good Faith Frays

Special thanks to Thaddeus G. Mcotter for this contribution!

Postcards from the Pandemic: Good Faith Frays

 God willing, soon this plague will pass; but the pandemic policy makers’ treatment and its side effects on America’s locked down patients will take longer to heal.

At the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the public was willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the appropriate medical, public health, and government authorities. The public trusted these pandemic policymakers would use solid scientific evidence as the basis to implement the reasonable measures needed to “flatten the curve” and protect the public health.

Now, the American people’s good faith is fraying.

In many states, policymakers consulted and combined to impose upon the citizenry “shelter-in-place” orders with varying degrees of compromised freedom—and of dubious constitutionality.

At first, the public complied—evincing the can-do spirit of self-sacrifice that has always allowed our country to surmount her greatest challenges.

Yet after the first month or so, as the loss of lives and livelihoods continued and government restrictions mounted, an ominous realization dawned upon the public: the pandemic policymakers were less rational and reasonable than they thought—and less deserving of the benefit of the doubt when it came to imposing public health measures.

As we’ve seen, the pandemic policymakers have an incentive to over react. For example, in Michigan, Governor Gretchen Whitmer has tightened restrictions upon citizens—such as prohibitions against travel between residences, including vacation homes; and buying gardening and home improvement materials, such as seeds, paint, and furniture.

Exacerbating the public’s ire, Whitmer bolstered her restrictions after most experts believed the pandemic had already peaked in the Great Lakes State. The governor defends her decision based upon the models she employs to instruct her decisions.

Michiganders are unpersuaded. In Lansing, citizens led a drive-by protest against Whitmer’s new restrictions; and hundreds of thousands of signatures have been affixed to a symbolic online petition demanding her recall.

Ironically, Whitmer’s defense of herself is raising another reason the public’s good faith in pandemic policymakers is fraying: there is no agreement on a uniform basis for COVID-19 modeling—or, for that matter, how to determine who has died from the virus.

The models on display at governmental press conferences have been wildly inaccurate; and, thankfully, the dire predictions of millions dead, overwhelmed hospitals, ventilator shortages, and the like have not borne out.

While some argue the shelter-in-place orders explain why these models now appear to be wrong, the truth is these models took into account the implementation of and obedience to such strong public health measures. Consequently, the public is increasingly aware and agitated that the pandemic policymakers’ cries of a “coronapocalypse” were—and, in many cases, remain—wildly off the mark.

A Depression Coming?

Now the public trust is damaged. Badly. Echoing the screenwriter who was asked what makes a Hollywood hit, the public is realizing “nobody knows nothing”; and the “science” the public is supposed to accept without reservation, if not largely guess work, at least has many guesses in it.

Further exacerbating the situation is that many things that should have been elementary considerations of the pandemic policymakers have been rationalized away, downplayed or dismissed in the immediacy of the moment.

Every treatment for an illness can have side effects. In battling COVID-19, the primary treatment is a public lockdown. One large side effect is a pending depression. Already, we are in a recession; and a depression remains a distinct possibility, depending upon how long the lockdown continues and how restrictive it remains.

As the pandemic policymakers’ prescribed treatment continues, so will its side effect of economic disaster continue exacting its tragic toll on this generation of Americans: homicides, domestic abuse, substance abuse, suicides, anxiety, depression, and other manner of societal afflictions.

At the moment, at least 22 million Americans have lost their jobs—one-in-seven workers. Yet, believing chump change and lip service is an appropriate placebo, the pandemic policymakers exhibit little understanding or even concern for the effects of their government-mandated economic devastation. No wonder the American people’s good faith is fraying.

The government lockdown has shown a people born to liberty what it’s like to live with tyranny: fines or arrests for exercising constitutional rights, including the free exercise of religion; the citizenry turned into the Stasi by governmental calls to “snitch” on neighbors for violating the lockdown; the parroting of the government’s lockdown propaganda by the national and local media, and suffering the sneers of a privileged elite deemed “essential” and still being paid, who are more than happy to publicly shame those unwilling to go bankrupt.

The list of constitutional infringements grows daily as does the American people’s frustration with their public servants.

Regrettably, some Americans don’t seem to mind the indefinite suspension of liberty for security. Eschewing herd immunity for a herd mentality and in accordance with what turns out to be their collectivist ideology (whether they profess to be liberal or conservative), these people appear content with a lengthy lockdown—provided, as in Michigan, they still can obtain essential commodities like booze, marijuana, and lottery tickets.

Freedom isn’t free. But for $1,200 a month, some folks will loan their liberty to the pandemic policymakers.

The Lengths We’ll Go in the Name of “Science”

Of course, nothing prevents these citizens from sheltering-in-place until they feel the pandemic has passed and it is safe to begin returning to their normal routines. Nevertheless, they demand the government compel everyone to do the same. Belying their professed belief in “science,” those crying for an indefinite national house arrest (excepting, of course, some newly released prisoners) are as emotional as they are impractical, given the geographic and demographic disparities in how the virus has afflicted America; and, indeed, how little pandemic policy makers presently really know about COVID-19.

Such demands grate upon citizens who, in a spirit of national selflessness, allowed the suspension of their God-given rights and the loss of their livelihoods in order to implement the pandemic policy makers’ initially professed “15 days” of lockdown measures to “flatten the curve.”

A growing number of Americans believe a better treatment at this time is to allow people a choice: let those who want to work do so; let those who want to shelter-in-place do so.

Unfortunately, publicly airing this view results in condemnations and accusations from their shelter-in-place-indefinitely neighbors, the media, and pandemic policymakers—who still haven’t agreed upon which model’s curve to flatten, or even about what constitutes a safe degree of flattening to resume normal life.

This is not lost upon the American people who, when hearing calls to continue the lockdown for several months or longer, feel like their good faith has been exploited by budding despots proffering guesswork as science to advance their own agendas. All the while this erodes the citizenry’s communal comity and the pandemic’s policymakers’ credibility at a time when our nation needs both.

God willing, soon this plague will pass; but the pandemic policymakers’ treatment and its side effects on America’s locked-down patients will take longer to heal.

 

 

 

 

Looking for a Rational, Data-Driven Policy Solution to COVID-19?

Special thanks to former Michigan State Senator: Patrick Colbeck

If you are like me, you are tired of the “timeline roulette” approach taken by many of our elected officials regarding how to address COVID-19 pandemic. Michigan, my home state, has been in CCP-style “lockdown” since Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued a “Stay at home” Executive Order effective until April 13th. Since that point in time, the policy debate surrounding COVID-19 has been around “how long” should we remain in “lockdown”. What we are lacking is a rational, data-driven policy solution. I hope to jump start that discussion with this article.
 
The pursuit of a data-driven policy starts with a look at pertinent data. Let’s look at some enlightening data that compares the response of Michigan’s governor with the governments of Sweden and South Korea.
Next, before we jump to a solution, let’s define the criteria by which we can differentiate between solutions. This will help us to go beyond identifying “a solution” to defining the “best solution”. Furthermore, while there is often significant disagreement on solutions (particularly in the political domain), there is generally much more common ground when it comes to objectives.
 
Along these lines, I would submit that any COVID-19 policy solution should address the following seven objectives:
  1. Protects Others
  2. Protects Self
  3. Restores Normal Life
  4. Data-driven not Fear-driven
  5. Minimizes Taxpayer Expense
  6. Mitigates Risks of Future Crises
  7. Respects Constitution
I would submit that these objectives would likely receive broad-based support pretty much anywhere in the world that respects the principle of constitutional governance.
 
In order to identify the best solution to our current situation, we can then evaluate several potential policy actions against these objectives.
 
Upon review of these policy actions against the aforementioned objectives in context of the data presented at the beginning of this article, I would propose adoption of the following policy solutions.

Proposed Data-Driven COVID-19 Response

 
A) Protect Others: Mitigate the risk of spreading the virus
  • Continue hygiene protocols (social distancing, handwashing, etc)
  • Encourage high risk population to self-isolate
  • Encourage symptomatic individuals and their family members to stay at home
  • Encourage hand sanitizers
  • Promote wearing of face masks in public
  • Make face masks available for free.
B) Protect Self: Mitigate the risk of contracting virus
  • Promote prophylactic treatments as prescribed by physician (Hydroxychloroquine with Z-pack, vitamin cocktails or suitable alternative).
  • Encourage citizens to contact their primary care physician for guidance specific to their medical conditions.
  • Make popular treatments available for free.
C) Obtain Better Data: Use test data to make informed decisions on policy.
  • Expand availability of at home tests
  • Encourage people to share test result data online or via phone
  • Run a test on randomized sample of population to stop selection bias
  • Test influenza-like illness deaths to differentiate from COVID19
  • Make data available to public
D) Improve Supply Chain: Improve availability of critical resources where they are needed.
  • Permanently repeal Certificate of Need law that places government restrictions on the number of hospital beds and medical equipment the private sector is allowed to have (NOTE: this would also lower the cost of healthcare and by extension the cost of government and, in Michigan, auto insurance rates)
  • Work with industry to ensure adequate supply of critical resources:
    • Ventilators
    • Tests
    • Prophylactic treatments
    • Personal Protection Equipment
    • Hand Sanitizer
  • Work with organizations to ensure effective distribution of critical resources:
    • Ventilators
    • Tests
    • Prophylactic treatments
    • Personal Protection Equipment
    • Hand Sanitizer
  • Stockpile critical resources to mitigate risk of future crises
E) Improve Communications: Cease politically-motivated messaging activities and focus upon answering fundamental questions of interest to our citizens
  • Where to get Personal Protection Equipment (e.g. masks, eye protection)?
  • How can one get tested?
  • Where can one get treatment for COVID-19? Other illnesses without risk of contracting COVID-19?
  • What criteria will be used to determine when businesses and schools can re-open?
  • Provide public dashboard that tracks key metrics related to conditions needed to re-open state
F) Rescind closure of schools and businesses as soon as the number of confirmed COVID19 cases declines for 3 consecutive days (appears to be the consensus for when data reveals a trend as opposed to data point outlier).
In short, get back to normal as soon as possible with rational safeguards based upon data.
Re-open schools.
Re-open businesses.
Re-open life.
NOTE: I don’t claim to have the only solution to this problem nor do I claim that I have the best solution. I am only an aerospace engineer who happens to have significant policy experience from my two terms of service in the Michigan Senate. Current government officials have access to significantly more resources. These resources can be employed to obtain better data and search out better solutions. In any case, the important thing is to get beyond the current “timeline roulette” policy approach where no one wants to be the first one to suggest re-opening society for fear of being blamed for every running nose. The time has come for rational, data-driven solutions to supplant fear-driven timeline-based solutions.
 
 
P.S. The photo above is of the exterior of the Apollo 13 Command Module. I am confident that Americans can find solutions to complex problems even in the most dire situations if we assume the attitude that  
“failure is not an option”
 

Can We Prepare America for the Next Pandemic?

Can We Prepare America for the Next Pandemic?

March 20, 2020

With every passing moment, nations are establishing precedents for how to contain and ultimately stop a global pandemic. Because the novel coronavirus apparently originated in Wuhan and was immediately covered up by the Chinese Communist Party, the health and welfare of the Chinese people and all other affected populations have suffered from this lethal malfeasance.

But one of the less reported consequences of the Beijing regime’s cover-up (and subsequent propaganda blaming the United States for the virus) is that nations are being forced to establish pandemic precedents on an ad hoc basis, largely upon what we do not know rather than the little we do know about the coronavirus.

Yes, in the United States one can point to and endeavor to compare the annual infections of the flu and its mortality rate, or past instances of the swine flu or other contagious viruses, and question whether our country and others are overreacting to the threat of the coronavirus. (Why the swine flu was treated differently by the national media is another matter.)

But the facts on the ground have rendered the public health point moot. The fundamental decision has been made: at the urging of the medical profession and public health experts, federal and state governments will err on the side of caution, with an overreaction preferred to an under reaction or inaction. (Politically, of course, for the elected officials this makes sense, as no one wants to be featured in an ad that claims they let people die.)

Once the pandemic subsides, no matter how it does, the proponents will be able to argue their measures worked, largely for the same reason their actions occurred—namely because of the unknown. Their argument that more lives would have been lost absent such drastic public health measures will be difficult, if not impossible, to refute. And any argument that public health should be endangered for the sake of the economy will be a nonstarter in the public square.

Thus, there are hard questions for policymakers, medical and public health professionals, and all interested stakeholders—starting with the sovereign American people who must consent and delegate their power to their government servants to implement the necessary measures during the next pandemic.

Though obviously not exhaustive, and all based upon the premise that a novel emerging virus initially will have little known about it (like this coronavirus), here are three of the most fundamental questions:

Can the rate of infection and/or mortality form the basis for a phased-in escalation of public health measures to contain a novel virus’ spread?

A staged implementation of public health measures to combat the pandemic based upon the facts at hand would be optimum. Easier said than done.

And what of nations that make a good faith effort to report their numbers, but lack the resources that can ensure their accuracy? What happens if, despite the best efforts of everyone, everything needs to be done immediately?

Bluntly, what is the extent to which one can proactively prepare for a pandemic based upon the “known unknowns”?

 

Can an economic recovery plan be proactively crafted and then implemented for future pandemics?

The coronavirus pandemic has wrought economic devastation and dislocation on a global scale. In so doing, it has revealed our country’s workers and businesses who are most at risk from both the virus and from the public health measures implemented to combat it. Like so many of the government’s actions in the present pandemic, the relief package will prove to have sound and unsound policies and practices, the latter needing to be prevented in the future.

Again, the economic recovery policies we enact today as well as their impacts can instruct policymakers how to improve them for future pandemics—which worked, which didn’t, and why did they or didn’t they work? Who actually needed relief and to what extent? When should the economic mitigation occur, during or after the pandemic? Should all workers and industries receive relief at the same time? How should relief be calculated—per capita, pro-rated, means-tested, etc.? Are direct cash infusions preferable to tax relief or loans? Should there be combinations of all of them?

Importantly, should there be established by federal law a mechanism for instituting a temporary Pandemic Economic Recovery Board, along the lines of World War II’s War Production Board, which can streamline the assessments and implementations required to speed America’s return to economic normality? If battling pandemics is truly a war against a virus, doesn’t it make sense for the temporary creation of an organization to implement what would amount to a post-pandemic Marshall Plan for America?

Such planning does not prioritize the economy over public health; it is a recognition and proactive remediation of the economic consequences of a pandemic and requisite public health measures.

How will proactive pandemic planning and its implementation affect federalism?

In addition to the federal government, governors have broad powers to implement public health measures to protect their citizens. Should the governor’s powers be increased? Alternatively, would a further nationalized response be more beneficial? Or is the present system sufficient?

Further, while the governors have the power to implement public health measures, such as shutting bars and restaurants, should they be responsible, in whole or in part, for the economic consequences of their decisions? If so, could this adversely impact states’ implementation of public health measures due to fiscal constraints?

Ultimately, federalism must be preserved to the greatest extent possible because, again, when properly functioning it allows for the most rapid, powerful, and effective approach to helping Americans.

At any time during a pandemic, should our constitutional rights be suspended?

The answer is no. But the question comes up because in a time of crisis some would be tempted to answer in the affirmative.

For example, let’s look at a group in disfavor with conservative-populists. In its more lucid moments the press has the ability to report on the course of the pandemic; provide critical information about how to avoid the contagion and about what measures are being implemented to combat it; and reveal legitimate problems with the government and the public’s response to the pandemic. That so many in the media find this hard to do without coming off as fearmongering partisan hacks is regrettable, especially in a time of crisis. Regardless, the First Amendment—and all of our God-given enumerated constitutional rights—must be protected at all times. (“Give me liberty or give me death,” remember?)

I admit the fundamental questions examined above raise a host of other queries, which I tried best as possible to also incorporate. Let’s just say I erred on the side of “overreaction.”

Planning to make the next pandemic less painful than the present one is going to be very difficult, especially given today’s political climate. But that is one ailment easily diagnosed and cured.

If some politicians can’t or won’t address these and so many other related questions in order to prepare America for the next “worst-case scenario,” then vote out the bums who put politics ahead of the public health; and put more responsible public servants in their seats to meet the people’s needs.