Next Meeting on Thurs., Feb. 23, 2023

The next meeting will be held on Thursday, Feb. 23rd. We will discuss permanently changing the meeting time to the last Thursday of each month, as there has been multiple venue conflicts recently for the second Thursdays. More meeting info to come as the date nears.

WPC: Coming SCOTUS decision could be big for Eastern Washington

The Washington Policy Center discusses US Supreme Court case Sackett vs EPA on the extend of the EPA’s power to regulate land that gets wet.

The Sackett family has spent the past 15 years in the courts disputing the Environmental Protection Agency’s blocking their right to build a home on land they own near Priest Lake, Idaho.

This past October, the U.S. Supreme Court opened its doors for the public to listen in on oral arguments for the first time in 21/2 years since the original COVID lockdown in March 2020. The first case on the docket was theirs, Sackett v. EPA, the outcome of which will have profound implications for the future of rural communities in Eastern Washington and across the country.

The EPA alleges the Sackett’s residential lot is a federally protected wetland under EPA jurisdiction. Sackett v. EPA asks the Supreme Court to clarify the scope of the EPA’s regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act. The court’s decision should of course be the final say on whether the Sacketts can build their proposed home, but it will also have sweeping implications on whether the EPA can expand the definition of “navigable waters” to include any semi-soggy lowland, ditch or parcel of land across the country.

Many will remember the saga of the Obama administration’s disastrous Waters of the United States – or WOTUS – rule. As a young staffer on Capitol Hill at the time, seared into my memory is how serious the regulatory uncertainty was for the agricultural community under the proposed rule, threatening to turn every ditch, puddle, or creek into a federally protected “navigable waterway.” The drastic expansion of the EPA’s jurisdiction in the rule was characterized as one of the most egregious oversteps by the federal government in history. Fortunately, the courts agreed and blocked its implementation.

Yet predictably the federal government continues to do its best to exert its regulatory might. Even as we await the court’s decision on Sackett, the Biden administration has barreled forward with their own rulemaking – essentially, WOTUS 2.0 – by introducing a new rule on the last business day of 2022 to expand the definition of navigable waters and again threaten rural America’s way of life.

While the Obama WOTUS rule was blocked by the courts, the Biden administration has now sought to codify a serpentine rule that avoids the legal landmines of the original WOTUS.

There was simply no reason for the Biden administration to move forward on this exercise when they knew the court would be issuing a ruling on this very matter. It only serves to cause further uncertainty for the American farmer and rancher.

Unfortunately, it’s not just bad ideas at the federal-level that are rearing their ugly heads to come after our water and threaten our agricultural lands. Legislation similar to the riparian “buffer bill” introduced during the last legislative session in Olympia has been reintroduced this week. The bill (HB 1838) – which would have exponentially cut off productive farmlands across the state while exempting urban areas – faced overwhelming public outcry and eventually did not receive a vote. Yet, it’s back again.

As Washington Policy Center’s new Eastern Washington director, it is my charge to help tell of the impacts of these misguided measures and to ensure the communities east of the Cascades have a voice in Olympia. Why is it that those who decry “big agriculture” and so-called “factory farms” are the same people who do everything they can to put the family farmer out of business?

At the core of Eastern Washington’s economy and identity is agriculture – our region’s farmers feed the country and the world. Our elected leaders in Olympia and Washington, D.C., must recognize that.

I was proud to work on efforts supporting the Sacketts’ case and was humbled to hear the arguments made before the Supreme Court in person this past October. It is my hope the court will finally provide the certainty rural America has long deserved and the victory the Sackett family has waited too long for.

GOA: Hearings for WA Preemption Repeal, “Assault Weapon” Ban, and More

Gun Owners of America has posted about hearings for Washington State bills, taking place simultaneously for House and Senate bills so as to prevent gun owners from weighing in on both.

Washington Patriots, we are in the fight of a lifetime for your 2nd Amendment Rights! The radical Left is fast streaming a vote to destroy your God-given rights with multiple anti-gun bills to be heard on Tuesday, Jan. 17th  in the House Civil Rights & Judiciary and Senate Law and Justice committees.

Here’s what’s on the agenda:

House Civil Rights & Judiciary Committee (10:30 AM on Tuesday, January 17th) 

  • HB 1178 – Would repeal firearms preemption in Washington. This would turn Washington into a patchwork quilt of gun control laws as anti-gun cities would be free to enact their own gun control ordinances.
  • HB 1143 – This bill creates a draconian “permit to purchase” requirement for all firearm sales in Washington and would require mandatory training, among other things.
  • HB 1144 – Creates a mandatory training requirement to purchase firearms that would need to be renewed every five years.
  • HB 1240 –  The so-called “assault weapons” ban that would criminalize possession of over 65 semi-automatic rifles

Senate Law & Justice Committee (10:30 AM on Tuesday, January 17th) 

  • SB 5078 – This bill would eliminate immunity for firearms manufacturers, placing the entire gun industry at risk for frivolous lawsuits. If enacted into law, it could lead to the entire firearms manufacturing industry being sued out of existence.

Friends, your constitutionally-protected rights have never been in such peril in Washington. That’s why I need you to take action by sending a message to the committee members to oppose these bills and signing up to testify on Tuesday.

To testify, please follow these instructions as modified from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF): 

What: House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee
When: January 17, 2023
Time: 10:30 a.m. (PST)
Location: In-Person House Hearing Room A or Virtual

Instructions: To sign up to testify in opposition to these bills or to submit written testimony against this egregious legislation, click on this link and follow the directions below:

  1. Select “Civil Rights & Judiciary” in the “Committee” box.
  2. Select “01/17/23 10:30 AM” in the “Meetings” box.
  3. Select the following bills “HB 1178, HB 1143, HB 1144, and HB 1240” under “Select agenda item.”
  4. Select either written testimony or sign up to testify virtually under “Select type of testimony.”
  5. Fill out registration page.

What: Senate Law and Justice Committee
When: January 17, 2023
Time: 10:30 AM (PST)
Location: In-Person Senate Hearing Room 4 or Virtual

Instructions: To sign up to testify in opposition to these bills or to submit written testimony against this egregious legislation, click on this link and follow the directions below:

  1. Select “Law & Justice” in the “Committee” box.
  2. Select “01/17/23 10:30 AM in the “Meetings” box.
  3. Select “SB 5078” under “Select agenda item.”
  4. Select either written testimony or sign up to testify virtually under “Select type of testimony.”
  5. Fill out registration page.

This is devastating to the people of Washington! The anti-gun Left will stop at nothing and will continue their unlawful attack against your 2nd Amendment rights if we do not stand and fight.

The time to act has never been greater than it is now, so please send a message to the committee members (by using the form above) to OPPOSE the above bills and sign up to testify. 

On the federal level, the ATF has changed its rule on AR pistols with braces, making them illegal unless you register them. In the video below, Colion Noir talks about it.

Of Two Minds: What’s Behind the Global Erosion of Civil Liberties, Privacy and Property Rights?Of Two Minds:

Charles Hugh Smith at Of Two Minds blog writes What’s Behind the Global Erosion of Civil Liberties, Privacy and Property Rights?

Hierarchical power structures like city-states arose as problem-solving solutions, not just for the elites who benefited from the concentration of wealth and power but for the citizenry. This dynamic underpins the analysis presented in my recent book Global Crisis, National Renewal: when nation-states and global hierarchies no longer solve the key problems of their populaces, they dissolve and are replaced by some new arrangement.

It’s easy to see how hierarchies benefit the leaders / elites at the top, but there’s always a trade-off to the populace ceding power/control to elites: we will cede control over our lives in exchange for benefits we cannot gain by ourselves, starting with security from invasion and starvation, i.e. the existential threats posed by Nature and other human organizations.

Over time, as energy surpluses and knowledge increased, city-states aggregated into nation-states and empires. These larger organizations were able to solve problems on a larger scale than city-states.

When these entities could no longer solve existential problems (surpluses diminished, elites failed to provide successful leadership, etc.), they eroded and then collapsed, and were replaced with some other more successful organizational arrangement.

Over time, the citizenry of some regions began expanding the benefits nation-states and their elites were expected to provide in exchange for power: the state was expected to secure the rights to individuals’ property and various civil liberties relating to the free exchange of ideas and knowledge, freedom of worship, and having a say in national decisions.

Globally, these basic human rights are being eroded by state-elite over-reach and consolidation of power beyond what the citizenry agreed upon. For example, the citizenry ceded power to the state to protect individuals’ privacy from the surveillance and information-gathering of both the state and private interests.

As Richard Bonugli and I discuss in our podcast on Eroding Civil Liberties and Property Rights, these privacy statutes are still on the books but they are routinely disregarded by both state agencies and private-sector interests with little functional enforcement by state agencies tasked with protecting the citizens’ rights to privacy.

Big Tech routinely harvests private data for profit with little oversight, state agencies collect private data beyond their mandated scope and mobile phones gather private information which others manage to collect or access.

Property rights are also being eroded.Civil forfeiture enables local and national governments to expropriate individuals’ private property without due process, in effect declaring them guilty and effecting punishment (taking their money/property) and then forcing them to prove their innocence via a lengthy, costly, Kafkaesque process.

War by other means now includes sanctions and expropriation of individuals’ assets, not just the assets of other states or state entities (central banks, state-owned corporations, etc.)

What is driving this global erosion of the most basic civil liberties and property rights? As I describe in my book Resistance, Revolution, Liberation, all states share the same ontology, which is to respond to any threats or challenges by increasing their reach and control.

In other words, all states share the same teleological Prime Directive: always expand the state’s control and power. No state has the institutional memory or means to reduce the state’s reach, control or power.

The only limit on state expansion is the citizenry’s resistance to the loss of civil liberties, property rights and having a say in decisions which affect the entire citizenry. If the citizenry do nothing to protect their rights as individuals and communities, the state will nibble away at these until they exist only in name, not in the real world.

The first essential step is to recognize the erosion as real and consequential. Richard and I do our best to further this in our podcast Charles Hugh Smith on Eroding Civil Liberties and Property Rights (31:35 min).

The second essential step is to recognize how the spectacles of “news” and entertainment distract our attention from this erosion of basic rights. Before we know it, we’re in prisons without bars and grateful to get a questionnaire about how we like the torture (i.e. the “entertainment”)…(continues with pictures and more links)

Radio Contra Ep. 209: Localism, Training and Building Culture with Bryce Colbert of Intrepid Tactics

NC Scout of Brushbeater talks to Bryce Colbert of Intrepid Tactics about localism, training, and building culture in episode 209 of Radio Contra.

Radio Contra Ep. 209: Localism, Training and Building Culture with Bryce Colbert of Intrepid Tactics

Episode 209. I’m joined by Bryce Colbert, 3rd Special Forces Group Veteran and owner of Intrepid Tactics to talk localism, training philosophy, building a resilient culture, and arming good people with knowledge for rough times in America’s future.

Jonathan Turley: Fifth Circuit Rejects Bump Stock Ban

From attorney Jonathan Turley comes this article on the Fifth Circuit Federal Appeals court rejecting the ATF ban on bump stocks.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has handed down a major opinion in Cargill v. Garland, No. 20-51016, ruling 13-3 that the ATF ban on bump stocks is unlawful. The en banc decision found that a bump stock may be many things but it is not a machine gun.

On December 18, 2018, the ATF issued a rule that bump stock would now be considered unlawful as machine guns and gave bump stock owners 90 days to surrender the devices. After that deadline, possession would be treated as a federal crime. The specific statement read, in part:

The Department of Justice is amending the regulations of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to clarify that bump-stock-type devices — meaning “bump fire” stocks, slide-fire devices, and devices with certain similar characteristics — are “machineguns” as defined by the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Gun Control Act of 1968 because such devices allow a shooter of a semiautomatic firearm to initiate a continuous firing cycle with a single pull of the trigger.

On January 6, 2023, the Fifth Circuit handed down its decision rejecting the rule. It explained the technical aspects for the case as well as the clear shift in interpretation by the ATF:

“A bump stock is a firearm attachment that allows a shooter to harness the natural recoil of a semi-automatic weapon to quickly re-engage the trigger after firing, enabling him to shoot at an increased rate of speed. When ATF first considered the type of bump stocks at issue here, it understood that they were not machineguns. ATF maintained this position for over a decade, issuing many interpretation letters to that effect to members of the public.”

Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod wrote in her majority opinion that “[p]ublic pressure to ban bump stocks was tremendous” after the mass shooting in Las Vegas on October 1, 2017. However, “[a] plain reading of the statutory language, paired with close consideration of the mechanics of a semi-automatic firearm, reveals that a bump stock is excluded from the technical definition of ‘machinegun’ set forth in the Gun Control Act and National Firearms Act.”

The majority further explained:

The Government’s regulation violates these principles. As an initial matter, it purports to allow ATF—rather than Congress—to set forth the scope of criminal prohibitions. Indeed, the Government would outlaw bump stocks by administrative fiat even though the very same agency routinely interpreted the ban on machineguns as not applying to the type of bump stocks at issue here. Nor can we say that the statutory definition unambiguously supports the Government’s interpretation. As noted above, we conclude that it unambiguously does not. But even if we are wrong, the statute is at least ambiguous in this regard. And if the statute is ambiguous, Congress must cure that ambiguity, not the federal courts.

The holding was supported by a rule of lenity that “penal laws are to be construed strictly.” She noted that, as in United States v. Wiltberger, the Court had long followed the rule which Chief Justice Marshall described as “founded on the tenderness of the law for the rights of individuals; and on the plain principle that the power of punishment is vested in the legislative, not in the judicial department. It is the legislature, not the Court, which is to define a crime, and ordain its punishment.”

Thirteen judges agreed with the conclusion though twelve (Chief Judge Richman and Judges Jones, Smith, Stewart, Elrod, Southwick, Haynes, Willett, Ho, Duncan, Engelhardt, and Wilson) reversed on lenity grounds while eight members (Judges Jones, Smith, Elrod, Willett, Duncan, Engelhardt, Oldham, and Wilson) reversed on the ground that federal law unambiguously fails to cover non-mechanical bump stocks…(article continues)

Newsbreak: America’s Power Grid Is Under Attack

America’s Power Grid Is Under Attack comes from Newsbreak.com and addresses a recent spate of attacks on electric power substations across the USA.

On Christmas morning several power stations in Washington State came under attack by vandals. The substations are just a few of the hundred or so substation attacks over the past year. Excluding the Christmas attacks, substations in Oregon and Washington were attacked more than six times in the months of December and November.

Just a few weeks earlier, two substations in North Carolina about 30 minutes from Fort Bragg were attacked by gun fire, and a few days before that vandals leaked oil from substations 30 minutes from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. Following the the North Carolina power outages, a sign with Nazi symbols was found along US 1 near Vass North Carolina reading “Bring it all down” with the number 1488. Earlier in 2022 several North Carolina men with Neo-nazi ties plead guilty to plotting substation attacks across the United States.

Yanasa TV’s ‘As A Man Thinketh’ host Charlie Rankin points out that these power grid attacks aren’t necessarily associated with a right or left wing movement but rather an anti-American movement. which is likely influenced by non domestic groups.

According to the News Nation television network, six “intrusion events” occurred at Duke Energy substations in Florida in September, resulting in at least one brief power outage.

According to the FBI Americans should be aware that power grid attacks may increase in the near future. As recently as December 29th according to WHIOTV AES Ohio crews were “investigating” the cause of mass power outages impacting over 10,000 customers in Montgomery County Ohio.

“We are aware of recent threats on power systems across the country and take these very seriously. We are monitoring our infrastructure and can confirm we had two incidents occur in late November at two different substations. We can’t comment on the incidents because they are both ongoing investigations involving the FBI.

Brushbeater: On the Guerrilla, His Ecology and His Communications

In this article, NC Scout talks about Guerrilla warfare vs guerrilla marketing. On the Guerrilla, His Ecology and His Communications

Guerrilla. We all know the term. Conjuring an image of a disheveled, rag tag group of merry miscreants dispelling justice in a particular way. We in the West are fixated on the term itself, for good and bad, romanticizing the image of an individualist gunfighter in its most pure form. To some, a freedom fighter. To others, a criminal reprobate terrorizing so-called legitimate authority through the very audacity of their existence. How dare they threaten the ruling order which is ours – not theirs – shall we remind them of it.

Che Guevara would label the Guerrilla explicitly as a social reformer, stating that his very existence is due to some societal wrong that cannot be corrected through peaceful petition alone. He wasn’t wrong of course, but this commonly gets lost in the marketing. Conversely in the strictly-military context we think of the Guerrilla, and his Force, as the purest context of what we call Small Unit Tactics. A small, armed band of voluntary troops with varying degrees of skill and capability. In every case the romanticize of the guerrilla fetishizes something that it may very well not be. Perhaps the arbiter can be found in the success of said guerrilla’s tactics.

Words must be specific, however, to have meaning. The term Guerrilla is a very specific one, at least in my own context, as that very same Freedom Fighter described above. Armed and defiant in the face of tyranny. That tyranny could come in many forms or any particular form you like. Economic repression, expropriating money from the populace in the form of taxation theft; medical repression, or outright denial; social repression, or the willing destruction of one culture through the use of coercive force; and last, the denial of justice through inconsistent application of law, whether purposeful or by miscarriage. In all cases, however, these realities lead to the creation of the conditions of Revolution. It is that Revolution which grants the Guerrilla his existence and becomes the social ecology in which he resides.

With that said, Guerrilla the label appeals to the later example above – the military context alone, failing to realize the social context entirely. One could argue it is a product of immaturity of thought, and conversely, recognize it is little more than a clever marketing ploy. But anything wearing a ‘guerrilla’ label without addressing the underlying social conditions which must be satisfied knows neither guerrilla warfare nor nor the intended audience. At its worst it creates a disconnect between otherwise well-meaning fighters and those capabilities which engender tactical prowess. But tactical prowess must be defined, with victory being the lone metric to judge.

The Guerrilla must recognize three critical points:

  1. He, and his local network, are his own supply line.
  2. He fights with what he has, not with what he wishes.
  3. He cannot fight as a conventional force.

To the first two points, many of a conventional mindset would think this a detriment. Lacking the enablers of a modern ground fighting force, the tip of the so-called spear, how could a Guerrilla force go toe to toe with the might of a modern leviathan? They can’t possibly win, lest they not have the equipment parity. This fails to recognize the incredible supply line necessary to keep said equipment fielded. There is no army of supplies to back him up. It is for this reason that historically guerrilla movements have fomented best in rural areas, light on government reach and heavy on local favor. Whether that guerrilla is moonshining tax resistors in Appalachia or guerrilla fighters in the Escambray mountains, the Kurds in the Hamarins or the Taliban in the southern Hindu Kush, it is a universal truth that the economic poverty of rural life, the hardships of topography, and the difficulty that creates fosters a unique and favorable environment for the budding guerrilla force. A type of folk hero finding favor among people cosmopolitan modernity forgot.

A particularly strong recent example of this phenomena is the rapid and spectacular equipment failures the Taliban experienced just after the botched US withdrawal from Afghanistan. Anyone who’s spent any time among Afghans knows equipment maintenance is not their strong suit, and further, the Taliban is a loose coalition of competing tribes comprised of a few unifying social goals. They were successful fighting as that underdog. Conventional warfare cannot and will not work for them, just as it did not in post-1994 Afghanistan. Small unit prowess need not be complicated, and most often, is better off without such complications.

Whenever I see certain pieces of equipment being marketed…let’s take ATAK for a prime example…I become immediately leery. ATAK, or the android tactical awareness kit, marketed by a company called “Guerrilla Dynamics”, utilizes android phones to create an inter-team mesh network. In short, it creates the ‘virtual battlefield’ that a Commander can micromanage individual team members or assets on the ground. But what they won’t tell you in the marketing is that we’ve been hunting and killing people based on cell phone data for two decades now. Yay, the capitalism of the Military Industrial Complex. Further, they fail in telling that the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance drones fielded by every nation’s conventional forces includes a spectrum analyzer looking for said mesh networking signals. It becomes a very easy target. All of the ever more impressive levels of encryption do not defeat the physics of RF signals. The Taliban learned, recognizing those three points above, that phones were a quick and easy way to get killed. They may have been ignorant in some respects, but in others, the long term vision cannot be understated. They won.

I can’t think of a bigger intelligence jackpot than snagging up a cell phone loaded with a team’s geolocation, reports, and personnel data. Overlays, maps, report formats…its a goldmine. It recalls a linear ambush we conducted on a Taliban HVI once, on the border with Pakistan, that created a mountain of chatter – it created follow on targets, some of which we interdicted that day, but to the others that remained or became silent, they simply melted back into those remote mountains, probably still out there over a decade later. Had they been using such a ridiculous device, exploitation would have been dramatically easier. Again, they won in the end. What we perceived as ignorant and weak was in fact the hubris which defeated the very best the West had to offer.

Fast forward to Ukraine. In March of 2022 a staging facility for foreign fighters in the Ukraine International Brigade was destroyed and with it over 200 fighters. They were targeted specifically through social media use and the proliferation of the ATAKs system by Western Intelligence Agency personnel guiding them across the border from Poland. It would not be the first or last spectacular failure of the system, but it would be the most well publicized. Enemy nations watched those very same lessons we learned over the past twenty years of GWOT misgivings, in some cases seeking parity, in others, exploiting the hubris granted by so-called ‘technological superiority’. But these are nation-states at war. There is nothing ‘Guerrilla’ about it, and those poor souls seduced to the front of their own accord are little more than suckers for the propaganda; expendable fighters in the great game.

Realizing those three points above, we return to the ecology in which the Guerrilla survives. He fights with what he has, rather than what he wishes. His equipment is kept simple, light, and through those means most capable. If he masters what is simple to its most innate level, the overall effect becomes its own force multiplier. Recognizing the lack of sophistication is no detriment at all, and in some cases, can be assumed to be a major force multiplier when used in the right way. The Guerrilla exists in the seams and gaps of the conventional force’s capabilities. Mirroring that conventional force cannot achieve this goal. A simple Baofeng radio, when configured and used properly, goes a long way in creating competence on the ground. For that matter, any analog radio can do the same. As I cover in The Guerrilla’s Guide to the Baofeng Radio, there are a large number of ways to implement the radio outside of conventional thinking. A Guerrilla is not a Conventional Force of the Leviathan. He exists in spite of it.

Off Grid Ham: Cheap & Easy Portable Antenna Hacks

Chris Warren at Off Grid Ham talks about Cheap & Easy Portable Antenna Hacks in the article below. When I run off battery power or away from home, I tend to use a Buddipole portable antenna system. The first time I set it up, I was able to tune into a pileup on an operator in Ukraine, and I’ve been pretty happy with it since then. However, you need to think about how and why you’ll be using your radio off grid. My Buddipole antenna is portable, but not so portable that I’d want to backpack it in somewhere with my radio and camping gear. Additionally, unless you are most worried about an EMP taking out North America, in most situations you don’t need to be able to talk halfway around the world.

Wire and wire dipole antennas can be cheap and light. If you only want to talk to radio operators in your state or couple of hundred mile around, you don’t need to mount the antenna very high. And if you only want to listen, you can lay your wire right on the ground. There is also a ton of information on the internet about building wire antennas. I’ll put a YouTube video at the bottom.

It’s a little unclear the way Chris wrote about baluns and ununs, but the need for either is based on both the feedline to the antenna system and the antenna itself. Chris is writing about using coaxial cable as the feedline, which is unbalanced. If you were using ladder line, that would be a balanced line. So feeding a dipole, which is balanced, from Coax, which is unbalanced, would be aided by a balun (balanced to unbalanced). Feeding dipole, again balanced, using ladder line, which is balanced would not need either. Feeding a random wire, which would be unbalanced, using coax, which is unbalanced, could use an unun (unbalanced to unbalanced). And feeding an unbalanced random wire antenna with balanced ladder line could be aided by a balun.

All that said, if your radio itself isn’t putting out balanced output, then a balun or unun may still improve things for you. Additionally, just because you’re going from coax to a dipole doesn’t mean that you have to have a balun to talk to anyone. Having a balun may reduce noise and keep unwanted RF out of your operating shack (if you’re using one), but not having one may not impede your ability to communicate as needed. These kinds of things are part of the reason why people who use radios a lot continually tell preppers not to just buy a radio thinking that they’ll be able to unbox it and use it perfectly when the emergency happens. Yes, you may be able to unpack your Baofeng HT, and it may work properly out of the box, but it may not perform the way you need it to if you haven’t tested it and made adjustments.

I don’t do a lot of antenna articles because there is already so much information in circulation I can’t see much ground left to cover, at least that’s what I thought until new Off Grid Ham reader Rick sent a nice email that inspired this article. What are some cheap and easy ideas to make a portable antenna better, from an off grid perspective?

The off grid niche. portable antenna

To rehash the obvious, running off grid radio does not require a “special” antenna. Whatever works for conventionally-powered stations will also work off grid. However, off gridders tend to have different needs and operating goals. Some antennas fit these needs and goals better than others. portable antenna

I know from my own operating experience, running this blog for over seven years, and talking with other hams, that off grid amateurs disproportionally use QRP, lean towards portable operations (outdoors), and are less focused on having a big signal for the purpose of DX, contests, & awards. They also, by a very large margin, are involved with the survivalist/prepper movement and/or EMCOMM on some level.

If you are into amateur radio in whole or in part because you want communications when SHTF, then your equipment choices are going to be different from the guy who is a contester, DXer, or thinks it’s just a fun hobby. An analysis of those two demographics might itself be worthy of an entire Off Grid Ham article.

From the abstract to the real.

Now that we’ve lightly touched on the sociology and psychology of why operators may choose different equipment, the next question is “what are my options?” Your options as an off gridder are are for the most part the same as they are for everyone else. You’ll just have to make a few adaptations. As we have discussed many, many times on this blog, there will be tradeoffs and compromises. Here are a few ideas with a “cheap & easy” goal in mind:

The wire antenna. portable antenna

Perhaps the most fundamental of all antennas, the dipole has been around almost as long as radio itself. There are a few things an operator can do to make it more off-grid friendly. These ideas can apply to all other wire antennas too:

Lose some weight!

If you are running QRP power levels, there is no compelling reason to have a dipole with heavy gauge (16 or less) wire. Wire sizes between 18-22 gauge are perfectly acceptable for QRP. It’s less expensive, easy to work with, and coils nicely for easy transport.

Speaker wire is a popular material for light weight antennas. It’s easy to find and not particularly expensive. It would be a great choice. But there is something better. Much better.

The “holy grail” of off grid antenna wire.

The top of the QRP antenna wire pyramid is 22 gauge central office frame wire (sometimes referred to as cross connect wire). CO frame wire is incredibly strong for its size and does not easily stretch. It comes in a twisted pair. There is no need to separate the pair. Simply strip the insulation and terminate the bare wires together at each end. This turns the twisted pair into what is effectively one single conductor. The twist will have no meaningful effect on your send or receive signal.

Unfortunately, CO frame wire is used only by the telecommunications industry and is very hard to find for sale to the public. It can occasionally be found at swap meets. I was able to source this wire through my professional affiliations and can confirm that it makes a fantastic light weight antenna material.

The photo below is a 20 meter central office frame wire dipole with balun, rolled up for transport. It weighs 9.6 ounces (0.272 kg) including the balun and fits in a plastic sandwich bag.

Many hams work for the phone company, or have connections. Ask around. If all else fails, you’ve got nothing to lose by knocking on the door of your local central office and simply asking  the tech if you can have some frame wire. He/she will know what you are talking about. Every year they pay contractors to haul away thousands of feet of the stuff to the scrap yard, so it’s not a big deal to give some away. Many telephone central offices are not manned full time so you may have to make a few attempts to catch someone while they are there. Since techs set aside unwanted wire for recycling, “dumpster diving” will not likely produce any results. In any case, it will be well worth your effort if you can find some.

If you cannot source central office frame wire, light gauge speaker or doorbell wire will work just fine but will not be as strong and stretch resistant.

Baluns and ununs.

Almost any antenna fed by coax can be improved by adding a balun or a unun. These devices are essentially transformers that manage the impedance difference between your feedline and the antenna and prevent common mode current. Common mode current is undesirable RF energy that flows along the outer braid or shield of the coax; it contributes to inefficiency and poor antenna performance.

A balun is used on antennas where all elements are the same length, such as a dipole. A unun is used on antennas where the elements are not the same length, such as a random long wire…(article continues)

And here’s a video on building a 20m dipole antenna.

Radio Contra Ep. 204: The Coming Economic War, with Bob Griswold

In Episode 204 of Radio Contra, NC Scout of Brushbeater and American Partisan talks about The Coming Economic War with Bob Griswold of ReadyMadeResources.

I’m joined by Bob Griswold to talk the looming economic war between the East with BRICS and the West with the Petro Dollar, the social fallout as a result, and how you can prepare for the storm.

Radio Contra Episode 204: The Coming Economic War with Bob Griswold

S2 Underground: More Substation Attacks, Dec. 20 Intel Update

S2 Underground just released their December 20th, 2022 intelligence update, focusing on additional attacks on the electric grid.

00:00 – Moore County, NC Update

10:43 – Northeastern Region

11:03 – Southeastern Region

14:27 – East Central Midwestern Region

16:40 – West Central Midwestern Region

22:29 – Southwestern Region

29:13 – Western Region

33:57 – Western Europe

40:09 – Closing Thoughts

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Radio Free Redoubt: When Ham Radio Is Banned and Non-permissive Comms Environments, Part 4

Radio Free Redoubt released Part 4 of their series on When Ham Radio Is Banned and Non-permissive Comms Environments.

Radio Free Redoubt: Episode 22-41 When Ham Radio is Banned and Non-Permissive Comms Environments Part-4

This discussion is focused on a future potential scenario when operators must use tactics, techniques, and procedures, which might not be within current FCC regulations. AmRRON policy is clear that all its members operate on the airwaves in a lawful manner. We do not use encryption or otherwise intentionally obscure transmissions over the amateur radio bands. If you see it, report it: johnjacob at amrron dot com. It would be easy, and conceivable, for a malicious actor to ‘spoof’ a ham radio operator’s callsign and transmit illegally in order to bring scrutiny against an individual ham operator, whatever the motive might be. This is why we emphasize and practice authentication measures.

More on Direction Finding and other Considerations (radio fingerprinting)
TTPs — Making it difficult for the bad guys
TTPs — When you are being hunted
Minimize Positive Identity
Avoid predictability
Use digital modes as opposed to voice, when it’s practical or feasible.
DMR two-way radios: Digital Mobile Radio for local tactical comms (digitalized voice, with encryption options)
ALT METHODS OF COMMUNICATING (LOCALLY)
GMRS
Gotenna/Beartooth
Meshtastic LoRa devices for mesh networking, Texting (Android/iOS), etc.
Wifi/Broadband Mesh networks (and intranet): Ubiquity BRIDGE (up to 10 miles)

REMOTE OPERATIONS: DON’T STAND THERE.
Minimize getting vaporized — Don’t be standing at the same place your signal is emitting from. In extreme danger tactical environments, wherever your radio and antenna is… don’t be there.

AIER: The Governmentalization of Social Affairs

George Mason University professor of economics Daniel Klein writes at the the American Institute for Economic Research about the pervasive infiltration of government into the social affairs of the people and its deleterious effect on liberty.

Walter E. Williams titled one of his books, More Liberty Means Less Government. Less government means less government intervention, less government extraction, less government spending, and less government employment. More liberty means less government.

I know that you hate neologisms, yet I nonetheless propose the governmentalization of social affairs. Albert J. Nock titled a book, Our Enemy, The State. That title is catchier than Our Enemy, The Governmentalization of Social Affairs. But Nock’s title is less sound, I believe.

“Governmentalization” is ugly. But so is the thing that it signifies, so the ugliness is fitting.

By “governmentalization,” I mean government restrictions on individual liberty, but also (and what might be more important) government-sector institutions as big players, living on taxation and privileged positions. Thus, the term governmentalization captures not only government as liberty-violator but also as benefactor, permission-granter, employer, landlord, customer, creditor, educator, transporter, access-granter, grant-maker, prestige conferrer, agenda-setter, organizer, law-enforcer, prison-keeper, recordkeeper, librarian, museum curator, park ranger, and owner of myriad massive properties and resources within the polity. Every one of these activities has a public relations arm, and sway with the systems of schools and culture. Governmentalization spells governmental influence over the culture at large.

Liberty and governmentalization are opposed, by and large, the way that freedom and slavery are opposed. To support liberty is to oppose governmentalization. To favor governmentalization is to oppose liberty.

Volunordination

Yikes! Another neologism! Can you forgive me? I promise it will be the last one.

In arguing for liberty over governmentalization, classical liberals often approach the matter by explaining that liberty gives rise to volunordination, that is, concatenations or orderings of objects, affairs, activities by voluntary processes. The approach asserts that volunordination brings benefits: material, moral, cultural, and spiritual. By and large, the more that social affairs proceed by volunordination, the more beneficial they are.

Two Ways of Being Classical Liberal

Governmentalization crimps, limits, and obstructs volunordination. Improvement is dampened. Government has gotten in the way. There is a deadweight loss. We could climb higher, but governmentalization holds us back. Deirdre McCloskey and Art Carden express the approach in their book title, Leave Me Alone and I’ll Make You Rich: How the Bourgeois Deal Enriched the World. We’d all be richer if the government would leave people alone.

That approach is sound, but there is another.

Rather than framing the matter as blessings hamstrung by governmentalization, one can frame it as the evil of governmentalization being reined in by liberal principles. It’s not that volunordination is wonderful, but rather that governmentalization is evil. It’s not that we want less governmentalization because that means more liberty. Rather, we want more liberty because that means less governmentalization. Governmentalization is odious and disgusting. It is hateworthy.

We limit governmentalization by upholding liberal principles. Governmentalization is a cancer, and liberal principles shrink it. The medicine does not bring on euphoric sensations, it simply reduces the evil. In other metaphors, governmentalization is pollution, poison, a plague of locusts. Liberal principles are the abatement, the antidote, the pesticide.

We don’t expect pesticides to make us virtuous or happy. We expect them to keep locusts away.

Thus, one approach is about a blessing, volunordination, and an undesirable check on it, while the other approach is about a bane, governmentalization, and a desirable check on it. Both approaches are valid, and they complement one another. One highlights the blessings of volunordination, the other the evils of governmentalization.

Do the Thought Experiment

Ponder a world in which Americans were restricted in their liberty as much as they are now. They faced the same restrictions and taxation, all of which initiate coercion against them (including the threat of coercion). But further imagine that, of the resources extracted from the private sector, the government could only actually keep and use 25 percent, while the remaining 75 percent of the money would have to be destroyed, perhaps in a bonfire of $1000 bills.

That would be a world with fewer government players in society. The cancer would be very much reduced. But notice that in this thought experiment, liberty would not be augmented, because the initiation of coercion by government is not actually reduced.

So is liberty really at the heart of classical liberalism? I would say no. The wellbeing of humankind, the good of the whole, is. Classical liberalism sees governmentalization as a bane. (Let me note that I presuppose a reasonably stable polity throughout; absent that presupposition, the matter is murkier.)

Classical liberalism, as a distinctive outlook on human wellbeing, has a spine of liberty. Liberty checks governmentalization. In order for all those $1000 bills to be garnered by the government, and in order to protect the government from competition (thus empowering the Fed to forge $1000 bills out of thin air), the government must violate liberty. Behind the big-player status of government is Big Coercion.

Classical Liberal Obeisance

Classical liberals tend to soft-pedal the second approach. They will say, as Robert Lawson and Benjamin Powell say in their book title, Socialism Sucks. But the focus is on socialism in other countries, such as Venezuela, North Korea, and China, not the evils of governmentalization at home.

Leftists use the expression “systemic racism” to crush dissent and advance governmentalization. They ignore how governmentalization in schooling, for example, destroys Black potential. Systemic leftism is what drives disparate impacts.

There are a number of reasons why classical liberals underplay the governmentalization-sucks approach. Liberal principles can rein in governmentalization, but mind who holds the reins. Classical-liberal discourse involves an aspiration of persuading policymakers, and policymakers operate in and around government. Telling government that governmentalization sucks is not necessarily the path to persuasion. He who holds the reins also holds the lash.

There is virtue in endeavoring to persuade toward liberalization. Mixed with that virtue, however, is careerism. In most of government, its apparatus, and its satellites, leftists rule the roost. If you argue that governmentalization is hateworthy, you are hated by governmentalists. 

If you wish to get on in government, in academia, in the media, in the policy community, in many other areas, you ought not make yourself obnoxious to those who dominate there. Hate tends to be mutual, so when you explain that governmentalization is hateworthy, the governmentalists hate you for doing so.

The more prosperous course is to be agreeable, by playing up the blessings of volunordination: “C’mon dears, we will all be better off if we let volunordination enrich us. Let’s not obstruct what is good for all of us.”

The governmentalists won’t be so offended. They nod a bit about days gone by, when freeing up markets was the order of the day. But they then neglect the lesson and, hey, that was then and this is now. They proceed with governmentalization. By stomaching a few ‘nice’ non-leftists they fancy themselves reasonable and open-minded. Market-friendly, even.

Meanwhile, too often, the ‘nice’ non-leftists lose touch with spirited offensives against governmentalization, assume the posture of their discourse, see to their good standing, and give up the ghost.

What Is Your Dataset on Suckiness?

There is another reason that classical liberals stick primarily to the “C’mon dears” approach.

One can use statistics to argue that obstructions dampen the blessings of volunordination. One can quantify wealth, productivity, health, longevity, and one can quantify governmentalization. One then investigates correlation. Those goods, wealth, productivity, health, longevity, are uncontroversial. Also, in particular markets, such as housing, another uncontroversial good, economists can estimate the deadweight loss that results from government obstructions.

The governmentalization-sucks approach, however, is more aesthetic and cultural. Governmentalization sucks principally because of its moral, cultural, and spiritual consequences. Those consequences are difficult to make precise and accurate, either conceptually or empirically. When it comes to consensus, the governmentalists have filled the gallery with their people, at taxpayer expense or otherwise by coercive privilege, and driven out the dissenters.

Also, governments lie about the ill consequences of governmentalization. They falsify and bury evidence, as in Venezuela, North Korea, and China.

A governmentalization-sucks argument for liberal principles is more easily dismissed as non-scientific, as subjective, normative, and mere opinion. Indeed, leftists increasing favor canceling and criminalizing exposure of the lies and the evils of governmentalization.

A Change of Approach

In the 17th and 18th, and much of the 19th centuries, liberalism enjoyed a sort of ascendancy. From about 1885, however, liberalism in the Anglosphere began to falter severely. One reason was that people around 1885 felt disappointed. Liberalism seemed to promise happiness. Britain and the United States enjoyed liberalism to a good extent.

So, people woke up one morning in 1890, and what did they tell themselves? “Hey, I’m still not happy!”

Whad’ya know, (relative) liberalism was not a paradise. It did not eliminate the fundamental problems of man’s existence. It did not relieve man of the fundamental challenge of upward vitality, and thereby, true happiness. 

It seemed that liberalism had failed. Its opponents lied about what liberals had promised. Does Adam Smith ever come across as promising a panacea? The last sentence of The Wealth of Nations tells Britain in 1776, “to accommodate her future views and designs to the real mediocrity of her circumstances.”

Still, if liberals had given more emphasis to the evils of governmentalization, as opposed to the promise of volunordination, then disappointment would have been less, gratefulness and equanimity greater, and aversion to governmentalization stronger.

Albert Venn Dicey wrote in his 1905 book, Lectures on the Relation Between Law & Public Opinion in England During the Nineteenth Century:

The augmentation…of the public revenue by means of taxation is not only a diminution of each taxpayer’s private income and of his power within a certain sphere to do as he likes, but also an increase in the resources and the power of the state.

More liberty means less government, and less government means less miserableness, servility, fickleness, hypocrisy, denial, mendacity, baseness, and degeneracy. Liberal backbone checks the evil that is the governmentalization of social affairs.