"Restore(s) a little sanity into current political debate" - Kenneth Minogue, TLS "Projects a more expansive and optimistic future for Americans than (the analysis of) Huntington" - James R. Kurth, National Interest "One of (the) most important books I have read in recent years" - Lexington Green
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What really gets me is his fifth point “We’ll obsess over the details of government” which is simply, objectively not true. If it were true, certain artifacts would have produced and an entire category of journalism would be common because a press corps that was obsessed over the details of government would use those artifacts to easily and cheaply create certain stories that they do not create.
When you read about Flint, MI and its lead pipe problem on the web, did the site geolocate you, identifying your own water system, list out the lead pipes used there, the date when the last one is projected to be replaced, and give you the contact information of the office that can move that lead free date up? No, you didn’t because years before, nobody identified all the water systems and arranged a cheap way to regularly get their pipe inventory into a database along with the install dates and expected lifespans. That would be the mark of a press corps that was obsessed over the details of government.
That would be journalism worth paying for and the kind of story that I would like to write and see written.
Here’s what is missing to do that Flint story correctly.
Comprehensive list of all governments that operate their own water systems with contact information
List of the private water systems overseen by various government oversight bodies
Each water system’s pipe inventory with install and expected replacement dates along with type/material of pipe.
I really would love to not be building out these basic data structures. The established press, which does have the resources to do such a thing quickly, just is not interested so others have to step in.
Given the recent passage of UN Security Council resolution 2334 condemning Israel for its settlement policy, I look forward to the US putting forward fair and even handed resolutions in the Security Council regarding the settlement of people. That would be perceived, rightly, as trolling on the part of the Trump administration.
There’s a good amount of potential here.
There are the religious fatwas condemning the sale of PA land to infidels. Separately, selling to Jews is officially a death penalty crime.
Then there’s the two tier refugee system of the UN itself where all refugees except for Palestinions are processed under one set of rules while Palestinians have a separate and unequal system. It will be fascinating to see how the double standard is defended by people who claim to view even handed and fair treatment as a core value.
Then there’s the insistence that all Jews currently living in PA territory leave without exception even for those whose historical ties to the area predate the creation of Israel.
The point isn’t to actually pass any such resolutions but to destroy the shield of silence held in protection over these existing positions and practices that would have trouble surviving honest scrutiny. Who would vote in favor of maintaining a double standard for refugees? We actually don’t know right now because we don’t call out the double standard and force people to take a position. The double standard is just the way things have always been.
A. Are there restrictions on the voter registration drive offering something of value to a person in
exchange for completing a voter registration application?
It is a felony under New York law to pay, lend or contribute, or offer or promise to pay, lend or contribute any money or other valuable consideration to or for any voter, or to or for any other person, to induce such voter or other person to place or cause to be placed or refrain from placing or causing to be placed
his name upon a registration poll record.14
Federal law states that whoever pays or offers to pay or accepts payment either for registration to vote or for voting shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than five years. 15 At least one federal appellate court has interpreted payment as intended to include forms of pecuniary value offered or given directly to an individual voter, and indicated the value should be based on an assessment of the monetary worth of an item from the perspective of the voter receiving the item. That case held that food vouchers could be payment.16
I believe this is a common sense proposition. You should never define a military force without it having a purpose.
You would think that there would be nobody on the other side of this question. Who would do such a crazy thing as to define a military force, but just have them milling around without a purpose or a mission? It’s ridiculous. Or is it?
(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
(b) The classes of the militia are—
(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.
What is the purpose of the military force called the unorganized militia? What is their mission? What is its proper scope of activity? I think that even people who generally support the 2nd amendment do not have a consensus and certainly have not thought much about it.
As an aside, it’s straight up sexism for female citizens to be included in only one of these two forces. A smart Republican would introduce legislation to fix that.
Immigration is defined in law in a pretty straightforward manner. If you cross US borders, you are defined as an immigrant unless you fit into one of twenty two different non-immigrant categories defined in 8USC§1101(a)(15). Each letter subsection of that section corresponds to the more familiar letter codes for non-immigrant visas. Most people are not familiar with all of them but the definitions aren’t particularly complex or confusing. If you’re seeking to cross the border as an immigrant, there are several sections under 8USC Subchapter II that apply. If you are a citizen, you’ve got to have a passport to leave or return.
Neither side in the immigration debate seems to want to lay out, specifically, what sections of the law they wish to change and how exactly they want to change it. Are there extremist imams getting R visas and endangering the safety of americans (mostly muslims)? That’s not the way we talk about immigration. Why,exactly, is the secretary of Labor involved in the issuance of visas?
We’d be a lot better off if discussion of the law had a lot more law in it.
Immigration is like darkness. It is the absence of something, not something in and of itself. It is a partial restoration of the state of nature.
The natural state of man is that we move as we please. We stop people from moving as they or we please for various reasons. These stopping points are generally, but not exclusively called borders. Borders are not permanent. They can be moved, erased, reconstituted again. As any observer of Europe will note it can happen quickly and pretty often. Borders do not have to be impermeable. They can have exceptions to the rules. When people are peacefully allowed to cross borders permanently according to the will of the people controlling the border as an exception to the general rule of no crossings, it’s called immigration. Since most borders are controlled by more than one group, the exiting group often calls it a different term than the entry group.
You cannot create a proper system of exceptions to a rule without understanding why the rule exists. But ask people who have strong opinions on immigration why borders exist and more times than not, they haven’t considered the question at all. You could intuit why we have borders by the exceptions but almost nobody does, not even immigration restrictionists. We’re all playing the old game of blind men feeling the elephant and having opinions as to what it is.
Clemson University has stepped into controversy by enforcing its free speech zone on a clear case of religious expression. An off campus preacher came on campus to invite students to pray with him. This was shut down as a violation of the university policy requiring an approval process and limiting activity to free speech zones. Unfortunately for Clemson, what was going on was not solely free speech. It was free exercise of religion as well.
Clemson University’s overall rating of respect of individual rights in education is low. It is rated red by FIRE (its lowest rating) but not for its facility policy which is marked green (FIRE’s highest rating). According to a Clemson official in their media relations department, there is no restrictive policy on religious expression just like there is no restrictive policy on freedom of the press. So why is Clemson able to restrict religious expression but not journalism under their free speech zone policy?
Once in awhile, you see a gem of an internet comment that justifies taking the time to dive in. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the hope and prayer of us all. Buddygonzo wishes that going forward we will all have “common sense email control”.
I’m surprised with all the sturm und drang of the brexit vote reaction in Scotland, it seems like everybody has missed entirely the easiest way for Scotland to rejoin the EU without a messy period of independence. It could apply for admission to the nation of Ireland based on their common historical roots.
The likelihood of this actually happening given the political stars of today is approximately zero. What I find interesting is the reason why the idea is so far out there that it wouldn’t even be brought up. If an independent Scotland has difficulty making a go of it, why is a Scotland tied to the English and out of the EU superior than a Scotland tied to the Irish and inside the EU?
A common criticism of the pro side of the gun debate is that it is unwilling to get behind common sense reforms to improve things in the realm of firearms. I would say this is nonsense and that there are plenty of legislative reforms that the pro side would get behind. Here is a selection.
Eliminate ageism and sexism in 10 USC 311 by extending membership in the unorganized militia to be equal to the organized militia. We’re not in the 1950s anymore but this law has not been updated since 1958.
Pass a sense of the Congress resolution that the unorganized militia is a part of the security system of the United States of America and that like all other parts of the security system shall be regularly evaluated on how it can be made more effective.
Encourage the increase and enhancement of responsible gun culture to spread beyond the current concealed carry community to the general public with the goal of reducing the general gun crime rate of the general public to approximate that of the concealed carry community.
Demonstrating responsible gun ownership to a state via a concealed carry license in one’s state of residence shall be treated like a drivers license and recognized throughout the country.
I’m currently doing background work on creating an oversight site for the White House press briefings. It’s an interesting, small project with the potential for outsized visibility because of who it is aimed at and will be covering. But there’s a good bit of research that needs to be answered before a site goes up:
1. I don’t know what all the stakeholders in the White House Press Briefing consider to be a successful press conference.
2. I don’t know who asks good questions.
3. I don’t know what constitutes a good question, or a good answer.
4. I don’t know how to get a day pass.
5. I don’t know how to get a hard pass.
6. I don’t know who shows up.
7. I don’t know how question opportunities are distributed.
8. I don’t know how it all matters to the task of informing the public.
If you’ve got insight into these questions or additions I should put on my research agenda, please let me know in comments.
ISIS has released a ‘kill list’ of Minnesota law enforcement. Before the first law enforcement victim gets attacked off that list, there are already injuries, the reputation and community standing of loyal, reasonable, peaceful Muslims who have to get checked off as not a risk of attempting to act on the list. These Muslim american citizens, permanent residents, and visitors have their quality of life degraded every time ISIS or any other extremist organization tries to associate these Muslims with extremist violence. And unlike the law enforcement officers who are on such a list and are statistically unlikely to actually be targeted, the damage to these Muslims is certain and is already happening.
Clearly the bulk of the US response to such a list should be to protect those targeted for death and to try and find the list creators to stop them. But minor injuries are still injuries and are at least a tort. Why not run with it and create a class action lawsuit to recompense the non-radicals for the damage done to their reputation? At the very least it might give some pause to the moneybags of the Muslim world who are currently supporting the violent radicals.
The traditional modern conservative opinion on the 2nd Amendment diminishes and almost entirely dismisses the opening clause, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State”. I believe this to be an error that leaves leftists an opening to prolong the Second Amendment assault forever. That opening needs to be closed. A substantive construction of this clause that makes sense to the general public is necessary to put down the gun control movement permanently.
But first, a little Latin. Crimes can be generally divided into the categories “malum prohibitum” and “malum in se”. Malum in se are crimes that are universally considered wrong or immoral that all just societies prohibit. Malum prohibitum are crimes that a legislature creates and are only crimes because they told us so. Tyrannies thrive by multiplying malum prohibitum crimes and turning honest citizens into fearful subjects that can be seized by the law at any time. Militias only go after malum in se crimes and are thus useful to the people who want a just society but useless to any sort of tyrant.
The militia’s uselessness to tyrants is its greatest selling point and one that the colonists implicitly understood because none of the abuses of King George were ever enforced by the militia (if there are examples where this actually happened, please share in comments). With that understanding, the introductory clause makes perfect sense to us all and gives us a common sense reason why even today, it’s important to have a strong militia so that our security is, as much as feasible, in the hands of people who will not sweat the small stuff. In fact, it’s truly necessary for the security of a free state.
The alternative is to entirely rely on paid agents of the state for our security, whether military or police. Is there ever a case where governments who are hard up for cash don’t make petty rules to extract fines and hem in the people’s liberty? Is there a government out there that does not favor its supporters and disfavor its opponents? Controlling these agents’ salaries is a powerful inducement for them to do the wrong thing if the government asks them. Over time and across a large number of governments, there will always be cases where they will be asked and there will always be agents who are willing to be tin pot tyrants. They have households to maintain after all.
Forum shopping the prosecution of felonies by choosing the campus courts or the criminal courts is a massive case of privilege that is not available to most Americans and favored most strongly by today’s campus Left.
To do a valid Christian baptism requires some water, a Christian to administer it, and about 15 seconds. Licitness so that all the proper paperwork is done and the newly baptized Christian is properly educated could take a year but if you don’t give a hoot for the niceties or it’s an emergency, 15 seconds will do. That’s all that is required to get around Trump’s Muslim ban. This makes his plan a stupid plan. It is worse than useless. It is an anti-screen. Honest Muslims who want medical treatment or just to go shopping will be stopped. For a terrorist, it’s hardly a speed bump.
That isn’t to say that there is no room to change our immigration system to improve things. It’s just not this one. Trump has the money to hire the best help in formulating a real plan and he came out with a stupid stinker instead.
The better solution, and one that would be perfectly understood by Trump’s base would be a straightforward declaration that private courts including religious courts that issue judgments that call for the injury or death of americans are enemies of America. To aid them as a U.S. citizen is treason, and any of their agents or bailiffs are in an immigration-excludable category that gets put on the DS-156 right next to the item asking are you a Nazi.
We don’t need anything complicated. Nobody reasonable is going to get bent out of shape over the declaration of our enemy being people who seek to kill or hurt us. The ones who do protest it will be doing us all a service. Hardly any administrative procedures have to be changed, only one form.
Trump wouldn’t have had to break a sweat selling this. But he didn’t. Why did he push his dumb plan instead?
The cheapest, most effective US southern border security measure available over the long haul is for Mexico to become a high income country that honors the rule of law. Dollar for dollar, nothing beats making somebody else the front line on handling third world immigration. Mexican illegal immigration dries up in a good way while Central Americans only target the US as much as they currently target Canada (which is hardly at all).
From a common sense perspective, Donald Trump is weak on immigration. He is weak because he’s more focused on rabble rousing and being a blowhard rather than actually creating a humane solution consistent with American principles. A competing GOP candidate could easily get to the right of Trump while getting more of the Latino vote. All it takes is being an ordinary human being that looks at these people as equal to everybody else.
A candidate can say the ugly truth that unaccompanied minors from Latin America are victims of child abuse by US standards. Cooperating with originating-country governments to open and manage a child abuse case would be a primarily federal responsibility due to the international nature of the case, though there would be room for a strong state role. Just think about it. If a mother from Miami, FL put her 12 year old on a freight train, destination, San Francisco, CA there is no question that child endangerment and abuse would be on the prosecutor’s menu when the kid’s caught. It would be unthinkable to have different treatment if the point of origin were Boston, MA. This is America and we believe in equal treatment under the law. So why is the legal treatment different when the kid’s from Guatamala, Mexico, or Panama? Their children are not inferior to ours and their treatment should be held to the same standards when they are within our borders. Trump’s plan doesn’t do this. That is weakness. For the general election, this line has the additional advantage of setting up Hillary Clinton as soft on child abuse.
On the larger issue of immigration, the US civil war provides lessons. The destruction of slavery and the plantation system left an enormous pool of labor at loose ends and in desperate need and we mobilized to meet that emergency during the war. Today, the mitigation and end of several types of economic slavery has put the whole world in the same boat. The Deng reforms mitigated the Maoist economic slave system and unleashed hundreds of millions of people in search of jobs. The end of the Permit Raj in India released hundreds of millions more. The end of the Soviet system unleashed yet more within both Eastern Europe and all over the third world. As Republicans we rejoice in the mitigation and the ending of human bondage whether it’s outright slavery, serfdom, or goes under some modern label like communism. But the problems of how such recently liberated people are integrated into the world economy are just as daunting today as they were during our own civil war.
While much of the adjustment to that tidal wave has already taken place, the global political class is failing to create enough work to occupy all those idle hands which will put pressure on wages so long as the failure continues. In desperation many seek to enter the US illegally and our system for welcoming and integrating newcomers is swamped, something that is as dangerous as swamping a boat, or overfilling a house to the point of collapse.
We should not forget that for the vast majority of these economic migrants, plan A is getting a good job in their own society. Migration, especially illegal immigration is pretty far down on the list of preferred life plans for the vast majority of illegal immigrants.
So long as large pools of unemployed and underemployed exist anywhere that connects with the global economy, wages will continue to have downward pressure and Americans will feel the economic pain. A wall on the border is a single layer of defense. It is not enough.
The best defense is a defense in depth. While we build the wall, we need to significantly increase the number of jobs we create so that we drive unemployment down to its frictional rate of 3% and keep pressing on with job creation even after that so that jobs on the other side of the border increase and migrants stop there instead of here. The ideal is for people to have jobs in their own countries, in their own hometowns.
This can only be accomplished by getting government out of the way in terms of job creation and encouraging people to become part time or full time capitalists where they can.
Trump’s plan is weak because it is reactive and offers nothing in terms of reducing immigration pressure beyond our border where the first level of defense should be.
The Kharijites were a faction inside of early Islam that heavily invested in the concept of takfir (excommunication) and had other differences with both Sunni and Shia to the point where they were themselves considered no longer muslim and ended up mostly being killed off. ISIS, by its extreme actions, seems to have some significant points of congruence with the Kharijites. Foremost among them seems to be this shared belief in takfirism. It is not a perfect fit, ISIS’ ideology includes the idea that the Caliph should be a Quryash tribe member, something the ancient Kharijites rejected at the time.
Not having a dividing line between those who want to kill us in the name of Islam and those who we can live with underneath the big tent of american tolerance makes war difficult. Is neo-kharjitism a dividing criteria that would work both within Islam and without? It’s something to keep an eye on and a great tool if it can be relied on.
Israel, if it is farsighted and wise, has a grim opportunity in the emergence of Islamic State Sinai Province. It can sign a defense treaty with Egypt to ensure the territorial integrity of Egypt. Israel’s gain would be the undertaking of Egypt to grant palestinians on Egyptian territory Egyptian citizenship, removing the malign influence that the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is having over the Palestinian situation the only sure way possible, by removing its reason for being in a decent, humanitarian way by settling Palestinian refugees into a normal status, in this case as citizens of Egypt.
This line of thinking does assume that Egypt’s military will be unsuccessful in stopping IS Sinai Province from controlling territory, either part or all of Sinai. It further assumes that the Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza/Hamas will be assisting ISSP in its efforts, justifying an Egyptian takeover of Gaza to root them out. Now is the time for the negotiations to start, if they haven’t already started.
Without refugee status, and the unique UN agency to support Palestinians in their grievances, Palestinians will tend to disperse, tend to get jobs, and as they get more invested into the existing legal system, tend to reduce their jihad to lawfare seeking reparations for their losses in both properties and suffering. Eventually Israel will write a big check and be happy to end this chapter in their history.
It should be a bipartisan truism that black lives matter both in word and in deed. Unfortunately neither party gets it right. The Democrat sin is to not act as if black lives matter. The Republican sin is not to speak as if black lives matter. All in all, I find the GOP error less disgusting and wrong but it is wrong.
In 2013, 14,196 people were murdered or became victims of non-negligent manislaughter. Not all law enforcement forces collect racial statistics so out of the 12,253 murders with race of victim attached, 6,261 were black victims. This is the largest racial grouping of all. The US population is 13.2% black. 77.7% of the country is white. Read the rest of this entry »
The US, as a signatory to the major treaties on the laws of war has an obligation to enforce the customary and treaty norms of proper behavior in wartime not only within our own forces but by allied and opposing forces. This is not just a support task but in cases where opposing forces deliberately violate the laws of war, it is an operational responsibility that, when we fail to carry it out, cedes vital military advantage to law breaking enemies and increases the dangers that civilians face within war zones.
It would be interesting to read the operational planning document that lays out how we are supposed to undertake such operations. So far as I can tell, nobody has written such a document. We just don’t view military lawyers as anything other than a support element that helps other units undertake other military operations.
The operations documents are published by the Joint Chiefs, listed in the Joint Electronic Library. Classified planning documents have a link into the non-public JEL+ so the missing document can’t be put down to a problem of state secrets keeping the document out of public view.
Until we reformulate our doctrine and start taking laws of war enforcement as a military operation against enemies that tend to violate these laws en masse, excess casualties will be an inevitability. Most of those casualties will be non-military civilians of whatever country we happen to be fighting in but a significant amount of them will wear US military uniforms.
The news media writes about air strikes in Iraq and Syria and those who are uneducated in military affairs read one thing. Those who are in the community read something different. The difference between the two means that the vast majority of the country thinks that we have ordered something to be done and is evaluating the action on that basis, even though it has little tie to reality. It would be important for the Pentagon to fix this misperception, however there seems to be little concentrated effort to do that work. If you are an interested civilian, as I have been, it’s possible to sort things out and get educated fairly quickly because the military does publish the necessary resources. They just don’t push them enough to actually create an educated public.
When the military sends an aircraft out to conduct an airstrike, there are two subcategories of strikes that are relevant, close air support and interdiction strikes. The former is a much harder task than the latter because with very small errors, you end up killing men on your own side and not the enemy’s. Interdiction strikes lack this danger because they are conducted behind combat lines. They are designed to starve the front line of supplies, ammunition, and further military units to replace combat losses. Close air support effects are immediate, direct, and measurable. They require close coordination with someone on the ground to properly identify the targets. There is a checklist of bits of information that need to be provided to ensure a proper strike. The more holes or errors in the checklist, the more likely you are to kill your own instead of the enemy. There are courses to teach how to do this. The people we are aiding in Iraq include personnel who have taken these courses. The people we are aiding in Syria have not.
Interdiction attacks take longer to matter and depending on how robust the enemy’s behind the front lines operation is, you have to do more to get any perceptible effect at all. If the enemy counts on you knocking out 3 trucks in 10 and your interdiction rate is only 2 in 10, the effect of your interdiction effort at the front line is negligible.
We are providing both interdiction and close air support in Iraq but as a result of the lack of trained personnel, only interdiction missions in Syria. Confusing media stories make it clear that the distinction is not generally understood. Few seem to be asking the question of when or how the ability to do close air support missions in Syria will happen, what is the pace of operations needed to overcome ISIS’ logistics design margins, or much of anything else useful.
Media on the left, center, and right are all guilty of this lack of discernment. In a US with a volunteer military with popular oversight of the government, civilians need to do better so we’re at least educated enough to ask the right questions and intelligently hold the politicians accountable.
While we’re honoring America’s veterans, I thought it would be interesting to see what it is the were doing to earn that honored status.
There is a site on the Internet called the Joint Electronic Library (and it’s slightly restricted cousin the JEL+). It’s where the American military officially plans what is to be done when the job’s big enough that sometimes different military services are going to be doing it next to each other.
What military people do is essentially a task list. The military publishes an unclassified universal task list every three months. It currently has 1,285 tasks. They each have performance indicators. The whole list looks very little like how civilians discuss war or think of all the things that go into the military. Exploring this disconnect and how it makes the lives of our military harder and even increases casualties is a post for another time. This is Veterans Day, not Memorial day.