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Silent3's Journal
Silent3's Journal
February 15, 2023

How much of the deterent-to-future-insurrectionist-insider value has already been lost?

Our justice system isn't here primarily to enact revenge. As satisfying as it might be to see bad people pay for their crimes (and I'm not so high-minded that I'd pretend I don't wish for that), that's the least important reason for a justice system to mete out punishment.

The most important purposes of judicially-imposed punishments are deterrence of future crime, and preventing criminals from committing more crimes.

So where are we now with effective justice for the events of 1/6, and all of the associated coup plotting leading up to that day?

Potential future street rabble might be deterred a bit by now, or some of the marginally brighter "patriots" might at least have learned to cover their faces better and not post self-incriminating evidence on social media.

But the powerful and connected people who would plot against our democracy, the future equivalents to Trump and his cronies, if not Trump and the original cronies themselves?

What they are learning is, no matter how brazen their assaults on this country, if they meet the not-so-demanding standard of being at least as smart as Trump, they'll get at least a good two-three years to keep plotting, keep undermining, keep cashing in, keep waiting for favorable changes of administrations and judges and legislatures, during which they can either pick up their insurrection yet again, or at least wiggle out of serious consequences.

They can see that lots of free time will be provided to them before possibly facing any music.

If they are on the older side, they can reasonably figure either death or becoming unfit to stand trial will claim them before any actual trial might occur.

No one is going to come down on them like a ton of bricks for attempting to overthrow the government, that's for sure.

They most definitely will not be treated as an imminent threat. That standard of treatment is reserved for more directly physical crimes, like murder, rape, and robbery. Or, say, driving while black.

My problem with this? No, it's not as some apologists for our "justice" system might have it that I think mob mentality should prevail, that all safeguards of the legal system should be bypassed, or anything like that.

It's that I see the coup plotters as an imminent threat, which should be treated as such. Not only are they a threat to the perhaps intangible ideas of "freedom" and "democracy", but just like bank robbers and serial killers, they are actual threats to property and life. And they should be treated as such.

January 22, 2023

A poll doesn't have to be an accurate predictor of electoral victory to provide useful information

DISCLAIMER: I personally think Biden has been a great President, I want him to run, and I think he can win. Anyone who would misinterpret this post as anti-Biden, or as support for any particular pollster, isn't as good at reading between the line as they might imagine themselves to be.

A poll doesn't have to be an accurate predictor of electoral victory to provide useful information

I'm really, REALLY tired of the knee-jerk reactions around here when people post polls.

"I don't believe in polls anymore!"
"That pollster is a right-wing hack!"
"They're just trying to manipulate us!"

You don't have to, however, "believe" that a poll is as good as a magic crystal ball to extract rough information from it.

You should understand that many polls are a form of advertising for marketing services -- it does a pollster no good to get elections wrong over and over and over again by baking in political bias. That tells the world that they're survey techniques are crap, and cuts the prices they can charge paying customers.

Even if some pollsters are merely political vanity projects, I've never heard of any solid studies that prove either the assumption that bad polls discourage turnout, that good polls cause complacency, or, if either effect is real, that the two effects don't come close to canceling each other out anyway. So people should stop acting as if either of those things are true unless they can back it up with more evidence than simply believing these supposed effects are "common sense".

What so many people aren't appreciating is that even if a poll isn't accurate enough to tell you who's likely to win a tight race, even a poll that's off by 10% gives you a rough idea of where the electorate stands.

Take the Harvard/Harris poll someone recently posted, which shows many more people favorably inclined toward DeSantis than Biden.

Of course that poll doesn't mean shit at this point for who will win is 2024. But the poll DOESN'T HAVE TO be supremely accurate or a good electoral predictor to tell you something that's very useful to know.

What it tells you is we have an enormous problem in this country because an overwhelming majority of voters haven't learned from the Trump experience that anyone even vaguely like Trump is dangerously unacceptable. Biden SHOULD beat Trump or DeSantis or any of these MAGA-ish monsters by so many points that the crappiest poll would show Biden way ahead.

Either too many Americans are so ignorant and out-of-touch as to not understand the important differences between Biden and these clowns, or they're nasty enough to actually understand what Trump and DeSantis are, and to want them to win because of that.

You can learn THAT from the Harvard/Harris poll. It's both sad and important to know it.

This post is a repost of any earlier thread. I got locked out of responding to my own thread, so I deleted that one to start again fresh. There was nothing about this OP itself that was cited.
September 22, 2022

The Leticia James lawsuit, happy as I am to see it, does more to confirm my cynical view...

...of our so-called "justice" system than to improve it.

Look at how egregious Trump's criminality had to be before action was taken.

Look at how much Trump had to brazenly call attention to himself in order to be investigated - in James' own words, it was Michael Cohen's testimony in Congress that sparked the NYAG's investigation, despite that fact that Trump's cheating ways had been an open secret for decades.

Look at how much time and effort this took. Three years was spent putting together the case against the Trump organization. If the violations of law were so blatant and flagrant, it seems to me only the fear of failure in court, which is clearly far more acute when going against prominent people than the average citizen, would make people work so hard for so long to nail a case down so completely before daring to move forward.

Think of how much shit other rich and powerful people are getting away with if this is what it took to go after Trump. Think of how little capacity our legal system has to pursue wrongdoing among the elite when prosecutors are afraid to go after the elite without devoting an enormous portion of that capacity to each case.

Leticia James stated very clearly what she though about there being two tiers in our legal system, and how she wasn't going to let that inequality favor Trump.

That's a good and gratifying start. But it's also makes it clear that there is so much further to go.

July 9, 2022

I hate the way the media thinks it's their job to channel stupid people

Our news media should inform AND ENLIGHTEN.

It's bad enough a great deal of the media falsely confuses (and in many cases, perhaps I'm being overly generous attributing this problem to mere confusion) fairness with both-siderism. While the media should, of course, strive to be objective and neutral, a free press needs to be very partisan about being pro-democracy. Without democracy and basic liberties, their mission to inform is doomed.

On top of the both-siderism, however, the media are constantly framing political stories in terms of how a fairly ignorant, not-very-analytical, not-very-engaged public will react to the dribbles of information they receive, often misunderstand, and often forget in ridiculously short periods of time.

In this framing, politicians, their actions, and their policies, are primarily judged not on their inherent merits, but how what they do will be perceived by an ignorant, disengaged public. It's much more important, apparently, to spend the most time talking about whether people will notice or care that a policy is good for them, rather than discussing if it is good for them.

This idea that "perception is everything" becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Our press should being doing more explaining, more enlightening, should be doing their best to drag people out of their ignorance and disinterest, rather than treating the ability of politicians to hammer through or work around that ignorance and disinterest as the gold standard of good politics and good policy.

February 12, 2022

Any solid statistical analysis of the apparent huge increase in people acting like dicks?

I'm pretty certain that it's a real phenomena at some level, and that a big part of it is that Trump gave an awful lot of somewhat quietly reserved but inwardly nasty people the feeling of freedom they craved to let their asshole flags fly high and proud.

Some specific things, like unruly airline passengers, are well-documented. 2021 had a 600% increase in incidents over the previous year.

I'm not sure how well other things are tracked, on the whole spectrum from adults throwing loud and childish temper tantrums all the way up to unhinged, violent assaults triggered by petty annoyances like a fast-food employee forgetting to put pickles on a burger. It would be interesting to further to separate out non-COVID-related dickishness from the maskholes and the belligerent anti-vaxxers.

As a non-COVID example, a video someone posted earlier today on DU, where a woman was freaking out because there weren't any yachts available for her to rent. (Talk about zero-eth world problems.)

The ubiquity of cellphones both captures a lot of this bullshit, but distorts how much there is at the same time. We can all be sure, for instance, that police abuse of power has had a long and inglorious history going well back before video cameras, and then cellphones, helped reveal what had long been hiding in the shadows.

So where are we really at? 10% more dickishness? 50%, 300% more? I really have no idea. My almost certainly distorted media impression feels like 1000-1500% more. For what I encounter in real life personally, it's more like the 10% range. The truth is probably somewhere in that wide swath of uncertainty in between.

February 10, 2022

If I were caught with a couple of kilos of cocaine, the police wouldn't simply confiscate...

...the drugs and get back to me some time a year or so later after pondering long and hard about what charges, if any, to bring against me. I'd immediately be going on a little ride down to the police station -- either that, or possibly a ride to a hospital or the morgue if, you know, I twitched slightly the wrong way after the police bashed down my door, shooting first and asking questions later.

So why doesn't it work that way when you're in illegal possession of stolen government documents, some of which are apparently classified?

January 13, 2022

People should be deliriously happy for just the simple fact that Biden isn't Trump

I don't understand the low poll numbers for Biden. Or perhaps I do understand, in a way, but that just makes me angrier.

We collectively dodged a fucking bullet when Trump lost, but the stupid, ignorant masses don't on the whole realize this. They don't care how so many of the problems we currently face, including inflation and ongoing COVID strife, are the aftermath of the mess Trump created, and that Biden has done very well given the hand he was dealt. They further ignore all the good news in the economy.

Instead of appreciating what Biden has accomplished with the slimmest of margins in Congress, and seeing that the answer to getting more out of Congress is adding MORE Democrats, they're quite willing to blindly hand control right back to Republicans again, no matter how much they've lied about the last election, no matter how unprincipled Republicans have proven themselves to be, no matter how cravenly they've debased themselves to curry favor from their ignorant, sniveling narcissist king, no matter how brazenly they work to rig the next election in their favor.

The public certainly doesn't appreciate enough the basic decency of Biden, even when held up against the so-recent example of the childish, petulant, empathy-lacking, constantly-gaslighting inhumanity of Trump.

How is it that we even have to use the expression "memory hole" to describe what happens all the time in our politics, when voters either literally forget things that happened mere months ago, or at least forget they might have cared, and then vote as if a dull, uninformed, and probably distorted impression of current circumstances, all credited or blamed on the party of the current President, is all that matters.

I fully understand what Churchill meant when he said democracy is the worst possible system of government... except compared to all of the others we've tried.

I'd never make it in politics or punditry because I have very little respect for voters in general. At best they are a notch above dictators, not a leap above, and sometimes they're so stupid they'll gladly vote to put dictators in power, giving their own power and freedom away.

Messaging? Democrats aren't good enough at messaging? Do you know what messaging is?

It's the process of treating voters like stupid, ignorant children while praising their non-existent wisdom at the same time. It's fighting to turn complex, nuanced policy into bumper-sticker slogans digestible by tiny, distracted minds. It's sometime sacrificing good policy for mediocre policy because the mediocre policy is easier to package and sell.

I'm sick of it. I want to live in a country, or on a planet, where we can expect and demand more out of the voters themselves instead of constantly blaming politicians for not meeting voters on their simplistic, ignorant, short-sighted level.

September 3, 2021

While I would still strongly disagree with "pro-life" people, it would be with a bit more sympathy..

...if there were any consistency in their so-called "pro-life" position.

With rare exceptions, however, most of the same people who like to claim a fetus or an embryo is "sacred", are:

* Pro-death penalty
* Just loves 'em some wildly unregulated firearms. (Many clearly fantasize about the day they finally get to shoot an intruder. Yee hah!)
* Are very casual about "collateral damage" when eager to carpet bomb a perceived enemy.
* Don't care much when cops kill people, especially white cops killing black people (a black cop killing a white person -- that might get them riled up).
* Are against free universal healthcare.
* Don't want to pay a dime in taxes for the well-being of a baby after it's born - you're on your own, kid!
* In the age of COVID are vehemently anti-vax and even anti-mask, as if even a piece of cloth on your face is way too much of a burden for protecting other people's lives.

Find me that rare pro-life person who is against the death penalty, pro gun control, pacifist, pro police reform, pro universal healthcare, is willing to use public funds to make life for a child better after being born, gets vaxxed, and will wear a mask... I'll still disagree with them, but, as I said, with a bit more sympathy for their point of view.

Why am I pro-choice? It's not that I'm an absolutist about "a woman's right to choose", which is the formulaic response for a lot of people here on DU.

Like all rights, no right is absolute when it bumps up against other rights. If (and only if) a freshly-fertilized human egg cell had the same right to live that a post-natal person has, it would not be a slam-dunk that "a woman's right to choose" always exceeds an embryo's or a fetus's supposed right to live.

I'm pro-choice because I don't believe a fertilized human egg cell should be granted full equivalency to a born human being. I believe it has a developing, growing value as birth approaches and viability outside the womb increases.

If my only criteria for my pro-choice position were "a woman's right to choose", I couldn't be self-consistent and support, as I do, vaccination mandates. I clearly think there's a point where a person's choices, be they female or male, about what they do with their own bodies, run up against countervailing public health concerns.

June 17, 2021

You're listing a lot of acts of aggression and greed

No matter how much you associate those things with capitalism, they aren't capitalism. They can certainly help greedy capitalists get rich, but they aren't in and of themselves capitalism. Aggression and greed have a long and colorful history from thousands of years before Adam Smith was born.

Here are the basic conditions I'm talking about:

1) A relatively broad concept of personal property. This exists in many cultures, particular anything agrarian or industrial. Less so in hunter-gatherer societies perhaps, but even those societies aren't always completely devoid of the idea.

If you started telling people it was illegal to own personal property, I think you'd find yourself very unpopular. Even ruling out certain categories of personal property like land and buildings and machines and tools would be highly unpopular.

2) A willingness and ability among the population to trade property or labor for other property or labor.

Again, try to put significant restrictions on who can buy what from whom, who can work for or hire another person, and you'll have an unpopular outcome that would require oppressive means to enforce.

Simply combine the conditions where both 1 and 2 exist, et voilà, you have markets and you have the means of production.

Capitalism of some form simply happens given these circumstances. The supercharging of capitalism takes a bit more work, like creating monetary policy, banking systems, stock markets, the concept of incorporation, etc.

What annoys me about the way so many people talk about capitalism is they talk about it not only as a system, but as an imposed system, as if a bunch of mustache-twirling fiends gathered together in smoke-filled rooms to create and impose capitalism on everyone else.

I see capitalism much more as a natural outcome of common conditions. Given those conditions, capitalism is simply what happens unless you specifically and consciously create rules that severely limit what people can own and what people can do.

This said, I am certainly in favor of many laws to curb the excesses of capitalism, but there's a whole lot that can be done to curb those excesses which is popular and fair and not gratuitously intrusive, like environmental regulation, workplace safety standards, minimum wage, etc.

April 29, 2021

"Woke", "cancel culture", and the meaning of words

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less."
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master—that's all."

— Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass

There's been a lot of heated discussion around here about what James Carville said about "wokeness", and similarly, about "cancel culture", and if it even exists or not.

It's important to realize in such discussions that words mean different things to different people. Meanings of words and phrases shift and evolve, and, whether some people like it or not, changes happen to the general understanding of what words mean that aren't to everyone's liking. Meanings seldom completely settle down either, so the same words mean different things in different contexts.

It's one thing to insist on what you believe is the "correct" meaning for certain words. It's quite another, however, to impose your own meaning on a word or phrase and then act as if what someone else has said, no matter how they might have actually meant it, must be treated as if their words bear your preferred meaning.

Someone posted that there "Ain't no such thing as 'too woke'". Well, if you insist that the only possible meaning of "woke" is a good one, meaning being conscious of privilege, and seeking and demanding justice and fairness, you'd be right. You can't have too much of that.

But do you really imagine Carville is saying, "Too many Democrats are too concerned with fairness and justice. They need dull their awareness of privilege, and let some nasty shit slip by, if they want to win elections"?

I think it's pretty obvious that Carville is talking about issues like obnoxious levels of word policing, or insisting that everyone must admit they're a racist, or be an even worse racist for not admitting to being one at all. Let's not pretend their aren't people out there in this world who get fucking annoying about trying to one-up each other in performative wokeness.

You might still disagree with Carville, but then get to the real disagreement rather than arguing against a straw-man Carville of your own creation. Try giving Carville the benefit of the doubt about meaning something where he might, just might, have a point, and see where that takes you.

If you want to argue for what words do mean, or should mean, fine. But don't stupidly act as if other people must mean their words way you mean those same words, and then tar them with all that goes along with imposing your meanings.

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Gender: Male
Hometown: New Hampshire
Home country: USA
Member since: Sun Oct 3, 2004, 03:16 PM
Number of posts: 14,862

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