…stranger than fiction [DOT 16/11/21]

I'd say you couldn't make it up...but...

…I’ll be honest…as I think I’ve mentioned a few times…probably more than a few, in fact…I flat out don’t understand some stuff where guns & the US are concerned…& this is definitely one of them

The judge in Kyle Rittenhouse’s homicide trial on Monday dismissed the misdemeanor gun possession charge the teenager faced after defense lawyers argued that he did not violate the state statute in question because of his age and the length of the barrel of his semiautomatic rifle.
The defense had long argued that the gun possession charge was invalid, saying that Wisconsin law did not bar Mr. Rittenhouse from carrying the military-style semiautomatic rifle on Aug. 25, 2020. Its successful argument hinged in part on the fact that the Smith & Wesson M&P 15 he had strapped around his shoulder has a 16-inch-long barrel.
Mr. Rittenhouse was 17 at the time of the shootings. The judge threw out the charge after nobody in court disputed the length of the gun’s barrel.

Why Kyle Rittenhouse No Longer Faces a Gun Possession Charge [NYT]

…I mean…I get the part where nobody disputes that you can measure the barrel of the thing so there’s no argument about how long it is…but it would have been illegal for the kid to buy that gun himself…so I honestly can’t get my head around the part where that doesn’t make it illegal for him to possess it…let alone to travel a considerable distance to pick it up & then go parading about the place with it strapped to him…& there are a bunch of reasons for that…but one of them is that I absolutely can not comprehend a scenario in which a teenager injecting himself into a precarious situation involving significant civil unrest in an entirely urban environment is one in which statutes about hunting are in any way relevant

Attorneys for Kyle Rittenhouse, who is charged with fatally shooting two people during a protest in Wisconsin last year, argued hunting laws allowed the teenager to carry the assault weapon used during the shootings.

Wisconsin law prohibits anyone under age 18 from being armed, however, Rittenhouse’s attorneys argued state laws only forbid minors from carrying short-barreled rifles and shotguns. The other prohibitions pertaining to children fall under hunting laws, which say children under the age of 12 can’t hunt with guns, Rittenhouse’s lawyers said during a hearing Tuesday.
“There appears to be an exception for 17-year-olds,” defense attorney Corey Chirafisi said, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder denied a defense motion to drop the weapons possession charge, saying that state statutes were “unclear” and that he wanted to review the laws and could revisit the matter later.


…that was from way back in the mists of time…or rather early october…when the judge gave the appearance of wanting to study a matter it seems a whole lot like he knew he’d made up his mind about but didn’t want the defense to have to actually argue in court…possibly because anyone who isn’t that judge might have a hard time explaining why a a statute about hunting is relevant in a homicide case but somehow others aren’t

The argument drew sharp criticism from prosecutors […] who pointed to a different law that clearly states no one under 18 may possess a dangerous weapon. The crime is a misdemeanor charge under Wisconsin law, carrying up to nine months’ incarceration and a $10,000 fine.


…now I do get the part where that was the least serious charge involved in the trial…but I can’t help feeling like saying he had the right to be where he was armed the way he was goes a long way towards providing a context in which claiming self-defense sounds like a less crazy claim than one in which he had no business carrying a rifle when he induced a situation in which he felt the only way to protect himself was to shoot several people

In closing arguments, the prosecutor Thomas Binger said Rittenhouse was a “wannabe soldier” and had been “looking for trouble that night”. Binger repeatedly showed the jury drone video that he said depicted Rittenhouse pointing the rifle at demonstrators.

He told the jury: “You lose the right to self-defense when you’re the one who brought the gun, when you are the one creating the danger, when you’re the one provoking other people.”
For many, the case has symbolized the divergent ways in which US law enforcement has treated armed white militia members as compared with racial justice protestors. Rittenhouse, however, has become a hero for many conservatives who have raised money for his lawyers and whom see him as a righteous vigilante.


Mr. Rittenhouse, who was then 17, came to downtown Kenosha with a gun that he was too young to legally purchase, Mr. Binger said. He lied about his medical credentials, saying he was an E.M.T. when he was not, the prosecutor said. And when chased by a man into a parking lot, Mr. Binger said, Mr. Rittenhouse shot the man, Joseph Rosenbaum, four times — an unnecessary action that ended the life of Mr. Rosenbaum, who was unarmed.
In a win for the prosecution, the judge told jurors to weigh some less serious charges along with the most serious counts they have been asked to consider. Giving jurors instructions on lesser charges can be significant, legal experts say, because the lesser charges offer jurors a path to compromise if they disagree on the most serious offenses.

For example, for the most serious charge Mr. Rittenhouse faces — first-degree intentional homicide for killing Mr. Huber, 26 — the judge told jurors that they also had the option of finding the defendant guilty of second-degree intentional homicide or first-degree reckless homicide.

Judge Schroeder read 36 pages of instructions aloud to the jurors as the day wore on, including many references to the decisions jurors must make over the issue of self-defense. The instructions highlighted the complicated nature of the case and the many factors and intricacies of the law that jurors must consider.

At the center of the trial is the question of whether Mr. Rittenhouse was reasonable in his belief that shooting the three men was necessary to save himself from death or serious injury.
[The defense] at one point made what appeared to be a reference to Mr. Blake, the man who was shot seven times by the police, and the Kenosha County district attorney’s decision not to charge Officer Sheskey.

“Other people in this community have shot somebody seven times and it’s been found to be OK,” Mr. Richards said, adding of Mr. Rittenhouse’s shooting of Mr. Rosenbaum, “My client did it four times in three-quarters of a second to protect his life.”


…seriously…that happened…the defense made reference to the fact that the officer who shot jacob blake wasn’t convicted of anything by way of arguing that it must therefore follow that to shoot people less times than that cop did must therefore be fine…with zero apparent irony intended…despite the “found to be OK” part flying in the face of the fact that if everyone had found that OK there wouldn’t have been protests on the street for a kid to decide warranted them driving all that way to parade around with a rifle he ultimately used to take more than one life

…& let’s say they find the kid guilty…at this point I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they found a way to shift his appeal over to the 5th circuit

“The Supreme Court is, no doubt, the nation’s most powerful court. But the 5th Circuit, the federal appeals court that covers Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, is staking out a claim to be the most dangerous,” Ruth Marcus, deputy editorial page editor of the Washington Post, wrote in August.

The supreme court does indeed have the last word on the constitutionality of contentious laws and bears Trump’s stamp with his three appointees. But the great majority of cases never make it that far. Instead 13 appellate courts, each covering a different region, get to rule on most legal appeals around the country.
But the fifth circuit, based in New Orleans, Louisiana, has long shown an ability to punch above its weight.[…]

This affects which cases the court is likely to hear. Appeals in the ruby red states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas naturally go before the fifth circuit. But its hard-right reputation is also an invitation to outsiders for “forum shopping”, in which a plaintiff or their backers choose a court that will treat their claims most favourably.

Christopher Kang, co-founder and chief counsel of the progressive pressure group Demand Justice, said: “What we’ve seen over the last several years is that conservatives have stacked the fifth circuit with very ultra-conservative ideological judges and so, when particularly controversial issues come up, lawyers from across the country find a way to file in the fifth circuit, which then allows it to hear these cases and have an outsized impact on the development of the law.”

He added: “This has been a very intentional decision by conservative legal activists to file their cases in the fifth circuit so that they can get the most extreme ruling possible as early as possible in the process.”


…don’t get me wrong…I’m a firm believer that the concept that people ought to be considered innocent until proven guilty is a fundamental aspect of an equitable legal system in which everyone deserves the right to a defense…it’s just that today I’m having a hard time feeling like what I’m looking at resembles an equitable legal system

Countries are losing almost half a trillion dollars through tax abuse by multinationals and the super-rich, enough to fully vaccinate the global population against Covid-19 three times over, a report has said.

Research by tax campaigners found that estimated losses had risen from $427bn last year to $483bn (£359bn) in 2021, with the UK alone responsible for almost 40% of the total.
The report said the total was calculated based on data self-reported by multinational corporations and banking data collected by governments. Miroslav Palanský, a TJN data scientist, said the figures represented “the tip of the iceberg” and that actual losses from tax abuse were much higher.

According to the annual snapshot, the tax revenues lost by lower-income countries would be enough to vaccinate 60% of their populations, bridging the gap in vaccination rates between poor countries and wealthier western nations.

However, it found rich countries were responsible for facilitating 78% of global tax losses, and called on responsibility for setting international tax rules to be moved from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – a club of 38 wealthy nations – to the United Nations.


…but I guess it depends on how you get to frame the story

Looking back on the first 10 months of Joe Biden’s presidency, we see little evidence the media has examined its own role in Republicans’ assault on democracy. Indeed, one could argue mainstream media outlets have been complicit in the current crisis of democracy. The trivialization of coverage, default to false equivalency, amplification of GOP spin and habitual treatment of Republicans’ conduct as within the normal boundaries of politics have serious implications for a democracy that relies on an informed citizenry.
This style of political coverage reduces critical issues of the day to sporting events and celebrity gossip. “Is the president angry with senators?” The answer is irrelevant, and the question is designed to create a nonsensical sound bite (the White House denies he is angry) rather than analysis of the substance of disputes. In the current political environment, the media’s process obsession obscures the lunacy of an increasingly unhinged right and its lack of policy answers on much of anything.

The media avoid pressing Republicans on matters of substance, so the expectation that they take legislating seriously dwindles. Instead, coverage of Republicans focuses almost exclusively on their latest cultural meme. The media wind up spreading concocted issues designed to anger, distract and, frankly, mislead the public about the condition of the country. We get far more coverage of Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz’s inane attack on Big Bird and Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley’s riff on masculinity (as if either topic had to do with their jobs as U.S. senators) than we do on the benefits their constituents would derive from Biden’s agenda, which they oppose. Do these senators ever get queried about their own policy ideas for reducing inflation, reducing inequality or enhancing competition?
Rather than call out GOP propaganda, mainstream journalists too often treat these accusations as legitimate (e.g. adopting the wrongheaded Republican accusation that unemployment benefits were keeping workers out of the job market). The White House briefing room becomes a place to launder unfounded accusations and attacks. (“What does the president say in response to Sen. X’s latest preposterous allegation?”) Asking the administration about bad-faith claims takes the place of tough questioning about policy, the pace of nominations, the functioning of the executive branch, the problems the administration has failed to address and myriad international issues (Taiwan, anyone? Belarus?)

In sum, when mainstream media outlets don’t weigh in on the side of objective reality (e.g. “Republicans are lying”), take disingenuous Republican claims as the basis for their coverage, fail to hold politicians accountable for fanning violence and decline to cover the substance of one party’s agenda (or the absence of the other party’s), they promote the sort of fact-free environment in which the true nature of today’s Republican Party is concealed from the public. It is almost inconceivable that the Republicans’ toleration of violence does not affect the media’s insistence on maintaining a false equivalence between the two parties.

If you think we need media coverage as serious as the threats to our democratic system, you are no doubt dismayed by the first 10 months of Biden coverage. If you think the media must come down on the side of democracy, distinguishing normal politics from anti-democratic, fascistic behavior, you should be aghast.


I want to apologize to Mark T. Esper, former president Donald Trump’s fourth and second-to-last defense secretary. I may have been too harsh on the man who became known as “Yesper” for accommodating Trump. As I noted in March: “He did not vocally protest pardons for war criminals, the use of the defense budget to build a border wall or the withdrawal of troops from Germany.” But now that we have seen fresh evidence of how much Trump and his henchmen loathed Esper, he is rising in my estimation.

That evidence comes courtesy of ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl, who has unearthed a memorandum from Johnny McEntee, Trump’s director of presidential personnel, listing 14 reasons for ousting Esper. That document was dated Oct. 19, 2020. Three weeks later Esper was fired by a Trump tweet.

The very premise of McEntee’s memo was both sinister and ludicrous — a 30-year-old of no professional or intellectual distinction, whose path to power was carrying Trump’s bags, was making the case for getting rid of a senior Cabinet officer for insufficient loyalty to the president. This revealing and chilling document deserves to be read not as a historical curiosity but as a terrible portent of what could be in store if Trump wins another term. He appears determined to turn the military into his personal goon squad.
The most damning and telling grievance against Esper was near the bottom of this pathetic document: “When he assumed his role, he vowed to be apolitical.” Normally being apolitical is a sine qua non for leading the armed forces. That’s why President Biden chose retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as defense secretary and President Barack Obama decided to keep Republican Robert M. Gates in the post. But Trump tried to destroy the professional, apolitical ethos of the armed forces — and if given the opportunity, he will almost certainly do so again.


…not to mention that under the circumstances

British police have identified the suspect behind an explosion which engulfed a taxi in flames outside a hospital in Liverpool on Sunday, a blast the authorities have declared a terrorist incident.


Russia fired a missile at one of its own satellites over the weekend, generating more than 1,500 pieces of trackable orbital debris and hundreds of pieces of smaller debris, which the US said “now threaten the interests of all nations”.
Anti-satellite weapons tests are rare and are criticized by the space community, due to the risk they create for crews in low Earth orbit. Last year US space command accused Russia of having “made space a warfighting domain” after it fired a missile at a satellite as part of a weapons test.
Russia conducted three anti-satellite missile tests in 2020, according to Space.com. Following the launch of an anti-satellite missile by Russia last December, Gen James Dickinson, the US space command commander, criticized the country for “persistent testing” of “space-based and ground-based weapons intended to target and destroy satellites”.

“Russia publicly claims it is working to prevent the transformation of outer space into a battlefield, yet at the same time Moscow continues to weaponize space by developing and fielding on-orbit and ground-based capabilities that seek to exploit US reliance on space-based systems,” Dickinson said.


It’s clear that Beijing is rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal. Commercial satellite images suggest China is building more than 100 new intercontinental ballistic missile silos. Reporting emerged last month that it tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile that circumnavigated the globe — the first nation to do so. America’s top military officer later confirmed that “significant event,” and now the Pentagon is warning that China could quadruple its arsenal by 2030.

Taken together, concerns over a “strategic breakout” by China are understandable. Without a willingness by the United States and China to enter a clear dialogue, the results could be catastrophic.


…phrases like “playing with fire” really aren’t making me feel a whole hell of a lot better about much

Xi Jinping warned Joe Biden in a virtual summit that China was prepared to take “decisive measures” if Taiwan makes any moves towards independence that cross Beijing’s red lines.

Xi also warned the US president that any support for Taiwanese independence would be “like playing with fire”, according to a Chinese state media account of the summit, adding that “those who play with fire will get burned”.


…so I guess I’ll take my solace where I can find it…even if it is thin gruel

…& I can’t help but feel like even when the courts seem to wind up in the right place…the phrase that comes to mind is “too little too late”

A Connecticut judge’s ruling against the Infowars host combines with decisions in Texas to grant a clean sweep for the families of 10 shooting victims.
The judge ruled on Monday that because Mr. Jones had refused to turn over documents ordered by the courts, including financial records, he was liable by default. The decision, combined with previous rulings in Texas in late September, means Mr. Jones has lost all the defamation lawsuits filed against him by the families of 10 victims.
Mr. Jones for years spread bogus theories that the shooting that killed 20 first graders and six educators was part of a government-led plot to confiscate Americans’ firearms and that the victims’ families were “actors” in the scheme. People who believed those false claims accosted the families on the street and at events honoring their slain loved ones, abused them online, contacted them at their homes and threatened their lives.

The parents of Noah Pozner, the youngest Sandy Hook victim, whose parents were the first to sue Mr. Jones, have moved nearly 10 times since the shooting, and live in hiding.

“I would love to go see my son’s grave and I don’t get to do that,” Noah’s mother, Veronique De La Rosa, said in an interview after the cases were filed in 2018. Each time the family moved, conspiracists published their new home address “with the speed of light,” she said.

The Sandy Hook families maintain that Mr. Jones profited from spreading lies about their relatives’ murders. Mr. Jones has disputed that, while for years failing to produce sufficient records to bolster his claims.

Juries in Connecticut and Texas will next decide how much Mr. Jones should pay the families in damages, in addition to court costs. Those trials are scheduled for next year in both states.
Although jury trials in Texas and Connecticut are set for next year, Mr. Jones then asserted that “these individuals again are not allowing me to have a jury trial because they know the things they said I supposedly did didn’t happen, and they know they didn’t have a case for damages.”

Chris Mattei, a lawyer for the families in Connecticut, responded that “if Mr. Jones’s conduct here were protected by the First Amendment, he would have had every opportunity to make that case. But he chose to be defaulted.”
The rulings all came in response to Mr. Jones’s repeated failure to produce documents ordered by the courts in the run-up to trial, including financial records that would shed light on his business operation, and analytics that could show how his claims about Sandy Hook affected traffic to his Infowars website and online store.
Mr. Jones has been sanctioned before by Judge Bellis, including after he went on his show with his attorney, Norm Pattis, at his side and offered $1 million for the head of Mr. Mattei, the Connecticut families’ lawyer, “on a pike.”
In Texas, Infowars accumulated more than $100,000 in sanctions from the court, including for ignoring orders to produce documents. Mr. Jones and his staff also failed to show up for scheduled depositions, lawyers for the families said.




  1. Insufficient loyalty.

    Prizing personal loyalty over competency.

    Firing people for bullshit reasons.

    Disregard for internal rules.

    Promotion of idiots into positions way over their heads.

    It’s not the Trump Admin, it’s my work place.

    Seriously, this is why running the government like business is really one stupid fucking idea.  Especially a shit business like the Trump Organization.

    • …I’d agree that it’s a stupid fucking idea…I’d even be tempted to go further…way back when one milton friedman argued pretty strenuously that business could neither afford to be nor had any business being ethical…that in fact any form of social responsibility on the part of corporate entities was in fact irresponsible

      businessmen believe that they are defending free enterprise when they declaim that business is not concerned “merely” with profit but also with promoting desirable “social” ends; that business has a “social conscience” and takes seriously its responsibilities for providing employment, eliminating discrimination, avoiding pollution and whatever else may be the catchwords of the contemporary crop of reformers. In fact they are—or would be if they or any one else took them seriously— preaching pure and unadulterated socialism.


      …& I’d disagree with a bunch of what he had to say there…but I think he makes a pretty watertight case for why business & politics ought to be kept entirely more separate than we’ve managed to since to my mind the fundamental purpose of government can not but have a moral & ethical component…be it good or otherwise…& by friedman’s argument a government run on the kind of principles espoused in that piece wouldn’t be so much amoral as actively immoral

      …not to mention a cursory examination of the budget deficit would seem to suggest that in addition to being morally bankrupt the state would also be fiscally bankrupt

      …it’s been pretty clear to me for a fairly long time that the appeal of the political sphere to businessmen as piss poor as donnie dotard has always been predicated on the part where if you owe enough money to the bank, you own it…& if you’re short on cash you can just print more…which has fuck all in common with fiscal responsibilty?

      • At some point I read about Milton Friedman’s greatest regret in life.

        For the first few decades the vast majority of people who earned paychecks paid no income tax after the law creating the ability to impose one was passed in 1913. The tax code was also vastly simper than it is today. If, for some reason, you owed something you wrote a check or a money order or sent in cash, who knows, to the Treasury to clear your debt.

        Then came World War II. Being a much more pay-as-you-go society then, tax rates were raised to fund the war. No doubt there were surtaxes, we probably had negative unemployment since millions of able-bodied workers were taken out of the workforce and those left behind were working as much and as hard as they could, including millions of women who might not have worked outside the home previously. All this money was piling up. People were urged to buy war bonds. Wage and price controls were imposed. (By the way, that’s how the tradition of getting health insurance through your employer sprang up. If your company had an opening you couldn’t by law pay more than whatever classification that job fell into, but you could offer incentives, like health insurance, to attract workers.) Still, this wasn’t enough as the war slogged on.

        So there’s Milton Friedman, a young hotshot New Dealer. He proposed that taxes be taken out of paychecks so the war could be paid for on a rolling basis, rather than waiting for the annual windfall. The practice was adopted and obviously we still have it today.

        He deeply regretted this because as taxes rose and rose how high the tax burden really was became disguised. What’s another $20 a week? Well, it’s $1,040 a year. Imagine going back to the old system and writing one check once a year. Look at your latest tax return to see what I mean. You’d see an awful lot of pressure to lower taxes and maybe, although this is not a given, rejigger the rates so that we’d have many more tax brackets to increase the burden the higher you go and lessen it at the lower ends.

    • Ha. I’ve read a bunch of Jay Rosen, the guy cited by Jennifer Rubin, and he’s been spot on for years. There are a handful of other perceptive media critics like Alex Pareene and Tom Scocca, who did stints at Splinter, who keep shouting into the wind how the DC press is dangerously broken.

      The DC press likes to pretend that the criticism is just about partisanship, and dodges how much is about the actual journalism. These dopes only do hall of mirrors stuff — reflections of reflections clouded by the smudged fingerprints of a thousand visitors before, and they never, ever learn from banging their faces.

      And we are dangerously close to a time when the game is over and the GOP becomes like Putin, Modi or Orban, but the DC press will hide it all the way to bankruptcy and prison.


  2. It’s been brought to my attention that today marks the death of the Kinja sub blogs. Those of you that frequented them, take a moment to cackle or cry, celebrate or grieve, toast their demise or pour one out in memorial. Depending on how you felt about them.

  3. Congrats @MemeWeaver and @Loveshaq

    There was a booster clinic in town today and they again stated the requirements and that you needed ID and vaccine card from the previous shots. I don’t meet the age requirement or have any underlying health conditions making it necessary. But my daughter is eligible because she’s a state employee! I’m going to go to the pharmacy in person and ask them if I can get because it seems like everyone and their younger brother are getting it but me, dammit.

    • @Hannibal: Don’t ask! Just schedule an appointment. They do not ask for your qualifications. And they have doses.

      I was hung up on the CDC and state requirements as well, and there’s really no point in doing so. I just went in, filled out a questionnaire (no questions about me being qualified), and got the shot.

      I scheduled mine through my doctor’s office, so that might have helped a little, but it’s not like I talked to him or anything. I just registered online and showed up early for the appointment.

        • I have not heard of anyone being turned away, and I know a lot of people who do not meet the current age and occupation requirements. And yet they got their shots weeks ago.

          Thanks, @Loveshaq, for the confirmation. I’m not terribly comfortable giving advice like that, but I think the vaccines are important enough to do what needs to be done.

    • Everything I’ve heard is that you are just asked if you qualify, without being specifics or providing proof or anything.

      And, considering the availability of vaccines and the rate of people actually taking them in the U.S., I highly doubt you getting a booster slightly ahead of the CDC schedule is going to result in anyone else being denied a booster.  Most likely, I imagine it will mean that vaccine vial gets thrown out with 4/10 doses used instead of 3/10 doses used.

      Through a technicality (I work for a University, but I don’t really deal with a great deal of students.  Maybe like, 5 a week.  In pretty dispersed/safe conditions), I’m supposedly eligible for the booster.  All of my coworkers got it, but because I was lazy and apathetic, and then had some interfering schedule stuff, I haven’t gotten mine yet.  I want to try and do the mix/match thing, now that that is CDC approved, but when I looked a week or two ago, it seemed like a lot of places weren’t offering that option.  So, I’ll give it another look through this week or next, and try to schedule my booster.

      Also, pretty much all of my coworkers who got the booster, said the side effects hit harder than the second dose, but also pretty much only lasted about a day from when the side effects kicked in, so that sounds promising (one of my coworkers was still feeling pretty miserable a full week after their second dose…

  4. Thanks, guys. I’m going to try to make an appointment for the week after Thanksgiving. The worst thing that can happen is they turn me away. But it doesn’t sound like that will happen.

Leave a Reply