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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. JohnSF says:

    Good morning!

    UK Supreme Court rules prorogation of Parliament unlawful and void.

    “The PM’s advice to her majesty was unlawful, void, and to of no effect… The prorogation was also unlawful, void, and of no effect. Parliament has not been prorogued.”

    Unanimous verdict, by God!
    🙂

    If Johnson has any honour, or even self-respect, he’ll resign immediately. (Probability: low)

    7
  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Revealed: how the FBI targeted environmental activists in domestic terror investigations

    Helen Yost, a 62-year-old environmental educator, has been a committed activist for nearly a decade. She says she spends 60 to 80 hours a week as a community organizer for Wild Idaho Rising Tide; to save money, she lives in an RV. She’s been arrested twice for engaging in non-violent civil disobedience.

    Yost may not fit the profile of a domestic terrorist, but in 2014 the FBI classified her as a potential threat to national security. According to hundreds of pages of FBI files obtained by the Guardian through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, and interviews with activists, Yost and more than a dozen other people campaigning against fossil fuel extraction in North America have been identified in domestic terrorism-related investigations.

    The investigations, which targeted individual activists and some environmental organizations, were opened in 2013-2014, at the height of opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline and the expansion of fossil fuel production in North America.

    The new FOIA documents reveal the bureau’s motivation for investigating a broad cross section of the environmental movement and its characterization of non-violent protesters as a potential threat to national security.

    In 2010, the DOJ’s inspector general criticized the FBI for using non-violent civil disobedience as grounds to open domestic terrorism investigations. US citizens swept up in such investigations can be placed on terrorism watchlists and subjected to surveillance and restrictions on international travel. The designation can also lead local law enforcement to take a more confrontational approach when engaging with non-violent activists.

    She’s in good company.

    5
  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Trump visited the US border this week & said rock climbers tested his wall & agreed it cannot be climbed. But Mexicans have turned Trump’s wall into a tourist attraction & are playing a game to see who can climb it the fastest, no ladders or ropes needed. The record is 45 seconds

    13
  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Woman discovers Renaissance masterpiece in her kitchen

    Christ Mocked, by the 13th-century artist who taught Giotto, is estimated to be worth between €4m and €6m (£3.5m to £5.3m), according to the old masters specialists Turquin. They said the work was owned by a woman in the northern French town of Compiègne, who had it hanging between her kitchen and her sitting room. It was directly above a hotplate for cooking food. The painting is thought to be part of a large diptych dating from 1280 when Cimabue, also known as Cenni di Pepo, painted eight scenes depicting Christ’s passion and crucifixion.

    (checks walls) Nope.

    4
  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A member of the US military has been arrested after he allegedly discussed plans to bomb a news network, suggested targeting the Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke and explained how to make an improvised explosive device, or IED. The FBI charged Jarrett William Smith, a soldier stationed in Kansas, with distributing information related to explosives and weapons of mass destruction.

    ABC News reported that in a series of Facebook chat messages, Smith, 24, also discussed plans to travel to Ukraine to fight with a far-right group. Citing charging documents, ABC reported that Smith used the social network to educate others in making explosive devices.

    In one conversation, Smith is alleged to have told members of a chat group: “Oh yeah, I got knowledge of IEDs for days. We can make cell phone IEDs in the style of the Afghans. I can teach you that.”

    In a conversation with an undercover FBI agent, Smith allegedly gave instructions on how a major news network could be targeted. “A large vehicle bomb,” he is alleged to have written. “Fill a vehicle full of [explosives] then fill a ping pong ball with [a commonly available chemical] via drilling then injection. Put the ball in the tank of the vehicle and leave. 30 minutes later, BOOM.”

    In a Telegram conversation, an undercover agent asked: “You got anyone down in Texas that would be a good fit for fire, destruction and death?”

    Smith allegedly replied: “Outside of Beto? I don’t know enough people that would be relevant enough to cause a change if they died.”

    These environmentalists are out of control.

    2
  6. Teve says:
  7. Jen says:

    Every day there’s something that manages to make this administration look worse.

    Via the WaPo:

    In late 2017, the New York Times received an urgent warning from a U.S. official. Egyptian authorities were looking to arrest Declan Walsh, the newspaper’s reporter in Cairo, according to its publisher. It’s not unusual for a large media organization to get tipped off about threats to its journalists overseas, particularly those reporting on authoritarian governments.

    But what was striking is what the official said next: The Trump administration had tried to keep the warning about Walsh from ever reaching the Times. Officials “intended to sit on the information and let the arrest be carried out,” Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger wrote in an opinion column on Monday.

    These people cannot be turned out of office quickly enough.

    4
  8. Kathy says:

    Here’s an odd question: Why do people steal cutlery from the break room?

    First all the teaspoons vanished without a trace. Next the replacement teaspoons went. Next all but a few from a whole set of utensils disappeared, but with a twist. Most were replaced with cheap, flimsy utensils.

    WTF?

  9. CSK says:

    @Kathy: Someone is too cheap to buy cutlery for home use?

  10. CSK says:

    @Jen: Did Walsh ever write anything mean about Donny?

    1
  11. michael reynolds says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    Don’t worry, those Farrah Fawcett posters will be worth a fortune some day.

  12. Jen says:

    @CSK: No, but he was mean to Trump’s “favorite” dictator.

    Deplorable barely scratches the surface in defining these people.

    3
  13. Stormy Dragon says:

    She came here on a yacht?And we're supposed to take this propaganda stunt seriously? https://t.co/7Er8dGPe8c— Doug Mataconis (@dmataconis) September 24, 2019

    Hey Doug: The word “yacht”, as applied to a boat, just means “non-commercial”.

    3
  14. Teve says:

    John Fugelsang
    @JohnFugelsang
    ·
    25m
    That speech was a perfect storm of TelePrompTer, dementia & Vicodin.
    Kevin M. Kruse Retweeted
    Robert A George
    @RobGeorge
    ·
    44m
    It’s very uncomfortable watching the President of the United States speaking at the UN right now. And I’m not saying that in a snarky way. He’s “off” in a really troubling way.

  15. Teve says:

    @Stormy Dragon: well that does it. Al Gore being fat was a serious blow to the 100-year-old science behind Global Warming, but if that Swedish girl was on a boat what even IS basic chemistry???

    5
  16. Moosebreath says:

    We often discuss to what extent people who claim to be independent are actually so. This article in 538 provides some interesting data.

    The Venn diagram of which voters self describe as “moderate”, “independent” and “undecided” is very interesting, with only 2.4% of the electorate saying all 3. I also found the scatter charts on the axes of pro/anti immigration and egalitarian/market oriented useful.

    3
  17. Neil Hudelson says:

    Posting here b/c I think the Ukraine thread from a bit ago might be dead. There were questions as to whether McConnell can pull a stunt like he did with Merrick Garland, and just take a pass on holding an impeachment trial.

    Lawfare’s take is that he can do just that.

    https://www.lawfareblog.com/can-senate-decline-try-impeachment-case

    2
  18. DrDaveT says:

    I’ve started listening to the Teaching Company course “The Great Debate”, which is about the debate surrounding the ratification of the Constitution. It’s quite good so far (about an hour in), and I’m learning a bunch of things I didn’t know.

    Here’s one that strikes me as important: one of the things the anti-Federalists objected to about the proposed Constitution was that it eviscerated the powers of the jury. Up to that time, and in English common law, the jury had the power not merely to find facts, but also to interpret the law — including overruling the judge. Montesquieu praised that feature as being at the core of Republican values. The whole idea of a judiciary of elite arbiters, unanswerable to the people in their decisions, horrified men like George Mason and Melancton Smith.

    I’m trying to imagine what America might have turned out like under that kind of system, but I’m apparently not cut out to write Alternative History.

    1
  19. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Regarding impeachment, many have adopted the argument

    Republicans will be put on the spot, either exposing their moderates to be forced to vote one way or the other…

    I wish I believed that we lived in such a world where Republicans would see that vote and respond

    Omigod! Look what we’re doing to the Constitution and the Rule of Law [tm pending]! We simply must get rid of these bastards and start electing better people!

    But I don’t. And I also don’t believe that there are enough true ideologically independent voters out there to swing the difference.

    1
  20. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JohnSF: You seriously wonder if BoJo has any self-respect? Have you looked at his hair? He always looks like he woke up too late to even comb it. 🙁

    1
  21. DrDaveT says:

    @Teve:

    Episode 170 dissects a 2018 column in which Krugman argues that partisanship overrides even the most die-hard monetary hawk and that Republicans who objected to prime rate cuts by the Federal Reserve under President Obama were hypocritically changing their stripes under Trump. In response, Murphy rattles off Krugman’s reversals on debt and deficits over the years. In the George W. Bush years, he says, they mattered so much that Krugman changed his mortgage. In the Obama years, decidedly less so. Come Trump, deficits matter again. “So clearly,” Murphy says, “he was a hypocrite there.”

    The Whatabout Gene is clearly dominant. It probably does not occur to any of these people that this is unrelated to whether Krugman is right about partisanship overriding alleged beliefs.

    1
  22. Jen says:

    @Neil Hudelson: Precisely what I was getting at in the other thread.

    I’m not surprised.

  23. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: spoons just disappear. They end up in coffee cups scattered about the office, then get used for yogurt, and then left on desks until they get moldy and thrown out.

    No idea where the replacement cutlery came from. Maybe someone was annoyed that it all vanished, bought better cutlery for their home and brought in the old cheap ones? Or just thought that if they are buying it for the office they were going to go cheap?

  24. Gustopher says:

    @Neil Hudelson: I think that refusing to consider impeachment would be something that even low information voters would recognize as a constitutional crisis. And traditional non-voters.

    I don’t think there has been any polling to determine if low information voters like constitutional crises though.

    I suspect they will go the safe route and fail to present damning evidence, and then vote to acquit.

  25. Gustopher says:

    The Trump Administration is now threatening to withhold highway funds from California because of air quality.

    WaPo Link

    I remember last week when he revoked their Clean Air Act waver that allows setting limits on tailpipe emissions.

    Can they at least pretend to be consistent?

    5
  26. JohnSF says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Johnson’s hair is part of his schtick.
    Entirely deliberate.
    Very little about him is not part of his performance.

    2
  27. gVOR08 says:

    @Gustopher: But he’ll release the funds in return for dirt on Kamella Harris.

    2
  28. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    Teaspoons, sure. All the time. At some point we had people from a neighboring department come in often to borrow cream, sugar, instant coffee, and hot water. That’s when a lot of teaspoons went missing.

    The rest is a bit more complicated. We had a department placed under ours, and the staff (5 people) moved into our offices. They brought along a lot of papers and office gear, including some cheap cutlery. Shortly after that, our old cutlery began to disappear.

    The conclusion one jumps to is: the new guys took the cutlery. But that doesn’t necessarily follow. Someone who’d been in the office prior to that, might have figured “Now no one will notice a few missing forks.”

    It’s not that I care much. I can use any cutlery. I just can’t comprehend this kind of petty, stupid theft. When we have food samples, which is often, and they go missing, well, that’s pretty much natural, especially with canned and packaged goods. But who the hell steals spoons?

  29. Teve says:

    @JohnSF: Roland Barthes had an essay about how this one monk’s deliberately unstyled hair was itself a deliberate style.

    {/PostModernistBookLarnin}

  30. Matt says:

    @mattbernius: Sorry for the late response but life has been “entertaining” the last week…

    I’m aware of that. However, the problem is that these aren’t statutorily illegal or regulated. They are being regulated by fiat. Which, as we have seen, can be immediately reversed by another EO.

    That’s not how that went down. It wasn’t an EO that made bumpstocks illegal. It was the ATF listing them as a machine gun under the Gun Control Act in 1968 which was further amended by the Firearm Owners Protection Act in 1986. You see the same thing covering various trigger assemblies that allow full auto too. That’s why full auto sear trigger packages made prior to 1986 are legal transferable without licenses but getting a post 1986 trigger package requires the proper FFL/SOT. As such bumpstocks can be owned by those who have the proper FFL/SOT to own post ban machine guns. IF there were bumpstocks made prior to 1986 then they would of been treated the same as machine guns made prior to 1986. AKA “pre-ban” weapons. So you see if you don’t believe bumpstocks are regulated than nothing is really regulated….

    Again, some of us actually have done the research. But we’re immediately undercut the moment we accidentally write “assault rifle” instead of “assault weapons” because that’s an easy way of disarming any discussion of the underlying points.

    That is NOT what you did. You’ve got it completely wrong on bumpstocks.

    As for the assault weapon comment. You already know assault weapon was a term made up in the 90s to confuse people like you. Assault rifle is a term that has been used for +100 years now and has a clear definition that excludes ar-15s semi-auto AKs and such. If you can’t get basic nomenclature right then how can you get anything else related to the subject right? It’d be like trying to regulate cars but you insist on calling them tanks and trying to regulate them as if they were tanks and then getting upset when a car driver calls you out for being wrong….

    Additionally I didn’t want to take the time to list a lot of the other AR-15 platform additions that fall under the “tacticool” “cosmetic” category that people bitch about the regulation of. For as much as many people talk about the function of the rifle as hunting or self defense, they are willing to hand wave the moment someone suggests that not having a grenade — excuse me, *flare* launcher on the front — is clearly violating their first amendment rights.

    Really you’re worried about cosmetic items and items that can’t even be used in any meaningful way for “mass murder” simply because they can be attached to a gun? Grenade launchers are regulated as destructive devices by the ATF and you are required to register the weapon and posses the proper FFL/SOT. Even then there could be local/state laws that make them illegal. Ammo is of course expensive for grenade launchers as there isn’t much in the way of civilian demand.

    I could likewise see an argument for some of the other “tacticool” features being available but only at ranges (i.e. flash suppressors).

    Flash suppressors aren’t “tacticool” they are quite functional and allow for a quicker follow up shot if need be when hunting in the evening (being partially blinded sucks regardless). Why do you think banning flash suppressors is necessary? For sure one “tacticool” thing that hunters and people who live in areas people hunt would love are suppressors. In some countries that are considered “anti-gun” (England for example where you can still buy AKs) suppressors are legal for hunting as it protects the hearing of all those involved including bystanders. Of course asking for wide spread legalization of the usage of suppressors in hunting would cause the anti-gun people to flip out about legions of hunters killing everyone silently or something equally stupid.

    1
  31. Teve says:

    Back in the day when teens used the Victoria’s Secret catalogue, Matt used the Armalite catalogue.

    2
  32. Matt says:

    @Teve: Matt requested I post it here as I couldn’t post it in the original location as commenting was closed.

    1
  33. DrDaveT says:

    @Moosebreath:

    This article in 538 provides some interesting data.

    My takeaway from that article is that you’re not going to improve your margin by wooing undecided voters with your immigration policy.

    2
  34. DrDaveT says:

    @Gustopher:

    I think that refusing to consider impeachment would be something that even low information voters would recognize as a constitutional crisis.

    I think you’re misunderstanding low-information voters. The RWNJ propaganda machine has successfully convinced the half of America that listens to them that there are no institutions any more — there’s only politics, and if your team is getting its way then you are winning.

    2
  35. mattbernius says:

    @Matt:
    Matt, thanks for this. I will come back later with questions/comments.

  36. Moosebreath says:

    @DrDaveT:

    “My takeaway from that article is that you’re not going to improve your margin by wooing undecided voters with your immigration policy.”

    Interesting. Mine was that taking the 4 quadrants as (going clockwise from the left-hand one) Liberal, Populist, Conservative and Libertarian, the groups are sized in that order, with Libertarian by far the smallest (no shock). As a result, among these groups there is about a 3/4 majority for egalitarian policies, and pro and anti immigration policies are about equally split.
    Which suggests that making immigration policy a less visible part of Democratic rhetoric may be a good idea.

    1
  37. Teve says:

    Matt Ford
    @fordm
    · Feb 14, 2017
    It’s less of a “news cycle” these days and more of that BSG episode where the Cylons attack every 33 minutes.

    2
  38. Bill says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Christ Mocked, by the 13th-century artist who taught Giotto, is estimated to be worth between €4m and €6m (£3.5m to £5.3m), according to the old masters specialists Turquin. They said the work was owned by a woman in the northern French town of Compiègne, who had it hanging between her kitchen and her sitting room. It was directly above a hotplate for cooking food. The painting is thought to be part of a large diptych dating from 1280 when Cimabue, also known as Cenni di Pepo, painted eight scenes depicting Christ’s passion and crucifixion.

    (checks walls) Nope.

    On the wall behind me, is a painting of a covered bridge supposedly done by Eric Sloane. I don’t know if the painting is genuine or not. My wife bought it over a decade ago at a yard sale for around $20. Here it says the painting was auctioned for $46,000.

  39. mattbernius says:

    @Matt:
    There’s a lot in there… So I’m going to reply with my postion on a few points and then agree to disagree because it’s clear we’re both entrenching here and there’s no real dialog possible:

    It was the ATF listing [bump stocks] as a machine gun under the Gun Control Act in 1968 which was further amended by the Firearm Owners Protection Act in 1986.

    Which was an administrative law regulatory shift based on a request by this President. My understanding is that a future Executive could request that be rescinded and the same process could be used to undo that.

    If that reading is wrong — and that’s something I admit I don’t know well enough — can you point me to documentation on that.

    You already know assault weapon was a term made up in the 90s to confuse people like you.

    Sigh. Yes it was made up. Welcome to language. So too was “modern sporting rifles” which is what the firearms industry prefers we call the AR 15 platform. If every time someone makes the mistake of mixing up “assault rifle” and “assault weapon” we have to trigger a pendantic lecture, it’s really tiring. I have the same reaction to the dude in a BJJ class who have to stop everything because someone dared refer to a “strangulation” as a “choke.”

    I get where you are coming from, but I’m sorry, it’s really tiring on our side too.

    Really you’re worried about cosmetic items and items that can’t even be used in any meaningful way for “mass murder” simply because they can be attached to a gun?

    I’m not sure where I mentioned “mass murder” in anything that I wrote. But again, yes, I don’t think that launchers should be street legal (and my understanding — though again, I’m not an expert, is that the same 37MM launcher can be used for flare or a ballistic round).

    They are not “just cosmetic.”

    Again, if you are making a “this is about making a gun useful for hunting” then I would strongly question this being a hill you are willing to fight for. But again, after doing this dance with you for a while, I know you’re not budging either.

    Ditto magazines that hold over 30 rounds. My sense is that we are drifting into “we can’t regulate flare launchers because of the fear that they’ll regulate something else.”

    In some countries that are considered “anti-gun” (England for example where you can still buy AKs) suppressors are legal for hunting as it protects the hearing of all those involved including bystanders.

    Fair, then we should regulate them and allow folks apply for exemptions.

    Which, might ultimately be the larger disconnect between us — I’d prefer to have more uniform gun laws/regulations set at the Federal level versus the states. And I think that could lead to better compromises — including not having a patchwork of differing agreements about where licenses transfer and where they don’t.

    I will fully admit I get some of this stuff wrong. On the flip side, I’m also the person here who will strongly advocate for not banning the AR-15 platform out right. Likewise I see the importance of needing to address things like hunting. So please understand that I’m also not against you (at least not totally).

    And, I’m also the first to say that for as much as we go back and forth on assault weapons/modern sporting rifles, a far more important conversation needs to be had about handguns if we are talking about pure crime statistics.

    Please feel free to response. I will read it. I may say thanks, but again, until I get a sense that there is any room for dialog (and I appreciate you probably see no room on my side either) I don’t think this is a conversation worth continuing.

  40. Kathy says:

    SPOILERS for Star Wars: Rebels follow.

    You’ve been warned.

    I hold some cynicism when it comes to prequels. I get it. It’s hard to fit a story to constraints placed by the future of that story.

    So in the episode where Ezra goes through the Jedi temple portal and gets the idea of saving the life of his recently deceased master, Kanan Jarrus, and Ahsoka Tano has to stop him, I imagined her saying “Ezra, please. He has to remain dead because he’s not in the movies. He’s never even been mentioned in one. He’s a spin-off character who’s served his purpose.”

    Not that Ahsoka’s actual reasons for leaving Kanan dead were not good. Besides, they point to what Ezra later does to escape the Emperor’s trap on Thrawn’s ship. So this was good writing, within the constraints of the story’s future.

    2
  41. Teve says:

    You know, in high school, if you didn’t believe in science, it was just called ‘failing’.

    -Michelle Wolf

    3
  42. Kathy says:

    BTW, in the episode mentioned above, and the preceding one, the artwork used for the temple portal, a painting of three people and what may be star charts, as well as the animation when the painting changes, are absolutely amazing. I want to stream those eps again just for those scenes.

  43. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JohnSF: So looking like a goof is hip in the UK? Who knew?

  44. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: At the wholesale produce/institutional food service company I worked for, even for company parties and food demonstrations the company only provided plastic tableware–and this was the 70s.

  45. An Interested Party says:

    Hmm, looks like Warren is pretty confident in her campaign and now wants to share the love to help win the Senate too…

  46. MarkedMan says:

    @Matt: I bow to your superior knowledge of guns and you have convinced me of the impossibility of banning guns that white supremicists and the like fantasize about and so can only conclude that we should ban all automatic weapons.

  47. Teve says:

    Donald J. Trump
    @realDonaldTrump
    There has been no President in the history of our Country who has been treated so badly as I have. The Democrats are frozen with hatred and fear. They get nothing done. This should never be allowed to happen to another President. Witch Hunt!
    7:24 AM · Sep 25, 2019

    linky

    there are some smart people in the replies, and also some very entertaining crackheads. 🙂

  48. mattbernius says:

    @Matt:
    I gave that another read and there’s stuff in there that I definitely need to think about more.

    I also have to say I keep coming back the the “cosmetic” debate and just can’t reason my way to your perspective. But this also could be an issue of personal values and attentions. I’ve mentioned in the past here that I’ve been studying various martial arts for over 20 years. And while I find certain martial arts weapons regulations dumb (i.e. the fact that nunchucks — one of the dumbest weapons on God’s green earth — are illegal in most places), I also cannot get myself worked up over them.

    Ditto knife laws — I have no issue with the regulation of switchblades and other automatic knives. Admittedly, I do think countries can get out of control (i.e. the UK where you cannot have a locking blade, only friction knives) — so yes I get the idea of over regulation. But, I don’t see some regulation as an issue and don’t feel like we’re particularly suffering because we cannot legally have a push-button knife (especially when there are a lot of one handed opening alternatives).**

    (Aside: I also get that the banning of nunchucks and switchblades were both based on moral panics).

    Either way, I’ll be doing more thinking about what you wrote.

    ** – Let’s not go down the path of “but what about the arthritic person who cannot open a knife due to their joint issues” because now we’re creating hypotheticals that can undercut any scenario or regulation.