144 thoughts on “Open Forum Ethics III

  1. What is the ethics of selective prosecution? And a side order of process crimes that can be pressed to squeeze the accused?

    Of course, my mind is on how progressive operatives admit crimes and are not called into account, and anyone associated with a progressive target (oh, Trump, for instance) gets investigated and prosecuted even if no crime was committed? (And the FBI alleging a lie should NEVER have been a crime in the first place… it is being abused.)

  2. I’d be interested to hear what folks think about the ethics of fighting a specious criminal charge, like Mike Flynn lying to the FBI, although it seems like he might not have, or Mike Cohen paying off Stormy and others, constituting campaign finance violations. I think in both cases, it can be reasonably argued that the defendants are not guilty. But there are other circumstances, that if they choose to fight off this charge, they will be prosecuted on another matter, which may be unrelated, which may be specious also, or quite real. It would seem for the ethical choice to fight off specious charges for the sake of rule of law, and then stand against other charges, be they as they are. But under pressure from prosecution, I can see how one might want to take the easy way, and get charged with something, as long as they don’t give you an even harsher punishment for other, unrelated charges. I feel that this scenario just reinforces the phrase “House always wins”.

    • Remember: the process is the punishment. You cop a plea and you pay a fine, maybe do some time, and kiss your reputation goodbye. Fight the charge, even win, and your legal team gets your money, you have lost a year or more of normal life, and your good name is gone anyway.

      And in the latter case, you can look forward to the next round. They do not like to lose and will be seeking a re-match before the crowd has left the building.

      Probably the worst thing that can happen to a person is to be wrongly accused, in any circumstance.

      • It is scary. For all intents and purposes, the govt has unlimited resources to prosecute somebody. They could keep on doing, until they get it “right”, and public interest in your case will whither away, nobody finds legal battles continuing years on end sexy.

        • Aleksei, a variant of the “keep on doing, until they get it “right”” theme appears in the A. E. Van Vogt SiFi story ‘Humans, Go Home!’. The technique is to prosecute a less important person so that you can find flaws in the prosecution case and work around them when prosecuting the primary target.

          I can’t help wondering if this technique isn’t in play in the US at the moment.

    • My belief is that prosecutors should pursue the more serious charges first. I understand that prosecutors use lesser included chares for the same activity but to suggest that pleading to a charge one has a reasonable chance of beating to avoid the expense and liability of a more serious charge smacks of extortion.

      One does not need to wonder who Sophie would choose if the other child was not one of her own.

      • That’s how it seems to me as well, the idea of extortion. I also feel that pleading guilty to a specious crime is unethical in this case, because it precludes analysis of the prosecution’s techniques in building their case. So if you don’t fight your trumped up charge, the prosecution gets away with whatever funny business they might have pulled on you in the first place, and they probably will do this again to some unsuspecting soul. The vicious cycle continues.

  3. I accidentally posted this in the Morning Warm-Up, but it belongs here:

    Remember the Glenn Greenwald commentary reviling Texas’ school districts for making employees sign a pledge not to boycott or advocate against Israel? It generated huge news buzz and a social media meltdown. You can google it, I don’t want extra links to hold up my comment.

    Well, David Bernstein of Reason demonstrates why he was wrong, in depth, and in my view, pretty much beyond rational dispute:

    http://reason.com/volokh/2018/12/18/everyone-is-misreporting-the-texas-bds-l

    Bernstein is still sympathetic to the idea that contractors should be able to boycott Israel if they choose. What lies unaddressed, at least to my layman’s eye, is how Citizens United might be used to attack the anti-BDS legislation against contractors. If corporations are analogous to persons for the purposes of campaign finance, might other forms of free speech, such as BDS, be covered, bringing the First Amendment into play after all?

    I have no real idea about that, but Bernstein’s argument about the Texas matter seems much more sound than Greenwald’s mainly because Bernstein read the law, and Greenwald either a) didn’t or b) made a mistaken reading and/or interpretation.

    Will we ever see the end of the “Outrage” industry?

    • If there is any legislation, either for businesses or for private persons, that would force them to sign an agreement that they will not, personally, or as representatives of their business or corporation, boycott Israel, I would suggest that a rational person should immediately recognize the overreach there. (I am not sure if ‘overreach’ is the best word for the State at any level to force someone, or a business, not to boycott a nation).

      If they lose their job as a result — if this person lost their job — it indicates that such policies do obvious harm and are obviously unjust.

      • If there is any legislation, either for businesses or for private persons, that would force them to sign an agreement that they will not, personally, or as representatives of their business or corporation, boycott Israel, I would suggest that a rational person should immediately recognize the overreach there.

        See a quote from Bernstein’s commentary just below. It seems the Supreme Court has already ruled on the issue of boycotts with respect to corporations, at least. That would certainly capture individuals acting in their official capacity, as well.

        As to whether that’s an overreach, well, I have to admit it doesn’t give me the warm and fuzzies. But for years, the US government has forbidden US companies and individual US persons from engaging in behavior supporting a boycott of Israel as part of the Export Administration Regulations. As an exporter, I am extremely well versed in this particular law, as it’s something I have to take great care to comply with, given that some of my business partners have historically supported said boycott. I have seen several people get in serious trouble for violating this particular provision of the U.S. Code.

        So it seems pretty clear that this is not just legal, but has been adjudicated in multiple settings, and is currently enforced in several capacities by US law. As to whether states may require compliance with antiboycott laws, I am less sure — there would seem to be a difference where it comes to enforcing foreign commerce laws at the state level.

        • I gathered that from the articles posted about it which I did read, rather quickly. I imagine that the law is technically legal as Bernstein indicates (if it weren’t it would be illegal on the face). I would imagine, but I do not know, that the law was arrived at by machinations of Israel and its powerful lobby in the US (and the many who serve those goals). I did notice that the woman who was fired (if indeed she was fired) had a Muslim name. So, her affiliations are likely anti-Zionist. Sort of fits a pattern. her affiliations are likely anti-Zionist. Sort of fits a pattern. Powerful interests that scam the system to see their will prevail is how I would describe it.

        • Currently, NY state is being sued because they called banks and other financial institutions and told them not to do business with the NRA or firearm-related businesses. They called up the financial institutions and did the old “Nice little bank you have here. It would be a shame if anything happened to it…”

    • Setting aside that no government has any business telling you what economic activity you must engage in, I’m not really sure how one could enforce a personal pledge not to boycott anyway. Vocal advocacy one way or the other is easily identifiable, but how do you know someone is boycotting Israel, rather than simply not buying Israeli goods for a million other reasons? On an organizational level, it might be a bit more obvious, but on a personal level, it’s ridiculously unenforceable. I probably don’t have a single “Made in Israel” product in my home right now (maybe there’s a box or two of IMI ammunition somewhere, or a jar of olives or something), but it’s not because I’m boycotting them. I just don’t buy much of anything that comes from there.

      • Well, if the language applied to persons, it would be an unconstitutional prior restraint. As it appears to apply only to contractors, it is the same, essentially, as certifying that you don’t discriminate on the basis of sex and religion. David Bernstein describes it thus:

        Briefly on the First Amendment issue, it’s no different analytically than requiring a contractor to pledge that the business does not refuse to hire Muslims, or Jews, or blacks, veterans, or another state-designated group. [Clarification: “it” means the First Amendment analysis. There are obvious moral, practical, historical, and other differences between boycotting Israel and boycotting members of American minority groups; those differences just aren’t constitutionally salient.] The sole proprietor contractor, or the certifying officer for a larger contractor, is still permitted to refuse to invite a Muslim to his house for dinner, or to advocate against Muslims in any way he chooses. The business simply can’t engage in action that the state disapproves of. Supreme Court precedent, mostly to my chagrin, seems rather clear that this is constitutional, and that the protected class in question need not be an individual or minority group–in Rumsfeld v. FAIR, the Court held that the law school plaintiffs had no First Amendment right to boycott military recruiters in the face of a federal statute barring recipients of federal funds from discriminating against those recruiters. [my emphasis]

        So the point of all this is that the government is trying to tell its contractors that they may not bad-mouth or boycott Israel, but the people who work for the business may do so without fear of liability (as long as they don’t do so in their official capacity and on behalf of the company, that is).

        The precedent Bernstein cited seems dispositive on the ability of governments to bind corporations to requirements not to engage in boycotts, at least. I’m less sure about advocacy, though.

  4. What are everyone’s thoughts on the bump stock ban, implemented by Trump. Personally I think it extends the definition of automatic weapons stated in National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Gun Control Act of 1968 to the point of absurdity. Clearly Trump wants a partisan win to protect himself from the potential government shutdown. He knows proposing a new law to ban them would be a tough battle

    • I don’t like bump stocks, and my bona fides on the Second Amendment are as well-documented here as any.

      I think Congress must pass a law to ban bump stocks, if they are to be banned. I don’t believe the NFA has sufficient general applicability to allow this regulation to pass muster.

      As a purely technical matter, I wouldn’t object to banning bump stocks. They are a stupid accessory that, in my view, has almost no utility and has been demonstrated to have the potential for great harm. Unfortunately, the flip side is that they are so easy to make (and devices of similar function are equally simple) that banning them is like closing the barn door after the livestock has already fled.

      Passing laws that can’t be enforced except against the generally law-abiding is always a bad idea in my view. Criminals, if they want automatic weapons, will just get them from the black market, rather than trying to use a stupid recoil-operated device to increase the rate of fire while at the same time making the weapon harder to aim and control.

      • (What follows may seem to be the ‘false slippery slope’ rationalization, but given gun control advocates loose relation with reality, I do not believe this is unlikely.)

        They are a stupid accessory that, in my view, has almost no utility and has been demonstrated to have the potential for great harm.

        The trouble is that ‘shall not be infringed’ thing. A bump stock ban is an infringement of a stupid but legal accessory.

        Look, bump stocks are asinine, granted. They are also one of a large group of devices that have the same effect (and the same failings: overheated barrels, lousy aim, etc.)

        Where do we stop? This is a cheap political win to appeal to the low information voters. However, I can get the same impact with a devices carrying names like: the BMF Activator, or the Hellfire Trigger, or the AutoGlove, or the SlideFire. A little bad press and these devices must join the bump stock in oblivion, right? (I can get the same effect with a shoestring and modified method to hold the weapon! Should we outlaw shoestrings?!?)

        I can fire a 30 round magazine dry in less than 8 seconds, if I don’t care about accuracy. I have what is known as a ‘two stage’ trigger. The trigger is design to improve accuracy by having two ‘break points’ (the snapping point when the hammer is released by the trigger to fire the round) instead of the traditional one. This allows you to ‘take up the slack’ in the trigger in a controlled fashion and deliberately fire, knowing exactly when the gun will go off. The gun itself resets without the first break point being reactivated (short reset), meaning I never have to relax my trigger finger more than an eighth of an inch or so. I am literally able to fire 4 rounds per second using this common trigger. (Of course, doing so for very long is bad for my AR… the barrel gets engine exhaust pipe hot after about 5 rounds… not to mention requiring a strong trigger finger! 🙂 )

        Now that we established with this ban that being capable of firing that fast is ‘not permissible,’ you can make the case to come for my second stage trigger.

        But wait! I can modify ANY trigger assembly to a short reset with a household file and a little knowledge. Since we cannot limit the knowledge or the household file, I guess you have to take away my semi-auto AR, as semi-automatic weapons are the only (commonly owned and legal) guns able to fire every time you pull the trigger.

        POOF! You get your semi-auto gun ban.

        Tell me that this would never happen, that gun control advocates are happy with just a bump stock ban, when other methods exist to fire rapidly.

        Given how gun grabbers act, I would not believe you if you did.

        • Slickwilly, and now we come to Isaac Asimov’s story, “The Bicentennial Man”. The short story, not the movie monstrosity.

          One aspect of this novella deals with legal precedent. A team of lawyers take on cases, which they deliberately lose, thus setting precedents which they will ultimately use to bring about the major legal change that they desire.

          Whether you win or lose, each case sets a precedent, and so can potentially be manipulated to achieve a long term goal. Just keep nibbling away. Anyone can see this in play today.

          I must say, this seems to me to be, by far, the biggest problem with having a system Common Law rather than Civil Law.

          Yep, the totality of my legal expertise comes from SiFi novellas!

          • I come from a country where we have Civil Law (or Roman Law, which sounds fancier) and I’ll gladly take the warts of Common Law. 🙂

            Our Constitution (scoring at 136 articles and counting, even though it was modeled after the US one) can be modified with the stroke of a pen, and regularly goes through that. Also, all other laws can do the same thing, and precedent be damned.

            Best example is that we have an article saying that no law can be retroactively applied in harm of a person. Well, recently some idiot proposed to remove that article.

        • The trouble is that ‘shall not be infringed’ thing. A bump stock ban is an infringement of a stupid but legal accessory.

          It is not an “arm.” It is not an infringement, in my view, to ban it. I also believe the automatic weapon ban is constitutional.

          I don’t think I disagree with anything else you’ve written above. And I totally feel your slippery slope. In fact, that’s why I’m not passionate about any kind of ban against them, but I’d have a hard time objecting to one as a technical matter.

          As a political matter, well, that’s different.

        • slickwilly wrote, “BMF Activator, or the Hellfire Trigger, or the AutoGlove, or the SlideFire”

          About the law:

          They all should be banned. They are all mechanical devices that put a single motion action of the operator (like a squeeze of a trigger on an fully automatic firearm) to fire the firearm until the firearm has expended all the ammunition. These devices are essentially moving the “trigger” to a separate mechanical device that in-turn operated the actual firearm trigger similarly to a sear device on a fully automatic firearm.

          For the purposes of the National Firearms Act the term Machinegun means:

          Any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger

          The frame or receiver of any such weapon

          Any part designed and intended solely and exclusively or combination of parts designed and intended for use in converting a weapon into a machinegun, or

          Any combination of parts from which a machinegun can be assembled if such parts are in the possession or under the control of a person.

          The problem is that the definition of trigger has been tunnel visioned into only meaning the pre-installed trigger on the actual firearm when the trigger is whatever mechanical device that the operator activates to fire the firearm. The definitions do not need to be changed, they just need to be properly applied.

          About the Constitution:

          As far as the argument about the infringement on the 2nd Amendment in particular; I think the discussion about the average citizen being able to posses the rough equivalent to the standard weaponry and ammo loads of a Infantry rifleman soldier/marine in texagg04’s fabulous essay Putting Gun Control In Perspective: The Second Amendment’s Purpose, And How To Protect It is quite relevant.

          • “They are all mechanical devices that put a single motion action of the operator … to fire the firearm until the firearm has expended all the ammunition.”
            Not so with the SlideFire (bump-stock). It relies on the repeated (if swift) action of the shooter using his own “muscle power” to push the entire firearm forward to engage his finger with the trigger for each shot.

            • Willem Reese wrote, “Not so with the SlideFire (bump-stock). It relies on the repeated (if swift) action of the shooter using his own “muscle power” to push the entire firearm forward to engage his finger with the trigger for each shot.”

              For the bumpstock to properly function a continuous muscle force must be applied to the firearm in the forward direction, for a full auto to function properly in auto select fire mode a continuous muscle force must be applied to the firearm trigger in the rearward direction. In my opinion how the muscle power is applied is not relevant; squeezing a trigger on a fully automatic firearm also requires a continuous muscle force to maintain the trigger in the rear position, so the muscle force is applied with different muscles in a different direction is really not irrelevant. It’s still as single action applied by the operator to fire full auto.

              • For the bumpstock to properly function a continuous muscle force must be applied to the firearm in the forward direction…

                It may seem to be a (singular) continuous force, but it’s actually a swiftly repetitive reciprocating action, as the forward hand actually moves back and forth, pushing the rifle forward after each recoil, and causing the trigger finger to fire each individual shot. One trigger pull for one shot. That might seem like spitting hairs to some people, but that’s the defining condition set for “not a machine gun”. It’s not at all like the unmoving single trigger pull that defines full auto.

                A similar action that might actually be legally questionable would be “slam-firing” on certain pump-action firearms (mainly older ones) that allow the trigger to be held down while the action is worked, and a shot is fired with each “pump” cycle of the forward hand, without a reset and pull of the trigger.

    • I personally think bump stocks are stupid. You can tell they are pretty useless because you couldn’t give the things away until they talked about banning them. Banning them is terrible, however. They don’t violate the NFA or the 1968 Black and Poor Control Act. They only make it easier to do the ‘rock,’n’roll’ trick you can do with your finger or a pencil. as how can you ban a bump stock without banning fingers? You have to ban all semi-automatic weapons. That is the objective and it is an unAmerican one.

      If we really cared about our country, we would encourage AR-15 ownership and use, especially among the young, Having a vast pool of citizens with familiarity with the basic functions of your military’s primary small arm is great for military preparedness, it is like when England encouraged archery competitions in the Middle Ages.

    • Everything about the bump-stock ban is dirty.

      First, it’s a solution in search of a problem. Of the estimated (from what I’ve read) 500,000 to 1.5 million in private hands (all as unregistered as any other firearm stock), only once have they supposedly been used in a significant crime (Vegas, where the shooter actually had the means to obtain true heavy automatic weapons, if he had wished). Even their use there has never actually been confirmed by the FBI. As many have pointed out, “bump-fire” can be accomplished, without any accessories, by just using a proper technique.

      Does the highly questionable benefit of having a useless ban in place make it worth creating a million or so new felons out of otherwise law-abiding citizens? From what we’ve seen so far in states that have instituted such bans, compliance is almost nil. New York’s “SAFE” act requirement for registering “assault weapons” has been massively ignored by its populace. The same seems to be happening in states that have instituted their own bump-stock bans. In New Jersey, none have been turned in; in Massachusetts, three https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2018/05/18/so-states-ban-bump-stocks-now-how-do-they-enforce-the-law . There’s not even a legal way to proactively enforce such a ban.

      Next, even under the Obama administration, the ATF couldn’t logically justify calling bump-stocks “machine guns”, or claim they fell under the control of the National Firearms Act. It took political pressure (under a supposedly friendly Republican administration) for the ATF to create a tortured, untruthful, fantasy of an opinion contrary to what they had, on several occasions, previously ruled, and on which citizens had relied while spending their money and taking possession of the then legal items. During the public comment period on the proposed change, responses ran 85% against it, the great majority “unique” comments. The pro-regulation comments were more than half form letter responses, most from a single source. https://www.thetrace.org/rounds/atf-bump-stock-regulation-comments-analysis/

      This should have been left to Congress, if they wanted to modify the National Firearms Act. The NRA had signaled some willingness for this to be considered, I assume with the hope to gain some reasonable concessions in return, like removing hearing protectors (suppressors) from NFA restrictions, or getting universal concealed carry reciprocity. The Republicans gave it a shot (hah!), but the dems tried to load up a bunch of other new restrictions, and killed the effort.

      Trump is engaging in Obama-like overreach and attempting to make (bad) law by executive action…never a good thing. Surely he doesn’t think the left will love him for this, and coupled with a failure on the border wall, this could seriously erode support from his base. It’s Constitutionally questionable in several aspects, as well. As it stands, gun owners would now be subject to a taking without compensation. Firearms owners would get nothing in return as a compromise, further advancing the left’s one-sided incremental anti-gun agenda.

      On the possible bright side (if there is one in this mess) this could likely get put on hold as the inevitable lawsuits are sorted out, and maybe even be eventually put to rest by the SC, with a favorable (to owners) ruling that might impact state laws as well. Die, RBG, die!

        • Thanks for that, Slick (Are you saying my comment wasn’t “well thought out” ? 😉 )

          The only quibble I have with the well-done Federalist piece is the (unfortunately common) use of the term “increases the rate of fire” when discussing bump-stocks. They do not, in fact, increase the rate of fire, which is a function of the speed at which a firearm’s action can physically cycle, and how long it can do so before becoming inoperable. An AR15’s inherent “rate of fire” is little to no different from its fully automatic cousins. A better description might be that a bump-stock (possibly) increases the rate of actualization of.the trigger by the shooter (still a single shot per pull).

          • Naw, if I wanted to cast aspersions on your fine post you would have had no trouble knowing I had done so…

            You quibble is valid. However, if we wanted to get that technical we lose half our audience. Engineers are ever treated thus… 🙂

    • As soon as bump stocks were introduced on the market I predicted that they would be banned and I completely agree with banning them. I told any of my friends that chose to purchased them that they would be banned and they would have to turn them in or likely provide proof that they were destroyed. I never purchased one.

      • I completely agree with banning them

        I am curious, my friend Z, how you would respond to my December 19, 2018 at 3:27 pm post?

        How do you square your position with support for the Second Amendment, in light of my post?

        I am not being snarky: I want to learn about a position that I disagree with, from someone whose opinion I respect, which might change my mind.

      • There won’t be any round up of bump-stocks or follow-up to ensure compliance. It will be a 3-month period to turn them over to gov’t (or otherwise sell and remove them from your U.S.-based possession) and after that period, it’s just a felony prosecution if you are caught with one. Sales were completed by many private companies and resold with no tracking or registration.

        What they should do is also allow them to be stamped with a serial number and allow the owners to apply for a federal license & registration in order to keep them.

        • In addition, if the ban goes forward, they should offer a one-time freebie on the federal tax stamp after a simple NICS check on these. These were all bought with the explicit assurance from the government that they were legal.

          Of course, like most such regulation, none of this will have any effect on actual violent crime.

  5. Recently, I’ve been seeing a few memes about Judge Ralph Strother and how terrible it was to accept the plea deal of Jacob Walter Anderson. Was it ethical or wrong for him to accept the plea? Not being in law, I found (though don’t know if it is accurate) that a judge can not force a prosecutor to prosecute, cannot change the terms of the plea, and decides if punishment is acceptable to the crime that the accused is pleading guilty for. The accusation by the victim is quite terrible, but since it isn’t going to court we won’t know if it was true or not and he isn’t being charged by the prosecution of those crimes.

  6. We’ve been watching a Netflix series on murders on Ada, Oklahoma in the ’80s and how false confessions were coerced by the police. It was written by John Grisham, who said that if he wrote it as a novel no one would be able to suspend their disbelief, It’s all about local DAs (actually the same DA) automatically going after the poor, the stupid, for a murder and after 8-10 hours of untaped harassment, suddenly turn on the tape and get confessions with much prompting on details that were later found to be incorrect. Evidence handed to police which provided alibis for the murder night were not turned over to the defense; they simply disappeared. These were public defenders, of course, who didn’t want the cases and were later found guilty of ‘ineffective counsel’ which led to new trials.

    Regardless of the sometimes hideous actions of the Innocence Project in other states (e.g. Northwestern University freeing a real killer for the press coverage), these did manage to use new DNA evidence 12 years later to free two people convicted for murder and on death row..

    Haven’t seen the last two episodes, but am sure there will be a stupendous ending.

    But the point of this is: Civics classes need to start in 1st grade. None of these suspects knew enough to ask for a lawyer. “I didn’t do it” only opens the doors. The only, only thing to be said is “I want a lawyer.” That stops the cops cold. And gives suspects some breathing room.

    Presumed innocent, my eye. These low-IQ, poor folks didn’t know enough to ask for a lawyer, and frankly, it was clear that the DA wanted a conviction of someone, even the wrong one.

    Very upsetting. And our justice system — which looks fine on paper, is not working. Until and unless the average citizen actually knows his rights, we’re still in the wilderness. Both of these guys came within a week of execution when, years later, DNA saved them. (The great DA said he didn’t care about DNA and all that stuff, and because their cases were dismissed, he intended to retry them. He wanted someone convicted, and didn’t care one whit whether it was the actual murderer.) How many DAs are stlll elected instead of appointed?

    I don’t believe this is a hick-Oklahoma thing. I think it’s everywhere.

    Lesson: First thing, and only thing you say is “I want a lawyer.” And since the police are legally allowed to lie (e.g., ‘your buddy just gave you up’), and forcefully tell you it makes you look guilty if you want a lawyer, you only say, “I want a lawyer.”

    This was a tough thing to watch. Everyone with kids should make this point: if you’re arrested, or not, even taken in for questioning on maybe a minor matter, ASK FOR A LAWYER AND THAT’S ALL. If they press, just ask for a lawyer. ask for a lawyer, ask for a lawyer. That stops them cold. And even if you get a PD, it gives you time to find someone else, or get the facts straight, or not be coerced and browbeaten by those who for political reasons just want a perpetrator, even if it’s the wrong one..

    Don’t get me wrong. I am a huge fan of “Bluebloods.” I love it but am sure it presents the ideal, not the reality.

    • On the cop shows, anyone who asks for a lawyer gets one, but the request is sneered and eye-rolled at to make it look as if they are bad for asking for one. L&O did that all the time. It plants the idea that only people with things to hide want a lawyer. It’s a dangerous idea to put in people’s heads, that only the guilty want a lawyer, and good people spill their guts without legal council.

    • It is! I feel a bit guilty for enjoying it as much as I did. The device is brilliantly constructed, and I hate package thieves! I was surprised to find that the police in some areas won’t do much about it, which is why they’ll do it in broad daylight.

    • It is vigilantism, but I find it hard to condemn it. The prank is harmless, the idiots’ identities are concealed, and the guy appears to have enough sense to stay far enough to not put himself in any real danger.

    • It’d been a lot more enjoyable seeing these POS miscreants be subjected to some real world repercussions (couple hundred hours of community service) after seeing the expressions on their criminal pusses as a DA played the video in their presence.

      • The way my company bills engineering time (and it’s pretty fair, imo) those phones could be latest generation iPhones and that would be one of the smaller line items on the invoice.

        • The prototype likely cost $20,000 if one was to properly evaluate the labor of an experienced design engineer like this guy. Coding, CAD design, custom 3D printing, and creating a custom circuit board are all expensive. The total materials alone likely ran north of $5,000 as he had multiple iterations during development.

          I am betting on at least $1,500 retail if this were to be mass produced.

          • Porch mounted glitter Claymore for $1,500 would never be worth it if the estimated loss of products to theft is less than $1,500.

            People need to learn how to have packages mailed to their office where they can have immediate control of them.

            • Spoken like a true engineer… or accountant (no offense intended).

              I applaud you, sir! This would be how I evaluate the expense in any normal purchasing transaction.

              However, we then ignore the powerful emotional appeal such a solution might have. People rarely make decisions rationally, and an emotional appeal sells just like sex. This product scratches an itch few could have (heretofore) scratched: striking back at the injustice of the world, one thief at a time.

              A proper marketing campaign (and perhaps a discount coupon making the price ‘just $999 plus shipping’) could make quite a tidy sum for the inventor. Think of the options for ‘extra fine glitter’ or ‘pepper spray upgrade!’ Replacement glitter and spray could be worth a fortune alone. Like modern printer manufacturers, the money is in the expendables!

              Then you get into the ‘camouflage’ box types for the second year (after thieves wise up a bit) where the exterior box is different shapes, and comes with noise makers (to rattle when package is shook) and weight differences to fool porch pirates.

              People do this because there is little chance they get caught. Up the odds a bit, make it risky and uncomfortable, and the causal thieves will stop.

            • Porch mounted glitter Claymore

              Hmmmm… that phrase strikes a chord in my subconscious… (The Army should never have allowed me to play with explosives)

              How about a manually fired ‘porch mounted glitter claymore’ based upon cameras (doorbell, etc.) operated by remote phone app? One that shoots pepper spray upon command? Reminds me of the car anti theft devices used by Bond (locked doors, knockout gas, etc.) making sure the thief is paid for their crime?

              We have the technology…

            • I’ve seen videos of far more economical solutions involving a box, a spring-loaded pin, and a 12 gauge shotgun blank. The pirate gets a terrible fright and some mild tinnitus, no electronics needed…

              Perhaps not as entertaining as this fellow’s high-tech revenge robot, but satisfying nonetheless.

              • Also far more likely to get the homeowner prosecuted. Shotgun blanks are explosives, and the expanding gasses produce shrapnel.

                My Army engineering course discussed how to use shotgun blanks as boobytraps designed to wound or maim. Not a great prank.

                • I believe the one I saw (it has been a couple years, though) was constructed with an inner metal box to contain any dangerous bits. Your point is a valid one, though, and was my first thought at seeing it. I suppose in today’s climate, one could get sued for causing hearing damage anyway, so either way it’s a bad idea.

      • Tear gas… NOT pepper spray, the real deal. With bank robbery marking dye.

        Working WITH police, if possible, to rapidly track the thieves and arrest them (and render medical aid, as CS is nasty (mostly) non lethal stuff.)

          • My dear sir, you miss the pretext to have the police on call: some unfortunate souls have conditions where CS could harm them greatly, like asthma.

            How are we to know that normal recovery methods will work for everyone? Having the police monitor/respond to the theft is worthwhile, even if it saves just one life…

  7. If you wonder why Zoltar and I sometimes appear on edge, wonder no more!

    Righty needs to take a seat, forget Baraboo, and the outgoing Governor pissing off Lefties.

    America’s Dairyland has a new darling: U.W. TA (Environmental Justice [?]) and melanin deficient Stepha Velednitsky has raised the bar in Lefty-on-Lefty porn to heights where it may never be reached (one would hope) again!

    Her hysterical (not the funny/ha ha kind) rant is aimed at, and this is where it gets good)…sympathetic, guilt-suffocated White Lefties!

    The talented Ms. Velednitsky: “In this room we see white liberalism embodied through the timer, the ‘please finish up,’ ([School Board]President Mary Burke’s entreaty to speakers who exceeded the 3 minutes), the numbers
    (each speaker is given an order in number of appearance), the sign-up process, the stage, and the barriers.

    (The school board meets on the stage of McDaniels Auditorium, the only large room in the tired old (1939) former schoolhouse)

    “All these signs suggest that the law and the decorum and the civility is more important than what is being said. Another aspect of white liberalism is policing peoples’ tone of voice … the obsession with civility … refusing to hear black and brown people when they aren’t following white cultural norms of communication.

    “… by maintaining law and order, by maintaining civility, by keeping your front lawn nice and tidy ,and by putting that ‘all our welcome in our community on your front lawn’ — you are denying that all the while you are passing money to a deadly institution that polices with great disparity and causes tragic, tragic harm to the community …

    “So, telling black and brown people to ‘please wrap up’ suggests that their voices, their pain, and their stories are less important than the rules and that is where white liberalism turns into white supremacy.

    “It’s because white supremacy is the accumulation of these aggressive messages that say ‘stay off the grass, mow the lawn, pull your pants up and act respectable.’ If I were to raise my voice and use some swear words I don’t believe it would be received in the same way if a black and brown youth were using those swear words.

    “So here is what I have to say [shouting] FUCK WHITE LIBERALISM! and FUCK WHITE SUPREMACY.”

    Yoikes!!!

    • Can I express my distaste for the phrase “black and brown people”, or especially just “brown people”, in contexts like this? Of course it’s one thing when people use it to identify their own groups specifically.

      But here, the phrase takes an huge range of people, who represent thousands of (diverse!) races, cultures, histories, contexts, challenges, and perspectives, and lumps them all into one category: “oppressed”. I think its use started as a way of mocking “racist” opponents for thinking all “brown people” were the same, which is a strawman, but the phrase does literally that and assumes all people with the same skin tone are the same. And gee, what does that sound like?

    • These are (mostly) White people that laughably envision themselves woke, screaming at other White people, who in a cruel twist of breathtaking irony also believe they’re woke.

      The latter woke are positively horrified that the former woke don’t recognize, or at least don’t acknowledge the fact, that they’re woke.

      Complicate this with a heapin’ helpin’ of self-induced soul-crushing White Lefty Guilt, and a rather ugly picture emerges.

  8. I just finished the excellent book, “Without Precedent: Chief Justice John Marshall and His Times” by Joel Richard Paul.

    Two thoughts.

    * In chapter 8 “An Extravagant Pretense”, the author, speaking of Jackson’s populist appeal that swept him into office, writes, “As often happens when a nationalist leader is elected to office by vilifying other ethnic groups, a wave of racism swept across the country”

    This stopped me cold. I turned to the beginning of the book and checked the release date. Sure enough, it’s 2018. Am I 100% sure that the author was making a thinly-veiled reference to Trump? No, I can’t prove that. But it’s not uncommon in books written about historical events for authors to inject what I refer to as SPC (Snarky Political Commentary) that’s intended to reflect on some modern-day equivalent. I grumbled through the rest of the chapter.

    Is it ethical for authors of historical works, which are intended to present facts about the subject in question, to take potshots at modern-day leaders by alluding to a perceived commonality?

    * The author repeatedly referred to the anti-Federalist/Jeffersonian/Jacksonian party as the Republican Party. Historically, this is technically correct as the adherents to anti-Federalism considered themselves republicans in ideology, but it is often confusing to a large segment of the population who don’t understand that it is not referring to the GOP which wasn’t founded until 1854. To make matters more confusing, this republican party became the Democrat Party. Some writers try to clarify the difference by calling these pre-Democrats Democratic-Republicans. Paul does use that term once in the book, but predominately uses the name Republican Party in reference to them. The fact that adherents of this party, especially in Jackson’s time, are painted as uneducated, conservative, racist slavery supporters, it does lead the question as to whether the author is deliberately trying to make a correlation to the modern Republican Party.

    Again, that’s just my impression. But…is it unethical to use technically true terminology in an historical work when there is a strong likelihood that it will confuse your readers (or, in this case, possibly assign negative attributes to the wrong political party)?

    • No it isn’t ethical. Sounds like the book is one big reverse engineered smear of the contemporary GOP – by determining all bad political party action in the past was essentially the past’s incarnation of the Republican Party and all good political party action in the past was just the glimmer of what would become manifest as the contemporary DNC.

      Sounds like a bucket of vomit if you ask me.

      • The bulk of it is very good, though. When reading history, I’ve found it’s necessary to read the introduction/preface and try to determine the author’s biases (because they all have them) as soon as possible. That way, I know if the author likes or dislikes his subjects. Will the author love Andy Jackson so much that he rationalizes the treatment of the Indians? Will the author hate Jefferson so much that he’s painted as a virtual traitor to the United States? To get a balanced view of a subject, it’s almost necessary to read multiple books about it.

        • To get a balanced view of a subject, it’s almost necessary to read multiple books about it.

          Or read something written in before 1960, when scholarship bias was less acceptable to publishers.

        • Fair enough. I agree with the value of reading different viewpoints. General Patton had a copy of German Maneuver Doctrine written by Rommel on his book shelf. The best pastors have read religious works by Buddhists, Animists, Pagans and even Satanists.

          Just, at some point, time becomes an issue and you have to prioritize what viewpoints you do give credence too, because some are more impactful than others.

          It’s interesting…I’ve increasingly found that conservatives are, on average, more informed of everyone’s views on history/politics/economics, etc than leftists are. Leftists believe only their ideas should be considered and have made themselves grossly ignorant of the wider world of ideas and when confronted with those ideas relegate them to the role of boogeyman from the fairy tales and just ridicule them in a communal catharsis with fellow Leftists. Conservatives, inundated by Leftist propaganda since their first enrollment in Kindergarten have been force fed views opposite theirs and seem more open to reading about other views even if they vehemently disagree with them.

          • (To clarify, I find MOST people, of ALL political stripes to be generally un-informed or under informed, so when I make the comparison that I discover conservatives being more informed on average or more open-minded on average, I’m not comparing a wild diversity like a score of 60 out of 100 vs 10 out of 100… more like a score of 15 out of 100 vs 8 out of 100)

          • “Just, at some point, time becomes an issue and you have to prioritize what viewpoints you do give credence too, because some are more impactful than others.”

            I do agree with with you here. How many books about Chief Justice Marshall do I have to read to make sure I’m not getting distorted facts viewed through a 21st century Progressive lens?

            Someone who only has time to read one book here or there could possibly come away with the belief that the party of Jefferson and Jackson was THE Republican Party.

            It’s also why it’s so necessary for the news media – all of the news media – to make a good faith effort to present facts and not opinions masquerading as facts as the typical American citizen does not have time to watch three different news programs or read three or four different newspapers to determine the truth.

  9. So, Belgium’s Prime Minister has resigned as a result of the yellow vest protests. France is more or less being shut down every weekend. The protests have spread to over 8 countries including Canada. Foreign troops are patrolling Paris in armored vehicles with EU markings (they are based in Italy to quell anti-EU actions). The EU is preparing to maintain the status quo by stripping Hungary and any country with a nationalist government of their voting rights so they can’t appoint EU representatives and gain control of the EU. “You can only vote the way we tell you to vote” seems to be the message. Huh, where have I heard that message for the last 2 years?

    Where is the mainstream press coverage of this? Where can we get reliable information about this? Is there anyone left we can trust?

    • Complex interactions between individual’s sense of who they are amidst a wildly globalizing Europe. A Europe increasingly under sway of a single nation-state. Europe’s elites, which inevitably benefit materially from European unification, can’t keep the constituent nations together, who, are still composed of individuals who still boldly identify with their cultural communities. They’ve been submissive to go along with the elite’s vision for quite awhile with their modernist attitudes towards economics and culture, but it’s too fast for “commoners” to keep up. So the fringes are rebelling against Germany and Germany’s aiders and abettors. Because the hyper-progressive Left of Europe disdains hatefully any bumpkin notion of national identity and suppresses any impulse in those directions, the reactions are wild pendulum swings the other way…and you get the rise of Nationalism (which in and of itself isn’t a bad thing) combined with the ill-defined but useful term “Populism”.

      No, it isn’t a new rise of Nazis, but it isn’t a good development, though the natural human impulses sparking the reactions do derive from a good set of values. Nor is the opposite, that is, the vision of the globalizers a good development, even if those impulses derive from a good set of values. This is what happens when you don’t moderate.

    • This post agrees with most of my observations relating to the EU. I would give the Elites more nefarious motives (selling out their countrymen for obscene amounts of money, for instance) but overall I think this is good analysis.

      The ‘only vote the way we approve’ thing harkens back to the USSR: it is a socialist hallmark.

  10. Trump is pulling an Obama and getting out of Syria just in time to allow the almost crushed ISIS a chance to sweep back, unify several extremist rebel groups under its banner and start beheading people and chucking people off of buildings again.

    This makes me sick.

    • I just learned of this this morning. I do not know much, but it already seems like a terrible idea. Turkey is looking into launching strikes against various Kurdish factions holding the territory….

      • Makes me sick. Recalling all the images and videos of ISIS’s original offensive into Iraq after Obama pulled out and when he refused to support the retreating Iraqi army when there was still a chance to stop ISIS then.

        All the Iraqis that were brutally murdered. The specific targeting of Iraqis who had rolled an incredibly lopsided set of dice to directly support our soldiers as interpreters or in other roles. The Iraqis who had gambled on the new regime being a stable try at Republican Democracy who now got the ignominy of road side massacres.

        And we’re going to do it again.

        Never mind the abject stupidity of giving Iran and Russia a more solid foothold in that micro-region. Russia already had enough with Assad…

    • Tell the truth Michael West.

      Trump is pulling an Obama and getting out of Syria just in time to allow the almost crushed ISIS a chance to sweep back, unify several extremist rebel groups under its banner and start beheading people and chucking people off of buildings again.

      This shows how a citizen, internalizing *established narratives* that are founded in lies and distortions, chooses through an act of volition to serve the lie. Why they do this I have no idea. It is the most amazing thing.

      Everything — everything — that the US has done in the region over the last 20 years has been thoroughly illegal and profoundly immoral. There is hardly an exception. It is so over-the-top that people stop seeing it. How could it be *seen* and held in the mind when to make reparations for it is considered? Imagine what will be required.

      The second Invasion of Iraq, supposedly in retaliation for 9/11, but (said to have been) in planning for years prior, is the 21st century’s world-scale illegal event. No other State has done anything even remotely comparable. Open State terrorism of the first order. Profoundly destructive to the attacked nation, indeed that nation will not survive in its pre-invasion form. Part of a larger plan to *remodel the region*, to break apart States into ethnic enclaves and to get them fighting each other. Said to benefit, indeed to have been designed by, one notable player in the region . . .

      Having resulted in at least 200,000 deaths. No one seems to know exactly how many, and it doesn’t matter, because (to all appearances) Americans have a special God-given right to kill and harm when they so please.

      What I have just said here is straight, honest, clear and accurate reporting of the event.

      And you-plural will not face it. You cannot face it. You cannot therefor really understand the situation your nation is in and the ways that you-as-citizens are deeply complicit in justifications.

      This applies, as I have been able to conceive:

      O, my offense is rank, it smells to heaven,
      It hath the primal eldest curse upon’t—
      A brother’s murther. Pray can I not,
      Though inclination be as sharp as will.

      If you enjoy all the ‘gains’ as a result of the crime, you cannot say you have made amends for the crime. You are deeply implicated in the crime.

      Not only has the US transformed itself (if one were to consider Christian doctrine in any serious sense) into a heretic-nation in a moral sense, but it cannot understand — it will not understand — that the price for this will be paid, come sooner or later.

      “Pray can I not…” but you need not!

      • This is stupid and doesn’t deserve a response, but here we go.

        American soldiers did NOT kill 200,000 Iraqis, so whatever “resulted” in the deaths of supposedly 200,000 Iraqis is not the “fault” of America. That the heavy handed dictatorship of Saddam…and all the resultant killing of civilians his governance required held back other factions from killing each other wantonly, is, in cold terms, moral luck.

        And the truth is, as history attests, and you seem to deny, Obama withdrew American soldiers. ISIS exploded. Obama refused to support the Iraqi army when ISIS could have been contained. ISIS did what ISIS did. This is FACT.

        Also, it’s spelled “therefore”.

        “Therefor” is a term almost exclusively found in legal use with a different meaning.

        Go away you apologist for dictators.

        • Oh it veeeeeerrrryyyyy much deserves a response. It really and truly requires a response. It demands a response. And a response, at one point or another, will be provided.

          The analysis hinges on everything that has followed from the First Invasion of Iraq 1990, on through 9/11 (and *all that*), into direct questions about *what is going on* in our present.

          What amazes me is the unwillingness to see a larger picture. Even to be aware of it. It is something nearly incredible. To puncture the established defenses is difficult. maybe even impossible.

          I tried to find an appropriate *patter song* to commemorate this post (I did not know what one was) and found this: It will have to do!. (Unless you, Wednesday Woman, have come up with something better?)

        • This is stupid and doesn’t deserve a response, but here we go.</blockquote?

          To cover over a network of interconnected lies, one useful initial step is to imply that the entire topic is not even worthy of conversation. It is bad argumentation and fallacious. If these wars are immoral and consequential, and indeed they are and have been, it is imperative to talk about them.

          American soldiers did NOT kill 200,000 Iraqis, so whatever “resulted” in the deaths of supposedly 200,000 Iraqis is not the “fault” of America. That the heavy handed dictatorship of Saddam…and all the resultant killing of civilians his governance required held back other factions from killing each other wantonly, is, in cold terms, moral luck.

          Nice! But fallacious. Insidiously fallacious. Here is an example where the individual citizen marries stories to his or her own *self*, but which his or her own *self* have no real relationship to. No sound reason – no morally defensible reason — to apologize for the machinations of giant geo-political players.

          This attempts to deny responsibility for what resulted from the attack, and implies that the *dictator* himself, by forcing the just to act, is himself ultimately responsible. This view is definitely connected to the *propaganda narrative* yet it has been shown to be false.

          Damages done that arises from the attack may even be mostly punitive or incidental, but this does not change — cannot change — the fact of responsibility, on one level or another. The level of responsibility has to be thought about.

          Therefore (heh heh) we see another fallacy of argumentation, easily defeated.

          And the truth is, as history attests, and you seem to deny, Obama withdrew American soldiers. ISIS exploded. Obama refused to support the Iraqi army when ISIS could have been contained. ISIS did what ISIS did. This is FACT.

          This statement indicates lack of grasp of the consequences of an entire *project of destabilization* that seems to have resulted from America’s actions, invasions and interventions in the region. There are policy declarations (these can be located and read) which indicated that a plan was set in motion to create chaos in the region with specific ends in mind. The rise of ISIS has been said to be a result of these events. And also, related to that (they say) is a refugee crisis.

          These are all highly questionable geo-political decisions (I and many others see them as profoundly illegal and also immoral) which were all carried out for reasons distinct from the *narratives*. No one really understands what is going on *over there*. Except perhaps the planners. So, there is the *real truth* and a second *sort-of truth* that is part of the ‘narrative’.

          Go away you apologist for dictators.

          Here, one comes to a core. (This is related, naturally, to the ‘Get lost anti-Semite’ when a sound critique of Israel’s policies was brought out. Attack the moral integrity of the opponent).

          A *core* is a central meaning-set that has to be disassembled and examined. There is an apparent ‘moral condemnation’ here. It is I who who is made to seem the bad one. It is a fallacious line of argument.

          Except that in the world of realpolitik, and definitely for America over about 100 years, the object has never been to do away with dictators or dictatorship; it has been to find stable dictators and create stable dictatorships that are good for business. This is a simple fact.

          But, when a ‘dictator’ is needed, one is contrived. Or, a former ally is transformed into the needed dictator. An interesting and illustrative example is Panama and its invasion. It resulted in 3000 deaths. It corresponds, in number of dead, to 9/11. But while 9/11 and its pain was hyper-real, with months and months of the recitation of the names of the dead and spectacular monuments to those dead, no American gives el culo de una rata about the deaths that America achieves. Those dead do not count. They are irrelevant. In fact, they did not really occur. No one remembers them, no one cries for them, and there is no price to be paid for them.

          But America gets to kills tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands even, and never has to pay any price.

          Here you have a *core* that must be penetrated. It is an example of a horrifying complicity in destructive mis-truth. The proper wording escapes me because the issue is so convoluted.

          The reason one has to go through each example of a complex lie is because complex lies understructure so many different issues! It has to be done. One is morally and ethically bound to do it.

          • 1) Saddam invaded Kuwait with the horribly miscalculated gamble that the USSR provide some level of cover on the international stage to cow any attempts by other nations (namely the US) from intervening. He counted also on US apathy.

            2) The international community responded by agreeing that Kuwait should be relieved.

            3) Kuwait was liberated and the international community agreed that strong sanctions against Saddam’s regime were appropriate. Additionally, several limitations on Saddam’s military maneuvers were imposed by the international community, such as the well known “No Fly Zones”.

            4) Saddam promptly began to violate all the limitations imposed quite rightfully by the international community.

            5) The US-led invasion, then, was an enforcement of the will of the international community.

            Now, what’s the first illegal act in that litany of actions?

            Then, explain how 2-5 are illegal in light of 1.

            I’m not going to quibble with you about who is or is not responsible for 2nd and 3rd order effects – it’s far more nuanced than you’ll accept in order for you to scream “fallacy”! “fallacy!”.

            We chose to become Iraq’s protector until it could protect itself. The 2nd order effect of ISIS running roughshod over the Iraqi countryside and military, therefore IS our problem because we *let* that happen after promising we wouldn’t let something like that happen.

            We are NOT responsible for the 3rd order effects of the net deaths of the civil war that was merely waiting for the strong man dictator to go away in order to occur. Saddam was already killing his people in droves maintaining his monstrous regime. That outside players with nefarious designs against the security the newly Republican Iraq fomented a bloodbath in its attempts to oust the US-led protection, is NOT the direct fault of the United States.

            Yes, you are a dictator apologist. Of course dictators can be useful in the game of geopolitics. But when they are not, who the hell sheds a tear at their removal? You apparently.

            Saddam, remarkably, did more to give Iraq a sense of national identity than any of the attempts by previous regimes since the British Mandate of Iraq. But that usefulness he provided, did little to mitigate the over bearing monstrosity of his regime, and even while the international community would suffer his presence as status quo is mighty comfortable…the community AND certainly the US could not sit by while he invaded Kuwait.

            • As I said, the point is to examine narratives: the one that is presented for public consumption (or to influence the public toward some action) and then the real facts, to the degree that they can be known. They can be known, but often not until after the fact, and after significant damages have been done. The entire operation of the American war-industry, with all its connected parts, is what requires examination by citizens. It is a large undertaking. The notion of *building peace* requires a peace-studies approach. And I suggest that these are concerns — should be concerns — of responsible citizens. And by that I mean in many different lands.

              My research has shown me that government, in collusion with war-making industry, and capital interests, have a great deal of stake in the machinations of war and war-making. Therefore my interest is in exposing those interests and describing 1) how those industries and interests subvert government and insinuate themselves, 2) what are the mechanisms of social manipulation (PR/Propaganda) that they use, and 3) how these factions have excessive power in our own politynow, and 4) why it is necessary for citizens to: a) arrive at a proper perspective and understanding, b) learn what the truth is and then to tell that truth, and c) see that their own interests are distinct from he interests of those entities and factions that have usurped power.

              I did not make specific statements about the 1990–1991 Gulf War. Much has been written about US and other countries involvement in geo-political machinations that contributed to those events, and thus to background of those events. I have read some of those histories, or historical interpretations if you, and they have numerous murky elements.

              I make reference to the post 9/11 events principally when I refer to *crime* and to extremely negative effect. And here is the synthesis:

              Fifteen years ago today, Iraq was cast into the abyss as the US administration under George W Bush launched one of the most destructive invasions in modern history. In his now infamous speech announcing the start of the “Operation Iraqi Freedom”, President Bush told Iraqis that “the day of their liberation is near”. But rather than becoming a bastion for democracy and human rights in the region, Iraq has been decimated as a result of this military intervention, and millions of Iraqis have been subjected to horrors few others on this planet have ever experienced or imagined.

              The country has been ravaged by war, and transformed into an almost contiguous conflict zone from north to south, and east to west, as rival militant groups, foreign powers and political parties vie for power at the expense of the Iraqi people.

              Far from affecting only Iraqis – which is terrible enough – the invasion of Iraq has had global repercussions. The abject failure of the US’ attempt to export democracy to Iraq allowed for the importation of extremist ideologies into the country. This can be seen by the plethora of bloodthirsty organizations roaming Iraq today, from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group (ISIL, also known as ISIS), to the scores of militias loyal to the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The effects of the invasion of Iraq led to a regional spill over that has also engulfed Europe with the refugee crisis, and revived far-right and isolationist tendencies in the West.

              The legality of the Iraq War is disputed, that is true, but the effect of the war (the destruction of the country) is not in doubt.

              We chose to become Iraq’s protector until it could protect itself. The 2nd order effect of ISIS running roughshod over the Iraqi countryside and military, therefore IS our problem because we *let* that happen after promising we wouldn’t let something like that happen.

              That is again a rehearsal of an official narrative, more or less, and it has been contested and challenged. That entire picture is disputed. It was the original invasion and destabilization that contributed to the rise of such groups like ISIS.

              • “I did not make specific statements about the 1990–1991 Gulf War.”

                My research has shown me, that in order to make accurate assessments of historic fact, one should consider the ENTIRE set of relevant FACTS from history.

                If your interpretation of history hinges on pretending like Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait is immaterial to the context, then I’m afraid we can’t have an adult conversation on this topic.

                • You can always demonstrate why you think the invasion of Kuwait and the international response are irrelevant to the 2003 invasion. But we’re really not going make headway in a discussion without addressing the fact of Saddam’s invasion.

                • My research has shown me, that in order to make accurate assessments of historic fact, one should consider the ENTIRE set of relevant FACTS from history.

                  The invasion of Kuwait was illegal and was condemned. Based on what you write, and that you see fit to condemn that invasion, it stands to reason that you could orient your understanding to grasp that the invasion of Iraq has resulted in levels of destruction that completely pale what had been done in Kuwait, and have produced no ‘solution’ at any level, and no possibility for establishing democracy either in facsimile or in fact.

                  I do agree with you that a full understanding of the events of history is necessary when examining a specific event of history. If that is so — it certainly seems so — then you would agree that it should be carried out.

                  Yet many say that the view of history employed in typical propaganda narratives or in PR campaigns, is generally a distorted one. And many say that those that are wielded by those who drive US policies are incomplete and distorted. Lies, mistruths, partial truths or open deceptions. That has been my impression.

                  I definitely came to conclude as much about the entire Vietnam narrative. The war had no positive result that I have been able to discover. And it resulted in at least one full generation of destruction. I mean, that ill-effects recoiled against the American social body.

                  I reject the Left-Right dichomomy as misleading and false, at least largely. There needs to be a far sharper Conservative critique of these wars and their machinations, and the insidious corruption of American government that has resulted. But the corruption also has gone much further. Yet people do not seem able to locate the cause.

                  Similarly to Vietnam, I can see very little positive effect from the invasion of Iraq. Perhaps none at all. Maybe a net loss. But, it is not impossible for me to recognize that toppling a dictator, or enabling other forces to come into power, is not necessarily a bad object to have.

                  Yet I do not think that this really is nor was the ‘objective’. I think that behind the stated objectives are other, different objectives. Perpetual war may be just the desired object. If so, that changes what a citizen can look at and consider.

                  And I think ‘noble aspirations’ seem more to be part of PR campaigns. They trick people — the people who have to give their assent and the ones who have to carry out the policies — into ‘believing lies’, and getting invested in those lies.

                  If your interpretation of history hinges on pretending like Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait is immaterial to the context, then I’m afraid we can’t have an adult conversation on this topic.

                  I think you should have a great deal more faith in yourself than you appear to have, Michael. True, you have a hard time avoiding fallacious argument but you are not doing such a bad job even here taken on the whole. I don’t see you as ‘childish’ — I think you should not see yourself in that way either — but rather as lopsided in your thinking.

                  You have not really thought things through independently. That is not ‘childishness’, though it is sometimes a trait common to a child. It is more like obstinacy or perhaps a *will-to-believe* one particular story because, as I say, we tend to ‘invest’ in certain stories and then our ‘self’ gets wedded to them.

                  I do think that a mature and responsible adult — the operative word being *responsible* — would be able to and should be able to look at the 20 years of wars in that region and be capable of assessing that it seems to have been ill-conceived all the way round. Destructive of lives and causing to an astounding waste of national treasure. It had incredibly destructive effects that will not heal in many generations, and resulted in great harms done that cannot be reversed.

                  And that it did not, and will not, lead to a positive outcome. I think a responsible adult could at least entertain the possibility that this is true. In any case *strongly likely*.

                  • “The invasion of Kuwait was illegal and was condemned. Based on what you write, and that you see fit to condemn that invasion, it stands to reason that you could orient your understanding to grasp that the invasion of Iraq has resulted in levels of destruction that completely pale what had been done in Kuwait, and have produced no ‘solution’ at any level, and no possibility for establishing democracy either in facsimile or in fact.”

                    The blood bath of the civil war that was fomented by nefarious Anti-American external actors hyping up extremism and sectarian differences in the Iraqi people….

                    IS NOT ON THE SHOULDERS OF THE UNITED STATES.

                    I don’t know how to be more clear in this. If someone takes action that bad people actively find ways take advantage of to sow badness in the midst, the *bad actors* not the first actor carries the guilt.

                    The rest of your commentary after that paragraph is unsubstantial and your usual harangue about ‘narratives’ or whatever without ever actually discussing anything.

                    Listen, if you can’t grasp the relevance of the Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait or the culpability of anti-US extremists in the Iraqi civil war AND you insist on pivoting to beat on your hobbyhorse that borders on conspiracy theory, then this is my last response on this thread.

                    • This is another fallacious foray, Esteemed Michael.

                      The blood bath of the civil war that was fomented by nefarious Anti-American external actors hyping up extremism and sectarian differences in the Iraqi people….

                      IS NOT ON THE SHOULDERS OF THE UNITED STATES.

                      I don’t know how to be more clear in this. If someone takes action that bad people actively find ways take advantage of to sow badness in the midst, the *bad actors* not the first actor carries the guilt.

                      I think I could find many examples of an action, ill-advised, wrong, precipitous, badly thought-out, or deliberately badly-intentioned, that instigates a chain of events that leads to bad outcomes all the way around, and make a case that the instigator has responsibilities there. (And there are likely situations in which an instigator initiates and action that results in a general good all the way around.)

                      I think that your *argument* (which is not really an argument but a declaration, and a determined effort to exculpate the government for the results of its actions) is a weak one the purpose of which is to keep yourself (and those who will listen and agree with you) from examining a large and dynamic situation:

                      Meddling in foreign politics; being influenced *unnaturally* and excessively by one regional player (Israel) which has ‘operatives’ installed deeply in the US; the machinations of a vast and interconnected constellation of industries that fall under the title *War Industry*; the existence and the manoeuvres of a propaganda and public relations industry in manipulating people (immorally and definitely unethically); and the reprecussions of these machinations which I think lead to corruption (and which corruption is wide-ranging and shows up in many different areas) — these are the areas and the topics that I am certain — certain beyond any doubt — that are important to bring out into the open and to discuss. All of these elements contribute to the causal chain. Every element is relevant. And responsible citizens have an obligation to be aware of them, and to force the unaware to become aware.

                      I recognize that you do not understand the full scope and importance of a depth-analysis, and I recognize that you will do everything in your power to shut down the needed conversation and, perversely, to steer it into domains that you feel you can control.

                      I therefore suggest that the platform of your ‘conservatism’ must necessarily be a dubiously-founded platform. What do you serve? From the sound of it you do not indicate much of a relationship nor care for ‘Constitutional principles’. You just recite geo-political tropes that are, shall I say, handled and sold by ‘elites’. I cannot see how your position can be said to be very constitutional, nor is it particularly ethical nor moral.

                      This is why you interest me, and this is why defeating you in argument is necessary. Not simply for the *whack-a-mole* pleasure of it, but because there are issues of vast consequence involved.

                      The rest of your commentary after that paragraph is unsubstantial and your usual harangue about ‘narratives’ or whatever without ever actually discussing anything.

                      Again, you engage with your usual fallacious argumentation. In this case an attempt to ridicule my approach, or my language, or my focus. You provide me a good example that fallacious argument will usually fail of its own accord. You just have to notice it and point it out.

                      The fact is I am speaking about issues of consequence and very substantial things. In fact you are reducing the parameters of this pseudo-conversation by inability to grasp the fuller dimensions of the issue.

                      Listen, if you can’t grasp the relevance of the Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait or the culpability of anti-US extremists in the Iraqi civil war AND you insist on pivoting to beat on your hobbyhorse that borders on conspiracy theory, then this is my last response on this thread.

                      I would *retort* (yes, I was thinking of Pulp Fiction, I admit it) by suggesting that it is you who fail to define parameters that have real relevance. You keep your focus within limits that are far too narrow. You make another fallacious assumption that I do not regard the invasion of Kuwait or the actions of extremists as elements to be considered here. (Your mind works in binaries I have noticed). And finally you toss out a typical trope about *conspiracy theory* because, I guess, you think that helps your argument.

                      The other thing that comes to mind is an issue of hypocrisy. I mentioned the invasion of Panama. What if one were to compare S. Hussein’s invasion and occupation of Kuwait with the US invasion and *regime change* that occurred in Panama? Under Bush the Elder). It is a curious comparison and not a bad one.

                      But I will suggest that you will find a way to slither out of examining the meaning of the hypocrisy. Why? This is where, as I say, a given citizen duped and manipulated, marries himself or herself to a false ‘provided’ narrative that justifies immoral and unethical activity.

                      You are American. You have rights that no one else has. You can invade, install or topple an existent government, you can kill as many people as you want, and you have to answer to no one. The reason? Well, this is what needs to be examined. And it needs to be examined through a purely conservative and Constitutional lens. These *notions*, these *installations* that have been established in you-plural have been installed by elites through rhetorical manipulation. I call these simply *lies* and notice that individuals wed themselves to lies and participate in their own subjugation.

                      Freedom then, what is it? What is intellectual freedom when forces and powers circumscribe the moral individual and render him ineffective?

                      These are questions you have not ever really thought through, and like a buffoon you send up inane counter-arguments grounded in fallaciousness.

                      An adult is talking to you, child. How does it seem to be addressed this way? These issues are far more important than the smallness of your ego. They have to be confronted not stifled.

                • I do not reject the Leftist critique of ‘endless war’, and definitely not of ‘unjust war’ and unjustifiable war. And I definitely do not reject the populist movements that have arisen in America (and other places too) that reject the machinations of capital and the ‘elite’ class. That populism always has a more-or-less lefty flavor, doesn’t it?

                  What I would reject, and do reject, is the mindset that you seem to have. Who do you serve? What do you serve? Why? It is not clear. You speak of these geo-political events as if it is a reflection, or an amplification, of your own person. I reject that.

                  What I reject in the Left is their Marxist approach, and their *game* as it were that results in the undermining of institutions. But I notice that the so-called Neo-Cons are radicals of an oddly similar sort. They are not social conservatives. They are not sober and rational.

                  Therefore, you have to look to the inner structures on which people built their value-system.

                  I read Al Jazeera’s article and it sounded coherent to me. But you when you discover who wrote it impose incoherency on it. You are irrational therefore. Do you think that no one in that part of the world is capable of organizing a view of the world that has any sort of coherence? That would not be very bright. Yet it is more or less exactly that which one (likely) discovers at your own core.

                  You represent yourself as ‘the adult in the room’ but you do not live up to it. I have no idea if you define yourself as a Conservative or really what you stand for, but your stance is fairly common. I do not understand it but I cannot see it as *truly conservative*.

                  I think I agree with this stance, I mean generally:

      • Michael West wrote, “The Senate should censure the President and then pass legislation compelling action in Syria.”

        Personally I don’t have enough information to know what is going on in Syria but if there is a solid need for the few troops (I heard 2,000) there then they should stay, if the existing forces have been trained well enough to take on the task alone and the mission has essentially been “accomplished” then leaving might be warranted.

        I just don’t think that we, out here in civilian world, have enough information to make an informed judgement on this.

        • There is already word coming from the Kurdish rebels that they’ll begin abandoning en-mass the territorial gains they made against ISIS if we truly pull out. We’ve simultaneously provided them with the big guns to beat back ISIS while running interference for them to keep the Turks mostly off their backs. If we cut and run, the Kurds will be hammered by the Turks, who have made their intentions known.

          ISIS, by some estimates still has two to three times as many fighters NOW as it did when it exploded onto the scene. “Pretty much defeated” is a meaningless term…no one is defeated until they’re defeated. They’ve lost almost all of their ‘territory’, and their actual fighting concentration in their remaining stronghold is pitiful, but estimates take into consideration those who have gone “sleeper”.

          Well, when we cut and run, they’ll eagerly wake up.

          If this is our gift to Turkey to keep them as notional friends and a blocking force against Russian influence, it’s way too generous of a gift when there are other ways to make the Turks happy.

          Kurds have been some our most loyal and most reliable partners in that region. If we leave them to be massacred, we can kiss any level of cooperation in an already notoriously hesitant land goodbye for generations.

          Congress should censure the President and Congress should pass legislation compelling further support of our interests in the Syrian mess.

          • Michael West wrote, “There is already word coming from the Kurdish rebels that they’ll begin abandoning en-mass the territorial gains they made against ISIS if we truly pull out.”

            I agree about the Kurdish fighters, this should be a huge consideration in the final decision; the Kurds have been screwed by the USA before and it would set a bad regional precedence to screw them again thus setting up anti-American sentiment within the ranks of foreign fighters that we trained ourselves – where have I heard that before. Nevertheless; the force that remains must be willing and able to hold the ground or the fight has been for naught and it’s just been about a body count to define “victory” – again – where have I heard that before.

            It comes down to this; much like what happened with Desert Storm in 1991; what was the pre-defined mission against ISIS in Syria, has the mission been accomplished, does the mission need to be redefined to maintain the “victory” that is professed to have been achieved? I can’t honestly answer any of those questions regarding the mission against ISIS in Syria because I most definitely, and I think most Americans, simply don’t have the same stream of information as back in 1991. Back in 1991, I personally thought the mission needed to be redefined to better protect the Kurdish people.

            It seems like Syria has been a relative black hole of information in comparison to other conflicts in the region, I just don’t know very much about what’s going on inside Syria. As I said before; if there is a solid need for the troops (I heard 2,000) then they should stay. I can’t justify staying/leaving or condemning the Administration for either without more information – a lot more.

          • If there’s anyone in that region we need to support, it’s the Kurds. We should treat them sort of like a mini-Israel, policy-wise.

  11. Jack,
    When you’re able, would you check the status of my reply to Sam’s post on bump-stocks? Was noted as being moderated, for some reason. It was a longer than normal post, for me, although it contained nothing objectionable. Does composing in a separate program and then pasting here trigger a review?
    Thanks

  12. Forgive me if this situation has been noted before in ER:
    The city council of Washington, DC, a group no more celebrated for its wisdom, integrity, and fiscal responsibility than the larger political outfit to which it plays host, has moved to decriminalize fare evasion and other bad behavior on its transit system. This was done “because racism”, of course, and, ironically, is the brainchild of the same councilcritter that earlier commented on Jews controlling the weather. Of course, his idea was overwhelmingly supported by most of his fellow councilthings. Does anyone imagine such a move could have any ill effects on a system already sporting a seriously bad reputation?

    https://www.eveningwashington.com/2018/12/19/d-c-moves-to-decriminalize-metro-fare-evasion/

    And a link for Valky:
    https://www.bizpacreview.com/2018/12/19/d-c-moves-to-stop-punishment-for-not-paying-metro-fare-because-most-people-breaking-the-law-are-black-704807

    • WR– You need look no further that SF Bay area and their transit.. BART. Low priority on gate jumpers has led to an increase in crime, mostly theft-from-person and out right robbery for cell phones and similar devices.

      If one did not know better, it could be presumed that race must be part of enforcement strategy because some racial groups are genetically predestined to crime and to hold them to the same standards as those apparently not so predestined is just wrong. We never see governing groups urging people to obey the law, thus saving themselves from having to deal with the police.

  13. Jack, I’ll have to ask for your help again to release from moderation another reply I just made . Per Michael W’s note above, WordPress grabs posts with more than one link. Thanks

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