Another Extrajudicial Killing

Mbs+lawofwar

You cannot applaud the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in Iran while condemning the assassination of Khashoggi in Istanbul.

(And it it’s OK for Israel, it’s OK for Saudi Arabia)

A new law of war is needed:

medium.com/@al_mu7am…

Happy Birthday

Ronald Reagan left the White House when he was 77 years old after serving two terms.

Joe Biden today is one year older than Reagan was at the end of his term and getting ready to begin his.

Biden will be 82 at the end of his term.

Sumerian Wind Demons

Sumerian+wind+demons

“There’s no freedom of religion unless you are free to worship Sumerian wind demons”

Francis Scott Key and John Marshall

Francis Scott Key, the author of the Star Spangled Banner, was an attorney in Maryland.

And a slaveowner.

John Marshall, the 13th Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, was a slaveowner too. He owned 150 slaves. He is the intellectual author of the principle of judicial review, found in the seminal case of Marbury v. Madison.

Trump's Post-Presidency

Lets Be Real election puppet special

It looks like Biden is the victor, assuming no court intervention. Whatever happens between now and January 20th, the Press will focus on Trump. They will not admit it, but they will miss him greatly. Unless he runs into Alberto Fujimori on the golf course, Trump will provide reliable entertainment as he has always done. The Press will clutch their pearls and say “how dare he?”

Moreover, Trump will find a way to stay relevant. He will visit foreign capitals and mouth off as usual—stealing the new president’s thunder. Imagine a two-year world tour, à la Ulysses Grant. He would be unable to comply with subpoenas, could not be called to testify, and would wreak havoc wherever he went.

Let’s say Trump were to grant his first post-presidency interview to Howard Stern: how many millions would tune in? It’s quite possible, indeed, as I write this I think it is more and more likely—that Trump will continue to grab the spotlight in new and astonishing ways in his post-presidential career.

Dick Cheney re-invented the Office of the Vice-President. Trump could re-invent the post-presidency. Jimmy Carter devoted his post-presidential years to doing good deeds. Imagine a president who devoted his post-presidential years to further shenanigans, to getting even with the American public.

Trump would be the darling of any out of power foreign administration, giving them continued legitimacy merely because of his appearance. Imagine if Trump were to meet with the Dalai Lama. China would be furious and American reassurances that “he’s only a private citizen” would be ignored by the Chinese, who would see this as some kind of insidious American scheme. Freed of the constraints of the White House, Trump can be relied on to be unpredictable and the unpredictable is dangerous.

Biden would have to beg Trump to behave, making Trump a kind of “senior-president” holding a veto over those policies of the new administration he didn’t like. The Catholic Church has two popes. Why can’t the United States have two presidents? The fact that one is in the White House and the other on Twitter won’t matter to a constituency that increasingly spends most of its time on the Internet anyway. It’s all greenfield—a perfect environment without rules for one who never believed that the rules applied to him anyway. It will be an amazing show and the press will cover every move.

Or, Trump can join Jimmy Carter and build houses for the poor. Yeah, right.

Whatever Biden plans to do, he better do it fast—he will be a one-term president. I say this without any regard for his future policies or popularity, but merely due to his age. After age 60, years are like dog years. Biden will be 83 at the end of his term.

Eighty-three. Maybe there will be an “80 is the new 60” campaign.

Danger Will Robinson: Biden may try to raise taxes significantly, knowing that he doesn’t have to stand for re-election. People voted for Biden not because they were enamored of him or his traditional Democratic policies, but because he wasn’t Trump. What does Biden stand for? What will be the issue de jour that he sets upon and decides to call his own? Wouldn’t it be ironic if Biden turns out to be the real demagogue?

Every move that Biden makes will be attacked by Trump, who will inevitably get the microphone and attention. And that is precisely what he wants. What he so desperately needs.

With Biden in the White House, I expect four years of stasis. The Ship of State will barely move. The Democrats will squabble amongst themselves. The Republicans will say “no” to their “yes.” Expect two full years of new investigations, of Trump, Hunter Biden and others, both known and unknown to the grand jury. These sideshows will consume a great deal of energy but will amount to nothing.

The Post-Presidency

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British Judicial Understatement

In describing an incident where feces were found in the marital bed that Amber Heard shared with Johnny Depp, Judge Andrew Nicol found that it is likely the feces were not human given that Heard’s dog “had an incomplete mastery of her bowels after she had accidentally consumed some marijuana.”

So if someday you are accused of public defecation, point out to the officer that you merely had “an incomplete mastery of your bowels.” The officer is likely to respond with, “Whaat? Did you shit in the street or not?”

It is also good to know that the pooch did not “deliberately” consume marijuana, though I am not sure how His Lordship came to that conclusion.

Who Will Win?

We won’t know on election night and there’s the rub. The courts may give the election to Trump, as they did to Bush in 2000. Things may get violent. Trump will not go quietly. I think there will be several razor-thin elections in different states. It’s too close to call. What I can predict is this: whoever wins doesn’t matter. Nothing will change.

How I Got My Twitter Account Back

Whose Fault?

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When I woke up one morning in June, there was a message from Twitter on my phone, telling me that there was suspicious activity on my account and that they would send an SMS code which I should then enter on the screen to be provided. I clicked “OK” or “Send.”

But no message arrived.

I clicked again. Nothing. And again. Nothing.

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I opened Twitter on my laptop to find that my account had been suspended. I clicked on the blue box now prominently displayed at the bottom of the screen to “Find Out More.” A new window opened, with a form to fill out an inquiry. I filled out the form, pressed “Send” and got a new screen thanking me and saying that under normal circumstances, these issues are resolved in a day or two.

I received an email telling me that my inquiry had been received and registered and that Twitter would address the issue as soon as they were able.

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Time Passes

A few days later, I had received no further message from Twitter and my account was still suspended. I sent a follow-up email which was instantly replied to noting that I had an open inquiry and that the new email would be added to the open inquiry. That was fine with me, so I waited.

And waited some more.

Now a week had gone by. Was I being de-platformed?

De-Platformed?

I do not know what algorithms Twitter uses to place posts in my feed. My standard rule is that if a post shows up in my feed, it is inviting a response. I may or may not respond if I have anything to add to the discussion. Sometimes I do, but usually I don’t.

The subject of de-platforming comes up frequently. There are basically four sides to this argument:

  • de-platforming is censorship, violating the First Amendment
  • de-platforming is not censorship, because Twitter is not the government and the First Amendment only addresses government action
  • a particular person should be de-platformed because he violated Twitter’s ToS and community standards
  • a particular person should not be platformed because de-platforming is in effect censorship or because their posts aren’t that bad or don’t violate Twitter’s community standards.

Proponents of any of these four arguments like to make them. My personal position is that Twitter is not a publisher and should not be a censor. The only ones who should be censored are those who call for censorship. Edge cases can be dealt with in the courts. My personal opinion is but one of millions and there is no reason to give it more credence than anyone else’s.

In my opinion, time has affected these arguments. Twitter is clearly a public place. The president uses it to communicate directly with the people. If the president can do so, so can any other public official. And so can anyone else who disagrees with that public official.

In my opinion, sometimes a platform can become “too big to censor.” Twitter is such a platform. A local chess club bulletin board with news of upcoming events and analysis of recent games is not. No one would argue that the chess club has a right to keep non-chess posts off its site. But Twitter and Facebook are in a different category simply because of their size and reach.

There is no legislation which would eliminate their claimed right to censor. Such legislation is needed to address the situation where a large public forum undertakes to censor information where, if the government were to take the same action, would be considered free speech. It’s not difficult to write such legislation: make the law applicable to platforms with a half million users or more. There’s an equal protection counter-argument here and there would be a great deal of legal squabbling before things settled down.

From time to time I would point out that the largest shareholder of Twitter, other than its founders, is (or was) Saudi Arabia’s Prince Walid bin Talal. I do not believe that Prince Walid ever tried to censor Twitter posts. Nevertheless, it would be difficult for Twitter management to resist an initiative by a major shareholder to ban those critical of Saudi Arabia, critical of Israel, or critical of any other country.

But I have few followers (probably less than one hundred) and I don’t think that either Jack Dorsey or Prince Walid himself feels especially threatened by my comments about de-platforming.

Twittercensors

I hadn’t written anything praising Antifa, inciting armed insurrection, organizing militias or planning bombings. Other than pointing out that Senator Marco Rubio is a Mormon from Utah and not the Cuban refugee he pretends to be to his constituency in Florida, I hadn’t posted anything about religion. I have often criticized the FBI’s use of informants to trap the weak and have written about the Liberty City 7 case in Florida. It is highly unlikely that the FBI felt so threatened by me that they sought to have me censored.

I support the #DignidadLiteraria movement and posted complaints about the Irish-American fantasy novel #AmericanDirt, but if my comments about a Twitter shareholder didn’t merit corporate attention, neither did my posts about these topics. I have written a blog post about George Floyd and the teenagers who “thought” he might have paid with a counterfeit twenty after he left the store and another about Rayshard Brooks which pointed out that deadly force cannot be used to stop a misdemeanant, but both articles were too long for Twitter. I only linked to them. In short, I just wasn’t much of a controversial Twitter user.

So if I wasn’t de-platformed, what was going on?

Meanwhile, I sent another e-mail to Twitter and received the same automated response. No human being had yet reviewed my issue.

June became July and July became August.

Cennshorship

Snowjob

The US Government waited until Carlos Lehder had terminal cancer before fulfilling its promise to permit his transfer to Germany. The promise was made to induce Lehder to cooperate in the prosecution of General Manuel Noriega of Panama. After invading Panama, that prosecution was one the US could not lose. Cooperation deals rained down like a burst piñata.

I wrote the introduction to a book entitled Snowjob, by Carlos Stier, one of Lehder’s erstwhile lieutenants. Lehder’s transfer was world news—news that showed up in my Twitter feed. Repeatedly, post after post, new posts and retweeted posts and commented upon posts. At least one hundred of them.

I commented on about twenty of these, posting this graphic.

Snowjob2

Oops. Twitter thought I was a bot. That’s why they checked and sent the SMS inquiry. When Twitter’s bot thought that I was a bot, it responded by suspending my account. But I wasn’t a bot.

Another email to Twitter was followed by yet another automated response. I tried a new tactic and sent an email to Twitter support. I received a response noting that I had an open inquiry with Twitter and that my new support request would be joined with the open inquiry, an inquiry that, I decided, had determined I was a bot and that there was no need to respond.

For whatever it’s worth, I didn’t even post the same graphic each time.

Snowjob

In a way, I can’t blame Twitter. How many support personnel would you have to hire to deal with millions of users? The labor payroll would be a staggering expense. On the other hand, Google doesn’t seem to have any support personnel at all. There are stories of people losing their passwords and never getting their emails back. The only Google support team exists to sell you advertising. That team is happy to speak with you on the phone and will even try to schedule phone appointments with you that you haven’t asked for. Have you ever tried to get Google on the phone? The only department that takes calls is the legal department and that’s limited to law enforcement emergencies and…

…that gave me an idea. That was the way in.

I’m not law enforcement and I don’t have an emergency, but perhaps the best way to handle this issue was to move it from the cyber world to meatspace, a term I had not even seen for some time.

August became September; September became October.

Snowjob twitter

USPS To the Rescue

I hooked up my occasionally used printer and printed out screenshots and emails. I then wrote a letter and addressed it to Twitter’s Security Department. I looked up the street address, which Twitter helpfully publishes, presumably to assist with law enforcement subpoenas.

I went to the post office where the envelope was stamped and accepted for delivery. I calculated that delivery would take a few days.

There’s Something About Paper

Jay Foonberg is an attorney and author of How to Start and Build a Law Practice, the book most-stolen from law libraries. In that book, he recommends sending clients a copy of all correspondence received and all correspondence sent. Any pleadings filed or received should be copied and mailed to the client. The reason for doing so is not immediately obvious, but there is a clear financial reason to do so: it is difficult for a client to claim “my attorney hasn’t done anything” while staring at a column of paper stacked to the ceiling.

“You have to do something with paper,” Foonberg instructs. “Even if it’s just a question of throwing the paper into the trash, someone has to physically take out the trash.” Paper sits on a desk or hides in a file cabinet taking up space. Until it’s dealt with, paper is an action item. When it sits on someone’s desk paper is a reminder of work not done, not put away, it is there for anyone—and especially a supervisor—to see. In short, paper cannot be ignored.

One week after I mailed my letter, one week after the move from the ethereal to the physical, my account was restored.

Character Evidence

Evidence of good character is relevant in many types of legal proceedings.

How long before the number of Facebook “likes” a person has received can be admitted in evidence as proof of good reputation in a community?

Conversely, how long before the lack of Facebook “likes” constitutes substantive evidence?

Should a person with a million likes and ten million followers be treated the same as a Facebook nobody?

Facebook Obituaries

How long before an obituary records the number of Facebook “likes” a person received during their lifetime?

Jerry Jeff Walker RIP

Vivaterlingua 2

When you’re down on your luck

And you ain’t got a buck

In London, you’re a goner

They say you remain faithful to the music that was popular when you were in middle school for the rest of your life. When I was in middle school, popular music was rock music. The Beatles, the Dave Clark Five, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and those naughty Rolling Stones filled the airwaves whenever they wanted. But sometimes there is room for new musical styles to slip in and take hold. This is a story of one such time.

Later, when I went to college, I lived at Woodward Court, commonly called the “New Dorms” by students who no longer lived there. Popular music then was still rock ’n roll. People hadn’t figured out that the 60s were over. Rock bands still owned the charts. There were different kinds of rock but it was still rock music. Chicago added horns and was getting used to its new name. Led Zeppelin was at its height and had just finished flying around the US in the band’s own jetliner. The Rolling Stones still played to amphitheaters.

These were dancing’s wasteland years. Disco had snuck in and those who wanted to dance turned away from rock to this new music from New York. One day Steve Dahl, a local radio personality, held a “Disco Demolition” event at Comiskey Park on the South Side of Chicago. A crowd that hated everything about Disco burnt vinyl in a bonfire. The event got out of control and Disco was on its way out of musical fashion.

At college there was an evangelist amongst us, one who was not beholden to rock or to disco. He brought from Texas another style of music, a music that none of us had heard before but which somehow caught on, or at least, caught on amongst us.

Even London Bridge

Has fallen down

And moved to Arizona

I thumbed through his records. “What’s that?” I asked, “I’ve never heard it.” I wasn’t the only one. “Just listen,” he answered, “this is what we listen to back home.”

What, if anything, will we be remembered for? Not too long ago I received a letter that noted, “I remember you turned me on to Jerry Jeff Walker.” Today, when asked, “tell me something that no one knows about you” the answer is usually, “I have a secret fondness for country music, especially Jerry Jeff Walker.”

I wanna go home with the armadillo

Good country music from Amarillo

And Abilene.

Music brings back a place and time. How many times do you hear an old song on the radio and are instantly brought back to the place and time where you heard it first, or at least, when the song first ‘stuck?’

Those who shared these experiences hear his voice while reading these lyrics, and on hearing those silent notes in their head, are brought back to a place and time when they shared the secret of Jerry Jeff Walker’s music.

Hovering Around 3100

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For the past six days, the number of active Covid-19 cases in Bahrain has hovered around 3100.

Sick Travelers Game the System

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Sick travelers game the system, putting everyone at risk, to be able to travel to Pakistan. This is what happens in a culture where “gaming the system” is socially acceptable.

Embassies to the Middle East

American cultural embassies to the Middle East:

  • KFC
  • McDonald’s
  • Dunkin Donuts
  • Krispy Creme Donuts
  • Burger King
  • Dairy Queen

Any others?

Travel Dreams

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Travel dreams.

Bug the Fire Extinguishers

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When the CIA bugged the Ecuadorian embassy in London (howdey doodad?) they placed the bugs on the bottom of the fire extinguishers. The fire extinguishers were unlikely to be removed (except every few years) and were unlikely to be touched in the meantime unless there was a fire.

What is Close Contact

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Close contact may not be close contact, and occasional contact may now be close contact.

I guess.

Howda hell diddy get dat?

Howda hell diddy get dat?

Irresistible Force Meets Immovable Object

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Irresistible Force: Blaming the Russians, Cubans, Chinese

Immovable Object: Having to pay your employees’ comp claims.

More: www.gq.com/story/cia…

Bulgarian Chihuaha Smugglers

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Bulgarian chihuahua smugglers operating in Norway may mean the death of this innocent animal.

Lining Up In An Orderly Fashion

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This is what the US has been fighting for in Afghanistan.

Foreign Policy by Indictment

Foreignpolicybyindictment

Childhood

My childhood was typical: summers in Rangoon.

(From Austin Powers)

Americans Can't Extend French Visas, But Chechen Murderers Get Ten Year Residency

Americans can’t extend French Schengen visas, but Chechen murderers get ten year French residency permits.

Something to think about.