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August 20, 2014

Overnight Open Thread (8-20-2014)


Why Are Some People So Much Luckier Than Others?

I consider myself to be 'lucky' but it's mostly a fundamental kind of luck - I know that the tornado almost certainly won't hit my hotel, the test results will probably come back negative, and that I'll likely be at least five steps ahead of whatever nasty thing is about to go down. But I've never won the lottery or really any Major Award. And that's okay - I'll take my anti-bad luck kind of good luck any day.

In one experiment, Wiseman asked people to self identify themselves as lucky or unlucky. Then he gave his test subjects a newspaper. "Count the number of photographs inside", he told them.

There were 43 photographs.

On average, the unlucky people took 2 minutes to count them all. The lucky people? Seconds.

The lucky people noticed the giant message that took up half the second page of the newspaper. It said, "Stop counting - There are 43 photographs in this newspaper."

The unlucky people missed it. They also missed the equally giant message half way through the newspaper, "Stop counting, tell the experimenter you have seen this and win $250."

The "lucky" people weren't lucky. They were just more observant.

More here:

And so it is with luck - unlucky people miss chance opportunities because they are too focused on looking for something else. They go to parties intent on finding their perfect partner and so miss opportunities to make good friends. They look through newspapers determined to find certain types of job advertisements and as a result miss other types of jobs. Lucky people are more relaxed and open, and therefore see what is there rather than just what they are looking for.

My research revealed that lucky people generate good fortune via four basic principles. They are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities, make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition, create self-fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations, and adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good.

luck1 Lottery-winners-westburys-006

luck2 luck3thumbnail-aspx1.jpeg

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Posted by Maetenloch at 10:17 PM Comments

Confirmed: Saturday Night Live is No Longer Funny, Has Been In the Bag for Obama & the Democrats for Years


Via @rdbrewer4 in the sidebar, one of SNL's main political writers (the writer for those great Gore/Bush debate sketches) says so himself.

Well, he doesn't say the show isn't funny. But I think that's "confirmed" just by watching it. It's awful.

He does confirm that while the show used to attempt a bit of balance -- you know, like a real comedy show -- they threw that out the window some time ago.

Here's Jim Downey:

Downey: The biggest risk to doing political comedy is, you always seem to have a choice: Am I going to piss off the audience by trying to get them to laugh when they don't like what I'm saying, or am I going to kiss their ass and get this tremendous wind at my back by sucking up to them? The second way makes me feel like I cheated. I'm sure there are a lot of people in comedy who completely share every f--ing detail, jot and tittle of the Obama administration agenda, and all I can say is: To the extent that you're sincere and that's really the way you feel, then you're a very lucky person because, guess what, you're going to have a very easy career in comedy because audiences will always applaud. They may not laugh, but they'll always give you [a] huge ovation. That's Bill Maher, you know?

Downey attempting to "challenge the audience." You know, challenge the audience's expectations and bigotries, the way liberals say they think artists should, except they always mean challenge conservative audiences, not us, for God's sake!

Downey: There was one Bush piece I did a couple times in dress that I think died twice and was never on. It was after Abu Ghraib. I knew I was in very dangerous comedy territory, and it was a piece where Bush was trying to justify Abu Ghraib. He was addressing the nation and saying it was an attempt, maybe awkward on our part, to make Iraqis more comfortable with their bodies. There was something about the joy of the nudist lifestyle, and I remember at one point it had a joke like, "Many people have objected to the fact that the detainees were forced to mime sex acts. Now, is it the fact that it was sex acts that you find offensive or is it that it was homosexual sex acts? Think about that, then tell me who's in the wrong here." I thought it was funny. It was a desperate attempt to turn the tables on critics. When we did the sketch [in dress rehearsal], it was like a death camp in there; the audience was like, "No." There's not laughing, and then there's aggressive silence.

I have no idea if that would be funny if actually played out, but the audience's "aggressive silence" seems to indicate they did not appreciate any challenge on their political beliefs here.

And here's Downey on SNL becoming pure hack:

Downey: I used to write this stuff with Al Franken when we started out; I was a standard-issue Harvard graduate commie, and Al was like a Democratic Party stalwart. I had contempt for the partisan stuff. And I became more conservative over the years, to the point where I'm now a conservative Democrat, which means in Hollywood terms I'm a McCarthyite, I suppose. But I have to say, and even Franken agrees with me -- I've talked to him about this --- that the last couple seasons of the show were the only two in the show's history where we were totally like every other comedy show: basically, an arm of the Hollywood Democratic establishment. [Jon] Stewart was more nuanced. We just stopped doing anything which could even be misinterpreted as a criticism of Obama.

Per other interviews, it turns out that Downey's main opponent was the unfunny partisan hack Seth Meyers, who, yes, insisted that the show should take a stand and that Downey's attempts to scatter around the jokes were no longer Politically Acceptable.

The progressive media really bought into that following Steven Colbert's WH Press Corps dinner speech. Colbert made fun of the media for treating both sides "with balance," and essentially argued you can't treat both sides "with balance" when one is Smart and Good and the other is Dumb and Evil.

That ethic soon after infected the news media -- all the partisans in the media could not wait for an argument to throw off the shackles of pretended objectivity -- and I guess Seth Meyers was a real fan of the idea too, and decided even a comedy show had to Take Sides.

Posted by Ace at 06:42 PM Comments

Jim Geraghty: If You Were Going to Build a World That Creates and Enhances Depression & Anger, Wouldn't It Look A Lot Like Our Current World?


I'm always down with some anti-Internet neo-Luddism.

This is from last week, in the wake of Robin Williams' suicide, but I missed it.

Our ability to take just about any event and turn it into an online argument is one of our modern society’s mentally unhealthy habits. In fact, if we wanted to build a culture that deliberately cultivated feelings of depression, isolation, anger, and despair, how different would it look from the one we have now?

The first key aspect of this perfect depressive dystopia would be to get as many people as possible interacting with screens, instead of with flesh-and-blood human beings, as often as possible. (Pause for the irony that you’re almost certainly reading this on a screen.) Prevalent aspects of human contact from the dawn of human civilization -- eye contact, tone of voice, volume of voice, sarcasm and inflection, posture, body language -- would be removed from the increasingly common forms of communication, and everyone would spend as much time as possible interpreting the true meaning of hieroglyphics that are supposed to resemble human faces. Miscommunications, perceived insults, and fights would grow apace.

This depressive world would remove the tactile sensation of human touch, expressed in a romantic and sexual sense but also in the gestures of a handshake, a hand on the shoulder, a hug, a pat on the back. Entire friendships would begin and end online, with the individuals never interacting in person.

The constantly online life would undoubtedly come at the expense of the offline life. People would interact with their neighbors less. There would be fewer shared social experiences -- the social phenomenon of Bowling Alone on steroids. The offline world would seem more full of strangers, more suspicious, more potentially dangerous, full of vivid, widely covered stories of violence and wrongdoing reminding us to not trust each other.

The constant online presence would lead to a world of nonstop instant reaction, where everyone could immediately transmit the first thought that popped into his head in response to news. Everyone's first reaction would become his defining reaction, particularly if it's dumb or knee-jerk. If it was racist, sexist, hateful, or obnoxious, even better. Those horrified would then share and retweet it to their friends and followers, spreading the perception that the world was overpopulated with hateful idiots, and that average Americans -- or average human beings! -- were rather nasty, ignorant creatures unworthy of respect or affection....

The widespread perception that almost everyone else was a moron -- why, just look at the things people post and say on the Internet! -- would facilitate a certain philosophy of narcissism; we would have people walking around convinced they're much smarter, and much more sophisticated and enlightened, than everyone else.

I think this is why I've been in revolt against default internet culture for a while now.

Yes, people may point out that the Internet was originally kind of a place to be a dick and, as one commenter said today, "let vent your demons."

However, for many of us -- people like me, who spend most of every day in this culture, and maybe some people like you -- the Internet really isn't a place to escape, it's where we actually live (as horrifying an admission as that may be).

And, therefore, those of us who are -- admittedly -- spending way too much time online for one reason or another are beginning to miss the agreeable aspects of polite society -- saying nice things, agreeing with people, conceding points even in an argument with someone whose main point you dispute, and general sociability -- which are frequently absent from online interaction.

I said this on twitter last night when I was thinking about this: It may be that I am more sensitive to this sort of thing than the average internet user, because while the average internet user is only submerged in this strange online world a couple of blow-off hours a day, I'm here all day. I work here.

Sometimes I forget my imperative to Disconnect and then I play here after having worked here all day.

So, I can see where I might be over-sensitive to this. Being immersed in this stuff 10-14 hours per day (on long days, anyway) will make one more sensitive, and perhaps oversensitive, to the generally disagreeable and negative ethos that tends to prevail on the internet.

And someone only immersed in it for one or two hours might say: "So what? Sure it's there. But man up, Sally. It's nothing to cry about."

And I can't dispute such an argument, because that hypothetical disputant would be coming from a different experience than I am.

Sure, I guess, being immersed in a culture of frequent negativity and hostility isn't that bad if you're only in it a couple of hours a day.*

Still, if this Internet thing is here to stay, I do think it could stand to benefit from the importation of general rules of pleasant and polite social interaction which have evolved over the course of 100,000 years of human history in real-life interaction.

Those rules didn't evolve out of nowhere. They didn't evolve randomly. They didn't evolve pointlessly.

They evolved to keep a lid on social discord, and to keep people in a generally happy frame of mind.

As with Chesterton's Fence: I guess I'd have to ask why some would tear the fence down without first inquiring why the fence had been built in the first place.

* A long time ago I went out to the woods with a friend. This friend brought along his friends.

These guys' idea of male interaction was nothing but chops-busting and attacks over everything. Beyond the constant attacks -- which are of course a primate method of competition -- were the actual competitions.

Over everything. There was not a single thing you could do without being challenged in competition.

Drinking especially. If you were only on your sixth beer by 3pm, well, that pretty much sealed the case that you were a homosexual, and perhaps should relocate to the back room to service the Real Men at the cabin, as their needs might require.

So that was like more than 48 hours straight of that. Just insults, and competition, and deranged insistence that everyone attempt to cultivate a jaunty level of hardcore alcoholism.

Now, I've been in chops-busting situations, but never for that long a time, and never in such a sustained, we're gonna break you, Son sort of way.

After I got home, a friend asked me how it was.

I told her it was maybe the most singularly unpleasant two days I'd ever spent in my entire life, and that my nerves were still jangly from the constant flinching from attacks, both delivered and merely anticipated.

Anyway, I never went out with my friend to the woods again. Once was enough.

Posted by Ace at 05:44 PM Comments

Cop Relates Jim Hoft's Scoop to Fox News: Wilson Was Badly Beaten Before Shooting


Score one for Jim Hoft, it sure is looking like.

Now, it could still be that these cops are misinformed.

(If you wanted to know how that's possible: easy, the notation of an old, healed orbital fracture of the eye in x-rays gets garbled and mis-propagated as a fresh one; I'm not saying this happened, but it could be something like that.)

However, even if the cops are misinformed, Jim Hoft's reportage of their statements is now undoubtedly 100% accurate, and this constitutes a major scoop for him.

From Fox:

Darren Wilson, the Ferguson, Mo., police officer whose fatal shooting of Michael Brown touched off more than a week of demonstrations, suffered severe facial injuries, including an orbital (eye socket) fracture, and was nearly beaten unconscious by Brown moments before firing his gun, a source close to the department's top brass told

You might wonder why I'm still expressing skepticism about this. Well, it's simple: Because I don't want to credit stuff that's being put out unofficially. If it's official and documented, then my skepticism goes away completely.

I just don't want to credit something just being whispered in the ear of the occasional reporter as 100% solid-gold truth. Truth should be something you stand openly behind.*

But certainly my skepticism is receding.

And congrats to Jim Hoft -- of all the various media dopes down in Ferguson,** apparently Jim Hoft was the only one who thought, "Hey, maybe I should interview some cops to see what actually happened at the shooting."

* Commenters tell me that it's standard practice to not comment officially during an investigation.

Okay, I believe you, but there has been a fair amount of chatter from the police (officially) on important facts here.

If Wilson is in the hospital with a broken eye orbital, that's a fact. The cops can say "we're still investigating how he received these injuries," but the injuries, if they exist, are simply facts.

I don't see why these facts should be so thoroughly suppressed while the cops freely offer things like "Darren Wilson was not investigating the robbery at the initial contact with the suspects."

** Oh I don't mean to say he's dope, but I see that the way I wrote the sentence implies that.

I don't see how to fix it, though.

I mean to say that the other ones are dopes, and that he's not.

And What If Tea Partiers Threw Rocks at Chris Hayes? Larry O'Connor notes MSNBC's chill attitude towards "protesters" throwing rocks at them, and wonders (without wondering much) whether they'd have been so understanding if Tea Partier protesters had thrown the stones.

Not X-Rays: A commenter tells me that a fractured orbital would typically be imaged by a CT scanner, not an X-ray machine.

Posted by Ace at 04:58 PM Comments

The Sheldon Cooper Presidency


David Rutz picks up on a theme, and Bret Stephens recently wrote of Obama's foreign policy, calling it "The Meltdown."

Stephens' article is quite long. Here's a few excepts:

In July, after Germany trounced Brazil 7–1 in the semifinal match of the World Cup--including a first-half stretch in which the Brazilian soccer squad gave up an astonishing five goals in 19 minutes--a sports commentator wrote: "This was not a team losing. It was a dream dying." These words could equally describe what has become of Barack Obama’s foreign policy since his second inauguration. The president, according to the infatuated view of his political aides and media flatterers, was supposed to be playing o jogo bonito, the beautiful game--ending wars, pressing resets, pursuing pivots, and restoring America’s good name abroad.

Instead, he crumbled.

As I write, the foreign policy of the United States is in a state of unprecedented disarray. In some cases, failed policy has given way to an absence of policy. So it is in Libya, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, and, at least until recently, Ukraine. In other cases the president has doubled down on failed policy--extending nuclear negotiations with Iran; announcing the full withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

[P]eople have begun to notice. Foreign policy, considered a political strength of the president in his first term, has become a liability....

Stephens considers the argument offered by Obama's defenders -- that the world has just become so ungovernable, man (the same excuse is offered for his failure to produce positive results domestically -- that America has become "ungovernable").

He responds:

Then again, every president confronts his share of apparently intractable dilemmas. The test of a successful presidency is whether it can avoid being trapped and defined by them. Did Obama inherit anything worse than what Franklin Roosevelt got from Herbert Hoover (the Great Depression) or Richard Nixon from Lyndon Johnson (the war in Vietnam and the social meltdown of the late ’60s) or Ronald Reagan from Jimmy Carter (stagflation, the ayatollahs, the Soviet Union on the march)?

If anything, the international situation Obama faced when he assumed the presidency was, in many respects, relatively auspicious.

I would note this: Obama seems like Sheldon Cooper on Big Bang Theory.

Obama has his plans. His plans include pushing his various fake campaign positionings to gin up the left-wing base, and playing golf and attending jazz festivals.

No matter what happens in the world, or even in America, Obama is sticking to that plan.

He dismisses -- either explicitly or implicitly, by his near-total lack of intellectual or emotional engagement with serious political events -- all occurrences which are not in his List of Things to Do as "distractions."

Sheldon Cooper does this on Big Bang Theory. In that show, Sheldon has some sort of crazy single-mindedness manifesting an absolute insistence on sticking to his Routine.

Sheldon Cooper doesn't care if someone's loved one has died. This is Thursday. We have pizza on Thursday. That's what we do on Thursday. Because it's Thursday.

No matter what happens in the world, Obama is sticking to Pizza On Thursdays.

Because that's what we do on Thursdays. Thursdays are for Pizza.

They're slaughtering Christians in Iraq? Thursdays are for Pizza.

They're slaughtering Yazidis in Iraq? Pizza is what we have on Thursdays.

Ferguson is burning? It's Thursday. Thursday night is pizza night.

James Foley was beheaded by the New Caliphate in Iraq? Well, unless James Foley is our Pizza delivery guy, I don't really see how this alters our Thursday plans...

I really do not know what it could possibly take to get Obama to acknowledge that while Thursdays are often for Pizza, sometimes momentous events occur which require delaying Pizza until later.

Romney, of course, recently said that Obama is even worse than he expected him to be.

But one thing you can say in Obama's defense:

The man knows what you eat on Thursdays, doesn't he?

The job of the President is partly proactive -- but largely reactive. Things happen, fires start, and it's the job of the president to react to unforeseen events in a useful way.

Obama just doesn't seem to agree with this proposition. He has his agenda, he has the stuff he wants to do, and everything else is a "distraction" from that.

Everything else is a distraction from what really matters:

Pizza, and Game Night, and Farscape.

By which I mean Golf and giving partisan speeches and fundraisers.

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Posted by Ace at 03:22 PM Comments

Of Course


Of course.

Of course.

Posted by Ace at 02:50 PM Comments

Governor Jay Nixon: Both the State AG and Eric Holder Must "Vigorously Prosecute" Darren Wilson


At 3:20, below. More at Hot Air.

And below that, Megyn Kelly is not impressed with Nixon's understanding of the criminal justice system.

And police sources are now telling the NYT that Wilson sustained injuries in the encounter, though they don't specify what kind of injuries, as Jim Hoft's sources did.

(And as Allah points out: What the hell kind of reporter wouldn't immediately ask, "What kind of injuries? How extensive? Are their X-rays?")

Oh, and a great piece by Noah Rothman: Eric Holder, Racial Healer.

"Look at the way the attorney general of the United States was treated yesterday by a House committee," Holder remarked. "Had nothing to do with me, what attorney general has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment? What president has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?"

In May, Holder echoed the claims of MSNBC’s "dog whistle" detectors, who derive their job security by being able to decode the veiled racism in words like "apartment" and "golf," when he said that subtle -- nearly undetectable -- racism is a greater scourge than overt discrimination. In other words, the kinds of civil rights violations which the Attorney General is empowered to prosecute are of less relevance to America's minorities than are the coded messages which are inexplicably only decipherable for the audience these Windtalker racists supposedly trying to avoid alerting.

Oh, and via Instapundit, even a progressive chump like Josh Marshall understands that the chief executive of a state does not call for a "vigorous prosecution" based upon the testimony of rioters.

Well he didn't say it that way. I did. You can tell I said and not him it because it's clever.

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Posted by Ace at 01:30 PM Comments

Obama Now Speaking About Foley Murder



So far he's said that Foley was killed in an "act of violence." Describing IS, he said they've been on a rampage, and have slaughtered people, and tortured them, and committed "acts of violence."

Oh, he finally said "terrorized," then called them "terrorists."

He's trying to sound tough, so I can't fault his intent, but I really think this speech is once again a bit of a rehash, without effective rhetoric. Calling their ideology "bankrupt" seems to me to be pretty weak sauce. He'd say that about the GOP, too.

Meanwhile, James Foley's parents were speaking just before Obama did (tie-less, from around Martha's Vinyard, though in a place called Edgarton, MA -- Andy tells me now that this is actually on Martha's Vinyard).

I was surprised they could even speak coherently. Maybe they've been preparing for this day for a long time.

That chick from The Five (Andrea Tarantos or something) gets part of it: "Where's the fire in the belly?"

She's right, but I don't expect fire in the belly from Obama.

If he can't must up fire in the belly, how about what he's supposedly good at, rhetoric?

The stuff he offered was stale and obvious. It wasn't objectionable. It wasn't wrong. But there didn't seem to be any effort whatsoever to bring a writerly novelty to the words, so that the idea would seem fresh and therefore compelling to the listener.

Based on the slapdash nature of the statement, I'd say that Obama does not think that this is A Moment, as in, A Moment Which He Must Rise To. He seems to just think it's another day, and so another anodyne statement will suffice.

Posted by Ace at 12:47 PM Comments

Top Headline Comments 8-20-14

—Gabriel Malor

Happy Wednesday.

Hey, give a thank you to our weekend crew in the comments. They do a lot of coordinating behind the scenes to bring you our Saturday and Sunday content.

Commentary Mag has a piece in its September issue about Obama's utter faceplant when it comes to foreign policy.

The Ferguson mess was peaceful last night . . . until it wasn't. 47 arrested.

Remember when Europe (and Krugman) was squawking about "austerity"? Yeah, European austerity never happened.

AoSHQ Weekly Podcast rss.png itunes_modern.png | Download | Ask The Blog | Archives

Posted by Gabriel Malor at 06:42 AM Comments


—Brandon Finnigan


Tonight, we return to Alaska, the site of a nail-biter primary back in 2010. It's winner, Joe Miller, is back again, vying for the chance to unseat Senator Begich. He faces Dan Sullivan and Lt. Gov Mead Treadwell for that honor. Sullivan is the favorite if polling is correct, but this is Alaska, and we all saw what happened with the polled leader four years ago.

You can follow all of our results live on AOSHQDD.COM, and our official calls will go out first from our twitter, @AOSHQDD.

Let the numbers roll in, whatever they may be!

(Also, if you are intested in joining our team, please shoot an email to AOSHQDD (AT) Gmail (DOT) com).)

Posted by Brandon Finnigan at 11:42 PM Comments

Overnight Open Thread (8-19-2014)




For Your Reading: The 2006 FBI Study "Violent Encounters"

This was an intensive 5 year study the FBI did looking at deadly assaults (usually with guns) on police officers during their duties. In particular they focused on 40 incidents and deeply investigated them including in depth interviews with both the surviving officers and the attackers. From this they gleaned a huge amount of data as well as some interesting findings. At the high level the data shows that police attackers (and would-be cop-killers):

  • Show signs of being armed that officers miss;
  • Have more experience using deadly force in "street combat" than their intended victims;
  • Practice with firearms more often and shoot more accurately;
  • Have no hesitation whatsoever about pulling the trigger.

Now this 179 page pdf might seem a dry read (and parts are) but most of it is full of interesting details and statistics that cover the reality of deadly encounters as well as strategies for officers to detect impending attacks and protect themselves. Much of this would also apply to anyone who ever carries a concealed weapon.

It also has a chapter on the subjective perceptions and perceptual distortions that both the attacker and officer experienced during the fight as well as a discussion of why witnesses (and this includes involved officers) often get so much wrong. Members of the media ought to at least skim this report...but I know that that's just a wishcastful fantasy.

A couple of tidbits:

  • Most of the attacks occurred at night, especially after midnight
  • 9mm pistols were the most commonly used guns
  • All the offenders had priors
  • Almost 70% of the attackers had planned to attack the police even before the encounter
  • Most of the attackers practiced with their weapons - often more than police do
  • The attackers usually shot first and had a better hit percentage (68%) than the police (39%)
  • The initial shots were at an average of 14 feet opening up to 25 feet at the end

ve101 ve102

[And man I hope that the people aren't too unhappy about my linking to their copy of the report]



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Posted by Maetenloch at 10:17 PM Comments

Probably Not The Mug Shot the Dems Were Hoping For

—Dave In Texas

I don't this looks too bad at all really. I kinda like the "adios mofo" grin.

It may be a bit of a surprise to those of you who think Texas is redder than red that Austin is largely run by Democrats but our large cities aren't much different from yours (except they're solvent). Before this fat drunken harridan Rosemary Lehmberg ran the Travis County DA's office another jerk named Ronnie Earle did and he did the same kind of bullshit to Tom Delay and Kay Bailey Hutchison - criminal charges for political disagreements (Delay was forced to resign, convicted for breaking a law that wasn't in effect at the time he "broke" it after Earle finally stuck the mess in front of enough grand juries until he found one that would give him what he wanted. Delay's convictions were overturned on appeal)

What the Dems wanted was the word "Indicted" plastered to Perry's face in the news and they got that, it's no small thing. They were also hoping for a mug shot and I think they're gonna be a little disappointed with that.

Incidentally if you haven't see the drunk videos of Lehmberg's 2013 DWI booking (what started all this fun) they're all over the interwebs.

She was a little less polished than Rick was today.

Related, he can take a punch. And give one back.

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Posted by Dave In Texas at 08:51 PM Comments

The Political Value of Saying Stupid Crap You Don't Really Believe


That's a joke headline. I actually do mean what I'm talking about here.

Via Hot Air, writer Arthur Brooks makes the case (in the NYT) that it's a winning political strategy to talk up the other side's political priorities.

Without outright endorsing this claim -- and certainly without endorsing any implication that a party must "move to the center," away from its priorities, to win -- let me at least speak up for some basic truth in the general idea.

Each party tends to champion a limited number of priorities from a larger list of public goods.

For example: There is little doubt that the Democrat Party is devoted to prioritizing equality... at the expense of freedom.

And there is little doubt that the GOP prioritizes freedom higher than equality.

However, I think it's good politics for the GOP to frequently acknowledge that the value of equality itself is a very worthy thing.

The GOP's dispute with "equality" isn't with equality per se -- the GOP's problem with equality as a political good only comes when equality is being prioritized in such a way as to reduce freedom. That is, equality, all other things being equal, is a good thing to strive for (or, at least, hope for); the problem is a push for equality above all else, resulting in the contraction of citizen liberty (and, of course, the aggrandizement of the state).

I often feel like people -- politicians, us, everyone -- are speaking over the heads of your average LIV.

Your average LIV probably has not even considered that legislation to create "more equality" almost always requires less freedom.

We, as conservatives, know that. LIVs don't.

The LIV probably just assumes that equality and freedom naturally come hand in hand. And I think the LIV wonders about a party that doesn't speak up more about equality, as if they're opposed to the concept.

I keep saying this like inviting the LIV directly into the ninth minute of a ten minute argument. In the first eight minutes come the statements like "oh of course equality is a worthy ideal, but there are many cases in which equality can only be achieved by criminalizing people's choices-- making them less free."

But the public walks into the ninth minute, when positions have hardened, when all those "to be sures" have been abandoned, and just hears us not making any rhetorical nods towards equality at all.

I think this happens in a lot of situations. Conservatives do not hate trees. Conservatives, who tend to be more rural and suburban folk, really like trees. In fact, conservatives tend to be the people actually out in nature as part of their weekly routine.

But in disputes about the proper limits of environmental protections, I don't think the public hears us saying it loud enough: "No, we really like trees. We're looking for solutions that protect both trees and actual human beings, too."

Again, I think there's an invitation to the ninth minute of a ten minute argument thing that happens, and the LIV only hears us saying "Jobs are good" and not saying much at all about the trees.

The LIV is not a politically serious creature. The LIV just wants to hear that someone "shares his values." And if his values include "Trees are good," well, it's a foolish thing not to say that too -- especially when you actually do believe that Trees Are Good, but aren't saying so, just because a progressive won't shut up about The Gentle Trees.

Another thing I think happens is this:

Many political disputes -- hell, all of them -- involve a clash of two competing values.

In almost all cases, both of the values in conflict are actually good values. The dispute is usually not about whether one value is good and the other evil (or lacking any merit); usually it's about which value should be prioritized.

But I think very often in argument it becomes useful -- in the very, very, very short-term -- to simply deny that the other value (the one that you don't favor prioritizing) has any merit at all.

After all, if two good values are in conflict, resolving the conflict may require a messy balancing test open to all sorts of challenge.

But if you just deny that the opposing value has any merit -- or merely refuse to acknowledge it has any merit -- the argument is more easily made: This is good, the other thing is not-good, the good thing wins.

But this is a terrible political argument as regards the broader public, the LIVs, because the LIVs don't know much, but among the things they do know is that Trees are Nice and Equality is Nice, and, indeed, many things the progressives talk about are Nice Things, and to go out to speak with them denying the Niceness of These Nice Things they'll wonder how Nice you really are, and, of course, whether you Share Their Values (about Nice Things).

You'll notice that every red-state senator is currently talking up a blue storm about all the Nice Things conservatives like talking about. Indeed, they're talking almost exclusively about our own List of Nice Things (freedom, etc.), and not so much about the progressive List of Nice Things at all.

I say this a lot, but the one thing that truly defines an LIV is that he defines himself as nonideological, and he's proud of that. (He's proud that he doesn't bother with much thinking about politics or general political philosophy -- any human being, given the choice of thinking less of himself for a trait or flattering himself for a trait, will chose the latter nine times out of ten.)

So when an LIV hears a bunch of ideologically-convenient premises -- like the idea that Equality Isn't Nice and Maybe Trees Aren't So Nice either -- from a party, he gets the idea (correctly) that they are Ideological, and thus Not Like Him, and, probably, Also Crazy.

The left, I think, is usually a bit better about talking up GOP Nice Things. We actually get annoyed when they do, because we know they don't mean a word of it.

And they don't.

But the LIV does want to hear that Democrats actually care about freedom, growth, national strength, public order, and so forth.

And so they talk up these Nice Things, before voting down the line against them.

Something to think about, I think.

Continue reading

Posted by Ace at 07:50 PM Comments

American Photojournalist James Foley, Kidnapped Thanksgiving 2012 in Syria, Now Beheaded by IS in a Video Warning to America


IS is a slaughterhouse for human beings.

Beheading him wasn't enough; they also compelled him to offer this message to America, before cutting his head off. "John" is Foley's brother, who is an officer in the Air Force.

'I call on my friends family and loved ones to rise up against my real killers, the US government. For what will happen to me is only a result of their complacency and criminality.

'My message to my beloved parents: save me some dignity and don't accept any (unclear, possibly says media) compensation for my death, from the same people who effectively hit the last nail in my coffin with a recent aerial campaign in Iraq.

'I call on my brother John, who is/was (that part is inaudible) member of the US Air Force, think about what you are doing, think about lives you destroy including those of your own family.

'I call on you John, think about who made the decision to bomb Iraq recently and kill those people, whoever they may have been.

'Think John, who did they really kill? Did they think about me, you our family when they made that decision?

'I died that day John, when your colleagues dropped that bomb on those people -- they signed my death certificate.

'I wish I had more time, I wish I could have the hope of freedom and see my family once again, but that ship has sailed. I guess all in all, I wish I wasn't American.'

And so they cut his head off.

Foley is not the only man they have in captivity:

Then is a chilling warning, the executioner holds another man, on his kness with his hands tied behind his back, by the scruff of the neck. A caption claims it is Steven Joel Soltoff.

The executioner says: 'The life of this American citizen, Obama, depends on your next decision.'

The internet tells me that Steven Joel Soltoff is a journalist who has worked for Time and other outfits.

In previous wars, America has demonized its opponents, claiming they've committed unspeakable atrocities. (It's an odd and disturbing fact that America never accused the Nazis of the Holocaust until after the war had been won, for fear of making it seem like a "War for Jews.")

As far as I know this is the first war where our enemies are so demonic that they proudly walk up to the camera and commit their atrocities as a commercial advertisement.

Even the Nazis exterminated the Jews in relative secret. (Not to claim that Germans didn't know something bad was going on -- just to say that even the Nazis realized such barbarity could not be carried out in the open.)

These people are true psychopaths.

Nevergiveup writes:

Yeah Ace not really. Yes, maybe at the Death Camps but NOT at places like Babi Yar. And not at all the actions in the towns and cities of Poland, the Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia and on and on. The local populations KNEW and even participated. They were able to do it our in the open because NO ONE CARED AND THEY WERE ONLY JEWS AFTER ALL!

This is the problem with any Nazi comparison, of course. It seems to suggest that the Nazis were not a singular evil.

I didn't mean to suggest that.

I said the Nazis carried out their industrialized murder in relative secret.

I don't wish to say something "nice" about the Nazis. But I don't think that it can be argued that the Nazis did this openly.

When you're murdering six million people, of course people will know, and many Germans, despite claiming after the war that they knew nothing, of course must have wondered where all their Jewish neighbors had gone.

But even the Nazis, yes, even the Nazis, must have appreciated that the German people would not tolerate it if this barbarity were broadcast around the world.

Apologies for seeming, in the eyes of some, to have spoken up positively about the Nazis.

But I don't think that this point is very disputable: The Nazis had a political cult whose propaganda efforts were centered on Hollywood-style movie-making, and certainly could have made their slaughters public knowledge if they chose to.*

But they didn't. Instead they filmed their torchlight rallies.

At some level, they feared what the world at large would make of such horrors.

These guys don't fear that. They see this sort of thing as a recruitment tool.

I am not attempting to diminish the evil of the Nazis.

However, IS seems to have a different mindset on the publicization of their own atrocities.

* There is a story I've always heard but never read that Hitler had the executions of plotters against him (possibly in the Valkyrie plot, maybe another one) filmed and then used to watch them every night, or every several nights.

I don't know if that story is true or false, but that execution film, if it existed, was not put on YouTube, as per IS' practice.

It's just a different mindset. Both Nazis and IS are psychopathically murderous, but only IS broadcasts proof of its psychopathic murderousness.

Posted by Ace at 06:55 PM Comments

Paul Ryan's New Book Expresses Frustrations With Republican Party, and Tea Party


A bit of policy critique, and a bit of political positioning, to be sure.

...Ryan singles out the government shutdown in the fall of 2013....

Ryan tried to sway fellow conservatives to drop demands that would prompt a shutdown. "It was a suicide mission," Ryan writes, but one that many members were unwilling to write off for fear outside tea party groups would deem them squishy.

In a separate, earlier episode, Ryan says he joined a 2001 meeting with then-Vice President Dick Cheney to talk about what the new Bush administration should prioritize. Ryan said he made a two-minute case for Social Security reform, saying that a budget surplus had created a huge opportunity.

Cheney, as Ryan tells it, dismissed that idea as though it was an annoying mosquito, not a policy option.

He also questions his own rhetoric:

Ryan recounts being confronted at a county fair by a Democrat who objected to his frequent talk of "the makers" and "the takers," or the divide between those who pay more taxes than the ones who receive government benefits such as unemployment insurance, Social Security and Medicare. Ryan now realizes that during that confrontation, he had been insulting voters without realizing it.

That seems less like opinion and more like fact -- while Romney's "47%" remark was the truly damaging one, the entire line of argument has been reckoned by most to have been politically damaging.

The reason for this is simple: A lot of less-wealthy people vote GOP for various reasons. A lot of these less-wealthy people do in fact receive more from the government in either direct cash payments or general government services (i.e., lower property values mean less money goes to their local schools, made up for by people who are, relatively speaking, overpaying for local schools), and it is, I imagine, pretty insulting to the working-but-not-wealthy to suggest, even accidentally, that they're freeloaders.

To some extent, the claim might even have some element of truth in it -- i.e., those paying less in taxes than they receive in total services are, in fact, being subsidized to some extent by wealthier taxpayers.

But it's a tiny element of truth wrapped around a pretty harsh insult.

No one who busts his ass every day at a job wants to be told he's a "taker."

Even if someone wanted to make the case that this is true (which I personally wouldn't), it can't be argued that this is anything but impolitic.

More details on this at the Journal-Sentinel.

The congressman says he began second-guessing his use of that language after a constituent approached him at the Rock County 4-H Fair in July 2012 and asked, "Who are the takers? Is it the person who lost their job and is on unemployment benefits? Is it the person who served in Iraq and gets their medical care through the VA?"

Ryan said he eventually stopped using the term when he realized that "it sounds like we're saying people who are struggling are deadbeats. ... The phrase gave insult where none was intended."

He also argues the GOP must move beyond its traditional coalition (a coalition in numerical decline), and this must of course include... some sort of comprehensive immigration reform.

Meanwhile, Ryan is out with a new argument in favor of his long-held brief against excessive government regulation: that the people most harmed by such regulations are the poor, who, having less money, are more damaged by the government's artificial inflation of the costs of literally every good sold in the US.

The regulatory part of Ryan’s anti-poverty plan goes after "regressive" federal rules -- those that have an outsize economic impact on low-income households.

Supporters of his plan say regulations are ultimately borne by ordinary consumers and households who pay extra when new restrictions are piled on to the products and services they use. The poor end up spending a greater share of their income to cover the added expense.

In some cases, the added costs pay for protections that are a higher priority for middle or upper-class households, said Creighton University associate economics professor Diana Thomas, whose research is cited in the Ryan report.

"By forcing everyone to pay for high income household preferences [e.g., trendily energy-efficient washing machines]... you’re going to affect lower income consumers negatively," she said.

DrewMTips has previously critiqued another aspect of Ryan's anti-poverty reforms, the bundling of grants into a unified "Opportunity Grant" which would, somehow, create better outcomes than the current system.

Edited: I had another whole post appended here.

I've decided it makes far more sense to post that as a stand-alone post.

This will result in my doing less work today.

So it's just a great idea.

The rest of the post will be put up at seven.

Posted by Ace at 06:03 PM Comments

St. Louis Police Shoot and Kill an Erratically-Acting Knife-Wielding Man


"Just miles" from the Ferguson shooting, though I assume it wasn't actually in Ferguson or of course they'd say so.

More details:

Witnesses said the man who was shot had been inside Six Stars Market at Riverview Boulevard near McLaran Avenue. He took items from the market and left, followed by a market employee, witnesses said.

When the market employee told the man he would have to pay for the items, the man started throwing the items on the street and sidewalk. St. Louis Alderman Dionne Flowers, who works at a nearby beauty shop, witnessed the encounter, according to St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson. She described the man as acting erratically and was grabbing at his waistband, Dotson said.

"The store owner and the alderwoman said the suspect was armed with a knife, acting erratically, pacing back and forth in the street, talking to himself," said Dotson, who spoke at the scene.

When police arrived, he yelled (allegedly) "Shoot me, kill me now."

According to the non-muggle Chris Hayes,this news is fueling new accusations.

So I wonder what MSNBC will be talking about tonight.

Posted by Ace at 04:41 PM Comments

Claim: Police Confirm Darren Wilson Suffered a Fractured Eyesocket In Confrontation With Michael Brown?


So says The Gateway Pundit, Jim Hoft, citing two (unnamed) police.

I don't know. This seems like such a crucial thing, so important to determining what happened in that encounter -- it's hard to argue with the written record of broken bone -- it's perplexing to me that this is being withheld, if true.

I'd be shouting it from the mountaintops, were I part of the SLPD.

I can sort of understand why the below might be kept quiet:

With passions running so very hot, I wouldn't want to put out the word that some locals are undermining the narrative. I wouldn't want people looking for locals and encouraging them to change their stories.

But a fractured orbital of the eye? To explain this away one would have to propose that, post-encounter, Darren Wilson had another cop punch him hard enough in the eye to break bone. Possible, maybe, but certainly not the kind of thing that most people are going to believe as a likely theory.

So why is that being kept quiet?

I sort of doubt this. I don't doubt that Jim Hoft has the sources he says he has; I just wonder if his sources have the story garbled due to telephone-game loss of signal.

It just seems like a nearly dispositive piece of evidence I can't fathom why it would be kept under wraps.

Retracted: The reporter who tweeted out that 12 witnesses confirmed the cops' accounting of events has now retracted her tweet -- and announced that she's currently on a Family and Medical Leave Act departure from work.


On FMLA from paper. Earlier tweets did not meet standards for publication.


Does she mean she was already on a FMLA leave of absence when she first tweeted, or does she mean that she went on a FMLA sabbatical after tweeting this claim?

Answered! By Tami.

The reporter has been on maternity leave since March, and she's not covering the Ferguson protests for the Post-Dispatch. She's been tweeting on her own.

So this could mean something like "she is not with the paper at the moment, and did not go through proper channels (clearing it with an editor) before publishing."

And so she might not mean her report is untrue, just that the report should not be associated with her newspaper, as she was not acting as a reporter for that paper when she tweeted.

But if it's true, surely we'll see the paper itself, with current employees, following it up.

Fathoming: Yesterday Krakatoa suggested, and today several commenters suggest, that information is being held back because Darren Wilson's chief interest is in being exonerated at trial, or at a grand jury hearing, and therefore evidence helpful to him is being held until such time as it is needed for that purpose.

I confess here that I am, of course, completely ignorant of typical procedure in these sorts of cases (and, indeed, in almost all other sorts of cases as well).

I can't say "That's wrong." I don't know.

However, it does still seem to me that during this period of hypothesized withholding, narratives are being set, such narratives impacting the minds of potential jurors, and causing political pressure to fall upon politicians, who are are of course cowardly and unprincipled creatures, to indict and arrest Mr. Wilson.

And the longer such evidence is held back, the more loudly those who wish to imprison (or worse) Mr. Wilson are going to shout, "Well if that's true why did it take you so long to say so? You've had ten days to fake up X-rays and pictures...!"

And so on.

Now, the people inclined to say stuff like that would have said the same thing if the information had been disclosed within six hours, true, but more people will be willing to credit conspiracy theories as credible due to a delay in disclosing the evidence.

So I'm having trouble understanding how withholding evidence (which seems to me to be virtually dispositive) actually aids Mr. Wilson. Withholding such evidence seems, again, just to me, to compromise his position, rather than strengthening it in a later proceeding.

But I don't know. I have doubts on this claim, which is not nearly the same as saying I'm confident that the claim is erroneous.

Posted by Ace at 03:18 PM Comments

Who Lost the Cities?


Via @benk84's morning dump, Kevin D. Williamson has some suspects.

A question for the Reverend Jackson: Who has been running the show in Newark, in Chicago, in Detroit, and in Los Angeles for a great long while now? The answer is: People who see the world in much the same way as does the Reverend Jackson, who take the same view of government, who support the same policies, and who suffer from the same biases. This is not intended to be a cheap partisan shot. The Democratic party institutionally certainly has its defects, the chronicle of which could fill several unreadable volumes, but the more important and more fundamental question here is one of philosophy and policy. Newark, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles -- and Philadelphia, Cleveland, and a dozen or more other cities -- have a great deal in common: They are the places in which the progressive vision of government has reached its fullest expressions. They are the hopeless reality that results from wishful thinking.


For years, our major cities were undermined by a confluence of four unhappy factors: 1. higher taxes; 2. defective schools; 3. crime; 4. declining economic opportunity. Together, these weighed much more heavily upon the middle class than upon the very wealthy and the very poor. In the case of Philadelphia, the five counties in the metropolitan area have had a mostly stable population, but the city itself lost more than a quarter of its population between 1950 and 2000 as some 550,000 people fled to the suburbs or beyond. How many people matters, but which people matters, too: They were the ones with the means and the strongest incentive to relocate. Over the same period of time, Chicago lost a fifth of its population, Baltimore nearly a third. Philadelphia is one of the few U.S. cities to impose a municipal income tax (one of the taxes Mayor Rizzo raised), creating very strong incentives to move across the line into Delaware County or Bucks County. This is sometimes known as "white flight," but that is a misnomer: In Detroit, the white middle class got out as quickly as it could -- and the black middle class was hot on its heels. Upwardly mobile people and those who expect to be -- i.e., those with an investment in the future -- care a great deal about schools, economic opportunity, and safety. And they know where the city limits are.

Posted by Ace at 02:45 PM Comments

Cringe-Inducing Video Of Liberals Shooting Guns For The First Time


Oof! Fingers all over some triggers here and a nice sweep of the instructor with the muzzle of an 870 to boot.

This isn't posted to make fun of the liberals. Heck, I'm glad they went to the range and gave it a try. But it'd be nice to see any evidence that they'd been given proper instruction first.

h/t Sean Davis

Continue reading

Posted by Andy at 01:22 PM Comments

Domestic Natural Gas Fuels A Cleaner Environment


So sayeth friend of the blog Michael James Barton.

But even if definitive evidence linking extreme weather events with global temperature gains eventually emerges, natural gas production shouldn’t be seen as a contributor to the problem — it’s a solution. Expanding natural gas production can itself help curb global climate change. Gas is a much cleaner-burning energy source than oil or coal.

So says the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which estimates that natural gas only emits half as much carbon dioxide and one-third the amount of nitrogen oxide as coal. Vehicles powered by natural gas produce 30 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than those using gasoline or diesel.

Freeing up natural gas production across the country would hasten the economy’s transition to this cleaner-burning fuel source and help reduce national carbon emissions.

Natural gas has already helped our economy and environment immensely. Instead of merely giving lip service, national lawmakers need to take concrete steps to end the de-facto government harassment of these employers who are trying to create jobs. It’s time to do away with unproven, emotion-based theories and start supporting an industry that’s already shown its value to America.

You can read the entire piece here.

Posted by BenK at 09:24 AM Comments

Top Headline Comments 8-19-14

—Gabriel Malor

Happy Tuesday.

There were airstrikes in Tripoli. But no one seems to know who is doing them.

The UCSB professor who attacked pro-life demonstrators because she was "triggered" was sentenced to probation, community service, and anger management classes after her guilty plea to theft, vandalism, battery, and stupidity.

A court in Alabama has ruled that Pfizer can be sued for the harmful side effects of drugs it doesn't even make.

AoSHQ Weekly Podcast rss.png itunes_modern.png | Download | Ask The Blog | Archives

Posted by Gabriel Malor at 06:45 AM Comments

Overnight Open Thread (8-18-2014)


Songs That Time Forgot

Most hit songs only get played a few years after they come out and then quickly fade away except for the occasional retro airplay but a few manage to hang on and become classics.

And here someone has gone back and tracked which top 10 songs since 1900 have survived the test of time and which ones have become obscure.

Some pop songs are timeless classics. Some play endlessly at weddings and on oldies stations. Others find renewed vigor in movie trailers or because their lyrics can be applied to Golden Grahams. Still others just, well - disappear.

We started with the top 10 songs of each year from 1900 to present (as calculated by the Whitburn Project), recording each song's Google hits, Wikipedia presence and scrobbles to calculate an obscurity score.



And here are the winners and losers against obscurity:

Least Obscure Hit Songs, Adjusted for Time
1 Bing Crosby: White Christmas, 1942
2 Elvis Presley: Jailhouse Rock, 1957
3 Glenn Miller Orch: In the Mood, 1940
4 The Animals: The House Of The Rising Sun, 1964
5 The Rolling Stones: (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction, 1965
6 The Beatles: Help!, 1965
7 The Beatles: Yesterday, 1965
8 Elvis Presley: Love Me Tender, 1956
9 Elvis Presley: Heartbreak Hotel, 1956
10 Elvis Presley: Hound Dog, 1956

Most Obscure Hit Songs, Adjusted for Time
1 Roy Ingraham Orch: Chant of the Jungle, 1930
2 Hilo Hawaiian Orch: When It's Springtime in the Rockies, 1930
3 Horace Wright: My Own Iona, 1917
4 Marguerite Farrell: If I Knock the 'L' Out of Kelly (It Would Still be Kelly to Me), 1916
5 Olive Kline: Hello, Frisco!, 1915
6 Orpheus Quartet: Turn Back the Universe and Give Me Yester Day, 1916
7 Horace Heidt Orch: Ti-Pi-Tin, 1938
8 Clay Aiken: This Is The Night, 2003
9 Mina Hickman: Come Down, Ma Evening Star, 1903
10 Don Bestor Orch: Forty-Second Street, 1933

And in case you were curious you can listen to the #1 obscure song here. Well at least until it gets overtaken by Clay Aiken's 'This Is The Night'. And because I hate you, you can listen to that right here.

Continue reading

Posted by Maetenloch at 10:15 PM Comments

Caller into a Talk-Radio Show Calling Herself "Josie" Says She Can Tell Us the Cop's Side of the Story


Commenters point out that this is not breaking news; this call came into Dana Loesch's show two days ago, they tell me.

This isn't the cop speaking directly to the public; rather, this is his story, as related by the friend he told it to.

I should say this is supposedly the cop's story. This story comes from someone only calling herself "Josie," calling in to a talk radio program (the Dana Loesch show actually, commenters tell me).

We have no idea whatsoever if Josie actually knows Wilson, or if Josie is just someone who calls into talk-radio programs for a little limelight.

He says the boys were walking in the street. [Wilson] rolled the window down and told them to get out of the street. He may have called for backup when he pulled over. He heard the call for the strong-arm robbery and saw the teens carrying something that might have been cigars. He pulled over and when he tried to get out of the car twice he was pushed back into the car by Michael.

Michael then punched him in the face and Darren reached for his gun. Michael grabbed the gun, and at one point, had the gun pushed against Darren’s hip so Darren pushed the gun away and the gun went off. Michael and his friend ran and Darren got out of the car and pursued, as is protocol.

He told them to freeze and Michael and his friend turned around. Michael started to taunt him and said he wouldn’t shoot him and said he wouldn’t shoot him, meaning he wouldn’t shoot Michael. Michael then bum rushed him and started coming at him full-speed, so Darren started shooting. She said that Darren really thinks he was on something. He said the final shot was in the forehead and he fell two or three feet in front of the officer.

Oh, I should add (now that commenters point it out): CNN says it can confirm that this account, whoever it is from, matches Wilson's official report.

Incidentally: Why is that not being released? The official report, I mean.

This should be released. I can only think of one reason why it wouldn't be released and it's not a good reason. (That is, fear that a particular point might be contradicted by later evidence.)

Posted by Ace at 08:27 PM Comments

More Eyewitnesses Come Forward in Brown Shooting


They seem to agree (if I'm reading this right) that Officer Wilson's first shots were fired when Brown was running away; these would seem to have missed, or have been warning shots into the air, possibly, as the coroners found no rear-entry bullets.

They say he then turned around in order to say that he was unarmed, and this was when the subsequent shots were fired, which did hit Brown.

People have characterized this last move, moving towards Wilson, as "charging" him, but that seems unlikely to me.

The question seems to me then (assuming these accounts to be true, which some commenters say I should not assume) to be whether Wilson had good cause to fire initially (when Brown was moving away from him, or fleeing, and if this was legally "flight from a felony arrest"), and whether or not Brown's turn back to him could be, in the minds of a reasonable person, a threatening action.

It should be borne in mind that when Brown turned back to Wilson, Wilson probably wouldn't have known he was unarmed. When a man turns on you in this sort of situation, one generally presumes him -- sometimes wrongly -- to be doing so in preparation to attack.

One witness says she saw Wilson "grab" at Brown, but doesn't say she saw the chokehold. I wonder if Wilson was grabbing for the cigars (which the police chief said Wilson had spotted during the stop, and connected them to the recent robbery).

The Other Witness: Commenters point out the video discussed in this story, which notes that a video taken shortly after the shooting features someone off-camera saying that Brown "came back towards" Wilson.

Amid angry condemnations of the police and pledges to move away from the mean streets of Ferguson, one man describes what he saw as he witnessed the shooting. He seems to describe how the 6 foot, 4 inch, 300-pound Brown tussled with Police Officer Darren Wilson and charged him, an account that may corroborate Wilson's story and cast doubt on claims of other purported witnesses who say Wilson shot Brown as he ran away, his hands in the air.

"I mean, the police was in the truck [sic] and he was, like, over the truck," the man says. "So then he ran, police got out and ran after him.

“The next thing I know, he comes back towards them. The police had his guns drawn on him."

"Coming back towards" Wilson could have been Brown's attempt to show compliance/surrender towards Wilson -- which was then misinterpreted as a show of aggression.

Which, of course, would be truly tragic.

I'm just speculating here: I have no idea what happened there.

Posted by Ace at 07:09 PM Comments

AP Stylebook Says that Men Aged 18 or Older Should be Called "Men," Not "Teen" or "Teenager," So Why Does AP Keep Calling 18 Year Old Giant Michael Brown a "Teenager"?


Via @justkarl -- I think the answer is adequately addressed in the last post.

Michael Brown was a happy turtle and the officer who shot him was a devious, hateful hawk.

The whole point of a stylebook on such terminology is to limit a reporter's ability to skew stories via word choice. (And also limit public criticism of word choice, because the news agency can always refer to its stylebook and say "We've decided this without reference to any particular story, and we enforce the stylebook rules without enmity or favoritism in every story.")

But a stylebook only serves this purpose if it's actually followed.*

* And the whole point of this stylebook rule is precisely this sort of case. Any 18 year old accused of a crime will naturally press to be referred to as a "teenager," to conjure public sympathy.

So the rule exists for exactly to keep reporters from deciding on their own whether to sympathize a person as a "teenager" or to de-sympathize him as a "man."

This is then an important situation in which AP should follow its own rule.

But instead it chooses to break it, and call the 6'4", 260+ pound hulk Michael Brown a "teenager."

Oh, and I know that Michael Brown is not accused of a crime, per se, but obviously the same rule attaches here for similar reasons-- the whole point is to de-power the reporter from deciding when he wants to elicit sympathy in a legal matter, and when he doesn't.

Posted by Ace at 06:17 PM Comments

For One Week The Narrative Was That Michael Brown Was Shot In the Back.
Reports From Multiple Coroners Say All Shots Were To the Front.


I guess this is why I hate following these "breaking news" stories, chasing each new "fact" and then opining upon them.

Almost none of the "facts" we originally new about this shooting are facts at all.

Greg Gutfeld mentioned a New York Times reporter who seemed to object to reporting that the coroner's report that Michael Brown had marijuana in his system at the time of death, by asking, "Why does it matter that he had marijuana in his system?"

Gutfeld answered: It matters because it's a fact.

He further noted that the media seemed very interested in a "clean narrative" -- not accurate reporting, but a clean, Aesop's Fable-like tight little narrative that proved a particular point in an ongoing Morality Play called "the news."

He's right: The "narrative-makers" of the media are interested in writing Aesop's Fables with a political agenda item, and not so interested in reporting the facts of incidents and events, which are often messy, complicated, contradictory, amenable to multiple interpretations, and hard to fix into a specific Morality Play "lesson" -- Because life itself is messy, complicated, contradictory, amenable to multiple interpretations, and hard to fix into a specific Morality Play "lesson."

Life is complicated -- New York Times reports on progressive agenda items, less so.

Reporting used to be about real life.

But it's not about real life anymore. It's about simplified, sharp-corners-sanded-down fables -- like Children's Stories.

The media is writing their reports like Children's Stories because they conceive of their audience as essentially children, whom you must protect from jarring facts which might teach "the wrong lessons."

Incidentally, Gutfeld might have added:

And if the toxicology report on the cop had shown the presence of drugs or alcohol, that would matter, right?

Because The Narrative. The New York Times would have no problem seeing the potential relevance of a cop whose judgement might have been chemically impaired at the time of the shooting.

But as regards Gentle Giant Michael Brown -- pish-posh, it's entirely irrelevant, so irrelevant that it maybe might need to be suppressed, to prevent the stupid children reading the New York Times from drawing the wrong conclusions.

Maybe we should just go Full Aesop and say that Michael Brown was a happy turtle and the officer who shot him was a rapacious hawk.

People would "get it" then.

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Posted by Ace at 05:28 PM Comments

Semi-Retired President to Take Well-Deserved Break from Grueling Schedule of Golf and Jazz Festivals to Have a Little Fun with Crises in Iraq and Ferguson


He's scheduled to speak at 4 pm EDT (12 minutes ago) so there's no rush to get this post up.

Last night, as Ferguson burned again, Obama was attending a jazz festival at Martha's Vinyard.

Allah has various speculation as to what Obama will say.

I have a different theory: He's going to announce that from here on out his Presidency will consist of following around Phish on tour, and just "takin' to the rails" to "just be" and to "discover the real America," the America inside of us all.*

Song selection by Lauren:

Continue reading

Posted by Ace at 04:10 PM Comments

Strange Allies: Iran May Send Tanks to Fight IS, Pope Francis Calls Upon World to "Stop" IS


A sufficiently barbaric evil can manage to actually unite natural antagonists in the same cause against it.

Iran may "partially invade" Iraq, Noah Rothman writes, in order to (they say) fight IS.

From Noah's post:

According to an informed source, tanks and armored vehicles belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards are mobilizing to enter the Khanaqin district with the aim of the concentration in areas with Shiite majority north of the capital Baghdad and hit the insurgent of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.

Unlike American forces, Iran's forces might not be so eager to depart once they've done fighting IS (should that war ever actually be won). But that's a problem for another day.

Popes generally call for peace -- no matter what the outrage. And Pope Francis, widely thought to be fairly left-leaning, seems to be even more committed to the "peace" imperative than most popes.

But even peaceable popes have a line, and the barbaric evil that is the "Islamic State" has crossed it.

This AP story from Ed Morrissey's post:

Pope Francis on Monday endorsed the use of force to stop Islamic militants from attacking religious minorities in Iraq but said the international community -- and not just one country -- should decide how to intervene.

Francis also said he and his advisers were considering whether he might go to northern Iraq himself to show solidarity with persecuted Christians. But he said he was holding off for now on a decision.

I think that would be far too dangerous, at the moment. Heroic, but dangerous. I can't imagine what IS would do if they knew they were just ten or fifteen miles away from capturing and beheading a Pope.


On Iraq, Francis was asked if he approved of the unilateral U.S. airstrikes on militants of the Islamic State...

"In these cases, where there is an unjust aggression, I can only say that it is licit to stop the unjust aggressor," Francis said. "I underscore the verb 'stop.' I'm not saying 'bomb' or 'make war,' just 'stop.' And the means that can be used to stop them must be evaluated."

He didn't say he was against airstrikes, though. Just that he wasn't necessarily calling for airstrikes.

It's heartening to see such unanimity on IS. Maybe the world isn't completely insane.

Posted by Ace at 03:34 PM Comments

Legendarily Entitled Politician Has Rock-Star Demands In Speaking Engagement Contracts


To secure Hillary Clinton to give a public policy speech, you must provide her with:

* $225,000

* a private jet to ferry her hither and yon

* the "presidential suite" at a local hotel of her choosing

* the guarantee that nothing she says will be recorded by any means, video or audio, and that the only record of her appearance will be a stenographer's transcription

I think the reason for that last one is that she doesn't want video of her speeches getting out and thereby ruining the Money Farm that is her public speaking business.

Because I don't think any of her speeches are new. I think she's giving these people basically the same canned speech, with a couple of paragraphs about some timely event. But mostly, just the same damn speech every time, at $225,000 per.

So what are these people actually paying for if they're just getting her canned campaign speech?

Seems to me they're not getting a speech -- they're getting an access. And, of course, they're getting a legal means of donating cash money to Hillary directly.

Posted by Ace at 02:19 PM Comments

Open Thread


Posted by rdbrewer at 11:28 AM Comments

Monday Morning Open Thread


Wait here while I put something together.

Posted by BenK at 07:20 AM Comments

Overnight Open Thread (8-17-2014)


Patterico's In Depth Legal Analysis of Rick Perry's Indictment

And he finds the arguments in the indictment so flawed that they should aspire to mere groundlessness in a future life. The Travis county prosecutor claims that not only is Perry's threat of a veto a felony but his actual veto is also a felony. Needless to say Texas law and the Texas Constitution disagree with these unusual legal theories.

First on the coercion of a public servant charges:

So the law can't be that broad, and in fact, the statute has an exception:
(c) It is an exception to the application of Subsection (a)(1) of this section that the person who influences or attempts to influence the public servant is a member of the governing body of a governmental entity, and that the action that influences or attempts to influence the public servant is an official action taken by the member of the governing body. For the purposes of this subsection, the term "official action" includes deliberations by the governing body of a governmental entity.
Under Article 4 of the Texas Constitution, Rick Perry is the Chief Executive Officer of the State, and thus a member of the Executive Department of the State. That sounds like a "governing body" to me. Doesn't he fall within this exception? Certainly his veto does.
In fact, I think such a threat falls squarely within the exception for "deliberations" by the governing body. "Deliberations" include discussions about whether an action is going to be taken, including bargaining over whether an action is going to be taken. That bargaining, as long as it is not legally bribery, includes things like logrolling, horse trading - and yes, even "threats." ("If you don't vote for this tax exemption, I will lobby every member of this body to kill the military base in your district, and your political career will be OVER!!!")

Which leads us to the second problem with this count: the First Amendment.

...The Court said - and this quote is very, very important, so pay attention here: "Coercion of a lawful act by a threat of lawful action is protected free expression." The court said that the statute (back when it lacked the exception discussed above) violated the First Amendment, because it was too vague to put the judge on notice as to when her use of lawful authority to coerce lawful action might be considered to violate the statute.

Volokh says this case appears to govern Perry's situation, and I agree. To the extent that Perry's actions do not fall within the statutory exception - and I think they do - the statute is unconstitutionally overbroad and violates the First Amendment.

Which is a really long way of saying: threatening a veto is a not a felony.

And furthermore in the second charge the prosecutor asserts that Perry's veto itself was a crime:

How does the indictment claim that Perry "misused" government property? Here's what it says, and I am not making this up. It says Perry, "with intent to harm" Lehmberg and her Public Integrity Unit,
intentionally or knowingly misused government property by dealing with such property contrary to an agreement under which defendant held such property or contrary to the oath of office he took as a public servant, such government property being monies in excess of $200,000 which were approved and authorized by the Legislature of the State of Texas to fund the continued operation of the Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County District Attorney's [here the indictment is cut off in every version I have seen, and resumes on page two with the following language, which itself is cut off and almost unreadable] defendant's office as a public servant, namely, Governor of the State of Texas.
Applying a statute directed at a public official's misuse of government funds to a veto of public funds is even more bizarre. Under such a theory, once the Legislature appropriates funds, then they are "held" by the Governor, and if he vetoes their appropriation (and does so with an "intent to harm" the people who were supposed to get the money), that is a "misuse" of public funds - a first degree felony that could send him to state prison, theoretically for the rest of his life. (The punishment would be determined by a left-leaning Travis County jury.) What is the authority for treating public appropriations as property held by the governor? I am aware of none and would be shocked if the statute were interpreted that way.

Which is a long way of saying: issuing a veto is not a felony.

The indictment against Perry is such a groundless, utterly shameless criminalization of politics that the prosecutor, Michael McCrum, and Travis County as a whole should be mercilessly mocked, insulted, and made to feel the pain for supporting officials willing to run the criminal justice system like a banana republic. Here is the letter that Patterico, an prosecutor himself, sent to McCrum:

Mr. McCrum,

You should be deeply ashamed of yourself. This prosecution is a joke. It is perhaps one of the most outrageous abuses of power by a prosecutor I have heard of in years. I'm a prosecutor myself - writing you on my own and not speaking for my office - and I just want you to know that your actions tar good prosecutors everywhere. Thank God you never became U.S. Attorney. I hope you lose quickly and are drummed out of public life in disgrace.

Patrick Frey
Los Angeles

The Perry Indictment: A Travesty of a Mockery

Things You Might Not Know About Travis County Prosecutor Michael McCrum

Apart from other pending misconduct allegations you have this suspicious coincidence:

The next year [2008], he [McCrum] contributed $500 to Republican Robert "Bert" Richardson, a Bexar County district court judge. Richardson assigned McCrum as the special prosecutor after a watchdog group filed its abuse-of-office complaint against Perry.

Continue reading

Posted by Maetenloch at 09:41 PM Comments

Spaced-Out Challenge: The Venus-Jupiter Conjunction

—Brandon Finnigan


Jupiter-Venus conjunction imaged by Dean Regas

Welcome again to the Spaced-Out Challenge! Whether you have a question about equipment, a new astronomical discovery you want to expand on, or just want to kick back and enjoy the cosmos above, come one come all on our weekly astronomical journey.

This week, I'll show you how to catch a beautiful, close conjunction of the two brightest planets early Monday morning. Read on, I'll show you!

Continue reading

Posted by Brandon Finnigan at 09:01 PM Comments

Food Thread: Tabula Rasa Edition [CBD]

—Open Blogger

Yeah....I got nothing. But there's always bacon!


Continue reading

Posted by Open Blogger at 07:05 PM Comments

Gun Thread (8-17-2014)


Another busy Sunday, but here's a quick gun thread for y'all.

The Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect, Illustrated

h/t @CommodoreBTC

The Second Amendment, Illustrated

We'll have much more to say about Ferguson in the weeks to come, but for now let's just do a quick Venn diagram of the "you don't need guns, the police will protect you" and "ZOMFG where did these stormtroopers come from?!?!" members of the left/media (BIRM): 0

Related: Ferguson’s Imaginary Gun Problem

Charles C.W. Cooke Has A Wife And A New Podcast

Congratulations to our friend Charles C.W. Cooke, who got married yesterday.

His new Whiskey & Gunpowder podcast has taken a little break, for obvious reasons, since its debut episode with guest Cam Edwards. It's in the ten ring on the AoSHQ Lifestyle target, so give it a listen when you have a chance. (Also on iTunes)


If there are topics you're interested in seeing in the gun thread, please send them to AoSHQGunThread at gmail. You can also send them to me on Twitter at @AndyM1911.

The owner's manual for your concealed carry permit: The Law of Self Defense

Defend the Second Amendment. Join: The National Rifle Association * Gun Owners of America * The National Shooting Sports Foundation * Your state's second amendment org.

Celebrate America's firearms heritage: participate in Project Appleseed.

Posted by Andy at 05:50 PM Comments

New Thread for Vic Because He Asked Nicely [Y-not]

—Open Blogger

Look, when Moses brings you a pair of tablets with words from the Almighty, you listen.

Similarly, when Vic notes in a thread that it is getting kind of stale, you gotta put up a new one.

Here's some fodder, ripped off from Twitchy:

Continue reading

Posted by Open Blogger at 05:17 PM Comments

I expected nothing, I got even less than that (Gaming thread)

—Gang of Gaming Morons!

Last week was Gamescom and there were some actually decent announcements, if you only read half of the announcment.
Konami is rebooting Silent Hill
It's being headed up by Kojima
Nope, not interested

And it kept on and on like that as the theme of the show.

This, this is awesome

Continue reading

Posted by Gang of Gaming Morons! at 03:00 PM Comments

Sunday Travel Thread: Globe-trotter Edition [Y-not]

—Open Blogger

This is from last year, but I thought it could be fodder for a travel thread:

The WEF [World Economic Forum] gathered the data from late 2011 through late 2012 by asking respondents, "How welcome are foreign visitors in your country?" The WEF explains that the survey results are meant to help "measure the extent to which a country and society are open to tourism and foreign visitors."

According to the data, the top three most welcoming countries for foreigners are, in order: Iceland, New Zealand and Morocco. Other high-ranking countries include the rich and peaceful of the Western world (Ireland, Canada, Austria), a few tourist havens (Thailand, United Arab Emirates), and, for some reason, big parts of West Africa.

The three countries least welcoming to foreigners are, in order: Bolivia, Venezuela and Russia.

Here's the map:

Continue reading

Posted by Open Blogger at 01:01 PM Comments

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Mediaite: Officer ‘Go F*ck Yourself’ Removed from Ferguson Duty
"If you’ve followed Ferguson coverage at all this week, you’re likely aware of video showing an officer pointing his rifle directly at unarmed protestors while threatening 'I will fucking kill you!'" Update: Suspended. [rdbrewer]

Actual Headline: Obama, Outraged Over Beheading, Vows to Stay on Course
It's the New York Times. Via Twitchy. Related. [rdbrewer]

Emily Lakdawalla, The Planetary Society: Curiosity wheel damage: The problem and solutions
Detailed account of what is going on with Mars Curiosity rover's Jiffy Pop foil wheels. [rdbrewer]

Jonah Goldberg: In Ferguson, a Race to Be Wrong
"Legions of activists and commentators have convinced themselves that we know exactly what happened." [rdbrewer]

James Miller: 'SNL' Political Secrets Revealed: Hillary's "Entitlement," the Sketch Obama Killed and the Show's "Karl Rove"
"In an exclusive book excerpt, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and even Sarah Palin recount the inner battle between the left and right." Via @Lachlan. [rdbrewer]

Guilty Until Proven Innocent: Missouri Governor Calls for ‘Vigorous Prosecution’ of Darren Wilson
Outrageous. [rdbrewer]

Popehat: Sunil Dutta Tells It Like It Is About American Policing
"Do we have a justice system? By name, yes. Is it effective in deterring cops from abusing citizens or punishing them when they do? No." Via @Slublog. [rdbrewer]

Fox’s Kurtz: CNN’s Jake Tapper ‘Grandstanding’ in Ferguson
"'This media invasion in Ferguson I think is inflaming the situation because all the agitators want the exposure they see the bright lights, they see the correspondents, some of them are making a name for themselves or openly siding with the protesters.... Some doing a good job, some grandstanding in my view,' Kurtz added." Also from Mediaite: Father of ‘Affluenza’ Teen Arrested for Impersonating a Cop. [rdbrewer]

Jim Geraghty: After ISIS Beheading Video, UK’s Cameron Cancels Vacation, Obama Returns to His Vacation [rdbrewer]
Invisible Animals. The planet's crawling with them!
"Well, I haven't seen any of th... ohhhh!" [ArthurK]
Dead Snow 2 trailer Release date 10/10/2014 [dri]
Daily Mail: Is the SUN driving climate change? Solar activity - 'and not just humans' - could be increasing global warming, study claims
"Researchers in Sweden have, for the first time, shown how solar activity affected the last ice age 20,000 to 10,000 years ago." [rdbrewer]

Andrew Stiles: Every Self-Respecting Human Being Should Hope Sean Eldridge Is Humiliated in November
"Sean Eldridge is a carbetbagging feudal lord who has spent the last several years chain-buying mansions in New York’s Hudson River Valley in an effort to find a congressional district that might elect him...." [rdbrewer]
J. Christian Adams, PJM: ‘Dehumanized’ HuffPost Reporter Ryan Reilly’s Struggle With Facts
"Huff Post’s Ryan Reilly recently had problems telling the difference between ear plugs and rubber bullets. He also has long struggled with telling the difference between fact and fiction." Via @EdDriscoll. [rdbrewer]

Mark Pulliam: The Rick Perry Indictment is Textbook Malicious Prosecution
Via @DoreenHDickson. [rdbrewer]

Wired Magazine calls for Birth Panels
"Europe really is determined to party like it’s 1939, aren’t they? In France, shops of Jewish merchants are having the windows smashed. Meanwhile,’s UK site is exploring another topic that was much in vogue in post-Weimar Germany right around the same time as kristallnacht. 'It’s time to consider restricting human breeding'...." [rdbrewer]
@WilliamAmos: Wil Wheaton is 'the Jar Jar Binks' of the Star Trek universe
Yes. Yes, he is. [rdbrewer]

Leslie Loftis: The Cruel Optimism Of Modern Compassion
"Walsh’s post wasn’t wrong. It was uncomfortably perceptive. I see two exposed nerves that Walsh touched. One, I gather that some Christians have told the mentally ill that they need nothing but God to fix their head." [rdbrewer]

Charlie Martin, PJM: Depression Is No Joke
"Anyone who then imagines that someone like Robin Williams deserves to be reviled in that situation. …. Well, those people deserve to have to live with themselves." [rdbrewer]

Daily Pundit: Eyewitness Confirms that Michael Brown Charged at Police Officer In Ferguson?
Eyewitness says twice that Brown was going back toward the officer. [rdbrewer]

Ed: Pope Francis endorses force to stop ISIS
"This time the Pontiff himself has endorsed military action, but with at least one significant condition...." [rdbrewer]

TheBlaze: Iraqi TV Host Breaks Down Crying On-Air Over What ISIS Has Done to His Country’s Christians
"These are all our countrymen." [rdbrewer]

Noah Rothman: Montana Democrats have made a huge mistake
"State Rep. Amanda Curtis was selected to represent the president’s party in Montana at the top of the ticket in November, and no one was happier about this development than Republicans." [rdbrewer]

International Business Times: 'Iron Spade' - Israel's New Weapon Against Hamas Terror Tunnels
"Israel is believed to be working on its newest weapon system, codenamed 'Iron Spade', in its fight against the sophisticated terror tunnels developed over the years by Hamas.... Sensors, fitted with transmitters, will be installed at key positions to detect any new excavations, and a new generation of robots will be deployed for obliteration of the efforts." Via CDR M. [rdbrewer]
AoSHQ Podcast rss.png itunes_modern.png

This week's guest: Eli Lake

MP3 Download | Ask The Blog | Archives
Dine at the Fawlty Towers Restaurant - with Basil.
And they come to you!
ht @debbywitt [ArthurK]
Steven Pinker, The Guardian: 10 'grammar rules' it's OK to break (sometimes)
"You shudder at a split infinitive, know when to use 'that' or 'which' and would never confuse 'less' with 'fewer' – but are these rules always right, elegant or sensible, asks linguist Steven Pinker." [rdbrewer]

Clickhole: ‘We Don’t Know Where He Came From, But He Did A Great Job’
Steven Spielberg discusses the mysterious, slimy man who played E.T. [rdbrewer]

Joe Piscopo’s confessions of a disillusioned Democrat
"Most disheartening, though, is the Democrats’ weak commitment to a strong defense and maintaining America’s place in the world as the only superpower. All I see is an American foreign policy led by a Democratic administration that is floundering...." [rdbrewer]

Kevin Williamson: Who Lost the Cities?
"Newark, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles — and Philadelphia, Cleveland, and a dozen or more other cities — have a great deal in common: They are the places in which the progressive vision of government has reached its fullest expressions. They are the hopeless reality that results from wishful thinking." Via @JohnEkdahl. [rdbrewer]

Tom Nolan, Defense One: Stop Arming the Police Like a Military
"If there’s anything I know after serving the Boston Police Department for 27 years, it’s this: Good policing is all about trust." Via @TheH2. [rdbrewer]

Politico: Lawmakers scrutinize militarizing local police [rdbrewer]
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