Rule Five Schadenfreudalicious Friday

From Merriam-Webster:

Schadenfreude noun, often capitalized
scha·​den·​freu·​de | \ ˈshä-dᵊn-ˌfrȯi-də
Definition of schadenfreude

: enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others

And yes, True Believers, that’s what I’m feeling lately, due to the sudden troubles of our own favorite Congressional lackwit, Alexandria Occasional Cortex.  Excerpt:

  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a top aide appear to control an outside PAC credited with being the central force behind her June 2018 primary victory.
  • One former Federal Election Commission member thinks there would be a “serious investigation” if a complaint were filed, noting that the probe could potentially result in civil penalties or even jail time for Ocasio-Cortez and her chief of staff.
  • A second former commissioner said there were possibly “multiple violations of federal campaign finance law.”
  • Justice Democrats ran campaigns for Ocasio-Cortez and 11 other Democrats, but the New York Democrat was the only one to win her general election.

Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti obtained majority control of Justice Democrats PAC in December 2017, according to archived copies of the group’s website, and the two appear to retain their control of the group, according to corporate filings obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation. If the Federal Election Commission (FEC) finds that the New York Democrat’s campaign operated in affiliation with the PAC, which had raised more than $1.8 million before her June 2018 primary, it would open them up to “massive reporting violations, probably at least some illegal contribution violations exceeding the lawful limits,” former FEC commissioner Brad Smith said.

Ocasio-Cortez never disclosed to the FEC that she and Chakrabarti, who served as her campaign chair, controlled the PAC while it was simultaneously supporting her primary campaign, and former FEC commissioners say the arrangement could lead to multiple campaign finance violations. The group backed 12 Democrats during the 2018 midterms, but Ocasio-Cortez was the only one of those to win her general election.

“If the facts as alleged are true, and a candidate had control over a PAC that was working to get that candidate elected, then that candidate is potentially in very big trouble and may have engaged in multiple violations of federal campaign finance law, including receiving excessive contributions,” former Republican FEC commissioner Hans von Spakovsky told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Now, chuckle-inducing as that would be, I suspect Occasional Cortex won’t see any serious penalties for this.  For one thing, it’s pretty obvious the girl isn’t terribly swift, and the horrendous complexity of campaign-finance laws is almost certainly way over her head.  I suspect her campaign manager will end up taking the fall.

But this will spell the end of her political career.  If there is any fire at all behind all this smoke, then she has gone from being a damned nuisance to her fellow Democrats to an outright liability.

Will she be primaried?  That would be ironic, but it may not be necessary.  New York is due for redistricting; the Democrats running that machine could easily redistrict her back into another bartending gig, an occupation for which she is much better suited than her current position.

Her campaign manager, though.  This apparently isn’t his first rodeo, and he really ought to have known better.  One might concede that a 29-year old bartender might be ignorant of many of the complexities of running for and holding office, as evidence of which I might offer her performance to date.

Still.  Ignorance of the law, as they say, is no excuse.  It will be roundly interesting to see how this plays out.

Still – does anyone care to hazard a guess as to whether this gets Congress to look at our overly complicated campaign-finance system?  I’ll lay odds they don’t.  Losing only one of their own, and an annoying one at that, isn’t enough to start them down that road.

Animal’s Daily Random Notes and Deep Thoughts News

Last night ran late and this morning starts early, so I’ll just post a few interesting (to me, anyway) stories and some random notes and thoughts.  The fulsome totty appearing to the left has nothing to do with any of these stories or notes; her appearance here is purely gratuitous.

First up:  Big thanks to our blogger pal Doug Hagin over at The Daley Gator for the linkback!

Robert Stacy McCain brings us cogent discussion of the situation on our southern border.  This article is all the more interesting publishing as it did on the anniversary of the fall of the Alamo.

Another hate crime, another assault by a MAGA cap wearer – oh, no, wait, it was an assault on a MAGA cap wearer.  Someone probably thought he was insufficiently tolerant of other people’s views.

Speaking of hate crimes

Here is a prediction of what the 2020 Democrat Presidential nomination battle might look like.  One thing appears to have been decided:  Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I, Dowager Empress of Chappaqua, has said she’s not running.  And we all know Her Imperial Highness never goes back on her word.

Here’s how we’ll know when Skynet gains consciousness.  Right before it launches an army of machines to wipe out mankind, at least until a plucky little truck stop waitress rises to save us.  Because that’s how these things usually play out.

Welcome to U.S./Soviet relations, circa 1963.

Colorado’s last Governor, John Hickenlooper, has become Democrat #12,694 to enter the 2020 Democrat Presidential nomination sweepstakes.  His advantage:  He’s more moderate in most of his positions than pretty much anyone else running on that side.  His disadvantage:  Nobody much outside of Colorado has ever heard of him.

Barack Obama complains about leaders who beat their chest.  Animal says “look who’s talking.”

Hell with it.  Let’s look at another pretty girl, then get back to work.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

There’s a continual RRHHEEEE from the political Left these days on the epidemic of mass shootings that are, apparently, something that only happens here in the U.S. – except, that’s not true.  We’re not even the country with the most mass shootings.  Not by a (hah!) long shot.  Excerpt:

…But a study of global mass-shooting incidents from 2009 to 2015 by the Crime Prevention Research Center, headed by economist John Lott, shows the U.S. doesn’t lead the world in mass shootings. In fact, it doesn’t even make the top 10, when measured by death rate per million population from mass public shootings.

So who’s tops? Surprisingly, Norway is, with an outlier mass shooting death rate of 1.888 per million (high no doubt because of the rifle assault by political extremist Anders Brevik that claimed 77 lives in 2011). No. 2 is Serbia, at just 0.381, followed by France at 0.347, Macedonia at 0.337, and Albania at 0.206. Slovakia, Finland, Belgium, and Czech Republic all follow. Then comes the U.S., at No. 11, with a death rate of 0.089.

That’s not all. There were also 27% more casualties from 2009 to 2015 per mass shooting incident in the European Union than in the U.S.

“There were 16 cases where at least 15 people were killed,” the study said. “Out of those cases, four were in the United States, two in Germany, France, and the United Kingdom.”

“But the U.S. has a population four times greater than Germany’s and five times the U.K.’s, so on a per-capita basis the U.S. ranks low in comparison — actually, those two countries would have had a frequency of attacks 1.96 (Germany) and 2.46 (UK) times higher.”

Yes, the U.S. rate is still high, and nothing to be proud of. But it’s not the highest in the developed world. Not by a long shot.

Yet, some today propose banning rifles, in particular AR-15s, because they’ve been used in a number of mass killings. It’s important to note however that, according to FBI crime data cited this week by the Daily Caller, deaths by knives in the U.S. outnumber deaths by rifles by five to 1: In 2016, 1,604 people were killed by knives and other cutting instruments, while 374 were killed by rifles.

Now, to be fair, Norway’s stats are skewed (as the study notes) by one horrific event.  But hey, folks, the EU has us beat cold when it comes to mass shootings.  And they have the kind of gun laws that would give the worst gun-grabber in our Congress wet dreams.

So what can we conclude from this?  Simple:  Bad people do bad things.  Restricting or banning objects won’t stop them from doing bad things.  And when people do bad things, those people who have done the bad things are responsible; not any inanimate object that they chose to use as a tool.

It’s really not that complicated.

Animal’s Daily Brain Chip News

Thanks as always to The Other McCain for the Rule Five links! Also, go over to Glibertarians to read the first in my History of Lever Guns series.

Moving right along:  One of these days you might be able to get a brain chip to make you super-intelligent.  I’d settle for just making most folks a little less stupid.  Excerpt:

In as little as five years, super smart people could be walking down the street; men and women who’ve paid to increase their intelligence.

Northwestern University neuroscientist and business professor Dr. Moran Cerf made that prediction, because he’s working on a smart chip for the brain.

“Make it so that it has an internet connection, and goes to Wikipedia, and when I think this particular thought, it gives me the answer,” he said.

Cerf is collaborating with Silicon Valley big wigs he’d rather not name.

Facebook also has been working on building a brain-computer interface, and SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk is backing a brain-computer interface called Neuralink.

“Everyone is spending a lot of time right now trying to find ways to get things into the brain without drilling a hole in your skull,” Cerf said. “Can you eat something that will actually get to your brain? Can you eat things in parts that will assemble inside your head?”

It sounds mind-blowing. Relationships might be on the line.

“This is no longer a science problem. This is a social problem,” Cerf said.

The article goes on to bemoan the possibility of an intelligence gap, compounding the problems we apparently already have with “racial, gender and financial inequalities.”

You know, just once, it would be nice to see an article about a technological advance without a lot of Social Justice Warrior fainting-couch horseshit thrown in.

Anyway…  I can see how this would be a good thing, but I can see how it could go sideways, too.  Pearl-clutching by Dr. Cerf aside, I’m not so sure sticking a chip in your brain is that hot an idea.  From what I understand our understanding of how the brain produces consciousness is roughly at the same stage as when astronomers thought the moon was a light shining through a hole in the roof.

It would be interesting to have an IQ of six thousand.  But I’m not so sure the risks are worth it.  I think this falls into the “if it ain’t broke” category.

Of course, we could always bechip Congress.  There’s too many folks there who, if they were half as smart as they think they are, would be twice as smart as they really are.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove for the Rule Five links!

Being something of a rifleman and an adherent to the school of “You Can Shoot Little Stuff With A Big Gun, but You Can’t Shoot Big Stuff With A Little Gun,” I’ve always wondered why the U.S. Army adopted the M-16 platform as a primary weapon instead of the jungle carbine it was more suited to be.  There is still a true Main Battle Rifle (MBR) in U.S. inventories, that being the M-14.

Nowadays it seems my thoughts on rifles are gathering some steam in the U.S. military.  Excerpt:

The M-14 was the U.S. military’s last battle rifle. It appeared in 1959—the contemporary of the Pentagon’s first jet fighters and ICBMs. With its heavy steel parts and walnut stock, the M-14 looked positively archaic.

It was hardly a Space Age weapon. And it only endured as America’s battle rifle until 1970, when the M-16 completely superseded it—the shortest service record of any U.S. military rifle in the 20th century.

Yet, the M-14 has come and gone and come back again. Its accuracy and power—it fires the 7.62 x 51 millimeter NATO round—have given it a new lease on life as a weapon for snipers and designated marksmen.

The M-14 refuses to surrender.

“The M-14 has re-appeared in recent years in the hands of U.S. troops,” Alan Archambault, former supervisory curator for the U.S. Army Center of Military History, tells War Is Boring. “The sniper version is designated the M-25 and has proven to be very effective in Iraq and especially Afghanistan.”

“I believe the M-14 was a better weapon for combat where accuracy and range are more important than volume of fire,” says Archambault, an Army veteran. “This is why some troops in Afghanistan have used the M-14.”

The M-14 is, of course, the modernized, select-fire version of the venerable M1 Garand.  But it remains today something I think the U.S. military needs, a full-power Main Battle Rifle, far better suited to open-country mechanized warfare than the M-16/M4 platform.

A modernized M-14 with a modern shooter.

I see that the reissued M-14s have been modernized with synthetic stocks and optical sights.  While I remain skeptical of the value of an optical sight in direct combat, as long as they are backed up by stout iron sights and the troops are trained in the use of those iron sights, that’s not much of an issue.  Getting troops to the range more often will count for a lot more than any particular kind of sighting equipment.

I’ve long thought about buying a Springfield Armory M1A, the semi-auto civilian version of the M-14.  In National Match trim the M1A runs about two grand, not an insignificant investment even in a hobby not known for being economical.  One of these days, maybe.

Rule Five Asset Forfeiture Friday

Readers of these virtual pages will probably already know my opinions on asset forfeiture.  Namely, I think it is theft, pure and simple, by agents of government, and is clearly unconstitutional as it results in seizure of a citizen’s assets with no due process.

Now, at last, there is a Supreme Court decision, unanimous even, that agrees, although it makes the decision on 8th Amendment grounds.  Excerpt:

Last week, a unanimous Supreme Court ruled that law enforcement can no longer make grossly disproportionate seizures of property, even from people who owe money after being convicted of crimes.

Tyson Timbs, having pleaded guilty to a drug-related crime, was given a year of home detention and put into a treatment program. But he owed $1,203 to the State of Indiana. The Hoosier State chose to recoup, through a civil forfeiture action, his obligation by seizing his $42,000 Land Rover, which he had purchased recently with money that came from the life insurance policy of his deceased father.

Although Justices Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas offered slightly different rationales for reaching the same conclusion, all nine justices agreed that the state cannot simply take seize mountains where molehills are due. This ruling does not deal with the many broader issues of civil asset forfeiture, nor with all the specific abuses of civil asset forfeiture that we have previously written about. But it does at least set a clear limit at one end of the field for seizures that are ridiculously large in response to offenses that are modest. It will have the practical value of limiting the worst abuses.

Writing for the court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg cited the Eighth Amendment’s clear language: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” This language, the justices agreed, is binding on not only the federal but also state governments, and it is also applicable to cases like this one.

This is a step in the right direction, to be sure.  Now the next case should be one on Fifth Amendment grounds.  That amendment states:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

The relevant part here being “…not be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”  Asset forfeiture prior to conviction does precisely this, has been historically used as a revenue-generating tool by local and state governments for far to long, is anathema to any concept of individual liberty and needs to stop.  It’s inconceivable that this practice has gone on as long as it has.

But what’s great about this decision is that the arguments against excessive asset forfeiture on Eighth Amendment grounds were compelling enough to bring both wings of the Court into agreement.  There can be no argument from either side that this was a partisan decision; long-standing liberal Ginsburg authored the opinion, while Trump appointees Gorsuch and Kavanaugh agreed.

As the piece linked above notes, this will curb the worst asset forfeiture abuses.  Now all we need is a good Fifth Amendment case to end this abusive practice once and for all.

Animal’s Daily Big Cat News

Mountain lions are causing some problems in the Colorado ski town of Edwards.  Excerpt:

Colorado wildlife officials issued a warning for the residents of Edwards this week after discovering a pride of 8 to 10 lions has been “roaming” neighborhoods in the area.

In recent days, residents have stumbled upon several animal carcasses and at least two attacks on dogs have been reported. The recent increase in mountain lion sightings prompted officials with Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) to alert the Edwards-area to be on high alert.

“This is a troubling situation and we are very concerned for the safety and welfare of the people in this area,” CPW Northwest Regional Manager JT Romatzke said in an online statement Thursday. “We ask everyone to take this warning seriously.”

The CPW encouraged locals who spot a big cat in a residential area to alert them immediately and to keep a safe distance.

“We urge residents to be extremely cautious because lions are large, powerful predators and can be very dangerous if they’ve lost their natural fear of people,” CPW District Wildlife Manager Matt Yamashita added in a statement. “We are monitoring the situation very closely.”

Based on information they’ve recieved so far, officials believe there are two female lions that are each traveling with a litter of 3 to 4 juvenile lions — though the young lions are “nearly full grown, as large or possibly larger than their mother,” the CPW said.

First of all, this isn’t a “pride.”  Mountain lions are solitary creatures, excepting when a mother lion still has kittens with her.  This is two female cats with almost-grown kittens who happen to have overlapping ranges, which isn’t unusual.  These are also the least likely lions to cause trouble with humans, being smaller and less aggressive than the big toms, who have larger ranges and tend to stay away from humans.

But it’s still concerning.  Small children and most pets are well within the prey size range of a 100-pound female lion, and like most apex predators, lions see other animals as either a threat or potential prey.  In most of Colorado, lions aren’t threatened by humans.

In all my years of woods-bumming in Colorado, I’ve encountered black bears several times but have only laid eyes on two lions, both at a distance, although I’ve tracked a couple for a ways before being “made” by the lion.  The answer for the boonies is simple; carry a sidearm.  Shooting an overly aggressive lion or bear isn’t often necessary.  Especially in the case of a lion, the noise of a major-caliber pistol fired into the ground will most often see them off.

The best answer, though, is for the Colorado Division of Wildlife to loosen restrictions on the hunting of lions.  As noted above, apex predators see other animals as either a threat or potential prey.  Historically, mountain lions aren’t a threat to humans when they see humans as a potential threat.  Hunting the lions will have that effect.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

I have a new series starting up over at Glibertarians; go read the first issue of Profiles in Toxic Masculinity!

Now that I’ve pissed off any potential SJW’s in the audience (thus making my day complete…) let’s look at some interesting thoughts on hate crime hoaxes.  Here’s the excerpt I found compelling:

Long term cultural trends matter, too, and the third thing to know is that hate crime hoaxes thrive in a culture of victimhood. We use the term victimhood culture to refer to a new moral framework that differs from the older cultures of honor and dignity. Honor culture refers to a morality that revolves around physical bravery. In honor cultures one’s reputation is important, and it might be necessary to engage in violence to protect it. In the dignity cultures that replaced honor cultures, morality more often revolves around the idea that people have equal moral worth. Insults and slights don’t lower one’s status as they do in honor cultures, and people can ignore many minor offenses and go to the police and courts for more serious ones. Victimhood culture, which is in its most extreme form among campus activists, is different from both honor and dignity cultures. Its morality revolves around a narrative of oppression and victimhood, with victimhood acting as new kind of moral status, much like honor was a kind of moral status in many traditional societies.

Something like a hate crime hoax would make no sense in an honor culture. You might falsely accuse someone of insulting you so that you have a chance to display your honor, but you’d be trying to get them to engage in a duel or some other kind of fight. You’d be trying to demonstrate strength, to show you can handle your conflicts on your own. The last thing you’d want to do is claim to be a victim in need of help. Hate crime hoaxes make a little more sense in a dignity culture. Hate crimes are offenses against dignity, and perhaps you’d have something to gain by falsely claiming victimhood. But in a moral world less focused on praising victims and demonizing the privileged, the benefits are lesser and skepticism is greater.

Here’s what the author misses, though.  In either an honor culture or a dignity culture – and between you and me, I’d prefer to live in the latter – there’s another compelling reason not to engage in hoaxes of this or any other reason, and that’s because both honor culture and dignity cultures tend to look down on dishonesty.

And that’s kind of the central point in a hoax, and there’s a word that I’ve not seen used nearly often enough in describing these kinds of hoaxers:  Liars.  They are lying about their supposed attackers, they are lying about why they were “targeted,” they were lying about the motivations of their non-existent aggressors, they were lying in an attempt to smear an entire demographic.  They are liars, pure and simple, and if a person will lie about one thing they will lie about anything.

Liar is a word that is thrown around too casually in some contexts, where it is applied to mean “something someone said that I disagree with,” and not often enough in its true sense, “claiming as truth something that is demonstrably false.”  Let’s fix that, and in so doing, not shy away from labeling actual liars as such.

Deep thoughts, news of the day, totty and the Manly Arts.