Dallas police use of robot-deployed bomb is troubling

The media has rightly focused in recent days on the decision by the Dallas police to use a robot to blow up the black-power activist who murdered five police officers.  Although the sniper, Micah Johnson, ultimately got what he deserved, we are troubled by this use of technology.

Even if we shed no tears for the shooter in this case, it is not hard to envision a scenario where such a dystopian killing machine is abused (or, given the competence we generally expect from the government, malfunctions) in the future.  We are reminded of the exploding collars affixed to prisoners in the Arnold Schwarzenegger classic Running Man.

Steve Sailer makes the point that use of the robot was not much different than the typical police tactic of using a sniper to take out an active shooter, but, as other commenters point out—aside from the precedent and optics—the robot didn’t appear necessary in this circumstance.  The shooter was boxed in and not an immediate further threat to anyone.  Given the potential for collateral damage from a robot, it seems a bit draconian.

Even a sniper who has admitted guilt, as Johnson did in his “negotiations” with the police, is entitled to due process (though the Dallas police chief’s and media’s repeated description of Johnson as a “suspect” in recounting the events seems inaccurate—how about “perpetrator”?).  Police generally are charged with subduing and arresting a perpetrator unless killing him is necessary to prevent further loss of life.

Why couldn’t a robot be affixed with tear gas, a taser, or some other non-lethal disabling agent?

Incidentally, a Salon writer called this use of force a “frightening precedent.”  In a first, we agree with every word of the article (except for the reference to “the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” which we had never heard of and, given that it was brought to us by the United Nations, probably means the opposite of its title suggests).

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A reminder of how incompetently the government administers the “no fly list”

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Me.) has introduced a “compromise” that would bar Americans who are on the government’s infamous “n0 fly list” from buying a gun while introducing a mechanism to appeal denial of a gun purchase.  How long would such an appeal take?

Such a proposal would be a gross violation of Americans’ constitutional rights.  The burden of proof should be on the government to deny someone’s fundamental rights, not the other way around.  What’s next, curtailing First, Fourth, or Fifth Amendment rights for people on the list?

A more practical matter is the sheer incompetence with which the government administers the list, along with other databases on which some guilty and some innocent Americans find themselves.  That is, the government is just as incompetent in this arena as in every other.  The list is secret, with no defined criteria for who puts an American on it or how to get taken off.  Plenty of horror stories abound that show how difficult it is for anyone to navigate the bureaucracy to challenge inclusion on such a list.  (Big-government advocates will retort that flying is not a constitutional or civil right.  That is hardly a reassuring rejoinder in a free country.)

Perhaps this could be a viable measure for foreign nationals, particularly those who don’t have a green card.  Collins notes that “most” of the people on the list are foreigners, but that is also not very reassuring in light of the opacity with which the government maintains the list.

Please, Republicans, don’t fall into the MSM/liberal trap of feeling pressured to “do something,” namely, to add yet another ineptly-run government program to try to remedy a litany of existing ineptly-run government programs.

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Be very suspicious of the left’s motives to allow “lateral entry” for military officers

Defense Secretary Ash Carter recently unveiled a proposal to allow people to enter the military directly from outside at levels up to O-6 (colonel, or captain in the Navy) in potentially any job.  The plan, which is being considered by Congress, would expand this option from its current narrow parameters, which allow lateral entry up to the O-4 level (major, or lieutenant commander in the Navy) only for chaplains, lawyers, doctors, and dentists.

Secretary Carter uses the example of cyber specialists as a case where such a program would be most useful, as it’s difficult to develop officers with the level of expertise needed in-house.

This seems like a reasonable concept in principle, if applied selectively, and if it were intended solely to increase the effectiveness of the military (i.e., if conceived by Republicans).  It is an idea with merit and with major implications for both the military and civilian sectors.  It is worth careful consideration.

Color us skeptical, however, at the motives behind this under people like President Obama or Secretary Carter.  The author in the linked article says that the plan “suggests eroding the military’s tradition of growing its own leaders and cultivating a force with a distinct culture and tight social fabric.”

We have no doubt that “eroding” the armed forces’ “distinct culture and tight social fabric” is the whole point.  The left despises the military culture.  When Democrats are in power they enjoy conducting their transformative gambits on the military, be it redesigning training materials to be more politically correct, placing women in combat roles, forcing the forces to accept homosexuals, and next, naturally, removing the ban on “transgendered” warriors.  The left loves being able to play such games with the military, both because it is a perfect laboratory for their insane social engineering experiments—as a large population that has to follow orders and which collects lots of data—and because they see the military as a bastion of such abhorrent retrograde values as patriotism, meritocracy, and masculinity.

We assume that the left’s real motives in making such a sweeping change to the way that America grooms its military leaders are—in addition to making its culture more susceptible to their social-justice ideology—opening up a spigot by which they can corruptly appoint cronies to plum positions; installing moles who are loyal to them instead of to the chain of command (as is the norm in the federal civilian bureaucracy, in which an invisible, unaccountable band of dedicated leftists can always be counted on to drag their feet and stymie the attempted governance of any Republican administration); and, of course, fast-tracking affirmative-action hires to counter the perceived “diversity” problem in the upper officer ranks.

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Don’t be surprised if the U.K. government ignores a Brexit vote

A few media outlets have described the actual process by which the U.K. would leave the European Union (EU) if voters elect to do so this week.  The referendum question is “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”  We would support Brexit if we were British.

Under Article 50 the EU treaty, a country’s departure will be effective two years after the departing member notifies the European Council of its intent to leave.

This period is supposed to provide time for the departing member to negotiate its relationship with the EU—trade deals and the like—but Article 50 makes it clear that the member will depart after two years regardless of whether any such negotiations are completed, unless the EU, including the departing member, unanimously agrees to extend the deadline.

We could see any number of scenarios by which the U.K government simply ignores the will of the voters if Brexit passes.  The referendum is not legally binding.

No doubt the rest of the European Union will drag its feet on negotiations and strike a hard bargain.  The bloc apparently perceives that the U.K. would have little leverage, and we expect the shrill socialists who represent the continental political class to punish the U.K however it can, both to discourage other members from getting the idea to exit and because they despise the U.K.’s individualistic, pro-market, pro-globalization, pro-America identity in general.

Prime Minister David Cameron’s resignation, expected in the event of a Brexit win, could be the first upheaval that would pave the way for U.K. politicians to make excuses to void the will of the voters, especially if the vote is close.  Theresa May and George Osborne, who both have endorsed staying in the EU, are leading candidates to replace Cameron, as is Boris Johnson, who has endorsed leaving.  It may seem odd for the Tories to replace a resigned Cameron with someone else on the losing side, but such fecklessness is what we have come to expect from the Conservative Party.

Could a new pro-EU government try to marshal public support to stay in anyway?  Parliamentary elections are not due until May 2020, around two years after the supposed deadline for the breakup to be finalized.  We could easily envision a scenario whereby, once the media and EU demonization of the U.K. kicks into high gear, the government throws up its hands and says, Wait, the outcome is likely to be much more detrimental to us than we expected, so we need a pause.

What if the political cycle, say a year from now, finds the Tories behind in the polls, perhaps due in part to the negative climate brought about by the negotiations?  We could even see the Tories calling early elections as an act of desperation—perhaps even planning to lose—and using the political turmoil and/or the formation of a new government as excuses to suspend the negotiations and ask the EU to extend the deadline.  If Labor wins the next election, and the process of leaving is not finalized, would they be expected to honor the obsolete vote?  (Current Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn has always been considered a Euroskeptic, but he may come around or may not become prime minister if Labor wins; the rest of the caucus is strongly pro-EU of course.)

Suppose some other shock hits the U.K. in the next two years:  a successful Scottish secession referendum (although Scotland is more pro-EU than England, the government could still use the disruption as an excuse to rethink Brexit); a major recession; a major Islamic terrorist attack; Russian agitation; some EU action that could be spun as a game-changer; the death of Queen Elizabeth II; the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president; etc., etc., etc.  The media and political class would certainly blame every real or imagined ill that befalls the U.K. over the next two years on the “Leave” vote.

The legitimacy of such excuses wouldn’t matter much.  We have high confidence that the establishment could say, Well, due to the tremendous temporary upheaval caused by ________________, it is just not prudent to continue down this course now.  

Maybe they will decide to call another referendum in light of whatever crisis emerges.  We can easily envision Jean-Claude Juncker, or whichever tinpot socialist bureaucrat represents the continental status quo at the time, shaking hands with some Labor prime minister in Brussels in 2019 or 2020, both with stupid grins on their faces, as they announce agreement to shove the Brexit vote of 2016 down the rabbit hole.

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Bernie Sanders may be staying the race in case Clinton gets indicted

Bernie Sanders announced yesterday that he is staying the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.  He was able to articulate, we suppose, a rationale, though it’s hard to understand why the nominal continuation of his campaign increases his ability to achieve his stated goals of defeating Donald Trump and influencing the party platform.

The only logic we can think of is that he is hanging on to be the default choice in case Hillary Clinton is indicted for mishandling classified information via her home-brew e-mail server and/or corruption for dealing favors to foreign governments though the Clinton Foundation.

Perhaps President Obama has assured Clinton that he won’t indict her but hasn’t let Sanders in on the news, either out of a sense of propriety or just for fun.

We can see Sanders wanting to remain technically a candidate to preempt Vice President Biden or someone else riding in on the proverbial white horse if Clinton goes down.  It’s a long shot that this logic would work even if she does get indicted, but he has little to lose.

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Debates about guns and Muslim immigration don’t explicitly discuss trade-offs

I am willing to tolerate higher levels of gun violence in America in exchange for having a Second Amendment.  We don’t often hear our fellow rightists state the case so explicitly, but most probably have arrived at this cognitive consonance.

(It is true that more guns means less crime in general.  It is also true that America has the highest rate of mass shootings and other gun violence of any industrialized country, and this is due at least in part to the wide availability of firearms.  America’s unique history, culture, legal environment, and demographics all contribute to these seemingly contradictory realities.  The quote above is the position of this blog, and we also believe that the best way to counter the threat of Islamist terrorist attacks like the Orlando night club shooting is to facilitate more people being armed.)

The alternate universe in which the U.S. never had a Second Amendment, in which there were not hundreds of millions of guns in circulation, in which the police have all the firepower, and in which mass shootings and other instances of gun violence were extremely rare, is easy to envision.  That’s the situation in the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, and most other industrialized countries (as well as in most police states).  Count ours as one vote in favor of the American status quo.

The left doesn’t really possess the vocabulary to present its own arguments about the trade-offs associated with gun rights (or most other issues).  We rarely hear progressives espousing the values of individual liberty anymore—except in a few specific scenarios that turn the Bill of Rights on its head—and they are even less sympathetic to the concept of individual self-defense.  The left apparently isn’t able to comprehend the main reason why the founders included the Second Amendment to begin with:  protection from government tyranny.  We will have a social contract in which only the benevolent government will have guns, and in exchange the citizenry will trust the government to use them to protect citizens’ liberty and well-being is also not a scenario that liberals articulate very often, even if this is what they believe.

It is a legitimate political stance to try to persuade the American electorate to move our country in that direction, although we don’t see the left doing so very often:  as opposed to openly arguing for repeal of the Second Amendment, they usually use stealthy Federal and local legislative, regulatory, and judicial actions to end-run around it.  Fortunately democratic means couldn’t succeed nationally at this point.

The debate about Muslim immigration, or immigration in general, similarly seems devoid of a discussion about trade-offs.  We would like to hear Donald Trump state, Of course in principle I don’t like the idea of banning an entire group [Muslims] from visiting or immigrating to the U.S.  Such a ban would certainly affect some innocent people who don’t intend to harm the country.  However, we are in a time of war, so we need to accept this trade-off in order to reduce the number of Muslim terrorists we admit.  We presume that Trump feels this way—and he has implied an understanding of the trade-off in his call to pause Muslim immigration until we “can figure out what’s going on”—but it would be nice for him to make it explicit.

Similarly, it would be nice if President Obama, Hillary Clinton, or other liberals made explicit their own views of a trade-off.  The U.S. is the most multicultural, open country in the world.  I want to accept more Muslim immigrants, and in fact all types of immigrants, because they make America better.  I acknowledge that, in so doing, we might inadvertently admit some people who will go on to commit terrorist attacks, but a few hundred or a few thousand dead Americans is a reasonable price to pay for the vibrancy that immigrants contribute to our society.  We have little doubt that Obama, Clinton, and most of the cosmopolitan left, including the mainstream media, feel this way.  (Though even this may be a charitable portrayal of their views:  the hard left, like President Obama, has demonstrated that it thinks that traditional American culture is an anachronism that should be replaced by a culture that is more collectivist, authoritarian, and brown.)

A sympathetic article, “What Obama Actually Thinks about Radical Islam,” by Jeffrey Goldberg (h/t James Taranto) seems to serve as a rare reveal of Obama’s view:

Obama believes that the clash is taking place within a single civilization, and that Americans are sometimes collateral damage in this fight between Muslim modernizers and Muslim fundamentalists.

Taranto rightly expresses puzzlement at the phrase “collateral damage” as it relates to Americans being killed in a “fight between Muslim modernizers and Muslim fundamentalists.”  One way to reconcile this apparent misreading of the current state of the world—there doesn’t seem to be much of a “fight” pitting Muslim modernizers against Muslim fundamentalists, especially on American soil—is to speculate that Goldberg misinterpreted Obama’s statement.

Obama possibly seems himself as the “Muslim modernizer”; inasmuch as he is not actually a Muslim, he could be fairly called a “‘Muslimist‘ modernizer,” to use Steve Sailer’s term.  Obama may not identify precisely as a Muslim, but he was raised in a Muslim environment and considers himself an enlightened exponent of the Muslim faith (as does Hillary Clinton).

Goldberg posits that “Obama sees the problems affecting parts of the Muslim world as largely outside American control,” though he cites the president asserting that the way we address Muslims around the world talking about the problem of radical Islam—including his infamous refusal to label the motivations of terrorism as such—plays an important role in addressing it.  And Obama has strongly condemned Trump’s call for a moratorium on Muslim immigration to the U.S. while increasing admission of people who claim to be Syrian refugees.  Obama probably sees himself as playing a righteous, central role as a “Muslim modernizer,” by importing more Muslims to the U.S., by his imposition of political correctness on all government discussions of terrorism, and by the virtue-signaling language he insists on using to assert solidarity with Islam.  If these accommodations carry some costs, then it’s worth it.

So, if Goldberg is accurately portraying What Obama Actually Thinks about Radical Islam, then it appears that what Obama is really saying is, The United States can play a role in the clash between Muslim modernizers and Muslim fundamentalists, by, among other things, welcoming Muslim immigrants to the U.S.  A few dead Americans as collateral damage is a price that I am willing to pay to promote Muslim modernization.   Such a viewpoint would fall within the bounds of legitimate debate within our political system—as taking sides in any war involves the conscious sacrifice of American lives—though we assume that vast majority of Americans would vehemently disagree with it and would redeem their disagreement through all democratic mechanisms available.  Let’s have the debate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hillary Clinton can’t have a white running mate

The Democratic party is mostly about identity politics.  We just can’t see the base accepting an entirely non-white national ticket; of course having Hillary Clinton at the top checks off some of the identity boxes, but this probably isn’t enough.

We predict that Clinton’s running mate will be one of the four following individuals:  Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro, whom the party has been grooming for a national role; New Jersey Senator Cory Booker; former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick; or Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez.

The latter brings the advantage of credibility as a hard-left activist.  The two blacks on the list have portrayed themselves as more moderate, “clean” (as Joe Biden might say), modern black politicians; that is to say, geared toward acceptance by whites.

A Hispanic (even one who doesn’t speak Spanish) would also bring the advantage of novelty.  The party has done the black thing, and now the woman thing.

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