Archive for the ‘war on America’ Category


It is what a government has when it largely represents the will of the majority of its people. Not the will of a small minority. And not imposing tyranny on that small minority either, it respects and protects the rights of that small minority. But we have a word for when a small minority rules the majority — that word is *tyranny* — and tyrannies are always illegitimate.

In the case of courts in English-speaking countries, they maintain their legitimacy via what’s known as “stare decisis”. That is, they based their opinions in court cases based upon a) current law, and b) previous opinions. This is not a new principle. It is one reason, for example, why the Catholic Church moves so slow — they have 1,500 years of precedents for papal opinions, and if a papal opinion doesn’t comply with that 1,500 years of precedent it can make only a tiny move towards a new position at a time, it can’t just throw out the old position altogether.

Stare decisis was the basis for the Supreme Court’s decisions for the past 150 years. Each new decision was couched in the language of previous decisions, or in the plain language of the law itself. This has at times caused issues when the Court recognized rights that were not currently respected, such as the right of black people to attend the same schools as white people, but even there the opinion was couched in Equal Protection language from prior court decisions. The Supreme Court didn’t come roaring out of 1945 intent upon guaranteeing equal rights to black people and simply ruling that black people had equal rights, it built decision after decision upon prior decision. When it decided “separate but equal is inherently unequal” it did not pull the decision out of its butt, it relied on 50 years of data showing that “separate but equal” never was plus language from previous Equal Protection court decisions showing that if the school segregation law was not treating citizens equally, it could not be law.

In this fashion the Supreme Court has typically been an anchor preventing radical change while providing for preservation of rights. The Court has at times gone off into evil territory — Dred Scott and Plessy v. Ferguson come to mind — but eventually through applying the Constitution to court case after court case managed via stare decisis to come back from the dark side. Stare decisis gave legitimacy to the Court’s opinions and thus legitimacy to the notion of rule of law. And rule of law is important, because without rule of law, what you have is rule of gun, and rule of gun always ends up with the most ruthless and most murderous in charge.

Which is why it’s utter disaster for the United States that last week the Supreme Court basically threw stare decisis into the toilet in favor of a radical coup that remade American law from scratch based upon the ideological notions of the judges. By throwing out stare decisis in favor of imposing their ideology upon the nation, the Supreme Court has basically killed any legitimacy that it had. The Supreme Court fundamentally committed a right wing coup of the U.S. government last week, a coup setting five authoritarians in charge of the nation, and killing any respect that the majority of Americans have for the court.

Why is that important? It’s important because the Supreme Court relies upon other branches of government to do its work. The Supreme Court did not enforce the desegregation of Little Rock High School. The 101st Airborne did, via the intervention of the executive branch. So the Supreme Court ruled that New York’s concealed weapon law was illegal. New York’s concealed weapon law is very popular in New York State. What is the Supreme Court going to do when New York says f**k you, we’re going to continue enforcing our concealed weapon law? Joe Biden isn’t going to dispatch the 101st Airborne to free people imprisoned for violating New York’s concealed weapon law.

For those of you who have been in the military, there is an important and fundamental principle taught to every officer: Never issue a command that you know is going to be disobeyed. It destroys your legitimacy as an officer and makes it more likely that future commands are going to be disobeyed. This is what last week’s Supreme Court did — they issued a command that they know is going to be disobeyed. They issued that command because they *know* that it’s going to be disobeyed. The Supreme Court knowingly destroyed its own legitimacy. Why? Simple — the Supreme Court in the past has been a major defender of rights for minorities in America. By deliberately destroying the legitimacy of the Supreme Court, the right wing is betting that they via rule of gun can then take away rights from minorities that were previously granted by the Supreme Court.

In short, last week’s Supreme Court deliberately destroyed its own legitimacy in hopes that rule of gun rather than rule of law will become the norm in the United States. The right wing believes that because they are the most ruthless and most murderous people in America, they will come out on top when rule of law collapses because the judicial system has lost all legitimacy. Last week’s Supreme Court decisions weren’t an accidental destruction of the Court’s legitimacy — they were a deliberate destruction by people who want to burn it all down. And if you are not a white male Christian with conservative beliefs, you should be very, very worried right now.

— Badtux the “Time to get well armed, people” Penguin

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I get really annoyed with the “thin blue line” copaganda. where cops propagandize that they have to be brutal and do illegal things because they’re the only thing standing between society and anarchy.

The reality is that most people want to do right and want things to operate smoothly. Otherwise we could not have a society — the number of police officers in America (roughly 850,000) could not force 300,000,000 people to “be good”, there just isn’t enough of them. The reality is that there are relatively few people who want to abuse others, who want to kill or brutalize. And at least half of them are cops. We hire thugs in order to make sure that other thugs are taken care of, but the number of thugs on both side of that line is a fairly small percentage of the population as a whole.

In short, cops aren’t holding the “thin blue line” between civilization and anarchy. They’re taking care of a relatively few criminals who want to hurt other people. There could be civilization without cops — in fact, there was civilization for tens of thousands of years without cops, modern police forces don’t arrive in history until the 1830’s, less than 200 years ago — it just had different mechanisms for handling the relatively few thugs, ranging from vigilance committees sometimes directed by town constables or county sheriffs to private security forces hired by merchants, and the outcomes were generally hangings rather than jails or prisons.

In short, modern police forces don’t hold the line between civilization and anarchy. Rather, they provide a less brutal way of prosecuting crimes that has built in checks and balances and additional levels of punishment compared to just hanging suspected cattle rustlers that the vigilance committee catches. Or at least, that’s the intent. The actual practice doesn’t quite match that standard, as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Atatiana Jefferson, Stephon Clarke, Botham Jean, Alton Sterling, Eric Garner, and hundreds of others could attest. If they were still alive, that is.

— Badtux the History Penguin

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Talk of another American Civil War is going mainstream. The MAGAts don’t seem to mind. They think they’ll win one if it happens.

They are, of course, wrong.

Wars are generally won by the organized. Most of the MAGA-hats have never organized anything bigger than a church potluck, and a lot of them couldn’t even manage that. Meanwhile we here in the civilized states have organized some of the biggest corporations known to man, with world-wide supply chains and millions of employees. We control the logistical supply chain of the nation from the civilized states. The ships, trains, trucks, and planes that keep the nation’s goods moving are owned by us and run from our states.

The MAGA-hats are expecting the police and military to enter the fray on their side as their margin of victory. That expectation is the only reason why they would even dare try to wage civil war. But that was true in the first American Civil War too, where most of the U.S. Army and its equipment and gear went to the South. In the end it didn’t matter, the South proved unable to manage its economy to maximize its assets and was beset by inflexible leadership that chose generals based upon compatibility with Jefferson Davis rather than based upon competence (thus the sidelining of their best general, General Joseph Johnston, at multiple critical points because Jefferson Davis didn’t like him). In the end guns win battles but logistics are what wins wars — and we have the logistical expertise here in the civilized states.

My guess — in a second American Civil War the eventual outcome would be the same as in the first — the bubbas will mismanage their economy to the point where their armies collapse for lack of food and boots while at the same time food rots in the field because they cannot get it from where it is grown to where it is needed because they lack the logistical expertise, equipment, or mindset. Things would get bloody long before then, of course, and they could probably win some quick victories before lack of a logistical tail takes its toll, but in the end logistics will tell.

– Badtux the History Penguin

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Robert E. Lee, the commander in chief of the Confederate Armies, killed more Americans than Hitler.

That is not hyperbole. That is objective fact. This is math. Hitler and Mussolini killed 359,993 Americans in the European theater of war over the four years we were there. Lee and his fellow defenders of owning human beings as livestock killed 620,000 men — or 2% of the U.S. population at the time. (By contrast, 359,993 was roughly 0.2% of the U.S. population at the time of WW2, a factor of 10 less).

In short, Robert E. Lee and his fellow slavery defenders under his command killed, as a percentage of the population, ten times as many Americans as Hitler did.

Yet the same people who would be outraged if there were a statue of Hitler in one of our public squares, defend the presence of a statue of this mass murderer of Americans in our public squares as if there were no moral equivalence, despite the fact that both were mass murdering assholes who killed hundreds of thousands of Americans. By their logic statues of Hitler would be fair game to erect in our public squares — I mean, he’s part of our history, right? — but somehow they never get around to suggesting it, indeed, act all outraged and shit if you point this out to them.


– Badtux the “So, when do we erect statues to Hitler?” Penguin

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Stephen Miller, a Putin wanna-be who is a senior aide to His Fraudulency Donald the Trump, came out and said this on Face The Nation today:

…the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.

Will not be questioned.

That’s jackboots on the streets kinda talk. Chilling.

In a democracy, everything said by any politician should always be questioned. Telling the press and the judiciary that they’re not allowed to question whether a politician is exercising his powers in a prudent and constitutional fashion is not the act of someone who believes in democracy. It is the act of someone who believes in tyranny.

– Badtux the “Can’t they even pretend?” Penguin

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So I guess I’m a bit late on Huckleberry saying he’d use the Army and FBI to stop abortions if he’s elected President. Now, clearly this would be quite illegal — the Supreme Court has ruled that abortion is lawful, and the Constitution says that the Supreme Court, not the President, holds the judicial (judging) power in our system as to what is Constitutional or not — but really, this is just another case of theocrats not caring about the Constitution. They want to impose their religion upon other Americans at gunpoint. And Mike Huckabee is no different from any of the rest of his theocratic ilk.

Look: The Constitution is clear. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” It’s right there in the Constitution, folks. Congress (and, via the 14th Amendment, any other level of government) isn’t allowed to make any law about religion. Period. Government can’t ban religion, and government can’t allocate money to put religions icons in public buildings, and government can’t say that the official religion of the USA is Christianity or make any law that even implies such. It’s right there in black and white in the Constitution: Congress *shall make no law*.

If government decides to impose its religious beliefs upon others via law, the Supreme Court is well within its judicial rights to say “No, that law is not Constitutional and the courts will not enforce it and will rule against you if you try.” Because that’s in the Constitution too. The judicial power — the power to judge whether a law is valid under the Constitution — is given to the Supreme Court. Not to the President. Not to the President. To the Supreme Court. Article III Section 1. The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.

That’s what the Constitution actually says — not whatever Huckleberry *thinks* it says. Which is why people like Huckleberry need to be kept a long, long ways away from the levers of national power. Their notion that they should override the Supreme Court at gunpoint is toxic to the entire notion of constitutional government — and to any notions of freedom and liberty, for that matter, since if they can override the Supreme Court at gunpoint, they can do the same to Congress. And we have a word for a system of government where a supreme ruler rules at gunpoint with no legislative or judicial recourse. It’s called “tyranny”. Just sayin’.

– Badtux the “No Tyrants” Penguin

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So, the black man had taken his taser away from him and was attacking him. So in self defense, the cop was forced, forced I say, to empty 8 bullets into that vicious black savage.

Except… uhm… 50-year-old Walter L. Scott didn’t have Patrolman Michael Slager’s taser. The video shows Patrolman Slager jogging back 20 yards to where he’d dropped the taser in order to grab it and then plant it on Scott’s body. Furthermore, the video shows that Scott was at least 15 yards away from Slager and running away as fast as he could when Slager cold-bloodedly shot Scott in the back.

Note that the law is that police officers are not allowed to shoot suspects that are running away unless suspects are armed and dangerous. This has been the law laid down by the Supremes since 1985. And the video shows that Scott was no armed and dangerous criminal, he was a guy busted for a broken tail light who wasn’t interested in being arrested for his back child support and who had taken off running about as fast as a 50 year old dude can run, which isn’t all that fast but hey, us 50 year old dudes ain’t as young as we used to be. And a cop who was almost half Scott’s age couldn’t keep up with Scott and had to shoot him 8 times in the back in self defense? For realz?

The sad thing is that if it wasn’t for this video showing Slager shooting an unarmed man in the back and then planting a weapon on the man, Slager would have gotten away with it. Like hundreds of other cops all over the country have gotten away with it. Without the video, it would have been suspicious that Scott was shot in the back, sure, but hey, “I thought I saw a gun and he started to turn towards me.” That’s what they always say, right?

Same old, same old, in other words. Pretty much the same as the usual back forty years ago, when my cop neighbor was regaling me of tales of righteous shoots and how he got his throw-downs. He got his throw-downs by rousting parolees that he was pretty sure had weapons, he’d take the gun off of them and then tell the parolee that it was his lucky day because he didn’t want to do the paperwork to take the parolee back in on a weapons charge, but don’t let me catch you with a gun again, yada yada, then walk off with the weapon. Thing is, things had changed for a while there. Things got cleaned up. We had “community policing”. Cops would come out to protests and sing Kumbaya with the protesters, and then everybody would go home happy. And peace and joy spread throughout the land.

What happened? I mark the real turning point as November 1999. That was when our lords and masters met in Seattle at a WTO gathering in order to sell out the nations of the world to the highest bidder. Irate Americans of all sorts turned out to protest that they didn’t want their jobs going overseas on the altar of “free trade”.

And our lords and masters freaked out, and sicced every cop they could find onto the protesters in scenes reminiscent of 1968 Chicago DNC, and in fear of the population decided to stock up our police forces with cops who had no compunctions about beating and shooting unarmed people.

And they have succeeded.

Nice police state we have here, y’all. Hope you like it.

– Badtux the Snarky Penguin

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Lawsuits caused by police officers illegally violating the civil rights of their citizens are costing cities major money.

New York City paid out over $735 million last year in police brutality and negligence lawsuits. They are expected to pay out yet more this year.

The City of Oakland paid out over $74 million last year in police brutality lawsuits. They are expected to pay out yet more this year.

Los Angeles County spent $43M on lawsuit settlements last year.

This is a lot of money. In the case of Oakland, that’s more than their entire Parks & Recreation budget. So… why do police officers keep doing things that get the city sued and where a judge and/or jury will find the city guilty?

Well… why wouldn’t they? It’s not as if they have any skin in the game. Their superiors treat the lawsuit budget as just another cost of doing business and never bother looking at the conduct of the individual officers who infringed upon people’s rights. The officers themselves don’t care because it’s not their money — they take home the same pay whether the department pays out lawsuit settlements or not. And their superiors seem to view their illegal behavior as normal, and never seem to sanction it unless the illegal behavior is accidentally against someone who “counts” such as a reporter or a prominent local politician. And illegal behavior on the part of police officers is almost never prosecuted — prosecutors depend on police officers to testify in court cases in order for them to convict criminals, and are loathe to piss off the same cops they need in order to keep their conviction rate high (conviction rate being how prosecutors measure their dicks).

So there’s nothing — nada — to make individual police officers change their behavior. Without consequences, there’s no reason for them to change their behavior in order to obey the law. So they don’t. Even conservatives ought to be able to figure that one out, right?

There has to be skin in the game. If officers who committed these illegal acts and their immediate chain of command lost a pay grade for every lawsuit caused by their conduct that the department lost, individual officers might have more incentive to obey the law and supervisors might have more incentive to properly supervise their officers. If there was an independent police commission responsible for prosecuting officers who break the law, rather than the district attorney’s office that relies on those same officers’ testimony to put people away, the thought of possible consequences might also reduce the incentive to break the law. But the current situation, where a police officer can break the law with near impunity and never have any real consequences, simply isn’t sustainable in a democracy. In a police state pretending to be a democracy, yes. In a democracy, no.

Of course, there are those who claim that the US is no longer a democracy… but that is a topic that shall wait for another day.

– Badtux the Consequences Penguin

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OMG! Fear the Terriers!

OMG! Fear the Terriers!

Yes, boys and girls, today is the 12th anniversary of Piss Your Pants Day. Your job today is to run around screaming in terror while pissing your pants over the notion that some dude who lives in a cave in some foreign country hates you and would kill you all, if only he could figure a way to get over a thousand-mile-wide ocean to do so! And remember, if you don’t cower in fear and hand all your freedoms to Big Brother, who loves you and wants only the best for you, THE TERRIERS WIN! And you wouldn’t want that, would you? I mean, c’mon. Everybody knows that the BEAGLES should win! Yeah!

And oh, twelve years ago some morons from Saudi Arabia and Egypt got lucky and managed to kill about the same number of Americans as die in traffic accidents on a typical holiday weekend, doing it in a way that will never happen again. Which makes my music choice for today very appropriate. Just sayin’.

– Badtux the Snarky Penguin

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Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true, or is it something worse?

Bruce Springsteen, “The River”, from his album by that same name.

Bruce Springsteen wrote this song in 1980. He saw the dream dying as the steel industry died, gutting a hole in the middle of industrial America, and wrote this song. Since then, the America Dream has been gutted and filleted, until during the past ten years median family income declined for the first time since the Great Depression. Today the four hundred richest people in America make more money in a year than the bottom 150,000,000 Americans *combined* (note I don’t say “earned”, since for the most part they do no work for a living, this is mostly “investment income” i.e. rents extracted from other Americans, rather than the results of anything they themselves actually produced or created).

I think we can answer Bruce’s question now.

— Badtux the Sombre Music Penguin

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