THROUGH THE PRISM DARKLY

Given all the scandals plaguing the Obama administration lately it would not surprise me if some of my regular readers had not pondered my silence on possibly the biggest and most serious one, the National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance of phone records and internet traffic.

I suppose a few of my critics may surmise this is due to my “Messiah”…Obama….having it occur on his watch, maybe literally.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

  • Drone attacks on suspected terrorists off the battleground
  • Drug sniffing dogs at ostensibly routine traffic stops
  • New York City’s “stop and frisk” campaign that is racist and a highly ineffective police tactic.
  • Police departments morphing into paramilitary organizations
  • The Patriot Act
  • The War On Terror
  • The wanding of patrons entering PNC Park for baseball games
  • Guantanamo Bay
  • The Supreme Court broadening the powers of police to search and seize sans warrants
  • The Pittsburgh Marathon’s undue security concerns in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing.
  • The question as to whether to interrogate Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev without providing the requisite Miranda warning.
  • The war in Iraq
  • The war in Afghanistan

Folks, these are all related to each other and to the NSA surveillance activities. How are they related? Because each of them tests Americans’ willingness to have its Constitution twisted to achieve the illusion …more a mirage actually…of greater security in the wake of 9/11.

Yet, there is no consensus among politicians, professional pundits nor the American public that all of these are bad. Review the comments on these pages anent drone strikes or the Miranda issue. Some of my readers who generally share my point of view were adamantly opposed to my positions on those topics.

Even the NSA surveillance has drawn mixed reviews with some polls showing that the majority of Americans are not troubled by these actions and even such natural political enemies of Obama like Lindsey Graham figuratively shrugging them off.

Importantly most of these measures did not sudenly pop up under Obama save for any issues that have arisen due to specific events during his Presidency.

PRISM is the system that the NSA uses to access information from nine internet services. It is now probably the cause of the greatest upset. Why who knew that stuff we put on the internet could be seen by others?

In fact PRISM has existed since the waning days of the Bush administration and the access NSA has is

…governed by Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which was enacted in 2008. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper tacitly admitted PRISM’s existence in a blog post last Thursday. A classified PowerPoint presentation leaked by Edward Snowden states that PRISM enables “collection directly from the servers” of Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook and other online companies.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/06/12/heres-everything-we-know-about-prism-to-date/

That article also relates the tale of YAHOO’s failed anti-PRISM lawsuit in a secret case from 2008.

Objections to these policies and actions are frequently dependent upon who holds title to the ox and/or the political identity of its gorer.

Case in point. The brilliant and visionary Sean Hannity saw the value in the NSA surveillance in a land and time far far away from the one we inhabit at this moment. But, given the change in the powers that be in the interim this surveillance now is destined to destroy life as we know it. Just view the video found in this link.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/12/sean-hannity-nsa_n_3431346.html

Nonetheless when we have reason to believe the targets of these extra security measures are members of a suspect group our hackles are in complete retreat.

Thus you see support for needless and unjustified wars, for unlawful inprisonment of persons suspected of but not charged with terrorism, for intrusions upon our personal space when in public, and all the other offenses committed in the name of our protection.

Yeah, the Boston Marathon bombing was a horrible thing but the two incompetent misfits managed to kill two people with their bomb. In the past week or so we have witnessed two instances of a lone nut killing at least four people in Santa Monica and St.Louis without generating any belief we should cower under our school desks or head for the air raid shelter in the basement..

Walter Pincus has a piece in the Washington Post in which he briefly explores  the history of surveillance in the U.S.

I have never forgotten one thought in a lecture I heard at Yale University back in the early 1950s when Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy, R-Wis., was carrying on his anti-communist witch hunt. Professor Harry R. Rudin declared that the two peoples most willing to trade civil liberties for personal security were the Germans and the Americans. Sixty-plus years later, I think the reaction to 9/11 that we still see proves again that Mr. Rudin was right.

 http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/opinion/perspectives/a-surveillance-history-lesson-americans-are-ok-with-it-691835/#ixzz2WN6edWtT

Professor Rudin was a wise man.

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Comments

  • Tourist  On June 17, 2013 at 7:04 PM

    “Professor Harry R. Rudin declared that the two peoples most willing to trade civil liberties for personal security were the Germans and the Americans. Sixty-plus years later, I think the reaction to 9/11 that we still see proves again that Mr. Rudin was right.”

    An academic sound bite about “the Germans” and “the Americans” (as nationalities with such similar histories, I guess) is proved? Again? I don’t even know what the generalization itself means.

    Twisting the Constitution? I give you the social safety net – but I don’t say “twist.” The genius of the Founders was in creating a framework in which we can ground almost any position. And it is essential that we do. Beyond that, we make our own decisions.

    ===

    My fellow Americans, go with your gut. Thinking it through can sucker you in: Nineteen people setting off one morning to hijack four airplanes might have been stopped with something like this. It was, after all, the flight-school dots that went unconnected prior to 9/11. What is so obviously wrong with doing everything we can do?

    So the reasoning goes.

    Sometimes it’s enough to know it when you see it. Failure to do A teaches to do A next time, and probably B and C, but not all the way to Z and beyond.

    George Will had a trick question he liked to ask, until everyone had heard it: “Should automobiles be made as safe a possible?” The natural answer is, “Of course they should,” and it’s wrong. In Will’s version, such an automobile would weigh four tons, handle like a tank, go 30 miles an hour, and get half a mile to the gallon.

    This is that – gain against loss – apples gained, possible dots, against oranges lost, government as an instrument of free people.

    I don’t want to be that tiny bit safer that badly, and neither do you. Stop them some other way.

    ===

    More than where I come down – one voice, who cares? – is that this was not my position after the NSA story broke. I read, listened, weighed, thought it through, and was shaping my defense of a conclusion that could not possibly reflect what we want our society to be. I changed my mind.

    ===

    Is Snowden a hero or a traitor? Yes, neither. There will be consequences for him. That’s how it goes. We may understand/sympathize/appreciate an action when it happens without wanting to encourage it too often. The judgment of history comes later.

    In his willingness to unilaterally decide, reject process, pull the rug out, roll the dice on consequences for others, Snowden is a lot like the tea party.

    All of which is a distraction from what matters: what we do, now that we know.

    ===

    A certain someone commenting under a Rob Rogers cartoon put the fraidy-cat argument this way: “There are opportunity costs of ensuring security – decreased civil liberties.”

    Decreased civil liberties might be deemed a “cost” of ensuring security, depending on how one ensures it, but never an “opportunity cost.” It’s one of his favorite expressions and I have been saying for almost a year that he does not use it correctly. Still not once.

    • umoc193  On June 18, 2013 at 5:45 AM

      Tourist

      Good to see your return with your usual thoughtful, if occasionally cryptic, mini-essays.

      As to the 19 9/11 hijackers. The current methods may have been no more effective in stopping them than did ignoring the signs that were known, legally, to our intelligence community. We don’t know that a “smoking gun” would have been found that would have disclosed the details of an ongoing plot. There were some circumstances that warranted further investigation.

      Admittedly I have some ambivalence about the NSA stuff. Not as to whether I believe it necessary or justified but as to how far to criticize my “messiah” (guess who thinks I look at him in that light) for his approval. As I have been pretty outspoken against “Barry” on some of his actions in these areas previously I feel my track record demonstrates I’m not reticent about attacking him. But, just as in other instances, I view his actions as extending or broadening those inherited from his predecessor(s) and not of his own creation.

      I’m just so sick and tired of all the mealy-mouthed excuses given for any of these “twistings” or breaches. I do recognize that our ultimate arbiters, SCOTUS, are clearly on the side of making exceptions to our rights that I adamantly oppose. I guess in that light my gripes can be seen as grapes, very sour grapes.

      However, in the long run, my biggest objection is to treating these matters as partisan political issues instead of giving full consideration to why we accept or endorse some of these policies and protest others.

  • toadsly  On June 17, 2013 at 10:48 PM

    Well…all I can say is, “I trust my government about as much as my government trusts me!”

  • pittsburgh_dad  On June 18, 2013 at 11:43 AM

    I found this site from a link on a Rob Roger’s cartoon at the PG website. The person who posted the link seemed to be pretty annoyed by this blog and since he seems like somewhat of a blowhard, I thought I would check it out.

    I have read a few of the blog posts and while I don’t agree with everything you say, unlike your antagonist, your posts are insightful and thoughtful. Obama is somewhat polarizing and I don’t always agree with him but I do feel he wants to improve the well-being of this country.

    As for your topic of this post, Obama’s track record leaves something to be desired. After all, he did say in his first campaign that you didn’t have to sacrifice liberty for security. That he apparently came to the conclusion that we have to in fact sacrifice some civil liberties for increased security is disappointing. He did say we should have a conversation about this issue. I guess we will have to see. Once policies such as these are employed, it is difficult to scale them back unless the SCOTUS finds them unconstitutional as you said in your comment above UMOC.

    One footnote: I minored in econ in college (pretty much a big waste of time). However, economics is based on the concept that resources are scarce and because of this, choices must be made. Whenever a choice is made, there is an opportunity cost. Tourist refers to this above and while he acknowledges that security is a cost of freedom, he dismisses that it is an ‘opportunity’ cost. Well, a choice was made – more security (assuming what the NSA is doing is increasing, no certainty of that). Obama had the opportunity to choose more civil liberties and decided to choose increased security. The foregone civil liberties are, by definition, the opportunity cost of the increased security.

    • umoc193  On June 18, 2013 at 6:55 PM

      Always glad to have a new reader. I welcome comments, yea or nay. Not looking for sychophants…but not looking for trolls either. You appear to be neither

      When I took freshman Econ at W&J back in ’65-’66 it was classic Paul Samuelson variety and if opportunity costs were mentioned I have long since forgotten. I’m not going to argue the semantics of the term. I’m a far more simple “actions have consequences” kind of guy.The problem as I see it is that far too often our leaders have forged ahead even though the dire consequences could be seen clearly through their windshield. I believe in these cases that their agendas were askew.

  • Tourist  On June 18, 2013 at 8:37 PM

    Pittsburgh Dad, I agree with you in how you state the opportunity cost of increased (?) security. An opportunity cost is a foregone benefit – a lost positive. “More civil liberties” is a lost positive. “Decreased civil liberties” is a negative. That’s a cost, not an opportunity cost – a distinction the other gentleman can’t keep straight.

    He responded, for example, to my George Will story above with: “He [Will] was saying increased safety came at a cost, an opportunity cost. That is, we have the opportunity if we so choose to have a much safer car but the cost of that (having to build and drive a car that Will described) is obviously too great to rationally consider creating such a car.”

    This is important only because, as you say, whenever a choice is made, there is an opportunity cost. The gentleman likes to treat the mere claim of an opportunity cost (whether he can pin it down or not) as proof that the choice was wrong – all choices made by liberals, to be precise.

    Credit where due, though: He got an important point right when he said: “It is obvious that the opportunity cost of O’care is the best alternative for which those federal funds can be used. With this said, the best alternative not chosen may have less value to society than O’care.”

    Bingo!

    • pittsburgh_dad  On June 18, 2013 at 9:25 PM

      So I think what you are saying isn’t that he is misusing the concept. I believe your argument would be that he is just assuming that the opportunity costs of the choices liberals make are always greater than the benefits of those choices. As you indicate, he does acknowledge the best alternative not chosen may have less value to society than (the ACA). Going back to the security-freedom example in your first post for a moment. From what I gather, he is saying that the opportunity cost of increased security is some civil liberties. In this situation, he is using the concept correctly. I don’t know if you included his whole comment (such as, the added security is worth the loss in civil liberties), but it doesn’t matter. The basic statement ‘There are opportunity costs of ensuring security – decreased civil liberties’ is a correct usage of the concept

      As you acknowledge, all choices have oppor costs. If he thinks the oppor cost associated with every choice a liberal makes is greater than the benefits of that choice, it doesn’t mean he uses the term incorrectly, it just makes him look foolish.

    • pittsburgh_dad  On June 18, 2013 at 10:08 PM

      I guess my position is that you are making a distinction that an economist wouldn’t. Using your apples and oranges example above. If both cost $1 and you have $10, you have a range of choices. The more apples I want, the less oranges I can have. So the opportunity cost of more apples is less oranges. Similarly, the opportunity cost of more security is less civil liberties. Saying that ‘more’ civil liberties (apples) is a positive and ‘less’ civil liberties (oranges) is a negative somehow makes his use of the concept incorrect isn’t quite the way an economist would look at it. ‘Positive’ and ‘negative’ are subjective terms that, while having important meanings to politicians and the public, are not important to economists.

      Opportunity costs, when combined with a budget (resource, technological, etc..) constraint, tells you the mix of goods you can have. To have more of one, you have to have less of the other – to have more security, you have to have less civil liberties.

      • pittsburgh_dad  On June 18, 2013 at 10:36 PM

        that should read *‘more’ civil liberties (ORANGES) is a positive and ‘less’ civil liberties (oranges)….

      • umoc193  On June 21, 2013 at 3:14 PM

        Pittsburgh Dad,

        I read your examples of opportunity costs re: apples and oranges. Your conclusion is that in the area of security. given the normal constraints of opportunity costs, more security means less civil liberties.

        This is wrong because that assumes we are gaining more security by limiting civil liberties. I see no proof of that. In fact I have read numerous articles that, in terms of money alone, what we spend on security is far too little bang for far too many bucks.

        Certainly the $2 trillion or so spent in Iraq and Afghanistan has not made us safer.

        My PRISM piece was not intended to look only at the loss of civil liberties but also what else we seem willing to give up for the “mirage” of greater security.

        I don’t know whether you believe over twice as many deaths as 9/11 are justified for greater security.

        That $2 trillion could have been better spent or even not spent at all and we would not have hordes of Taliban storming the Alleghenys.

  • Tourist  On June 19, 2013 at 3:10 AM

    Pittsburgh Dad, this is semantic and I regret it. I agree with you, sum and substance, but you seem determined to give the gentleman in question credit for intending what you say.

    The price of lunch is $10; the opportunity cost of buying lunch is the foregone return from lottery tickets that could have been bought instead. The opportunity was buying the tickets, which I did not do.

    You: “From what I gather, he is saying that the opportunity cost of increased security is some civil liberties. In this situation, he is using the concept correctly.”

    Putting “concept” aside for just a second, I understand, but, no. “Some civil liberties” is the $10 that I spent for increased security/lunch – the price, the direct cost. The opportunity cost of increased security is the foregone return/benefit of the alternative opportunity. You need to pin down the opportunity – what didn’t we do? – before you can state the opportunity cost. That’s tricky in this artificial either/or situation, but I think you had it right the first time: The road not taken was to affirmatively expand/increase/strengthen civil liberties. The opportunity cost is then the foregone return from being a Land of the Even More Free and Unafraid (probably difficult to quantify).

    The gentleman is not “using the concept correctly” because he is not using the concept at all. He tosses around jargon like “opportunity costs” and “urate” (uric acid salt; I looked it up) because “liberalism is a failed philosophy” and “Keynsian policies never work” and “liberals don’t understand how the world works” and “liberals think everything is free” only get him so far.

    You cannot be expected to know the history, I don’t want to rehash it, and I understand how *that* might sound right now. I started it yesterday, so this on me. But, if I may, you said to me: “As you indicate, he does acknowledge the best alternative not chosen may have less value to society than (the ACA).”

    Yeah, wow! It was a first. I don’t know how, but that one clearly got away from him. He has to feel sick about it. Thus: “Bingo!”

    ===

    This, on the other hand – you – gets to the heart of something crucial: “’Positive’ and ‘negative’ are subjective terms that, while having important meanings to politicians and the public, are not important to economists.”

    We the People – the public and our officials – have interests beyond efficiency and net present value.

    We hear that by picking its winners and weeding out its losers, the market achieves the most efficient use of resources and maximum total growth. Who decided those are the goals, the measures of our success, society and civilization?

    Most efficient use of resources? How can we even tell? If your own household isn’t complex enough, how about a company? A country? The global economy?

    The one, single, best, maximum efficient use of resources? Yeah, right.

    The bigger anything is – machine, system, organism – the less precise it operates, and there’s nothing wrong or unnatural about that. What we’re talking about here are elements of the “safety net” that a winners-and-losers market will not provide. Not providing them is said to be good on the basis of theoretical efficiency we can never realize or appreciate (there will be nothing ever to compare it with) – without anyone ever explaining why economic efficiency is our highest value and standard of measure in the first place.

  • Tourist  On June 19, 2013 at 9:06 AM

    My fingerprints were added to the database when I was in the third grade. It was fun. The Army got them again, and after that what difference did it make? My DNA should be on file somewhere, too, although they may have lost it. No matter now.

    UMOC’s blog post is nominally about PRISM. Yet he lumps PRISM with a dozen other objections. It’s not a uniquely big deal to him. I tried to put it in terms of, “Is this what we want our society to be?” but I suspect we are already comfortable with the new normal.

    I would not have had my career if the mistakes I’d made, learned from and put behind me had come up in my interviews. My subsequent transgressions and embarrassments are relatively mundane, and I do not expect to be announcing my candidacy.

    As part of a class once, I took some tests that sorted me into a personality type. I was then shown the things people of my type typically think and believe. It was a shock.

    We are unique individuals who behave in patterns we don’t see. From Facebook to PRISM, it’s about the patterns.

    “. . . Hillary Clinton does indeed seem to be running for president. I doubt she’s made a final decision. She may not fully know what she wants to do. Perhaps the only entity that knows her intentions is Google, and maybe the NSA.

    “This is the scary thing about the server farms that monitor us moment by moment: They know things about us that even we don’t know. They know what I’m about to have for lunch even though I haven’t decided. The data says I’m going to have a salad at Whole Foods. I say my lunch remains a murky matter. I say anything can happen. I’m unpredictable! I’m a wild man, trust me. But I am leaning toward the salad. Perhaps this is an example of the illusion of free will. We’re all prisoners of our own patterns, as described in algorithms beyond our ken. If I end up having a salad at Whole Foods, it may actually creep me out.”

    https://socialreader.com/me/content/8FcLa?chid=77352&_p=trending&utm_source=slate&utm_medium=Widgets&utm_campaign=wpsrExternalTrending-slate2

    This may also be how a Republican can see no war on women or the poor or the middle class in the patterns of effects on women and the poor and the middle class, and how a member of the blatantly racist tea party can become so incensed when called a racist.

    • toadsly  On June 19, 2013 at 12:25 PM

      I’m grateful to be a curmudgeonly misanthrope. Nothing surprizes a being who adamantly believes in the stupidity and cupidity and gullibility of most of his peers. The answer to the question, “What is the meaning of life?” Is undoubtedly, “Everything is bullshit!” And in that I find much solace.

  • pittsburgh_dad  On June 19, 2013 at 1:20 PM

    Tourist, I am sorry but, in the civil liberties example, he is using the concept correctly. To that gentleman, to ‘affirmatively expand/increase/strengthen civil liberties’ would mean less security. To that gentleman, increased security means less civil liberties. That you don’t agree with this position doesn’t mean that he is not using the concept incorrectly.

    The question, as you say, is ‘what are the opportunity costs?’ It seems that you are indicating that this is difficult to determine. While this may be true to some extent, this leads down a road where we start accepting that the benefits of a government program always outweigh its costs. After all, you could see the supposed benefits – jobs created, more insured, etc….. There is evidence that the market does produce a better outcome in many cases.

    The issue is that you disagree with him about what the benefits are of the road not taken. Rational people can disagree on this depending on what one believes as it concerns ‘how the world works.

    • pittsburgh_dad  On June 19, 2013 at 1:22 PM

      That should be *That you don’t agree with this position doesn’t mean that he is not using the concept CORRECTLY

    • pittsburgh_dad  On June 19, 2013 at 1:30 PM

      Tourist, reading your post again, what you say is exactly the same as what he is saying – ‘The opportunity cost of increased security is the foregone return/benefit of the alternative opportunity. You need to pin down the opportunity – what didn’t we do? – before you can state the opportunity cost. That’s tricky in this artificial either/or situation, but I think you had it right the first time: The road not taken was to affirmatively expand/increase/strengthen civil liberties’

      Shortened – The opportunity cost of increased security is less civil liberties.

    • pittsburgh_dad  On June 19, 2013 at 1:33 PM

      I studied economics for 12 years and taught it for 5. I have forgotten more economics than you could ever hope to know. And you’re telling me I don’t understand opportunity costs?

      LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

  • Devildog  On June 19, 2013 at 2:19 PM

    Dad, your discussion with Tourist re opportunity costs is way beyond my capability to understand but your latest post contains a saying that I have never been able to understand either. Just because you have forgotten more than Tourist could ever hope to know (or presently knows) does not necessarily mean that you now know more than he does.

  • pittsburgh_dad  On June 19, 2013 at 3:44 PM

    DD, thx but I didn’t claim that I know more than Tourist does. And while it is almost certainly true that I do know more than he does, my claim was that I understand opportunity costs.

  • Devildog  On June 19, 2013 at 4:28 PM

    Dad, I didn’t say you claimed anything of the sort-just commented on a saying. But if you didn’t claim to know more than Tourist, you certainly implied it. And now, you go on in this latest post to all but claim you know more then he.

    PERHAPS you both know more about opportunity costs than do I (but perhaps not) so I’ll let you two slug this semantical argument out without me. Just try not to use this “I’ve forgotten more” b.s. in an other disagreement.

  • pittsburgh_dad  On June 19, 2013 at 4:41 PM

    Thx DD but it was Tourist that claimed that I didn’t understand opportunity costs. This is a position not based on fact. As such, commenting on how much I know with respect to what Tourist knows is fair game. Esp. since Tourist is an intellectual fraud.

  • Tourist  On June 19, 2013 at 4:50 PM

    “Pittsburgh Dad,”

    Good one! I didn’t recognize you. Of course we’re back now to it being only you who thinks you know what you’re talking about.

    • Little_Minx  On June 19, 2013 at 5:20 PM

      Yep, the melody lingers on…

  • Devildog  On June 19, 2013 at 4:59 PM

    OMG, here we go again!

  • Little_Minx  On June 19, 2013 at 5:13 PM

    Today on NPR’s “Fresh Air” (rerun on 90.5 FM, 10-11 PM), “‘The Watchers’ Have Had Their Eyes On Us For Years”:
    http://www.npr.org/2013/06/19/192770397/the-watchers-have-had-their-eyes-on-us-for-years

    • Little_Minx  On June 19, 2013 at 5:29 PM

      UMOC, is “Fresh Air” also on WV PR this evening? (I seem to recall possibly 7-8 or 8-9 PM).

  • Devildog  On June 19, 2013 at 5:32 PM

    Does that mean that Pittsburgh Dad is personna non grata and the blog is left again to just UMOC and his lefty pals?

    • Little_Minx  On June 19, 2013 at 5:35 PM

      Well, there’s still you. And sometimes I can’t figure out where Tourist or Scarlet Pumpernickel stand, either.

      • Devildog  On June 19, 2013 at 6:13 PM

        Maybe! UMOC “welcomed” Tourist back but nary a kind word to me. I’m hurt, and jealous too. Maybe you can make up for UMOC’s inhospitality.

        • umoc193  On June 21, 2013 at 2:45 PM

          DD,

          Sorry I missed your return but of course I welcome it. I’ve been a little under the weather and haven’t paid much attention to the blog.

    • toadsly  On June 19, 2013 at 5:47 PM

      I’m not a “lefty”! I’m ambidextrous!

      • Little_Minx  On June 19, 2013 at 5:56 PM

        You’re our Mr. Congeniality, Toadsly!

        • toadsly  On June 19, 2013 at 6:17 PM

          Yep, I’m a sweetheart! Say, don’t the demented prattle, “I forgot more than you’ll ever know.” Poor pittsburg_dad.

  • pittsburgh_dad  On June 19, 2013 at 5:56 PM

    I can’t begin to tell you how much it comforts me that the author of this blog and most of its commenters believe I don’t know what I am talking about.

    You can censor me now, UMOC. Just like O censoring the tea party for revealing how much of a fraud he is, you will be censoring me for revealing how much of a fraud you are

    • Little_Minx  On June 19, 2013 at 6:13 PM

      Freedom of association… UMOC is free to include or exclude whomever he wants, because it’s his blog.

  • Devildog  On June 19, 2013 at 6:07 PM

    Toadsly, you’re an acceptable lefty(at least in my book) because your comments are always brief and usually clever. No need to express your gratitude!

    • toadsly  On June 19, 2013 at 6:20 PM

      Thanks! And there’s no need to accept my gratitude. But we are, after all, gentkemen.

      • toadsly  On June 19, 2013 at 6:27 PM

        Please forgive my solecisms, but I’m doing almost everything online with an Android phone these , and it ain’t got no spellchecker. ..at least none I’ve been able to find!

        • toadsly  On June 19, 2013 at 6:29 PM

          $#&% it just forgot to post days in my penultimate comment.

        • Devildog  On June 19, 2013 at 7:39 PM

          Well, Toadsly, you may be asking too much of me. Acceptance! Forgiveness! There’s a limit to how many of that kind of thing I am capable of having in me. And why “make” me scurry to my dictionary to find out the meaning of a word. I already know enough to get by (barely).

  • Tourist  On June 20, 2013 at 8:23 PM

    What was that agency Tom Cruise worked for in that movie? Is this still our topic?

    I don’t like the designated hitter for reasons including that it eliminates one of the few substantive decisions a manager gets to make in a game (whether to hit for a pitcher), or the infield-fly rule for that matter, and I’m not alone, but I don’t go on about them because, well, of inertia.

    The weight of reactions to PRISM, etc., seems to be a mix of “nothing new to see here,” “have nothing to hide” and “price we pay.” Even UMOC isn’t much energized or agitated – just another item on his list of probable wrongs.

    I think it’s different and if I were inclined to be more Paul Reverish about it, I would go in the direction of Rob Rogers’s current “Superman” cartoon.

    Now I remember.

    “PreCrime.”

    • Little_Minx  On June 20, 2013 at 8:58 PM

      Konnichiwa, Tourist. Does Japan have the DH? I too deplore it.

      The tricky thing re surveillance is that the two absolutes — all or nothing — are both ridiculously impractical, so it’s a matter of what degree one finds optimal.

  • Little_Minx  On June 20, 2013 at 9:00 PM

    For our WV host. Perhaps Joe Manchin will become the Joseph Welch to the NRA’s Joe (who was never a tailgunner, BTW) McCarthy. I sure hope somebody does, and soon!

    “Joe Manchin goes to war with the NRA”:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2013/06/20/joe-manchin-goes-to-war-with-the-nra

    If you want to get a sense of whether the Manchin-Toomey expansion of background checks has any chance of passing the Senate in a future vote, keep an eye on the one-man war Senator Joe Manchin has launched against the NRA.

    The NRA had aired an ad targeting Manchin over his advocacy on behalf of expanded background checks, apparently to show that he’d pay a price for his apostasy in the deep red state of West Virginia. Manchin’s response? To hit back hard — and go straight for the NRA’s throat. If it works, Manchin could end up proving that an NRA onslaught can be survived and even defeated, which could put some backbone in other red state Democrats going forward.

    Manchin today unveiled a new ad hitting back at the NRA that renews the push for expanded background checks, and casts the NRA leadership, as opposed to its rank and file, as out of touch with West Virginia gun owners. “I believe that we can protect the Second Amendment — and make our communities safer,” Manchin says. “I think most law abiding gun owners agree with me. Call the NRA. And tell them to support criminal background checks.” Watch:

    Meanwhile, in an interview on Morning Joe today, Manchin kept it up, making the gun owner’s case for expanded background checks. “As a law abiding gun owner, I’m not going to sell my gun to a stranger,” he said, adding that applying background checks to private sales would reassure those who don’t want to sell their guns to the mentally ill or criminals: “I wanna know who’s gonna buy my gun.”

    The NRA ad that kicked off Manchin’s counterattack accused the Senator of turning his back on his own constituents to collaborate with President Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Unlike Senator Mark Pryor — who voted against expanded background checks and has sought to cast the billionaire mayor’s attacks on him over that vote as proof of his red state bona fides — Manchin is directly engaging the substance of this debate, arguing that he, and not the NRA leadership, really speaks for rank and file gun owners in his state.

    Roll Call’s David Hawkings had a terrific piece explaining the larger significance of Manchin’s new crusade, which is all about winning over a handful of persuadable Senators in hopes of revisiting Manchin-Toomey later:

    [B]efore he can genuinely hope to win over any of the senators seen as persuadable, he’ll have to offer evidence that they, too, can survive the NRA’s attack ad onslaught.

    So fighting his own rhetorical war now, with the argument that no law-abiding gun owner’s right to bear arms would be infringed on by more background checks, is what Manchin may view as the best way to help the larger cause.

    To be sure, Manchin is not up for reelection until 2018. But this is nonetheless a very interesting experiment, and Manchin’s standing in his state will be very much worth watching. To gun reform advocates, the primary underlying dynamic that must be changed is that too many senators think they will pay a greater price for supporting gun reform than they will for opposing it. They are operating from the beliefs that their constituents are more conservative than they are on gun issues, and that any argument that can be caricatured as anti-Second Amendment probably can’t carry the day and risks tarring you as culturally out of step.

    Manchin seems to be trying to prove that the NRA’s attacks can be weathered and the argument with the gun lobby can be won, even in a red state, which might go some way towards undercutting all those assumptions and persuading other senators to rethink them. Interestingly, the NRA — by targeting Manchin so aggressively, despite the Senator’s (previously) sterling gun rights record – may end up being complicit in that outcome.

  • Tourist  On June 20, 2013 at 9:18 PM

    Hi, Minx!

    One league does; the other league doesn’t. Which brings up the argument Bobby Valentine made when he managed here: Interleague and series games follow the practice of the home team. It should be the other way around. The home team fans are already familiar with it (whichever way). They should get to see what they usually do not.

    You’re right that “all or nothing” is not realistic. But the momentum is always toward more. Here, we are looking at two aspects: collection/analysis and use. (Maybe collection and analysis could be separated.)

    Use can be controlled by rules on use and exclusion if the rules are broken. Collection/analysis require resources and can be controlled that way. Neither is immune to creep or abuse.

    We need a sense of the balance we want — the kind of society we want to live in — and then we decide how to maintain it.

  • Devildog  On June 20, 2013 at 10:59 PM

    Tourist writes that we need to decide what kind of society we want to live in. Despite all the angst, I am unaware of any person (except perhaps bona fide terrorists) who has been adversely affected(except perhaps abstractly) by the existing government “snooping” program (as far as we know what that program is). Others may have more info than do I so I would welcome hearing about it.

    What is left, then, is the slippery slope argument which, personally, I reject.

    • Little_Minx  On June 21, 2013 at 7:53 AM

      Re going down the “slippery slope,” one other concern is the prospect of (ab)use of collected metadata on phone calls, emails etc. in order to track journalists’ confidential sources, as that could have a chilling effect on anyone thinking of revealing damning information that’s in the public’s best interests to know.

      • Little_Minx  On June 21, 2013 at 7:58 AM

        And, just for the record, journalistic “sources” aren’t just the controversial Edward Snowdens of the world, but plenty of folks with information that would simply be embarrassing to their bosses, neighbors, bureaucrats, et al.

  • Tourist  On June 21, 2013 at 12:18 AM

    I would like to belatedly welcome Devildog back. He returned yesterday to defend my honor and I was touched – also remiss at that time.

    He presents now exactly what I wish more people were talking about. I think there are three parts to it. Starting at the end: slippery slopes. I don’t jump to claims of inevitability; what I frequently say is, “Be careful on the slope.” But I don’t know what it means to “reject” the argument. Isn’t part of the conservative orthodoxy that government itself is a slope, that programs grow, and so on? I think we must always be concerned. What’s the opposite? “No worries”?

    Two: As far as Devildog knows, no one but terrorists has been adversely affected by the current program. I guess I don’t know either.

    One: When I ask what kind of society we want, it goes beyond surveillance but that alone is plenty right now. What is it we want? A balance, as Minx suggested, but where? If *we* aren’t deciding, someone else is.

  • Devildog  On June 21, 2013 at 9:03 AM

    Domo arrigato gazaimous.

    Slippery slope is part of right and left orthodoxy but that doesn’t stop me from rejecting it (for example, banning late term abortion leads to reversing Rowe v. Wade). The slippery slope argument is merely a tool for objecting to something on its merits. One’s being against Obamacare should not be because it will lead to socialized medicine (some claim it already is) but because it fails on its own merit.

    Every Act, regulation, etc. should be judged on its own not where it may or will lead if further action is necessary to get further down the slope. And, of course, it can be reversed as a result of an election. The opposite of slippery slope is not “no worries” but judge on its own merits (in the existing state of affairs). This doesn’t mean don’t look to the future affect-only that don’t worry if further action is required by Congress, Potus and SCOTUS.

  • toadsly  On June 21, 2013 at 9:23 AM

    When I was a teenager, I caddied for the local mob boss, and I learned many things: bribery and blatant over tipping are far more effective than muscle (I, and everybody else at the golf club, loved my boss because he was a dedicated flatterer and a big, big tipper); having the police chief, district attorney and coroner in your pocket is the “Golden Rule” for empire building (wasn’t unusual to see all three playing cards with my “steady” when numbers bags arrived in late afternoon); don’t try to hide the fact you control everything and everybody (speaking for myself, I learned at this tender age that corruption is in control, and butting heads with it will only result in your head being broken).
    True story: A superintendent at local J&L steel plant told my boss to quit swearing on the golf course. Several days later, after having (superintendent) had several drinks at golf club, he heads for his car in the parking lot, and two cops pull in just as he tries to drive off. They accuse him of being drunk, but then one says, “Say haven’t I seen you playing golf with Frank (my boss)? Since you’re Frank’s friend, I’m sure you’re not drunk.”
    So, what’s my point? Well, maybe NSA snooping will cause local yokels to think twice about getting into bed with small-time racketeers. Or, at least, drive them back under the rocks where they belong.

  • Devildog  On June 21, 2013 at 4:55 PM

    So, UMOC, the articles you read in those left-wing journals say that in the area of security, we are getting far too little bang for far too many bucks. That implies that we are getting some bang though not enough for what is spent meaning some lives are being saved. So how much is a life worth in the liberal world? We know that one green job, that may disappear or not even ever exist, could be worth a million dollars in government subsidy.

    Does the following settle the opportunity cost debate? An attempt at more security sometimes/often times results in a lessening of civil liberties. Indisputable, so that should end the debate.

    Thanks UMOC. Be well!

    • Little_Minx  On June 21, 2013 at 5:33 PM

      Do you think this is analogous to manufacturers who calculate whether to institute a safety feature in a product by weighing its increased expense versus the added amount that insurance would cost to pay out settlements and jury awards in liability lawsuits?

      • toadsly  On June 21, 2013 at 6:27 PM

        Perhsps? Loss of liberty is to security as projected liability is to net bottom bottom line.

        • Little_Minx  On June 21, 2013 at 10:59 PM

          You aced the English sections of your SATs, didn’t you Toadsly?

  • Tourist  On June 21, 2013 at 10:04 PM

    I’m a liberal so I don’t care about monetary costs. Someone else will pay them anyway. I want the biggest, bestest government I can get. I want elected officials and bureaucrats to make decisions so that I don’t have to and because they know more. All of this I say yes to. I’m a voter. It’s my government.

    I put at about thirty years ago a brief period when people were aware and concerned about the security of home/office cordless phones (I’m not talking about cellphones). It was much easier for the person parked outside or the kid next door to listen in than if the handset was attached to the wall. Some businesses had policies against them. Lawyers debated whether using a cordless phone constituted knowingly waving the confidentiality privilege.

    We knew when e-mail came on the scene that it passed through various hands and could be read, but we assured ourselves with whatever it took to assure ourselves.

    (Quote)

    But yelling about Obama isn’t going to change anything. There’s no 2016 chatter in San Jose, no expectation that another liberal hero would run for president and undo the security state.

    “The problem is the law,” says Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress . . . . “I don’t blame the Obama administration. They’re doing the full extent of what the law allows. The problem is that the law allows too much. You can’t just look at people’s stuff if they have no ideological connections to illegal activity. This may be one of those situations were those of us on both sides of the aisle who have concerns can get together.”

    That means working with libertarians again, as the GOP base becomes more and more hospitable to the Rand/Ron Paul version of the universe. One of the only Netroots panels that digs in on the NSA scandal features online strategists talking up their alliances with the Tea Party right. The Stop Watching Us coalition, for example—that includes FreedomWorks, which poured money into the Allen West and Ted Cruz campaigns, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which is waging a FOIA war on the EPA.

    “We need to use this moment to start opening up people’s eyes to what’s really going on when it comes to people’s privacies,” says Rainey Reitman, activism guru at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “We need to expose how the companies we rely on to connect us to the Internet have complied with surveillance. We change the law to ensure that this sort of spying is ended.”

    [Sarcasm alert.]

    Right after they get the rest of a busy and distracted and less fearful left on board.

    (Unquote)

    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/technology/2013/06/netroots_nation_dispatch_the_online_left_totally_saw_prism_coming.html

    ===

    “You can’t just look at people’s stuff.”

    I’m still asking what kind of society we want.

  • Devildog  On June 21, 2013 at 10:08 PM

    Anyone who believes that a publicly traded company would make that calculas is out of his or her mind, regardless of what a jury might find or some obscure out of context email from an irrelevant employee might suggest.

  • Devildog  On June 21, 2013 at 10:16 PM

    And Tourist, precisely “what stuff” are people looking at? Where’s the evidence that there’s been more than that which has been reported? Or is it just that we are on a slippery slope?

  • Tourist  On June 21, 2013 at 10:20 PM

    Devildog,

    What stuff? Where is the evidence? Good questions.

  • Devildog  On June 21, 2013 at 11:25 PM

    Tourist, it’s ok to be factious but not ok to be redundant. No need to say you want the bestest government when you say previous to that that you want the biggest. The bigger the better!

    • Little_Minx  On June 22, 2013 at 10:41 AM

      Business makes decisions based on cost/benefit ratios, so why would it be surprising that government does as well?

      • Devildog  On June 22, 2013 at 3:25 PM

        Minx, you’re kidding again, right? You’re quite the jokester. Where does votes fit into the government cost/benefit equation. Benefit to whom?

  • Tourist  On June 21, 2013 at 11:57 PM

    Devildog, that’s the American way!

    Story from yesterday: I have a laptop and a dumbphone. I friend in Europe has a desktop, laptop and smartphone. He’s way beyond me in synching the three and accessing any of them from either of the others – that using long-available conventional services I do not understand either. But he was having trouble getting at decades of music in different formats he has in different places. He was told the answer might be to put it all in the Cloud. So he opened a Google Cloud account.

    He unloaded the music from his computer, thought how easy it was, and then watched in horror as Google uploaded everything else. Before he could react, the message was: “Done.”

    Let’s see. Everything I’ve ever said to him is in there. As soon as I post this (or perhaps before) Google will know I’m discussing it. If Google is cooperating with the NSA, might there be a quid pro quo? What interest might the NSA have in me now, and on whose behalf?

    But you’re right, Dog. Where’s the evidence of anything?

    • Little_Minx  On June 22, 2013 at 10:35 AM

      I have only a desktop computer and a land-line telephone, which doubles as my Internet connection via dial-up. Yet for all my Luddite ways I could still wind up on “the Cloud” if any of my email correspondents does what your friend recently did — and it may well have already occurred? I feel so undressed 😦

  • Devildog  On June 22, 2013 at 2:11 PM

    Minx, you’re kidding right?

    • Little_Minx  On June 22, 2013 at 3:33 PM

      Re what? It sounds as though Tourist’s scenario could befall me as well.

      • Devildog  On June 22, 2013 at 4:42 PM

        Tourist’s scenario? That’s a reason to feel “undressed”. How many peopled do you think would be interested enough to have a looksee? Now don’t take that personally!

        • toadsly  On June 22, 2013 at 5:11 PM

          There is no other way to take your comment, except as personally denigrating! Your Republican soul is shining through!

          • Devildog  On June 22, 2013 at 6:01 PM

            Look Toadsly! I know very little if anything about Minx except her politics and that she can defend herself (even though she has nothing to defend). We were talking about her emails, etc., being disclosed and she used the word “undressed”. So, maybe it was a double entendre but when I said nothing personal, I meant it. So, I really should respond to you by using one of UMOC’s favorite expressions (that consists of two words) but I won’t.

            Well, I changed my mind so… I changed my mind again and I’ll leave it be.

            • toadsly  On June 22, 2013 at 6:53 PM

              Say exactly what you mean. I always do.

              • Devildog  On June 22, 2013 at 6:59 PM

                Fuuuck you! You can take that personally.

                • toadsly  On June 22, 2013 at 7:26 PM

                  Gee, if I hurt your feelings, I can’t apologize, because that was my intention. Devildog…Ha! Your posting handle should be Poopypuppy!

                  • Devildog  On June 22, 2013 at 7:46 PM

                    I don’t have any feelings. Remember. It just made me think of a question i’ve often asked myself but have yet to come up with an answer, and it is-how can people with high IQ’s (i’m guessing) be such schmucks.

                    Hurt feelings. You must be kidding! It’s just how we Bronxites respond to you schmucks; rock stars or not.

  • Tourist  On June 22, 2013 at 7:43 PM

    Is everything Devildog says wrong and outrageous because he’s Kenyan?

    • toadsly  On June 22, 2013 at 11:08 PM

      Ironically Kenyan! He may or may not be literally quick on his feet. But figuratively (idiomatically) he’s not going to win many races.

      • Devildog  On June 22, 2013 at 11:56 PM

        Probably not against rock stars and their groupies!

  • Little_Minx  On June 22, 2013 at 11:12 PM

    I’m nobody! Who are you?
    Are you nobody, too?
    Then there’s a pair of us — don’t tell!
    They’d banish us, you know.

    How dreary to be somebody!
    How public, like a frog
    To tell your name the livelong day
    To an admiring bog!

    — Emily Dickinson

    • toadsly  On June 22, 2013 at 11:23 PM

      She Walks In Beauty by Lord Byron

      She walks in beauty, like the night
      Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
      And all that’s best of dark and bright
      Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
      Thus mellowed to that tender light
      Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

      One shade the more, one ray the less,
      Had half impaired the nameless grace
      Which waves in every raven tress,
      Or softly lightens o’er her face;
      Where thoughts serenely sweet express
      How pure, how dear their dwelling place.

      And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
      So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
      The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
      But tell of days in goodness spent,
      A mind at peace with all below,
      A heart whose love is innocent!

      • Little_Minx  On June 22, 2013 at 11:31 PM

        [blush]

  • Little_Minx  On June 22, 2013 at 11:33 PM

    Toadsly! Do you watch “Doc Martin” on PBS? I definitely did NOT see the end of tonight’s episode coming, did you?

    • toadsly  On June 22, 2013 at 11:42 PM

      I sporadically watch Doc Martin. He has my personality, so it tends to hit excruciatingly close to home. Did not catch tonight’s episode. But is another terrific British export.

      • Little_Minx  On June 23, 2013 at 12:02 AM

        Mr. Minx adores “Doc Martin.” Like Martin, he has little patience for small talk, although he’s not as brusque. A friend who vacationed in Cornwall with friends this spring told me that they dropped by Port Isaac one day, where the series is filmed; she said the walk down to the village is really steep. They were disappointed that the series wasn’t filming while they were there. You can read more at:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doc_Martin
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portwenn
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_Isaac (with map)

        WQED is currently finishing airing Season 3, with Season 4 to start here in late July. Reportedly the 6th season, which was set to film this spring, will be the last, so we still have a lot more episodes ahead of us.

      • Little_Minx  On June 23, 2013 at 12:05 AM

        Your comment is awaiting moderation.

        Oh rats, I forgot about not being allowed to post a message containing more than one URL.

        Mr. Minx adores “Doc Martin.” Like Martin, he has little patience for small talk, although he’s not as brusque. A friend who vacationed in Cornwall with friends this spring told me that they dropped by Port Isaac one day, where the series is filmed; she said the walk down to the village is really steep. They were disappointed that the series wasn’t filming while they were there. You can read more at:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doc_Martin

        WQED is currently finishing airing Season 3, with Season 4 to start here in late July. Reportedly the 6th season, which was set to film this spring, will be the last, so we still have a lot more episodes ahead of us.

        • Little_Minx  On June 23, 2013 at 12:06 AM

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portwenn

          • Little_Minx  On June 23, 2013 at 12:07 AM

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_Isaac (with map)

            Take THAT, comment moderator!

            • Little_Minx  On June 23, 2013 at 12:10 AM

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doc_Martin

            • toadsly  On June 23, 2013 at 12:34 AM

              Wow! Poldark, the PBS series that turned me into a life-long Masterpiece Theater/Classic fan, was filmed there!

              • Little_Minx  On June 23, 2013 at 12:41 AM

                It was the original “Forsyte Saga” (with Eric and Nyree Dawn Porter, and Susan Hampshire) that hooked us. “Poldark” was a hoot, because it was strange thinking of a Redcoat as a hero 😉

                • Little_Minx  On June 23, 2013 at 12:43 AM

                  Do you also happen to recall “A Family at War” (hosted by gardening expert Thalassa Crusoe) and “The Onedin Line” (starring, inter alii, a very young Jane Seymour, as well as Anne Stalleybrass of “Six Wives of Henry VIII” fame)?

                  • Little_Minx  On June 23, 2013 at 10:18 AM

                    The elephant in the room: Did you watch “Upstairs Downstairs” back in the ’70s on “Masterpiece Theater”?

  • Little_Minx  On June 22, 2013 at 11:36 PM

    “Privacy? There’s no such thing on the road”:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/travel/privacy-theres-no-such-thing-on-the-road/2013/06/20/f4f3be6e-d76a-11e2-a016-92547bf094cc_story.html

    Oh dear, now that hotels know my pillow preference, I suppose the next time I’m arrested, the authorities will coerce a false confession out of me by giving me the wrong kind of pillows. Princess, meet pea.

    • toadsly  On June 22, 2013 at 11:51 PM

      Thanks for link to interesting Chris Elliot piece. I’ve reached an age where I no longer worry much about such things. And soon, I won’t even remember what I don’t care about. Life increasingly sucks, but then, thankfully, you do die.

  • Little_Minx  On June 23, 2013 at 12:48 AM

    Returning to the original topic, a question for our host:

    What do you think of Britain’s decision during WW II not to evacuate Coventry after their intel discovered that the Germans were planning to bomb it, because that would’ve tipped Britain’s hand that they’d cracked German code (Enigma, I think), but at the cost of thousands of innocent lives in Coventry?

  • toadsly  On June 23, 2013 at 12:58 AM

    Can’t say I do.

  • Tourist  On June 23, 2013 at 5:36 AM

    Best line in “Apollo 13”: Jean Speegle Howard, mother of Ron, as Blanche Lovell, proud, sweet, little-old-lady mother of Jim, on being introduced to Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin: “Are you boys in the space program, too?”

    Best three seconds of acting in “Apollo 13”: Joe Spano as the unnamed composite senior administrator, who, as we reach the thrilling live-or-die climax, has just said (appropriately in context), “This could be the worst disaster NASA’s ever experienced,” only to be interrupted and publicly challenged by Gene Kranz (Ed Harris): “With all do respect, sir, I believe this is going to be our finest hour.” The three seconds are Spano’s. He doesn’t *say* anything.

    Best moment in “Apollo 13” apart from everything it’s actually about: Three days before the launch, the medical officer wants to remove Ken Mattingly (Gary Sinese) from the crew because the crew has been exposed to the German measles (the movie says “measles”) and Mattingly alone has never had them. Lovell, the commander, fights to retain Mattingly (“We can anticipate each other’s moves. We can read the tone of each other’s voices”). The unnamed composite senior administrator and Deke Slayton make it clear to Lovell that it’s up to Lovell: replace Mattingly, or replace all three of them. The moment comes when Lovell has just told Mattingly that Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert will be blasting off without him. It’s a difficult situation and a huge blow to Mattingly, which he is struggling to digest. As he appears to accept it he tries one last shot: “Are you sure about this, Jim? Why don’t I go upstairs and talk to Deke?” Only at that point does Lovell say: “This was my call.” Another moment of awkward silence; then Mattingly: “It must have been a tough one.”

    Coventry?

    Absent bad faith, I cut actual decision-makers a lot of slack. The issues are real, serious, and can be seriously explored. Monday-morning quarterbacking is for games.

    • Little_Minx  On June 23, 2013 at 10:36 AM

      Tourist, yours was comment #6,000 on UMOC193. What an honor!

  • Little_Minx  On June 23, 2013 at 10:31 AM

    The Coventry dilemma was that if Britain saved the people there from the bombing, then Germany would realize that the code had been cracked, so would have stopped using it and devised a new one that would’ve taken the British more time to crack, during which other Brits (perhaps even more than at Coventry) would’ve died. A decision that no one with a conscience could be comfortable making, either way.

  • Little_Minx  On June 23, 2013 at 12:50 PM

    http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/opinion/letters/protester-hypocrisy-692816

    I predict that, after Corbett’s one-term governorship, Roddy will be hard pressed to find employment at a reputable publication. Perhaps the Greensburg fish-wrap or Washington (DC) Times would welcome his “talent.” Sure hope his government pay is lucrative enough to compensate for the selling of his soul.

    • toadsly  On June 23, 2013 at 12:57 PM

      I always admired Dennis Roddy as a journalist. I can’t believe he’s become Corbett’s stooge and mouthpiece. A sad and inglorious end to a momentous career.

      • Little_Minx  On June 23, 2013 at 2:01 PM

        Do you suppose his editors reined him in all those years, but now there’s no one to keep him from acting out his worst impulses? Alternatively, was he ordered to write this by his political masters?

        • toadsly  On June 23, 2013 at 2:59 PM

          All I know is that he took this job because his wife also worked for a newspaper, and he was concerned about putting all their ffinancial eggs in the same badket.

  • Devildog  On June 23, 2013 at 3:26 PM

    Can we puh-lease stop publishing political comments on this blog from people who disagree with me-to paraphrase an open-minded blogger.

    And, from another, I always admired Roddy as a journalist but now he’s become a stooge and a mouthpiece (something akin to Jay Carney perhaps). An inglorious end to a momentous career. Words very well written but clearly from an idiot savant.

    • Little_Minx  On June 23, 2013 at 3:52 PM

      Such a simple solution, DD: Start your own blog, and invite us over to comment.

      • Little_Minx  On June 23, 2013 at 4:07 PM

        In fact, DD, you could break out the pooper-scooper right now and start collecting your droppings on UMOC193 as a starter-kit for your own blog.

        • Devildog  On June 23, 2013 at 4:31 PM

          Brilliant Minx. Absolutely brilliant. And I could limit it to you and Toadsly so the two of you could have another forum to exchange inanities with each other. Sorry to have injected myself into your conversation.

          • Little_Minx  On June 23, 2013 at 4:51 PM

            What’s the fallacy in DD’s assumption here?

            • toadsly  On June 23, 2013 at 5:22 PM

              That we’d accept his invitation?

            • Devildog  On June 23, 2013 at 5:28 PM

              The wordsmith replies but, since there is nary an assumption in my statement, perhaps creative writing is his only competence.

              “…you could have another forum” but only if you so desire.

              • toadsly  On June 23, 2013 at 5:33 PM

                “And I could limit it to you and Toadsly…”

                • Devildog  On June 23, 2013 at 5:46 PM

                  As owner of the blog, I could exclude everyone but the two of you and if you didn’t want to participate, I could still blog to my heart’s (I have one) content and be the only one to enjoy what I have to say.

                  This is a test of your intellectual integrity so try and admit there was no fallacy in my assumption since there was no assumption.

                  • Little_Minx  On June 23, 2013 at 7:05 PM

                    It’s not exactly a command performance for HRH.

                    • Little_Minx  On June 23, 2013 at 7:36 PM

                      DD: “And I could limit it to you and Toadsly so the two of you could have another forum to exchange [comments] with each other.” That’s a clear assumption that you were expecting us to show up.

                      Of course, your comment yesterday at 6:59 PM disqualifies you from passing judgments.

  • Devildog  On June 23, 2013 at 7:42 PM

    Yeah, I’m really going to start a blog and I really expect you (all) to show up. It’ll break my heart if you don’t. Btw, how the heck do you start a blog. I think it might be beyond my capability.

    How come the use of the vernacular doesn’t also disqualify UMOC from passing judgments?

    • Little_Minx  On June 23, 2013 at 7:48 PM

      Because it’s UMOC’s own blog.

  • Tourist  On June 23, 2013 at 7:51 PM

    Good morning! Appropriately, it’s raining.

    Minx, then let UMOC tell Devildog he’s disqualified.

    • Little_Minx  On June 23, 2013 at 8:02 PM

      That WAS the implication 🙂

      • Devildog  On June 23, 2013 at 8:31 PM

        Besides which, not everyone can be as erudite as the learned toad.

  • Devildog  On June 23, 2013 at 8:23 PM

    The ball is in your court UMOC, thrown to you by Minx. She says it’s ok for you to use the word “fuck” because it’s your blog but I should, in effect, suffer the Anonymous fate for telling Toadsly to, in effect, fuck off. What say you, up or down, in or out?

    • toadsly  On June 23, 2013 at 8:59 PM

      I take no offense, DD! I’ve insulted you; you’ve insulted me. As far as I’m concerned, it’s water under the bridge.

      • toadsly  On June 23, 2013 at 9:01 PM

        And now I’m going to settle back and enjoy Inspector Lewis.

        • Devildog  On June 23, 2013 at 9:27 PM

          Oh, did you insult me? Hadn’t noticed. Enjoy Inspector Lewis. I’m still reveling in the Bucs amazing comeback today

  • Tourist  On June 23, 2013 at 8:45 PM

    Snoopy, the Apollo 10 lunar module, flying above the surface in the last test before the Apollo 11 landing, suddenly began to tumble and spin – a few more seconds of which would have meant crashing. A global listening audience heard Gene Cernan exclaim, “Son of a bitch!”

    NASA got compliants.

    May it please the court, the context begins here:

    Little_Minx On June 22, 2013 at 10:35 AM

  • Little_Minx  On June 24, 2013 at 4:54 PM

    Why not just scrap the Constitution? Joe McCarthy’s supporters must be cheering. “Bill would require agencies to fire feds who invoke Fifth Amendment”:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2013/06/24/bill-would-require-agencies-to-fire-feds-who-invoke-fifth-amendment

    • Devildog  On June 24, 2013 at 5:28 PM

      If you haven’t read the Constitution, read it. If you have read it, read it again and try to understand it. If you don’t know what I mean, try the toad.

      • Little_Minx  On June 24, 2013 at 5:43 PM

        Cite the parts of the Constitution you have in mind.

        • Devildog  On June 24, 2013 at 7:26 PM

          Can’t do that because ther’s nothing there to prevent Federal employees or other government employees from being fired for taking the 5th. Perhaps you can come up with some novel interpretation of the Constitution and perhaps if Obama can replace a couple of the gang of five with a couple of his kind, SCOTUS can come up with a novel interpretation.

          Ask the toad for help!

          • Little_Minx  On June 24, 2013 at 7:48 PM

            It’s all about the political posturing..

            If “there’s nothing there to prevent Federal employees or other government employees from being fired for taking the 5th,” then why is such a bill even necessary? Besides, if it can pass the House it’s unlikely to pass the Senate — and even on the very off-chance that it did, the President would veto it.

            • Little_Minx  On June 24, 2013 at 7:49 PM

              And even if someday some other President were to sign it into law, it’d have to get past the SCOTUS.

  • Tourist  On June 24, 2013 at 7:57 PM

    Two separate things:

    “If ‘there’s nothing there to prevent Federal employees or other government employees from being fired for taking the 5th,’ then why is such a bill even necessary?” (Minx, quoting Devildog)

    Devildog, that’s an excellent question.

    Devildog, what’s the meaning of “compelled”? For example, torture is surely compelling. Threatening torture is probably compelling. Threatening firing? In today’s economy?

    • Little_Minx  On June 24, 2013 at 8:19 PM

      Do you mean my question, Tourist?

      • Tourist  On June 24, 2013 at 8:24 PM

        Yep.

        • Little_Minx  On June 24, 2013 at 8:25 PM

          Ahhh! Thanks, Tourist.

  • Devildog  On June 24, 2013 at 8:29 PM

    Tourist, I can understand Minx asking why such a bill is necessary but for you to call that an excellent question is quite shocking. My understanding of the bill is that it REQUIRES such employees to be fired if they take the 5th. As it stands now, it is discretionary.

    Don’t get me off on the subject of compelled to be a witness against oneself. I disagree with the Court’s ruling in Miranda-I believe the ruling was that, in effect, he was compelled to be a witness against himself because he wasn’t given what is now known as the Miranda warning. How ridiculous! If ignorance of the law is no excuse, why is ignorance of the Constitution an excuse?

    For purposes of this discussion, I trust everyone knows that the 5th Amendment applies only to criminal matters and not whether you are entitled to retain a job with the government.

    • Little_Minx  On June 24, 2013 at 9:19 PM

      You were probably also shocked, shocked that there was gambling in Casablanca during the War.

      • Devildog  On June 24, 2013 at 9:49 PM

        Yes, I was, because I thought gambling was illegal there at that time

    • umoc193  On June 29, 2013 at 12:32 AM

      DD

      Apparently you have a fundamental misunderstanding of the 5th Amendment, the Miranda ruling, and the implications thereof.

      Your claim of equivalence of “ignorance of law” to “ignorance of the Constitution” is absurd.

      First of all ignorance of the law may be an excuse when a particular criminal statue has as an element, specific intent to commit the offense. First year law students know that.

      Second, comporting your behavior to what the law imposes or prohibits is quite different from failing to exercise a Constitutional right because one is not aware he has that right.

      What is embodied within the 5th and the Miranda warning is that a person cannot be compelled to speak against himself in a criminal case but that under the circumstances delineated by Miranda, that person need be put on notice that he is under such suspicion that the police fully intend to use his own words against him.

      That people are ignorant of this requirement is well-documented. And the police historically have taken or attempted to have taken advantage of this ignorance. Indeed, many people given the warning have succumbed to pressure and continued to speak and have even confessed to crimes which they did not commit. Witness the Central Park Five.

      There is also a subset of human beings lacking intelligence, practical and otherwise, who simply cannot understand the import of the Miranda warning even if properly presented.

      • Devildog  On June 29, 2013 at 8:35 AM

        UMOC, glad you’re feeling better and thanks for your primer but, as Chris Mathews (one of the blog items favorites no doubt) would ask, tell me something I don’t know.

        While intent may be an element of a crime, it is the action itself that has to be intended not knowledge of a law. In a simplistic example, if I don’t know what blood alcohol level is required for drunk driving but consume 10 drinks bringing me over the level, guilty as charged.

        Don’t have time (right now) to respond to everything but is there a 5th/Miranda equivalent to the 4th? No! So if a cop knocks on a door and asks the owner if it’s ok to search his house, he’s required to give a 4th Amendment warning. I don’t think so.

        • umoc193  On June 30, 2013 at 9:44 AM

          Let’s put this nonsense another way. Ignorance of the law being no excuse deals with the behavior of individuals. Miranda and other rights under the Constitution deal with the behavior of governments or behavior prohibited by governments.

          As to consent to search, with no warning. Any officer conducting such a search better have a properly drawn written consent to search because in court the burden is on the prosecution to prove the search was consensual.

          But that ignores the fact of the most important element of when the Miranda warning must be given and that is the person is in custody. During a search of a home as presented, the person is NOT in custody.

          • Devildog  On June 30, 2013 at 10:15 AM

            Let’s put “it” (not “this nonsense”) this way. It’s just “”not fair” to question a person ignorant of his constitutional right to remain silent but it is “fair” to search a man’s house when he is ignorant of his right to prevent that absent a warrant. Whether in custody or not is a distinction without a difference when two men in blue come knocking on your door. The guy answering knows nothing about custody or not.

            Your better having consent to a search in writing has no basis in reality. Two (or even one) man in blue testifying to that is usually sufficient. Anyway, rightfully or wrongfully, SCOTUS with Miranda is just another in a long line of cases of the Court making up a “right”. Again, rightfully or wrongfully-it is what it is. Just say that without trying to find that right somewhere in the Constitution.we all want to be “fair” to criminals, don’t we?

            So don’t keep saying, always (or at least implying) that anyone that disagrees with you is an idiot.

  • Tourist  On June 24, 2013 at 8:51 PM

    (Quote)

    We have held that the privilege’s protection extends only to witnesses who have “reasonable cause to apprehend danger from a direct answer.” . . . . But we have never held, as the Supreme Court of Ohio did, that the privilege is unavailable to those who claim innocence. To the contrary, we have emphasized that one of the Fifth Amendment’s “basic functions . . . is to protect innocent men . . . `who otherwise might be ensnared by ambiguous circumstances.’ ” . . . . In Grunewald, we recognized that truthful responses of an innocent witness, as well as those of a wrongdoer, may provide the government with incriminating evidence from the speaker’s own mouth.

    (Unquote)

    Ohio v. Reiner, U.S. Supreme Court (2001)

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=1351091437126214068&q=Ohio+v.+Reiner,+532+U.S.+17+(2001)&hl=en&as_sdt=2,5&as_vis=1

    Note “ensnared by ambiguous circumstances.” The proposed law would required firing.

    The argument here is that threatening one’s job compels testimony that could exposes the person to “ambiguous circumstances” – whether the person is guilty of anything or not.

    But that was the Supreme Court, and, as Devildog says, he disagrees.

  • Devildog  On June 24, 2013 at 9:30 PM

    Tourist, too much sake last night? Where to start.

    I disagree with Miranda-I didn’t say anything about this case, a case which has nothing to do with what we are discussing no matter how far you try to stretch it (but it could provide solace to Lois Lerner).

    Firing is not a criminal matter and, therefore, evidence of one having taken the 5th is admissible in an administrative hearing.

    I’m surprised that you have never disagreed with a court decision considering how knowledgable you are with the Constitution, that you believe it to be “living and that Justices come to the Court carrying a lot of baggage.

    • Little_Minx  On June 24, 2013 at 10:14 PM

      What if Congress-critter asks a “Have you stopped beating your wife?” type of question? If a Federal employee refused to answer on 5th Amendment grounds, under such a law would s/he automatically be fired? Or would there be any due process to determine whether the question was out of line? Or is any Congressional question inherently fair solely because a member of Congress, or one of their counsel, asks it?

      • Little_Minx  On June 24, 2013 at 10:26 PM

        Not only would such a bill, if enacted as law, threaten innocent civil service employees (without due process) with loss of employment for taking the 5th, it would also threaten those who would decline to answer out of good-faith conscience.

        Learned counsel can presumably illuminate the points that Tourist and I have raised, and point out the errors in DD’s.

  • Tourist  On June 24, 2013 at 10:15 PM

    Right, firing is not criminal. Neither is torture “when the president does it” (Nixon (I know, I know)) – or Congress, if a law passes constitutional muster. Possible crimes are what we are investigating. Firing/torture/threats thereof are the compulsion to be a witness against oneself to, possibly, those crimes we are looking for. That’s already in the Constitution. We also have what the Supreme Court says it means to date. Probably not this. But I’m just guessing.

    • Little_Minx  On June 24, 2013 at 10:30 PM

      Is any old question that a member of Congress wants to ask actionable if the civil service employee declines to answer? What if a closeted gay civil service employee is asked if s/he’s gay, and is faced with the alternatives of taking the 5th (and automatically losing his/her job) or being forced to “come out” involuntarily?

  • Devildog  On June 24, 2013 at 10:28 PM

    Minx, I have neither the time nor inclination to answer your “questions”.

    Tourist, I ask again whether too much sake last night. What the hell are you talking about. A firing may be “criminal” in any given case but it doesn’t take place in a criminal proceeding. Therefore, no 5th Amendment protection. A defendant in a civil case may be deposed and forced to testify (O.J.) and have a judgment awarded to the plaintiff in the millions of dollars, far more than the monetary value of a job. Any 5th Amendment problem there?

    What’s with you people?

    • Little_Minx  On June 24, 2013 at 10:33 PM

      “Minx, I have neither the time nor inclination to answer your ‘questions.'”

      Translation: “Minx, you’ve nailed me.” You’re not fooling anyone, DD. What does OJ have to do with Congress questioning a civil service employee? Nothing.

      And your racist insult to Tourist (re sake) is offensive to me.

    • umoc193  On June 29, 2013 at 12:46 AM

      Actually there are many civil proceedings in which a person could legitimately refuse to answer a question for fear of incriminating herself. If the question itself pertains to an act which may be punishable criminally, even though the subject proceeding is not a criminal one, she still could be in jeopardy by answering.

      Recall all the Mafia hearings in the 50’s and 60’s in Congress which where inquiries but not criminal cases in which the mob bosses asserted their 5th Amendment rights.

      So if the proposed law is as stated it seems to me that a reasonable case could be made that it vioolates the 5th Amendment. I KNOW Scalia would agree with me.

      • Little_Minx  On June 29, 2013 at 10:22 AM

        I suppose the only good news is that I doubt it would even be enacted. it’s just more posturing to pander to the GOP base.

  • Devildog  On June 24, 2013 at 10:34 PM

    Go ahead, learned counsel. I can hardly wait to finally hear from a “learned one”. Hope you are well enough to do so. Perhaps the learned toad can also opine. Or anyone else in this learned blogosphere. Tourist and Minx need guidance and a lot of it.

    • Little_Minx  On June 24, 2013 at 11:15 PM

      DD, this is not YOUR blog. Don’t forget it.

  • Devildog  On June 24, 2013 at 10:44 PM

    Minx, why do you “force me” to say you questions are so … As to be unworthy of response.

    Civil judgment against OJ even though he was acquitted (ugh-my racist reaction) in the criminal proceeding.

    Tourist is in Japan (I think) where sake, if not the national drink the one it is most noted for, and not only is my reference to sake a racist insult, but Minx, the conscience for the world, was personally offended. Wow!

    • Little_Minx  On June 24, 2013 at 11:10 PM

      Your comment is unworthy of this blog, DD.

      • Little_Minx  On June 24, 2013 at 11:12 PM

        Your comment was not only racist, it also was libelous, assuming that Tourist’s comments were not made while inebriated.

  • Tourist  On June 24, 2013 at 11:01 PM

    It’s not race. It’s rice. Am I missing something?

  • Tourist  On June 24, 2013 at 11:23 PM

    Backing up: Devildog may have a tiny point, or at least a valid question. On the proposed law, I’m going only by Minx’s article, which says: “A Republican lawmaker has proposed legislation that would require federal agencies to fire employees who refuse to answer questions from Congress.”

    There is no way that required firing would not be seen as compulsion to answer and possibly be a witness against oneself, but the fifth amendment does say “in any criminal case” and Devildog may be grasping at that.

    What is a “criminal case”? For sure, it will not be the simple English meaning of the words. What is the concept for these purposes? I don’t know.

  • Devildog  On June 24, 2013 at 11:24 PM

    Good night Minx, it’s been a pleasure.

  • Devildog  On June 24, 2013 at 11:27 PM

    Grasping Tourist?

  • Devildog  On June 24, 2013 at 11:30 PM

    Oh, oh, my 11.24 post might be misinterpreted by the toad. Once again.

    • Tourist  On June 24, 2013 at 11:43 PM

      Typical non-denial denial.

      • Little_Minx  On June 24, 2013 at 11:50 PM

        That’s DD fer ya, all hot air, no substance.

        • Tourist  On June 24, 2013 at 11:51 PM

          Another non-denial?

        • Tourist  On June 24, 2013 at 11:52 PM

          You kids aren’t fooling anybody.

          • Little_Minx  On June 24, 2013 at 11:56 PM

            Merely observing that DD’s favored debate tactics are personal attacks and unspecific denials.

  • Little_Minx  On June 24, 2013 at 11:31 PM

    From the Devildog book of etiquette, “Justice Samuel Alito’s middle-school antics”:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dana-milbank-justice-samuel-alitos-middle-school-antics/2013/06/24/534888f8-dd0d-11e2-9218-bc2ac7cd44e2_story.html

    The most remarkable thing about the Supreme Court’s opinions announced Monday was not what the justices wrote or said. It was what Samuel Alito did.

    The associate justice, a George W. Bush appointee, read two opinions, both 5-4 decisions that split the court along its usual right-left divide. But Alito didn’t stop there. When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg read her dissent from the bench, Alito visibly mocked his colleague

    Ginsburg, the second woman to serve on the high court, was making her argument about how the majority opinion made it easier for sexual harassment to occur in the workplace when Alito, seated immediately to Ginsburg’s left, shook his head from side to side in disagreement, rolled his eyes and looked at the ceiling.

    His treatment of the 80-year-old Ginsburg, 17 years his elder and with 13 years more seniority, was a curious display of judicial temperament or, more accurately, judicial intemperance. Typically, justices state their differences in words — and Alito, as it happens, had just spoken several hundred of his own from the bench. But he frequently supplements words with middle-school gestures.

    Days earlier, I watched as he demonstrated his disdain for Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, the two other women on the court. Kagan, the newest justice, prefaced her reading of an opinion in a low-profile case by joking that it was “possibly not” the case the audience had come to hear. The audience responded with laughter, a few justices smiled — and Alito, seated at Kagan’s right elbow, glowered.

    Another time, Sotomayor, reading a little-watched case about water rights, joked that “every student in the audience is going to look up the word ‘preemption’ today.” Alito rolled his eyes and shook his head.

    Alito is best known for his antics at the 2010 State of the Union address, when President Obama criticized the Citizens United decision. While other justices remained expressionless, Alito adopted a sour look, shook his head “no” and appeared to mouth the words “not true.” At the various oral arguments I’ve watched over the past few years, Alito’s eye-rolling, head-shaking and other expressions of exasperation are a fairly common occurrence, most often when Sotomayor has the floor…”

  • Little_Minx  On June 25, 2013 at 12:03 AM

    Midnight in the ‘Burgh, so handing off the watch to the overnight shift. ‘Night, Tourist!

  • Tourist  On June 25, 2013 at 6:48 AM

    I was trying to think of a space anecdote to lead cleverly into this, but space anecdotes are uplifting.

    With sincere respect and credit to UMOC for the accomplishment of this blog, as a community it is what’s left of Reg on Wry. Everyone here – everyone – was part of that. We go back a ways. Whatever our individual reasons, being here obviously means something to each of us. Somebody I suspect is still listening once called us “an extraordinary group of people.” He was not referring to our being of like mind.

    “Profiling” is poorly defined. From a few working definitions I found, I remixed this, which is nothing special: “Any action that relies on the factor in question rather than the behavior of an individual; inappropriate consideration of the factor in question in deciding with whom and how to intervene or interact.” In other words, it’s prejudice (pre-judging), preconception, double standards, jumping to conclusions. Rather than give the benefit of the doubt, it’s assuming the worst. It’s knee-jerk. It’s responding without listening. At least on the enlightened left, most profess to disapprove.

    May I please leave it at that?

    For the record, no asterisk, no parentheses: “That’s one small step for a man.”

  • Little_Minx  On June 25, 2013 at 2:03 PM

    Whew, it sure is a hot sunny day. Insults and contradictions re this factual observation commence in 3… 2… 1…

  • pittsburgh_dad  On June 25, 2013 at 3:28 PM

    Tourist – this is beautiful

    ‘I’m a liberal so I don’t care about monetary costs. Someone else will pay them anyway. I want the biggest, bestest government I can get. I want elected officials and bureaucrats to make decisions so that I don’t have to and because they know more. All of this I say yes to. I’m a voter. It’s my government.’

    It’s ‘your’ government?

    And Minxy, the Churchill, Coventry conspiracy has been disprove, Sorry that it doesn’t fit the liberal narrative that there are no ‘good’ guys and the bad guys are only bad because the ‘good’ guys were bad first

  • pittsburgh_dad  On June 25, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    You don’t care about monetary cost? And I am the one who doesn’t understand opportunity cost?

    You can’t make this stuff up

  • pittsburgh_dad  On June 25, 2013 at 3:36 PM

    ‘I don’t care about monetary cost? Someone else will pay them anyway.’

    This is the antithesis of understanding opportunity costs.

    Tourist, you are so precious. I miss making you look like a fool. It ain’t hard to do when you provide such good material

    • Devildog  On June 25, 2013 at 3:41 PM

      A, you need to distinguish an obvious facetious post from Tourist from, let’s say, Minx’s posts.

      • pittsburgh_dad  On June 25, 2013 at 4:00 PM

        My bad, I didn’t read the comments before and after Tourist’s comment. While he was being facetious, it was an easy mistake considering the hopes he has for the future of this country. To be progressive, you have to ignore the very likely possibility that the opportunity costs associated with progressive policies are greater than their benefits. I thought he was finally acknowledging the truth

        • Devildog  On June 25, 2013 at 4:06 PM

          It would be rare for anyone on this site to “acknowledge” anything.

          • Little_Minx  On June 25, 2013 at 4:39 PM

            Talking to yourself again.

  • Tourist  On June 25, 2013 at 6:19 PM

    Pittsburgh Dad,

    You: “My bad, I didn’t read the comments before and after . . . .”

    A road we’ve traveled many times.

    Did you read the comment of the person who answered you under Tony Norman’s column on James Gandolfini before you insulted him for no reason whatsoever?

    • pittsburgh_dad  On June 25, 2013 at 10:16 PM

      LOL

    • pittsburgh_dad  On June 25, 2013 at 10:39 PM

      What would you think if there was a show on TV that portrayed a Muslim as someone that trains terrorists to, let’s say, fly planes into a building but also portrayed him as a solid family man that wants to do right by his family??

    • pittsburgh_dad  On June 25, 2013 at 11:57 PM

      And when the actor who portrayed the character dies in real life, he is praised for his acting in the show as well as the show being praised. It won 100 Emmys, critics praised it as one of the greatest shows of all time, etc…. Yet nobody mentions that the character portrayed a Muslim who trained radical Islamists. They just say he was a terrorist trainer.

    • pittsburgh_dad  On June 26, 2013 at 12:24 AM

      And the title of the show is The Husseins

  • Devildog  On June 25, 2013 at 7:24 PM

    Now, Tourist, wasn’t A’s so-called insult rather tame, at least compared to what he has heaped onto you? But, even though tame, probably un-called for. But this discourse can be the start of, or rather the continuation of, something…

  • Tourist  On June 25, 2013 at 7:34 PM

    Devildog,

    “Tame” but “uncalled for”? You’re starting to sound like me. (No offense meant.)

    “But this discourse can be the start of, or rather the continuation of, something…”

    Hope springs eternal.

    • Devildog  On June 25, 2013 at 8:01 PM

      Offense taken.

      I intentionally didn’t complete the sentence. I don’t think I had in mind, though, anything like “hope springs eternal”.

      • Tourist  On June 25, 2013 at 8:19 PM

        Not completing sentences is definitely me. But I’m “can” and “half full” and “worth a try.” The other way is just so depressing.

  • Tourist  On June 25, 2013 at 8:49 PM

    (Quote)

    Voyager, in case it’s ever encountered by extra-terrestrials, is carrying photos of life on Earth, greetings in 55 languages, and a collection of music from Gregorian chants to Chuck Berry – including “Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground,” by ’20s bluesman Blind Willie Johnson, whose stepmother blinded him when he was seven by throwing lye in is his eyes after his father had beat her for being with another man. He died, penniless, of pneumonia after sleeping bundled in wet newspapers in the ruins of his house that burned down. But his music just left the solar system.

    (Unquote)

    See:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Warfare_of_Genghis_Khan

  • Tourist  On June 25, 2013 at 10:14 PM

    What I suspect is that scores, likely hundreds, of people have been inspired to join the conversation by our rejection of defeatism and rediscovery of our potential as unlimited beings, but their comments, being their first here, are awaiting moderation by UMOC, who I hope is in good health.

    Let us continue.

    Last week NASA announced its newest group of astronauts. Most of the “news” focused on the equal number of men and women. One headline with the eight smiling faces asked: “Will These People Go to Mars?”

    Apparently quite early in the 20th century scientists and astronomers using excellent telescopes and spectroscopic analysis knew that those were not canals and that there was no water, no life. Somehow, though, the ideas persisted. As a child I took a civilization for granted and wondered if the Martians would be friendly. The wiki page on “Martian canal” calls pictures from NASA’s Mariner 4 the “final nail in the coffin of the idea that Mars could be inhabited by higher forms of life.” That final nail came in 1965.

    From a red dot in the ancient sky to a smaller planet, mysterious and misunderstood, what is Mars in our lifetimes? A place, like any other. That’s grand. Are pictures like this even interesting anymore?

    http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap130625.html

    What a question!

  • Tourist  On June 26, 2013 at 7:42 PM

    Pittsburgh Dad,

    I was tempted to try to answer your comment at 10:39 PM. By 11:57 and 12:24, I was lost.

    The start was your comment to the Tony Norman column: “This is an interesting column. It never uses the words ‘Italian’ or ‘mafia’. Yeah, Norman briefly touches on how the creator based The Sopranos on ‘made men’ he knew in the 1960s. But I just found it interesting the words that Norman didn’t use. I wonder if this was an accident or intentional?”

    I may have been wrong, but I took that to be vaguely appreciative, or tentatively appreciative. The response of another reader to you clearly was. I took his to be a continuation of your train of thought – an attempted explanation of what you “wondered” about.

    Then (10:39): “What would you think if there was a show on TV that portrayed a Muslim as someone that trains terrorists to, let’s say, fly planes into a building but also portrayed him as a solid family man that wants to do right by his family??”

    I *thought* I saw what you were getting at. I had two reactions. Neither terrorists nor New Jersey mobsters are one-dimensional. Muslims are a hotter topic right now than Italians.

    Historical stereotypes, sure. Lingering stereotypes, sure. Awareness that they are stereotypes – even better. Whitey Bulger, the criminal personality du jour, is a Mick, not a Wop.

    But then, as I said, you lost me. The actor dies? The show is praised? The show is “The Husseins”? Do you mean fair like “The Sopranos” or unfair like “The Sopranos”?

    By the way, I’ve never seen “The Sopranos.”

    • pittsburgh_dad  On June 26, 2013 at 8:43 PM

      What would you think of the whole thing? The Sopranos offended me – everything about it. The ethnic stereotype and that it is OK to stereotype Italians in that manner. Why is it OK? Would the show I proposed be OK? Assuming it is the same ‘quality’ as The Sopranos, would Hollywood give it a bunch of Emmys and heap critical praise on it?

      The answer is no and why? The PC crowd has no problem stereotyping Italians. In fact stereotyping Italians is praised by much of the public and many in the media. Would this be true of a show called The Husseins? Dream on

      Now you may say many Italians praise the show. I think many Muslims would praise the show I proposed

      • umoc193  On June 29, 2013 at 1:05 AM

        How was the Sopranos an ethnic stereotype? It portrayed a group of criminals who shared Italian heritage and acted in concert within a framework connected to that ethnicity. But they also consorted with criminals of differing ethnicity.

        Those ethnically derived criminal families exist just as do jewish and Irish and German ones in the nation’s more distant history which have been joined by Japanese and Chinese and Latino and black organized criminal enterprises.

        There is a lot of good in Italian family life that is also a part of the actions of these criminal enterprises as well as the conflicts created when the dichotomy between the good and bad surfaces.

        No stereotyping whatsoever, simply a portrait of some bad Italians.

        • pittsburgh_dad  On June 30, 2013 at 2:05 AM

          Would my show be stereotyping?

    • pittsburgh_dad  On June 26, 2013 at 8:56 PM

      And I don’t understand the reference to Bulger. He is real. He isn’t part of a show

      And while there are Irish mafias and Russian mafias and I think Asian mafias, the word ‘mafia’ isn’t Irish, Russian or Asian. To know that you’re referring to the Irish mafia, one would have to say ‘Irish mafia’. If one just said mafia, we know what ethnicity one would assume

  • Tourist  On June 26, 2013 at 10:07 PM

    Pittsburgh Dad,

    I did not use the word “mafia.” When I do, I mean the historically Italian organized-crime “thing” that denies it exists. (The yakuza, in contrast, wear lapel pins on matching blazers when they fly off in a group to open an office in a new city.) I don’t say “Irish mafia” or “Russian mafia,” and I don’t like that Simon Bolivar is called the “George Washington of South America” or that the Chiune Sugihara was “Japan’s Schindler.” Credit where due.

    You: “The Sopranos offended me – everything about it. The ethnic stereotype and that it is OK to stereotype Italians in that manner. Why is it OK?”

    I am, I guess, stuck on that. “Why is it OK?” It wouldn’t be. But does it? In what manner does it stereotype Italians, as distinguished from being about some? That’s a question. Remember, please, I have not seen it.

    Yes, Bulger is real and ethnically Irish. All crime is not by Italians, nor are all Italians, or Irish, criminals. “The Sopranos” is fiction inspired by some reality. Or tell us how it is not. A show on slavery would probably need black slaves and white owners, at least if set in the United States.

    So it’s two questions: How does “The Sopranos” stereotype Italians? Was it good or bad that Tony Norman didn’t say “Italian” or “mafia”?

    • pittsburgh_dad  On June 26, 2013 at 11:06 PM

      How does “The Sopranos” stereotype Italians?

      I am not playing this game. Is my proposed show stereotypical? If it isn’t, why not? The point I am making is my proposed show would be unacceptable while the Sopranos is praised.

      Norman: Hypocritical, like the rest of America, including the many Italians that praised it

      I am not discussing this further . You know the issues.

    • pittsburgh_dad  On June 26, 2013 at 11:08 PM

      BTW, people (mostly mafiosi) deny the mafia exists so as to not go to prison. It certainly does exist. Just like radical Islamists exist

  • Tourist  On June 27, 2013 at 12:03 AM

    Pittsburgh Dad,

    Back from lunch.

    Does your proposed show stereotype? We would have to see it to know. We (not me) have seen “The Sopranos.” If it stereotypes Italians, I’m still hoping to learn how.

    Would your proposed show be acceptable, be praised?

    I would appreciate not being misunderstood on this one. Nothing justified 9/11, period. “Why do they hate us?” was a potentially useful question for the month or so we seemed willing to ask it. If your proposed show got somehow to that, seriously, in earnest, it *should* be acceptable and *could* be praised — neither universally, I’m sure.

  • pittsburgh_dad  On June 27, 2013 at 1:09 AM

    The Sopranos was about an Italian mafia family. The main character was a mob boss.

  • Tourist  On June 27, 2013 at 4:09 AM

    Look, if you find “The Sopranos” offense, that’s up to you. Nothing stops you. When you say it stereotypes, “how?” is a reasonable question and “it’s about” is not an answer. We could continue back and forth like this, but it would get us nowhere. So I called God about it and about a couple other small things. It’s easier for me here because of the time zones.

    Me: “God, will there ever be an end to war?”

    God: “Yes, but not in your lifetime.”

    Me: “God, will there ever be an end to poverty and suffering?”

    God: “Yes, but not in your lifetime.”

    Me: “God, will there ever be an end to the stereotyping of Italian Americans?”

    God: “Yes, but not in my lifetime.”

    ===

    So, you may have a point. I forgot to ask Him about Muslims.

  • Tourist  On June 29, 2013 at 6:35 PM

    Woman: “Do you drink beer?”

    Man: “Yes.”

    Woman: “How many beers a day?”

    Man: “Usually about 3.”

    Woman: “How much do you pay per beer?”

    Man: “$5.00 which includes a tip.”

    Woman: “And how long have you been drinking?”

    Man: “About 20 years, I suppose.”

    Woman: “So a beer costs $5 and you have 3 beers a day which puts your spending each month at $450. In one year, it would be approximately $5400 … correct?”

    Man: “Correct.”

    Woman: “If in 1 year you spend $5400, not accounting for inflation, the past
    20 years puts your spending at $108,000, correct?”

    Man: “Correct.”

    Woman: “Do you know that if you didn’t drink so much beer, that money could have been put in a step-up interest savings account and after accounting for compound interest for the past 20 years, you could have now bought a Ferrari?”

    Man: “Do you drink beer?”

    Woman: “No.”

    Man: “Where’s your Ferrari?”

    ===

    Life is not a theory.

    Those are stereotypes.

    • pittsburgh_dad  On June 30, 2013 at 2:27 AM

      This has to be one of the dumbest posts I think I have ever read. Considering some of your posts (not to mention UMOC’s posts), this is quite an extraordinary statement.

  • Tourist  On June 30, 2013 at 4:56 AM

    Pittsburgh Dad,

    “Dumbest”? Was that a challenge? Watch this! And leave UMOC out of it.

    ===

    This was going to be on why we are doomed. Instead, it’s on why we are not. (Space caught my eye. It’s not about that either.)

    “There has never been an American moment quite like Project Mercury,” the P-G’s Mr. Shribman wrote in a column recently. “It was one of the great undertakings of American power, one of the great expressions of American ingenuity, one of the great successes of American engineering, one of the great statements of American daring . . . . If you know what Project Mercury was, the passion it prompted needs no explanation . . . the thrill and sense of possibility it symbolized.

    “. . . There was, to be sure, a large Cold War element to Project Mercury; . . . . Even so, the effort was cloaked in the can-do spirit of the time, the romance of the new science, the vigor of the test-pilots who filled the ranks of the Original Seven astronauts (always rendered upper-case), and the redemption of centuries of longing to reach toward the moon, the planets and the stars.”

    http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/opinion/david-shribman/america-slips-its-bonds-691853/#ixzz2XAqPwxK1

    I included the Cold War acknowledgment because it is not a rose-colored-glasses account. Not everyone was enthusiastic even then or draws the same lessons now.

    Yet . . . yet . . . yet – what word may I use? – *overwhelmingly* people take pride and find inspiration in the story. Whatever the sniping now about necessity or what it “means” – come on! – who wishes today that we had not done it?

    There were only two comments to the column. It’s hard to tell the intent of the second one: wryly humorous or purely sarcastic? It’s the same point “The Right Stuff” (movie) makes with: “Was it them? Was it their German scientists that got them up there first?” “No, Senator, it was not. Our Germans are better than their Germans.”

    There is nothing ambiguous about the first comment. The commenter is not unknown. He is a credentialed academic. I would categorize his politics/economics as libertarian/Austrian, but that may lack nuance. He teaches physics. He has a Ph.D. in it. A super-cursory look turns up actual past service at the fringes of the space-exploration field (okay, long enough ago that he may have changed his mind). He certainly, in Mr. Shribman’s words, knows what the program is. He at least has the potential to be what an informed critic looks like. His comment in full:

    “Cold-war publicity stunts followed by successive porkbarrel projects in space, including the death-trap space shuttle and the white elephant space station.”

    From such an individual on such a topic, that’s diseased.

    It’s a statement not about anything, but in opposition – past, present, future – to everything. It’s autonomic. It’s defeatist, revisionist, unworthy of the rest of us. It’s what *they* are, small and sad. And it’s illustrative. It’s why, despite their hate, fear, tantrums and obstructions of the moment, we are not doomed. They are.

    It’s all they’ve got.

    “. . . and then were gone.”

    • pittsburgh_dad  On June 30, 2013 at 12:17 PM

      Well, it is true that the Cold War is the main reason the space race occurred. It is also true that NASA employed ‘ex-Nazis’ – Wernher von Braun being the most notable. However, the ex-Nazis were mostly Nazis in name only – forced to join the party or they would lose their jobs.

      With this said, ‘publicity stunts’ is overly pejorative. I think there were legitimate reasons to explore space beyond the political reasons that were the main impetus to do so. The technological gains ‘likely’ justify the investment, at least til the early 80s.

      Sadly, it has been reduced to ‘porkbarrel projects in space, including the death-trap space shuttle and the white elephant space station’

  • Devildog  On July 3, 2013 at 5:53 PM

    I have a question, that is a generalization, as is based solely upon a casual observation not supported by any facts. Why do liberals believe George Zimmerman should be convicted (based mainly on what facts, I ask) while conservatives (or whatever you want to call them) believe he should be acquitted(based on I assume the State hasn’t proved its case).

    • Tourist  On July 3, 2013 at 6:40 PM

      Zimmerman instigated it and didn’t have to. Zimmerman with the gun pursued Martin with the Skittles, Martin who had not done anything, and Martin is dead. That’s hard to shrug off.

      My question from before: What kind of society do we want to live in?

      New question: If Zimmerman is acquitted, what statement about us will that make?

      • Tourist  On July 3, 2013 at 9:34 PM

        To be clear (?), I was not analyzing the respective cases or voting as a juror upon proper instructions from the judge. I was answering why liberals (this one) side with the dead Martin rather than with Zimmerman, who killed him. At best, for the defense, Zimmerman did everything wrong, right up until the person he was pursuing punched him.

        Let’s say I’m being my usual obnoxious self in public, a member of your household does not appreciate my interest, walks away, then turns with a weapon but I’m faster. Or turns and lunges at my face with long fingernails. Or turns and gives me a menacing look.

        Self-defense is legitimate everywhere. “Make My Day” laws are an abomination.

        ===

        I chose/choose not to speak for conservatives, but Devildog speculates that conservatives favor acquittal because the state hasn’t proved its case. Not all conservatives. Here’s one from the comments to a CNN piece, in full, ellipsis in original:

        “Martin was thug. Things happened because he was a thug. Aside from the rioting that will follow the, not guilty, things happened the best way they could have when you have certain elements involved. At least no innocents were hurt in the exchange…”

        http://us.cnn.com/2013/07/02/opinion/odonnell-zimmerman-trial/index.html?hpt=hp_t4

        • Devildog  On July 3, 2013 at 9:59 PM

          White, Black, or whatever, I have not observed anything Zimmerman did to Martin (or me if I was in his shoes) that would justify the attack which, regardless of what transpired before, was unprovoked to other than a thug. So, if the shoe fits, wear it. Nothing to do with race since there areBlack guys who would not have been provoked and White guys who would have been.

          Assuming Martin jumped Zimmerman, what exactly was the provocation for such an attack?

      • Devildog  On July 3, 2013 at 9:46 PM

        Ah, Tourist. I know you don’t like to be put into a box so I won’t but I will say spoken like a true liberal. What kind of society do we want to live in? How about one operating under the Constitution and the laws (the Constitution may be a fiction but the law shouldn’t be).

        I’m not going to get into the law (I’ll leave that to the “learned one” if he so desires) but my nonsense understanding of the law is that who instigated it, who had a gun and who pursued whom has little to do with a self-defense defense. So, it may be hard but try hard to “shrug it off”.

        So in answer to your question (and the trial is not over), I would have to say that if Zimmerman is acquitted, it will not make any statement about “us” but it will say (I think,so far) that the jury correctly applied the laws of the State of Florida to the facts presented to it during the trial.

        Oh, I forgot. Also that they are racist pigs!

  • Tourist  On July 3, 2013 at 10:40 PM

    Devildog,

    Silly me. I thought you wanted to explore differing perspectives.

    Was Zimmerman justified under the law? I say no, but let’s say yes.

    Did Martin, walking home from the store, deserve to die that night? I say no. You?

    Does the member of your household in any of my variations deserve to die?

    Am I justified under the law in killing her? (Don’t give me “different jurisdiction.”)

    You: “So in answer to your question (and the trial is not over), I would have to say that if Zimmerman is acquitted, it will not make any statement about “us” but it will say (I think,so far) that the jury correctly applied the laws of the State of Florida to the facts presented to it during the trial.”

    The laws of Florida are “us” and it will say that *to* us “didn’t deserve to die” is less important that “right to kill.”

    • pittsburgh_dad  On July 3, 2013 at 11:20 PM

      I disagree Tourist. It isn’t that simple. The interpretation of the law is key. I believe the law doesn’t have a high threshold when it concerns self defense. Whatever reason it got to the point where Zimmerman pulled the trigger, the fact of the matter is that Martin was beating the crap out of Zimmerman and I believe the jury will find that Zimmerman had reason to believe his life was in danger. The prosecution just does not have the evidence necessary to convince the jury that Zimmerman is guilty of murder beyond a reasonable doubt. Our judicial system is set up in a way that we would rather find a guilty man innocent than find an innocent man guilty. For the most part, it works pretty well

      This really doesn’t say anything about ‘us’. I mean an affluent well liked former Heisman winner was found not guilty when he obviously was and the US survived the improper jury decision.

    • Devildog  On July 3, 2013 at 11:33 PM

      Tourist, no one in your scenarios “deserves” to die. That’s not the issue. If you don’t like the law, get it changed. Not to be trite but “we are a nation of laws.

      Not that it matters but did Zimmerman “deserve” to be jumped and beat up.

      Shit happens and life is not fair (in many, many respects). i know, typical Republican-no heart. Fairness über ales (spelling?).

  • Tourist  On July 4, 2013 at 12:28 AM

    Devildog, Pittsburgh Dad,

    Everything you’re saying is what is being said everywhere – who did what and what the law says. I think I got an acknowledgment from Devildog that even people behaving wrongly do not always deserve to die. Yet it seems others have the right to kill them for it. I thought we going to address that.

    Within my lifetime deadly force was only permitted as a last resort to protect life, never property. You first had to run away if you could. Now you can stand your ground in a public place and kill a person who scares you, subjectively. You can kill the kid in the middle of your garage with his hands up saying, “Don’t shoot, mister!”

    It doesn’t matter to us that the killing was unnecessary. It doesn’t matter to us that the victim didn’t deserve to die. “Shit happens.” “Shrug it off.”

    Why doesn’t it matter? How did we get here?

  • pittsburgh_dad  On July 4, 2013 at 1:01 AM

    In your mind, the killing was unnecessary. You don’t get to make that decision and the evidence doesn’t support your position ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’

    What you’re are saying about how things have changed in ‘your lifetime’ is pure garbage. The self defense bar is based on how a rational person would interpret the danger he is in. It has always been this way.

    ‘scares you’; ‘don’t shoot’ – no meaning to these generalized statements. What is the context? Is the guy scaring you holding a weapon? Did the guy saying don’t shoot just kill a family member?

    You’re in a situation where you have to make a split second decision. The law always has erred on the side of self defense

  • Tourist  On July 4, 2013 at 1:39 AM

    If I shoot you dead with no witnesses and say nothing more – your body, my gun and bullet, powder residue on my hands – I’m gone. They will never know why I did it, but *that* I did it will be beyond reasonable doubt.

    The law begins with killing being wrong. Self-defense must be affirmatively established as a justification in the particular instance. That’s what juries did – answered the justified question. What “Make My Day” laws do is start with the presumption the killing was justified.

    If I shoot you dead with no witnesses in my house/yard/driveway/car (depending on the castle statute), I will not be questioned further. If I stand my ground in a public place without witnesses, I have to say I was in fear.

    Whether I made a tragic mistake, or acted recklessly, unreasonably, unjustifiably, or did it with a big smile on my face, this is about getting away with it.

    It is the opposite of personal responsibility.

    • pittsburgh_dad  On July 4, 2013 at 1:50 AM

      What “Make My Day” laws do is start with the presumption the killing was justified.?

      Not true

      The initial assumption isn’t self defense. Not true in any way. when Harry says “make my day’, it is clear that the other person is signaling in some way that he is a threat to you. You just don’t think it is much of a threat. Harry is saying ‘I dare you to act out on your threat.’ Only if he acts on his threat can Harry claim self defense. You may need to watch the movie again

  • pittsburgh_dad  On July 4, 2013 at 1:52 AM

    Should read *signaling in some way he is a threat to Harry. Harry just doesn’t…

    • pittsburgh_dad  On July 4, 2013 at 2:03 AM

      If I shoot you dead with no witnesses in my house/yard/driveway/car (depending on the castle statute), I will not be questioned further. If I stand my ground in a public place without witnesses, I have to say I was in fear.??????

      It depends on the evidence. Was I holding a weapon. Does your story match the evidence?

      Funny how you want personal responsibility here but not when someone is living off the hard work of others.

      • Tourist  On July 4, 2013 at 2:19 AM

        You: “It depends on the evidence. Was I holding a weapon. Does your story match the evidence?”

        Try to understand what “presumption” means. You are presumed to be mentally competent. That’s the starting point. To legally declare you not competent, evidence must be presented by someone challenging your competency. Until then, you’re safe.

        To challenge my shooting of you in my garage when you had your hands up and were begging me not to, mine is the starting point. Someone would have to testify contrary to my version, or, under castle, my silence, or it goes no further. Remember, you’re dead.

        This is Pennsylvania:

        “(2.5) Unless one of the exceptions under paragraph (2.2) applies, a person who unlawfully and by force enters or attempts to enter an actor’s dwelling, residence or occupied vehicle or removes or attempts to remove another against that other’s will from the actor’s dwelling, residence or occupied vehicle is presumed to be doing so with the intent to commit: (i) an act resulting in death or serious bodily injury; or (ii) kidnapping or sexual intercourse by force or threat.”

  • Tourist  On July 4, 2013 at 4:08 AM

    And I’m still asking what about all this easy, excused killing, even of jerks – in contrast to “when necessary” – we are so proud of.

    “Life is cheap to those people.”

    “Life is cheap in . . . .”

  • Tourist  On July 4, 2013 at 4:43 AM

    Oh, what the hell!

    “Funny how you want personal responsibility here but not when someone is living off the hard work of others.” (Pittsburgh Dad)

    Putting aside the glaring irony of the source, one is people; the other is money.

    A.k.a., values.

    ===

    Happy Birthday, America!

    When the crunch came, I again bought Budweiser. I toyed with doing it this year with sake.

    • Devildog  On July 4, 2013 at 8:41 AM

      Tourist:

      Self-defense still subject to reasonable man test.

      You make it sound like people are getting away with killing all over the country and getting away with it claiming self-defense. Probably pretty rare and probably people in jail who claimed it.

      Killing is not wrong. Murder is.

      Personal responsibility? Has nothing to do with anything here.

      You’re against killing, against this law, against the presumption of innocence, don’t recognize the application of the reasonable man test. Great contribution-but at least you contributed.

  • pittsburgh_dad  On July 4, 2013 at 12:21 PM

    I think I have just figured out why sometimes I don’t quite get what you say Tourist. It is because you are delusional.

    You’re really talking about the ‘presumption of innocence’? Really? OMG!!! This practice only goes back to about 1500 years

    The alternative is the ‘presumption of guilt’ and the killer has to prove innocence. This is insane.

    What you are saying is you would rather have an innocent person go to jail than have a guilty person go free.

    I don’t think you really believe this. I think you are using this argument in the Zimmerman case because you don’t buy his self defense argument.

  • Tourist  On July 4, 2013 at 4:56 PM

    The link below is to a 24-page paper by an advisory group to the National District Attorneys Association. The following is the opening highlighting of what the paper will address.

    (Quote)

    Changes to the Castle Doctrine Enacted in Some States

    – Extending the right to self-defense, with no duty to retreat, to places outside the home, such as a place of business, a motor vehicle, or anywhere else a person has a legal right to be (such as a park or public sidewalk);

    – Permitting use of deadly force even when only property, as opposed to a person, is under threat in certain breaking and entering situations; and

    – Providing blanket civil and criminal immunity for a person who uses deadly force under this expanded right of self-defense.

    (Unquote)

    http://www.ndaa.org/pdf/Castle%20Doctrine.pdf

    Devildog: “Self-defense still subject to reasonable man test . . . . You’re against killing, . . . against the presumption of innocence . . . .”

    Pittsburgh Dad: “What you’re are saying about how things have changed in ‘your lifetime’ is pure garbage” and “OMG!!! . . . ‘presumption of guilt’” and, well, basically all of it.

    Under a “Make My Day” law, reasonableness is presumed, not tested.

    We are not talking about the presumption of innocence. We are talking about a presumption of reasonableness.

    Traditionally, the prosecution must show that I killed, with intent, etc. That’s my presumption of innocence. If the prosecution does, I then I have to make my “reasonable” case (because, yes, Dog, I and most of us are “against killing”). Under these laws, I don’t. I quoted the Pennsylvania language. I may kill someone intending to kill me. The law presumes that’s what he intended. He may dispute that, of course. Oh, that’s right. Oops.

    “There is no evidence to dispute Zimmerman’s assertion that he shot Martin out of self-defense.”
    – Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee (March 12, 2012)

    Zimmerman is only on trial because the case got media attention.

  • Tourist  On July 4, 2013 at 5:29 PM

    Loose ends:

    “Did the guy saying don’t shoot just kill a family member?” (Pittsburgh Dad)

    If he is standing in the middle of my garage with his hands up, saying, “Don’t shoot, mister” . . . . Do you mean, would I get away with it?

    “The law always has erred on the side of self defense.” (Pittsburgh Dad)

    That has always depended on who you are.

  • Devildog  On July 4, 2013 at 6:27 PM

    Tourist, this case has absolutely nothing to do with the Castle Doctrine or its extension outside the house (duty to retreat). This was established quite a while ago when the defense didn’t claim it under Florida law. It is plain and simple “self-defense”.

    It seems pretty clear from the evidence that Martin was on top of Zimmerman beating him up. How badly is a matter of debate but, as someone suggested, one need not to be near death to be in fear of death. One of the two screamed for help, as if he feared for his life, three times separated each time by a noticeable pause. An eyewitness said it was the man on the bottom who, by any objective consideration had to be Zimmerman. It really couldn’t be otherwise.

    You write that within your lifetime, deadly force was only permitted as a last resort to save life. That’s the ONLY issue in this case so why are you going on (and on) about the Castle Doctrine?

    Zimmerman is not on trial because of media attention. He is on trial because of pressure from certain interest groups, which includes people of certain political persuasion. If Zimmerman was Black, there wouldn’t be a trial-and not because it would be Black on Black killing but because there was insufficient evidence of a crime.

  • pittsburgh_dad  On July 4, 2013 at 6:42 PM

    If you disagree with the Castle Law, OK. A person is committing a crime and the owner must make a split second decision whether he is just a burglar or is a danger to his/her family. There are studies to show that these laws decrease murder rates and crime rates by 10%. If you don’t believe it, OK. Similar arguments are the reason why the recent gun control legislation would be ineffective and why it wasn’t passed

    Loose ends:

    “Did the guy saying don’t shoot just kill a family member?” (Pittsburgh Dad)

    If he is standing in the middle of my garage with his hands up, saying, “Don’t shoot, mister” . . . . Do you mean, would I get away with it?

    No, he just shot your wife and a split second later, he sees you with your gun raised and says ‘don’t shoot’. What would you do? If you pause, what is the likelihood you get your head blown off? Does that matter? Are you supposed to wait to see if he drops his weapon?

  • Tourist  On July 4, 2013 at 7:11 PM

    Devildog,

    You: “Zimmerman . . . is on trial because of pressure from certain interest groups . . . . If Zimmerman was Black, there wouldn’t be a trial . . . because there was insufficient evidence of a crime.”

    Evidence: Body. Unarmed. Skittles. Admission. Claim of self-defense.

    This is precisely why we have trials.

    The case began as “stand your ground.” That had problems, one, as I understand it, being that Zimmerman was on private property, not somewhere he had a right to be. The case then became what it should be: a determination of the facts and an adjudication of guilt or innocence in circumstances where one man is dead at the hands of other.

    You’re saying there’s no need to weigh the evidence because you already have.

    “Interest groups”?

    • Devildog  On July 4, 2013 at 7:35 PM

      Glad you agree (at last?-finally?) that this case has nothing to do with the Castle Doctrine.

      No, I didn’t weigh the evidence before trial because I didn’t know what was the evidence but I do now and I say there never was enough evidence to indict. More important, though, is that (I believe) the local authorities did not believe there was enough evidence to indict but the matter was taken out of their hands by the State due to interest/pressure groups (two of which I cited). FYi, skittles is not enough evidence to indict much less convict.

      Next year, if you celebrate the 4th with a brew, try one from a U.S.A. owned company.

      • Tourist  On July 4, 2013 at 7:47 PM

        Yes, Devildog, dead men tell no tales. Evidence can be scarce sometimes.

        Budgets n’at.

  • pittsburgh_dad  On July 4, 2013 at 7:18 PM

    Tourist. I’ll admit I had no clue what you were talking about with this Castle Law BS.

    It is interesting that you are concerned with how this law has changed in your lifetime but you have no issue with new laws that you believe advance society.

    The question becomes does this law advance society? Unlike Obamacare, I would say yes

  • Tourist  On July 4, 2013 at 7:20 PM

    Pittsburgh Dad,

    Me the first time: “the kid in the middle of your garage with his hands up saying, “Don’t shoot, mister!”

    Me the second time: “my shooting of you in my garage when you had your hands up and were begging me not to.”

    Me the third time: “If he is standing in the middle of my garage with his hands up, saying, “Don’t shoot, mister”. . . .”

    Your version: “he just shot your wife and a split second later, he sees you with your gun raised and says ‘don’t shoot’. What would you do? If you pause, what is the likelihood you get your head blown off? Does that matter? Are you supposed to wait to see if he drops his weapon?”

    Where’d “split second later” and “see if he drops his weapon” come from?

  • Tourist  On July 4, 2013 at 7:37 PM

    Pittsburgh Dad,

    You: “Tourist. I’ll admit I had no clue what you were talking about with this Castle Law BS. It is interesting that you are concerned with how this law has changed in your lifetime but you have no issue with new laws that you believe advance society. The question becomes does this law advance society? Unlike Obamacare, I would say yes.”

    Laws reflect society. What we see in my lifetime is greater acceptance in wider circumstances of killing people.

    I’m asking why. I’m asking you. You say “this law” (that would be the Castle BS) “advances society.”

    How, please? I’m interested.

    • pittsburgh_dad  On July 4, 2013 at 8:18 PM

      There are studies that show that these laws decrease murder rates and crime rates by 10%. Many states believe these benefits are greater than the possible opportunity costs of the law. Oppor costs that you have made clear could certainly exist.

      It’s only ‘Castle Law BS’ in this discussion because as Dog has indicated, it doesn’t apply to the Zimmerman case

      • Tourist  On July 4, 2013 at 8:35 PM

        The Zimmerman case began as a “stand your ground” situation. That’s why we’re talking about it. Otherwise, it would just be another shooting in America. *I’m* talking about that, too. *This* began when I tried to answer Devildog’s question why liberals don’t seem too sympathetic to Zimmerman, a self-appointed wannabe who did not have to be doing what he did, and who killed a person in the process. I said at the start that I was not speaking as a juror instructed by a judge.

        Let’s be clear if you want to use the term: The opportunity costs of “Make My Day” laws are the people, whatever else we might say about them, who did not have to be dead. How you would determine that such costs are worth it, I’m not sure.

        • pittsburgh_dad  On July 4, 2013 at 8:53 PM

          There is no way ‘stand your ground’ applies in this case. If Zimmerman was acting in self defense, then it would be a justifiable homicide regardless of a castle doctrine or not.

          Remember, we have had discussions about ‘what could be’ if the next best alternative was chosen. Many states have come to believe that ‘what could be’ under Castle Laws is better than ‘what is’ based on studies that show that the law results in 10% LESS murders.

          • Tourist  On July 4, 2013 at 8:59 PM

            “Stand your ground” was the entire case until sane people said, “WTF?”

            When I shoot you in my garage, is that one of your murder statistics or not? When you redefine something, it affects the count.

            • pittsburgh_dad  On July 4, 2013 at 9:35 PM

              And I’m the one who doesn’t understand opportunity costs. The states have determined that as a result of these laws there are less home invasions. Less home invasions means there are less people entering homes (possibly to kill someone) and therefore there are less homeowners having to respond to someone invading their home (possibly by killing him). This effect far outweighs the effect that homeowners are more likely to kill given this law. So you’re one of the murder statistics but there many less killings because of the law. Definitely less killings of the innocent. At the end of the day, the burden should be on the one breaking the law

              Was Zimmerman breaking the law by harassing Martin? Maybe. This is the issue. There certainly isn’t enough evidence to justify what Martin did. Given this, once Martin started pounding Zimmerman, Zimmerman had the right to defend himself

              • Tourist  On July 4, 2013 at 9:45 PM

                “The states have determined that as a result of these laws there are less home invasions.”

                Then I need your help, please. I’ve googled “castle laws mean fewer home invasions,” “do castle laws mean fewer home invasions” and “castle laws murders,” and I get nothing.

                • Tourist  On July 4, 2013 at 10:11 PM

                  Got one! I tried “studies castle law effects.”

                  (Quote)

                  The study’s findings include:

                  States that adopted castle doctrine laws saw a 7% to 9% increase in murder and manslaughter incidents compared to states that did not adopt such laws. This percentage increase “translates into an additional 500 to 700 homicides per year nationally across the states that adopted castle doctrine.”

                  Adoption of castle doctrine laws resulted in a 17% to 50% increase in justifiable homicides, with justifiable homicide defined by the FBI as “the killing of a felon, during the commission of a felony, by a private citizen.” The authors note, however, that this result is suggestive, not conclusive.

                  Adoption of castle doctrine laws did not, on average, deter crimes including burglary, robbery and aggravated assault.

                  (Unquote)

                  http://journalistsresource.org/studies/government/criminal-justice/self-defense-laws-castle-doctrine-murder-rates-crime-deterrence#

                  • Devildog  On July 4, 2013 at 10:41 PM

                    Tourist, the study you cited proves the point that the castle law results in less home invasions but to demonstrate that, I need to make an assumption (to which reasonable people should agree).

                    The assumption is that these “felons” who commit home invasions are more than likely to commit them on, let’s say, more than one occasion. So, if there was a 17-50 percent increase in justifiable homocides, it is somewhat more than likely the victims will never again commit a home invasion. Since it is absurd to believe that the castle law could cause an increase in home invasions, and the victims probably would commit more home invasions if not eradicated, then in the long run the castle law should result in a decrease in home invasions far in excess of 17-50 percent.

                    Somewhat similar to the theory that the reason there has been a decrease in the crime rate is because prospective perps are in jail.

                    • Tourist  On July 4, 2013 at 10:47 PM

                      Your first paragraph: How does the study “prove” what you “need to make an assumption” to demonstrate?

                    • Devildog  On July 4, 2013 at 11:02 PM

                      Tourist, if you don’t like the word “prove”, okay! Just use your common sense and pick another word to you liking. Dead men can neither speak nor commit another crime.

                • pittsburgh_dad  On July 4, 2013 at 10:34 PM

                  A relatively new law, data are scarce. If burglary rates (which is when this law would be applied most often) stay constant, you would expect more killings. Therefore, the assumption must be that burglary rates decrease significantly while at the same time there is only a small increase in killings by the home owner.

                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stand-your-ground_law

                  “Stand Your Ground”/”Castle doctrine” laws reduced murder rates by 9 percent and overall violent crime by 11 percent

                  There are studies that indicate otherwise

                  http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/unfairpark/2012/06/texas_am_study_castle_doctrine.php

                  The jury is out. The law is only 25 years old. I could be persuaded the law is ineffective. It should be noted that violent crime rates have decreased significantly in the last few years after many states implemented these laws. This occurred during a recession when crime rates tend to rise. Critics would argue (likely correctly) that there are other reasons for this decline. Doesn’t mean Castle Laws didn’t contribute to the decrease.

                  • pittsburgh_dad  On July 4, 2013 at 10:43 PM

                    I included 2 links so it is awaiting moderation. One of the links was to that study. Another author found

                    “Stand Your Ground”/”Castle doctrine” laws reduced murder rates by 9 percent and overall violent crime by 11 percent

                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stand-your-ground_law

                    The Texas A&M study is focused directly on the Stand Your Ground Law but I would argue it is only one study and FBI data indicate that violent crime rates have decreased significantly in the last few years after many states implemented these laws. This occurred during a recession when crime rates tend to rise. Critics would argue (likely correctly) that there are other reasons for this decline. Doesn’t mean Castle Laws didn’t contribute to the decrease.

                  • Devildog  On July 4, 2013 at 11:09 PM

                    Pd, why waste your breath on this-and same to you Tourist. The law couldn’t have increased home invasions and had to decrease them. By how much, and whether that amount is worth having possibly innocent people or those guilty but not enough to be killed is another matter worth discussing-but whether there there has been a decrease I think not.

                    • pittsburgh_dad  On July 4, 2013 at 11:14 PM

                      You’re probably right Dog. But the jury could still be out. I acknowledged I really didn’t know about this law and I made the mistake of spouting off about it without doing research. I am at a point where I just assume that Tourist has no clue. It hasn’t failed me yet

            • pittsburgh_dad  On July 4, 2013 at 9:48 PM

              That should be *So you’re one of the KILLINGS (whether it’s considered self defense or murder) in the statistics…..

  • Tourist  On July 4, 2013 at 8:01 PM

    Devildog, you: “Next year, if you celebrate the 4th with a brew, try one from a U.S.A. owned company.”

    Symbolism. The label was the best I could do. The stuff inside was brewed by Kirin.

  • Devildog  On July 4, 2013 at 9:10 PM

    Tourist, you must be somewhere south of puberty in age for it to be true that now there is greater acceptance of killing in wider circumstances than anytime else in your lifetime-I assume you mean by the authorities and society in general and not by the perps. Maybe you’re referring to gun laws and black on black killings.

    If evidence is lacking for whatever reason, it is the obligation of the prosecuting authority not to succumb to pressure and to not seek an indictment.

    What do you mean that the case began as a “stand your ground” situation? If so, only by the ignorant media not by the defense.

    What do you mean that Zimmerman “did not have to be doing what he did (presumably you mean before the shooting). You are correct that he did not have to do anything but nothing he did was wrong and his neighbors probably appreciated what he was doing. Did Martin do anything wrong? Whether he was a thug or not may be irrelevant but what he did was an act of thuggery (I guess that makes him a thug at least in this instance). This goes back to my initial question and you are the prototypical liberal, at least in this instance.

  • Tourist  On July 4, 2013 at 9:31 PM

    “What do you mean that the case began as a “stand your ground” situation? If so, only by the ignorant media not by the defense.” (Devildog)

    It was in the news.

    (Quote)

    October 26, 2012 18:57
    Zimmerman’s “stand your ground” hearing set for April

    A judge in Sanford, Fla has set a date to hear George Zimmerman’s “stand your ground” defense, which could see the second degree murder charge dismissed against the former neighborhood watch captain.

    (Unquote)

    http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/121026/zimmermans-stand-your-ground-hearing-set-april

    Then the defense changed its mind.

    (Quote)

    April 30, 2013
    Zimmerman gambles by waiving ‘stand

    By choosing not to invoke the Florida law known as “stand your ground” before his trial, George Zimmerman took a gamble — passing up the chance to have a judge dismiss his second-degree murder charge before it ever gets before a jury.

    (Unquote)

    http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/04/30/17987796-zimmerman-gambles-by-waiving-stand-your-ground-hearing-before-trial?lite

  • Tourist  On July 4, 2013 at 9:37 PM

    Awaiting moderation. Again without the second link.

    “What do you mean that the case began as a “stand your ground” situation? If so, only by the ignorant media not by the defense.” (Devildog)

    It was in the news.

    (Quote)

    October 26, 2012 18:57
    Zimmerman’s “stand your ground” hearing set for April

    A judge in Sanford, Fla has set a date to hear George Zimmerman’s “stand your ground” defense, which could see the second degree murder charge dismissed against the former neighborhood watch captain.

    (Unquote)

    http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/121026/zimmermans-stand-your-ground-hearing-set-april

    Then the defense changed its mind.

    (Quote)

    April 30, 2013
    Zimmerman gambles by waiving ‘stand

    By choosing not to invoke the Florida law known as “stand your ground” before his trial, George Zimmerman took a gamble — passing up the chance to have a judge dismiss his second-degree murder charge before it ever gets before a jury.

    (Unquote)

    • Devildog  On July 4, 2013 at 10:19 PM

      I stand by my “media” statement since there was never a claim in any court proceeding claiming a stand your ground defense and probably not an assertion by the defense that such a claim will be made. And, of course, it was never made.

      • Tourist  On July 4, 2013 at 10:29 PM

        (Quote)

        Zimmerman waives ‘stand your ground’ defense — for now

        George Zimmerman, charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, waived his right Tuesday to seek immunity under Florida’s “stand your ground” self-defense law before his June trial.

        His lawyers have said they may seek immunity later.

        (Unquote)

        http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/04/30/17983728-zimmerman-waives-stand-your-ground-defense-for-now?lite

        • Devildog  On July 4, 2013 at 10:58 PM

          Tourist, are you citing this to concede that I was correct. There was never a hearing since the defense waved its right to one and that effectively ended the matter since they never asserted that claim. What is your point-how could this have started as a castle case when the claim was never asserted?

          • Tourist  On July 4, 2013 at 11:08 PM

            Yes, Dog, I am citing a scheduled “stand your ground” hearing and a defense decision to waive that for now — maybe later — in order to concede that you are correct: The media made the whole thing up.

            • Devildog  On July 4, 2013 at 11:26 PM

              Good night Tourist. Have a good day.

  • Tourist  On July 4, 2013 at 11:15 PM

    Devildog On July 4, 2013 at 11:09 PM
    Pd, why waste your breath on this-and same to you Tourist. The law couldn’t have increased home invasions and had to decrease them. By how much, and whether that amount is worth having possibly innocent people or those guilty but not enough to be killed is another matter worth discussing-but whether there there has been a decrease I think not.

    ===

    Absolutely right, all of it, as far as we can know!

    “. . . whether that amount is worth having possibly innocent people or those guilty but not enough to be killed is another matter worth discussing.”

    That only took two days.

    I’m done.

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