Pre-Road Trip Ethics, 9/27/2021…

Clearly, everything I know about life I learned from “Animal House.” I know. Sad.

I am foolishly trying to get up one last post before starting out on the 2 hr and 34 minute drive in the dark to Charlottesville, where I will be doing a three hour CLE seminar in a debate format with my old friend and tormentor John May. John, among other things, is a much-sought after defense attorney for lawyers accused of malpractice and ethics violations. In the matter of legal ethics, he takes a pragmatic, law firm practice approach, so in this course, titled “Ethics Wars!,” he plays Darth Vader to my Yoda. At least that’s how I look at it. You can find details about the session here, where you can sign up for the live or recorded version.

1. Birth of a Big Lie. In Del Rio, Texas, tens of thousands of people who have illegally crossed the border have been living for more than a week in a makeshift camp under a bridge. A photographer took a photo of a Border Patrol officer on horseback trying to stop people who were trying to cross the Rio Grande River illegally. Sawyer Hackett, who works for former Obama HUD Secretary Julian Castro, tweeted it out claiming, “Border patrol is mounted on horseback rounding up Haitian refugees with whips. This is unfathomable cruelty towards people fleeing disaster and political ruin. The administration must stop this.” Of course, the Border Patrol doesn’t use “whips,” but facts don’t matter, and a Democratic Administration prefers to vilify and falsely impugn its own law enforcement officers when to advances the narrative of the Good Illegal Immigrant.” Biden’s paid liar Jen Psaki appeared on CBS Morning News on claiming that Border Patrol agents’ actions were “horrific and horrible.” “That’s not who the Biden and Harris administration is,” she said.

The next day, Vice President Kamala Harris told reporters, “What I saw depicted about those individuals on horseback treating human beings the way they were, was horrible. And I fully support what is happening right now, which is a thorough investigation into exactly what is going on there. But human beings should never be treated that way. And I’m deeply troubled about it.” Tough guy Joe didn’t wait for facts, because facts don’t matter. “It’s outrageous,” Biden said. “I promise you, those people will pay. There will be an investigation, underway now, and there will be consequences. There will be consequences.” The administration announced that henceforth, the Border Patrol won’t use horses. As usual, the news media pushed the story of the “migrants” being “whipped”—you know, like slaves, or as shameless hack Times columnist Charles Blow wrote today, the “outrageous images of agents on horseback herding the migrants like cattle.” His employers wrote last week about “images of agents on horseback chasing, & in some cases using the reins of their horses to strike at running migrants.” Big Lie established! Mission accomplished! But it was all garbage and propaganda, not the any of it will be banned on social media. he photographer who snapped the infamous images of the skirmish between Border Patrol and the Haitian migrants had already said, before the Times published its story, that he did not witness the alleged abuse of Haitian migrants. Finally, The Times edited the story and printed a retraction of sorts, writing that it had “overstated” what had occurred in Del Rio, and admits there is no evidence that Border Patrol agents had struck the would be border-jumpers. “An earlier version of this article overstated what is known about the behavior of some Border Patrol agents on horseback,” the correction stated. “While the agents waved their reins while pushing migrants back into the Rio Grande, The Times has not seen conclusive evidence that migrants were struck with the reins.”

2. Speaking of disinformation that sticks, blogger Joseph Campbell does a nice job debunking the story now accepted as fact that Nixon’s appearance in the first televised TV Presidential candidate’s debate led to his defeat. This appears to be almost entirely a hindsight bias explanation that doesn’t comport with contemporary reports, but again, never mind: that’s what’s in the books. His analysis is here.


Arrgh. I’m being told that have to hit the road. Sorry for the truncated post…I’ll make it up to you.

22 thoughts on “Pre-Road Trip Ethics, 9/27/2021…

  1. 1. Not sure on this one. Is it a good idea to use long, leather horse reins to intimidate people and, in effect, herd them by whipping the reins around near the people?

    But that being said, why is there a dam across the Rio Grande that functions as an unguarded footbridge into Texas? What’s up with that?

    • The action you call “whipping the reins” has two purposes. One, it is used to control the horse to block the path of the criminal attempting to illegally enter the sovereign nation of the United States of America. Two, it serves to keep the aforesaid criminal from attempting to closely approach the horse and rider and/or grab the horse’s reins / bridle, which endangers both the rider and the criminal, as well as the horse. An uncontrolled 1200 pound horse can do a lot of damage to good guys and bad guys. There are other good “horsemanship” reasons for using split reins but those don’t involve waving the reins about. On my own horses, I often used double reins: one set of split reins that I used most of the time, and a shorter set of loop reins that were there on the horse’s neck for an “emergency brake” should I drop one or both of the split reins for any reason.

      • I can’t disagree with any of your observations, Jim, but why wade into the river to stop people on foot with a 1200 pound horse? Just looks bad and appears as overkill. Can’t these crossers be apprehended on dry ground? Are they being turned back in the river so they can’t claim asylum once they reach the shore? If that’s the case, the problem is in the asylum law, which doesn’t justify bad looking procedures of crowd control. Just bad optics all around?

        • No, the law around Asylum requires that the migrant apply for asylum at the first safe country they set foot in, which in this case would have been Mexico, at best. If the administration was actually interested in the law, their asylum claim would be rejected. These are the same basic concepts that led to people “fleeing” America to Canada in the middle of the winter of 2016-2017 being deported to their countries of origin. They *might* have had an asylum claim in America, they sure as heck didn’t have one in Canada.

          As to why they’re on horses and in the river? Well, most of the pictures, they’re not in the river, and where they are it’s fairly obviously shallow. It’s shitty terrain out there. We still don’t have a vehicle that emulates the speed, versatility, and maneuverability of a horse. What else can turn on a dime, swim/float, climb banks, and fit between trees? A unicycle with floaties?

          • Oh hell yes, HT, in a real, practical, common sense world, men on horseback are just what the doctor ordered. But since when has common sense or anything approaching it had anything to do with anything?

          • We still don’t have a vehicle that emulates the speed, versatility, and maneuverability of a horse. What else can turn on a dime, swim/float, climb banks, and fit between trees?

            I know you meant that rhetorically, but actually “we” have all that and have had for over thirty years (for certain values of “we”). Dating back at least that far, the U.S.S.R. had all that developed for contemplated Mars vehicles, largely using the harsh, volcanic terrain of testing grounds in Kamchatka (which is why the tests even had to allow for vehicles being caught in water). What hasn’t – yet – been provided is all that plus durability, cheapness and endurance, all at the same time. But I confidently expect that to arrive one day, once a demand for it is there, and then be applied to the role that the “bouncing mine” research of the ’70s failed to attain.

            If I had to speculate, all that would be necessary in a device is making it small and amphibious with the lozenge layout of a First World War tank and the side mounted guns replaced by lobster style arms and claws that could enable clambering. The rest – a big “rest” – is just the software needed for control. But clambering is a simpler problem than walking etc. (and the Soviets got to grips with that using wheel walking, with or without peristaltic use of the suspension, plus yet other things).

            • I think the unicycle with floaties is only less ridiculous than a retrofitted tank with lobster claws instead of gun turrets, but I think the point stands that said loberstermobile hasn’t been produced yet. And none of that takes away from the fact that horses are inexpensive and do the job.

              • I’ve done backcountry riding, and I agree. On a trip with my father we literally climbed up and down mountains on horseback, going places that would be a challenge even for the Mars rovers, and at a much faster pace.

              • “[R]etrofitted?? You made that part up. On that, I was pointing out a layout or planform that would serve for such a vehicle. It’s actually simpler than those used on current bomb disposal and military reconnaissance devices that don’t have clambering facilities and so need to have more capability in their own right.

                On clambering facilities, the claw-equipped, side mounted robot arms approach provides a dual capability (given a control system), so the vehicles can carry out other tasks as well as just move. If you only want a movement system, that’s even simpler and engineers out most of the control issues: a front mounted lever passing underneath to a rotating clamp that can be pressed down on the ground, with a matching rear mounted one passing to the top. Each time the lower lever/clamp is deployed, that flips the vehicle over to land the other way up, where that can be repeated (the clamp rotation allows changes of direction).

                As for there being none actually made and around right now:-

                – I told you that myself; and

                – that wasn’t the point, the point was that they are well within the state of the art and have been for over thirty years.

                So the “can” question has been answered in the affirmative, and your rebuttal brings us back to the cost effectiveness/worth whileness issues which I also pointed out.

  2. The party of “Follow the Science” looked at the photos of border agents, saw what could not possibly be a cracked whip based on known laws of physics, and lied and said they were using whips anyways.

  3. It seems to me that horses are typical in crowd control situations. In DC for example the recent rally for the people held without bail Capitol police used horses and had police dogs at the ready for anyone trying to break through the lines. Not a sound from the progressives or from anyone at all about the potential for harm caused by those animals should the crowd start overwhelming the police line. Perhaps, for those wanting a more humane way in dispersing people at the border I would consider a water cannon.

    Those who are not trained in crowd control techniques using horses should make some effort to understand why and how the horses are used before running off at the mouth like Biden and Majorkis. neither of whom have any understanding of how things work other than politics

  4. … As usual, the news media pushed the story of the “migrants” being “whipped”—you know, like slaves, or as shameless hack Times columnist Charles Blow wrote today, the “outrageous images of agents on horseback herding the migrants like cattle.” …

    I have been reliably informed that that is not how whips are used in such situations, e.g by mounted Afrikaners using whips on recalcitrant Kaffirs (as the Afrikaners would have called them). Rather, the whips are used to tangle the legs of running men and trip them up so they can be reached conveniently. The very fact that the riders did not use actual whips (as far as I can see) suggests that they did not go out prepared and equipped for such proven tactics, and so did not contemplate using such tactics.

  5. Just guessing, but judging from the horses reaction time, I’d say they were cuttin’ horses. They are taught to remove a single selected steer from a herd and KEEP it removed. In which case split reins make perfect sense.

    • d_d, I just think herding and cutting humans as if they’re cattle is just not such a good idea if you take a step back. Efficient and effective? Perhaps, but just not a good look.

      I was at our local grocery store months ago. We’re about twenty miles north of the border. A couple of Border Patrol guys, in uniform, were buying wrapped up chimichangas or tacos for lunch. Just for a laugh, I said to one of them, “Buying bait, huh?” They were absolutely stone-faced and didn’t respond. They knew they couldn’t afford to chuckle.

      And let’s face it. Border Patrol guys are hunters and trackers. Their prey happen to be humans. Who do you hire to find people out in the wilds? People with good hunting and tracking instincts and skills. Ironically, the job is by its very nature, inhumane. The agents are essentially pursuing game. Is that dehumanizing? Heck yeah, but just inherent in the situation.

      • Bill, any time human beings in unruly groups have to be controlled because they are breaking laws, it’s a bad look. That’s the game: make the law enforcement officials look cruel and brutal, and attract sympathy for them, and through cognitive dissonance, their cause. This tactic has now extended to actual warfare, when all enemy civilians are essentially human shields. The proper analogy isn’t people and animals, its mobs and herds. Both use mass and chaos to get to a desired destination, and finding the most effective way to turn and contain them should be the objective, not to look good doing it.

          • And hey, I love watching good horsemanship. My favorite part of watching Westerns is watching the stunt guys shoot on horseback and run chuck wagons through streams and all the other amazing things they got on film.

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