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Questions From the Headlines

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Joe Biden: Will he or won’t he?
Signs point to “yes.” And he’ll come in third place until he catches the clue and quits. Remember, Biden’s run twice before, in 1988 and in 2008. Each time he got a lot of wonks and insiders excited, each time he got some great zingers in the debates as well as attracting the attention of the cameras when he stumbled, and each time he failed to excite the actual Democratic primary voters. There is zero reason to think 2016 would be any different.

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Can the Republican Party Survive Trump?
Yes. Pretty clearly. Soon enough the grownups are going to step in and put a stop to all this messy, unseemly populism. Remember, the Republican Party is made up of a coalition of four groups of people: the advocates of, respectively, Jesus!, Guns!, Money! and Moats!. You’d think Trump would attract the attention of Group 3, because he’s One Of Them, but he really isn’t. Donald Trump (2016 version) is a moatdigger, back-dooring into the Jesus! and Guns! crowd by way of rabble-rousing populism. But it’s the Money! faction which ultimately calls the shots because they have, well, money, and Trump is most definitely Not One Of Them. Give it time.

What’s the right police body camera policy?
Presumptively they should be issued to all officers on patrol and presumptively they should be on and recording, all the time while the officer is on duty. (Only reason I can think of to not do this is budgetary; it’ll only help the good cops proving up their collars and in the event of baseless citizen complaints and if it deters bad cops from being bad cops, so much the better.) If the officer switches off the camera, defendant gets a rebuttable presumption that evidence gathered during the “off” time is inadmissible under the exclusionary rule. (Note that “rebuttable” means that the state gets an opportunity to prove that the officer in fact gathered evidence in a Constitutional fashion while the camera was off.) This lets the officer switch off the camera for his own privacy, say when he’s going to the bathroom or for some other good reason, but the specter of the exclusionary rule and an objective record of interactions with citizens should be enough to get police departments motivated to train their people right, and filter out the bad apples before bad press and lawsuits happen.

Should children born in the U.S. be automatically granted U.S. citizenship?
Yes. We put that in the law and the Constitution for a really good reason. A reason that really hasn’t gone away, if you look beyond the superficial. So leave well enough alone.

Who will inherit the New York Times?
Whoever it is, he’ll be younger than me. And richer.

Racial identity of activist questioned but does it matter?
About as much as Rachel Dolezal’s racial identity mattered: if he lied, especially to gain some sort of advantage, then yeah, it matters, to the extent that we’re asked to take his representations of things as true. Otherwise, doesn’t matter much. He’s a journalist. Doesn’t seem like he lied to me: he says his biological father was black, so he’s as much a black guy as is the President of the United States. My question back is, why do we care?

chinese business photo

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How worried should we be about Chinese share price falls?
Evidently, at least moderately, but we ought not panic. The underlying issue of the PRC’s devaluation of the yuan seems like something more worthy of long-term anxiety: it’s a maneuver to keep manufacturing in the PRC so the PRC’s economic vitality stays export-based. But this sort of thing always seems to come out in the wash.

hurricane photoWhy are there fewer big hurricanes?
Why do you say there are fewer big hurricanes? You’re just looking at the Atlantic Ocean, aren’t you? And what, do you want more big hurricanes?

In the Age of ISIS, Can We Still Have ‘Just Wars’?
As much, or as little, as we ever could. I don’t understand how the barbarity of ISIS might change that calculus: if the purpose of going to war is to eliminate human rights abuses, and that makes a war morally justifiable, then the question is why aren’t we going to war whenever we see human rights abuses? And the answer is, as always, human rights abuses are a tissue atop the real reasons for going to war, and our reasons for going to war with ISIS are… murky.

Can a song change the meaning of “Jihad”?
Wait… what?
[Burt takes a moment to RTFA.]
I don’t care.

grizzly bear photoDo Killer Grizzlies Deserve Death?
I actually care more about this than the previous one. And, the answer is immediately obvious: of course not. These are wild animals doing what wild animals do. Not to blame the victim so much, or suggest I might react differently in a surprise and stress situation, but the hiker who found himself challenged by the bear protecting her cubs reacted improvidently (sadly, a fatal mistake) by trying to run away. If you’re under attack by a bear, you can’t outrun it any more than you can beat it in a fistfight. Usain Bolt couldn’t outrun a bear, at least not for the short distances that would matter in such a situation: bears can sprint faster than horses can run. The best defense is pepper spray, and if you don’t have it handy, then back slowly away to demonstrate that you do not want to threaten the bear. The solution is to educate wilderness users about how to react to bears. I’m a very casual recreation user of wilderness areas and it didn’t take me long to learn this. Meanwhile, these aren’t exactly common animals in the wild, particularly in the lower 48 states and culling rare animals out of the wild to preserve human life seems like a last resort for which there really isn’t any imperative.

 

Burt LikkoBurt Likko is the pseudonym of an attorney in Southern California and the managing editor of Ordinary Times. His interests include Constitutional law with a special interest in law relating to the concept of separation of church and state, cooking, good wine, and bad science fiction movies. Follow his sporadic Tweets at @burtlikko, and his Flipboard at Burt Likko.

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119 thoughts on “Questions From the Headlines

  1. I’m gonna say that your Biden answer should be “No”. A Biden-run is nothing more than the masturbatory fantasies of bored journalists. The Democratic race is dull to begin with this year, it’s August (when nothing happens), so journalists forced to cover the Donkey primary are basically engaging in really wishful thinking.

    Absent some game-changer, Biden ain’t running. You know how I know? He’s not hired any staff, he hasn’t raised any money, and he’s got nobody on the ground anywhere. And it’s August already. Not happening, no matter how much more fascinating it is than reality.

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    • Agreed, we’re at what I suspect is peak Hillary perceptions of weakness, it’s crazy slow news in Team Blue land and the journalists do -not- want a coronation.. so Bidenmani or Biden is just bidin’ his time. It’s a whole lot nothing. Running for the nod is a lot of work and Biden just hasn’t laid down the infrastructure yet.

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      • we’re at what I suspect is peak Hillary perceptions of weakness

        I’m not sure such a thing is possible. It’s the only reason it might be good for Biden and Bernie to be standing behind the velvet curtain.

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        • Assuming, (praying, let’s be honest, I’d like H to succeed) that Hillary has no further problems under a rug or the like I’d presume we’re at peak “emailgate” nonsense. So, barring either a new problem popping up or her turning in a horrific performance in some necessary campaigning procedure I am hopeful that we’re at Peak Hillary Perception of Weakness; I also suspect we’re at it now because Hillary’s people wanted it to go that way. It’s a good time to be shaking all the bugs out. Plenty of time yet for the media to freak over it and everyone to simply tune it out.

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    • I’m quite in agreement that there’s no campaign infrastructure. I’m not sure there couldn’t be in time for Iowa. I’m also pretty confident that Biden really wants to be President and his ego tells him he’d be a better President than Hillary and he’s probably surrounded by people who like him and see no downside to telling him what his ego wants to hear. Then he takes that meeting with Senator Warren, who probably is telling him that there’s a hunger for someone more genuinely liberal than Hillary and who can be taken more seriously than Sanders. So, ego plus a perception of opportunity plus a lot of consultants and fundraisers still not attached to a campaign… I figure, reasonable chance in that environment that he jumps in the pool to test the waters.

      Besides, by the same logic that Sanders running is somehow good for the eventual Clinton candidacy, wouldn’t a Biden challenge be even better for HRC?

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      • Good or bad for the Democrats, it simply isn’t happening. He’s not DOING anything, and he’d have to be if he was even considering it. He’s not even dipping his toe in the waters. As best I can tell, he’s sitting way back from the pool with his shoes on while a handful of people are screaming “I’M BORED. MAKE THE VP JUMP IN”.

        He’s literally done nothing to indicate he’s even vaguely thinking about it.

        That’s where I keep running aground. Various pundits seem to be speculating wildly, but Biden himself seems to be….being VP and pretty much absent from the ‘running for an election’ game.

        Like I said, it’s August. If he was even idly considering it, he’d be doing something besides his day job.

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    • Heh. Anyone can do it — I just scoured news and news-like sites for headlines written in the form of questions on the theory that they were more hooks to lure in readers than actual descriptors of the information within the article. Surprising how much hard news I actually found under the headlines-phrased-in-the-form-of-questions.

      Then I answered them, and included a PSA about surviving grizzly bear attacks because I’m charitable that way.

      Maybe we can make it a rotating feature, a different front pager doing it once a week?

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  2. Biden is not bidin his time. He’s just enjoying some pleasant cuddling from a desperate bored press corps.

    Agreed, there is zero doubt that Trump and the Trumpkins have no more a shot at the GOP nod than I have. That said the active question is whether the Trumpkins can make a big enough stink or require so much lead to put down/tame that it generates ripples and waves that will last to the main show and damage the eventual nominee.
    I’m inclined to say yes. At a very minimum any GOP hope of outreach to Latinos is pretty fished up unless Trumps ouster involves a right wing sistah soljering of the Trumpster in public. That seems highly unlikely considering how plugged into the raving base Trump is. Clinton had it easy in that when he went after SS he was taking aim at someone that was not necessarily that popular with African Americans in general. That ain’t something you can say about the Trumpkins.
    So even assuming the GOP can engineer Trump losing without him running a spoiler third party candidacy and without turnout poisoning bitterness in the base they’ve already taken a hit on their reelection prospects.

    I keep zigzagging back and forth on China. Their currency manipulation doesn’t bother me so much, they’re basically giving away their currency, effectively subsidizing us to use their GDP. That’s not a bad deal for Americans in the big picture. Really it hurts their labor competitors more and it’s kind of paddling against the current. Their goal is to develop their economy sufficient to raise living standards and head off dissatisfaction. The problem is developing economies labor prices increase. China’s really big problem is their financial sector is a labyrinthine mess where money goes to disappear. You can’t build a consumer economy if there’s no good way for the population to save or invest to say nothing about foreign investment. Of course their governance is only a couple steps behind their financial sector in labyrinthine messiness so ish.. not a good situation to be in considering their ecological chickens are beginning to come home to roost hard core.

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  3. As to Trump, the grownups have much less control since Citizens United. There is nothing except Trump himself to stop Trump from running. And the nano-second spat between Trump and Fox shows pretty clearly that so long as he drives ratings he drives coverage.

    I think that Trump has the potential to be as big of a deal as Obama, albeit in a very different way. He speaks to a portion of the electorate that has voted Dixiecrat/Republican for a generation and has gotten very little in return. Liberals have largely won the cultural wars (poor women having difficulty getting abortions just ain’t the same as partial birth abortion bans or gay marriage) and the moneyed class have set policy on taxes and immigration for years. If you’re white, socially conservative and struggling economically, who besides Trump is talking to you?

    So not only does he have the capacity to bring out disaffected voters and non-voters, he has the capacity to motivate the opposition to get its voters and, critically, new voters out to the polls. (Like Obama did.)

    And with an ego as large as his, how does he bow out? Can anyone picture him giving the classic defeated politician speech about his message not resonating with the voters, and the greater importance of coming together as a party to defeat the Democrats?

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    • I am not going to take the Trumpkins seriously until I see some GOP primary voters actually vote for him. That said his capacity to poison, blow up and otherwise raise cain in the GOP’s henhouse is undeniable. God(ess?) every time the subject comes up I get a hankering for popcorn something fierce.

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  4. In the grizzly piece, I have to wonder who wrote the Park Service’s line “It’s a national park, not a wildlife preserve.” Yellowstone is significantly bigger than the state of Delaware; there are multiple interacting ecosystems; it’s one of the sites where we chose to re-introduce northern gray wolves; it’s a national park, but it’s also a stupendous wildlife preserve once you get away from the roads and day hikers).

    When I lived on the East Coast, I discovered that there was a language gap between me and the majority of the people living there: when they said “national park” they had a vision of a something well kept, of modest size, and safe. They had trouble with the idea that even in the maintained portions along the roads in Yellowstone, there were things that could kill you. Even more so with the concept that (a) you could hike for two or three days away from the roads and still be in Yellowstone and (b) once you were away from the roads, there were even more things that could kill you (eg, hypothermia two days away from care is not to be taken lightly).

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    • Michael,
      Yes, it IS a national park. We have different regs for them than National Forests for a reason.
      I’ve known people who went up to Acadia in hurricane season. That wasn’t safe. At all. Imagine involuntarily going round in circles on ice on top of a mountaintop, trying to skate off the edge of the ice slick…

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    • So can a set of bells laced in your boots, making a reasonable amount of noise as you walk along, and knowing how to behave if you do encounter a bear. Statistically, you’re in more danger from lightning in the western national parks than you are from bears. To be honest, I’d worry a lot more about a national park full of people carrying a loaded “big ass caliber gun” than I would about grizzlies. Guns get dropped; people fall; sh*t happens.

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      • Indeed. My comment wasn’t a recommendation that everyone should start carrying in national parks. You always have to factor in the “human element” of stupidity. Probably the most dangerous animal to humans in a national park is the human: standing on the edge of a cliff face, hiking in the desert without enough water, etc.

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          • Or taking a picture of a bull elk, in rutting season, in down town Bampf FROM 6 FEET AWAY.

            Yeah, I saw this..not in person. The elk was making all kinds of “back off” signs and this woman continued creeping up on him. I was expecting her to be disembowel right on the main street.

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            • When I was ~17 in Nebraska, I was approaching a group of 10-12 bison on foot across open short-grass prairie from downwind. About the time that I got close enough for the bull to start paying attention, it finally got through to even my male teen-aged brain that this was not a smart thing to do.

              Since then I’ve been a big fan of really long lenses for nature pictures.

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              • Indeed. I’m even having second thoughts about going back to africa for a photo safari. Recently a lion killed a guide in zimbabwae. The guide got in front of the charging lion and saved the rest of the group. Officials were still determining whether or not the guide discharged his rifle before he was killed or the lion was upon him before he could fire.

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  5. Trump is, after all, the guy who once observed that a wealth tax would raise a lot more money and be a lot fairer than an income tax. That will never be forgiven nor forgotten by the Money! boys.

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  6. Racial identity of activist questioned but does it matter?

    Very much. If he’s black and upset about about black people being killed by police, he’s merely a racist. If he’s white and upset about it, he’s a Social Justice Warrior. You know what they’re like.

    Anyway, Breitbart has to hype stories like this. It’s about ethics in gamey journalism.

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      • “Soon enough” is an unspecific prediction, of course. But I think that the smartest insight I’ve seen on Trump so far is that having him around is Jeb’s best long-term strategy. Jeb may want Trump to take out more plausible contenders for the rabid right vote, thinking he’d rather get into a one-on-one fight with Trump than Cruz. This leaves Jeb only having to beat out the likes of Walker, Rubio, Paul, Fiorina.

        If that were to happen, then “soon enough” could mean April. But that’s not really soon enough for me to credit this as a prediction that’s distinguishable from “Trump’s not going to win.”

        OTOH, you could be right that they start to try to take him down in earnest before Halloween and look to had the job done New Year’s.

        So, just negative ads and rough treatment in the debates, then?

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            • If he’s talking about the relatively rare “let’s take a trip to the US and incidentally give birth there” thing (birth tourism, is that what it’s called?) that’s…well, it’s frankly trying to thread a needle using something 99.5% of the electorate hasn’t heard of. Which is a kinda amateur move anyways — if you have to go into deep background to explain your pithy point, it’s no longer pithy. Or useful.

              To add to it — the way he phrased it was….inartful.

              So to the casual listener (and to the viewer of the occasional ad-buy) you find Jeb, the man angry about all them Asians coming to the US.

              Which means that Jeb added “Asian Americans” to the list of minority groups potentially cheesed off at the GOP’s xenophobia.

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            • Yeah. Honestly it’s like none of them have ever campaigned before. If they were ALL from, say, deep-red districts where the actual election was the primary I’d get it.

              But at least a few of them have, theoretically, had to win elections in which they had significant opposition from another party.

              Then again, there’s that non-Presidential year turnout stuff. That affects everyone, and probably screws with both parties. We’re a bipolar nation. :)

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                • My point exactly. It’s like the GOP primary strips competence away.

                  Then again, maybe the armchair psychoanalysis is right — maybe Jeb is just running out of duty. He’s certainly not acting like someone who wants the title. Either that or he’s just incredibly rusty and unwilling to shape up.

                  That flub about his brother’s war does not appear to be a one-off.

                  Walker, Christie, and Perry’s particular brands I can get — some stuff just works better on the state level and wears incredibly thin on the national level. But you’d think Jeb would at least have the connections to tutor him up for the big leagues.

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  7. Is anyone assessing whether a Biden run makes any sense based on how big his likelihood to win is? Why then does it make any more sense to conclude it doesn’t make sense because he might come in third?

    The reasons a Biden run makes sense for the party:

    – He’s simply earned the right to be supported in a decision to run. The level of experience in national government is unmatched in the party and almost unmatched in the country among genuine potential candidates.

    – There presently just aren’t enough candidates in the race. The debate stage is going to look disconcertingly empty as the field presently stands, like no one even wants the nomination. (When in fact they’ve all been pushed out of the race by a dominant force.)

    – Because there aren’t enough candidates, there isn;t enough diversity of views. You might say that Clinton presents Biden’s views in a stronger political package, and in a larger field you’d be right. But in a field this small, even small differences (an their differences on foreign policy aren’t that small) are useful for the party to have a public, coordinated discussion about.

    – Broadly (except on a few issues where it’s documented that his counsel was different from the course taken, but even potentially there), Biden can serve as the lead, unambiguous advocate for the Obama record. The serves two purposes for the party: 1) it gets that task done, which is one the party should want done during the course of the election, but 2) it lets other candidates off the hook of doing that, and gives them room to develop space between themselves and the administration in a way that doesn’t just throw out the parts of the record that particular candidate wants to distance her(!)self from.

    – Showcasing Biden’s early support for same-sex-marriage should be a political no-brainer.

    – The party would almost certainly look to him to be the backup if anything were to force Hillary out of the race. It wouldn’t serve the party for him not to have his campaign infrastructure in place were that eventuality to come about.

    The reasons for the party to be dubious:

    – Foot-in-mouth/handsiness. YMVs on this one. I think enough people see these things as facets of his personal warmth and genuineness that the problem is mitigated considerably, but, yeah, YMMV.

    – He’d be older than Reagan when he takes office. Again, YMMV. He seems sharp and energetic to me, and, anyway, he’s not going to win, right? So what’s the problem. AND anyway anyway, per above, he’d be the go-to if Hillary were to go down, so I guess he’s young enough in a pinch.

    -He needs to be sure he’s up to it emotionally; that grief over Beau will have passed enough to allow him to devote enough of his energy to campaigning and, should the unforeseen happen, governing. This, from what I can tell, is the one major thing that has kept him out of the race this long.

    I think these considerations strongly indicate that the Democratic Party should want Biden in the race, al things considered, provided that grief over the loss of his son has passed enough that he can devote the appropriate energy to the process (and job should it come to it).

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  8. From what I understand, the point of the bear thing is that you don’t want bears learning that human beings don’t have claws or teeth worth mentioning and you certainly don’t want them teaching their young that human beings don’t have claws or teeth worth mentioning.

    This isn’t a case of a tourist running up to a bison and putting it in a headlock during a selfie and, subsequently, getting gored.

    A bear that hunts humans and gets away with it is a bear that will teach its cubs to hunt humans.

    Now, maybe that’s not that big of a deal, at the end of the day.

    But “natural” is not, in itself, a virtue.

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    • My understanding is *somewhat* similar; the theory is that an apex predator like a lion or tiger or bear (particularly one which may be older or wounded/ill, or otherwise not as fit as it should be) may develop a “taste” for humans (they learn that we are slow and weak and and soft and easy to catch/kill, when compared to an antelope).

      This is not a lesson we want an individual animal to learn, nor pass on. (There’s maybe also an argument that a particularly-aggressive animal may pass on its aggressive genes).

      I’m OK with handling these things on a case-by-case basis: a hiker who gets killed because he inadvertently came between a mama bear and her cubs (and so his killing might well be a one-off) is not necessarily a reason to kill that grizzly.

      But a repeat offender, or one that does not appear to have a clear “self-defense” claim for itself or its cubs (one that appears to be stalking humans for food or fun), might need to get put down.

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    • For as long as humans are allowed to hunt bears in order to skin them and make them into a rug or other trophy, I say humans should be fair game for bears to eat.

      And why not? Are humans so precious that we must kill anything that dares to kill a human? Or, his noodly appendage forfend, develop a taste for humans and teach its cubs to do so?

      But “human” is not, in itself, a virtue.

      ====

      So much Political Correctness and Conventional Wisdom for a blog that prides itself on denigrating PC culture and Conventional Wisdom.

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      • It need not be a ‘humans are precious’ argument at all.

        It can be an ‘all apex predators are territorial and competitive, and we are the apex predators with guns, so don’t mess with us’ argument.

        Top of the food chain and opposable thumbs have their benefits.

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        • There are many pretty and winning things about the human race. It is perhaps the poorest of all the inventions of all the gods but it has never suspected it once. There is nothing prettier than its naive and complacent appreciation of itself. It comes out frankly and proclaims without bashfulness or any sign of a blush that it is the noblest work of God. It has had a billion opportunities to know better, but all signs fail with this ass. I could say harsh things about it but I cannot bring myself to do it – it is like hitting a child.

          – Mark Twain

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          • I do not wish to elevate humanity above nature; we are part of nature, red in tooth and claw. I do not assign moral culpability to a bear killing a human; it’s what a bear might do.

            And in response, a human animal might kill the bear; it’s what a human animal might do. I’m not a vegetarian, and I believe these canines in my mouth have purpose.

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      • They can kill us, we can kill them. If we follow this to its natural conclusion I think we know how this comes out.

        Which leaves us in the position to draw our lines on the circumstances under which we feel okay killing them

        This discussion isn’t really about the sanctity of human life. Ultimately.

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        • If we follow this to its natural conclusion I think we know how this comes out.

          How does it come out? Buddhists with Uzis? Not everyone is a crazed gun owner, Mr. Truman.

          This discussion isn’t really about the sanctity of human life. Ultimately.

          This discussion isn’t really about the sanctity of animal life. Ultimately.

          ===

          I’ll make a guess that the argument is:

          Bears kill. Humans are better at killing. If we don’t stop the bears from killing, then we’ll end up being forced to kill all the bears.

          That still doesn’t answer why, other than an implied “humans are worth more than bears”.

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            • Even treating it solely as a natural phenomenon, I don’t see why eliminating a known dangerous bear should automatically be out of bounds. We can fill in the rock pit so that nobody else falls into it. That doesn’t mean that we think we are “better” in any meaningful way than a rock pit. It just means we are animals, with a self-preservation instinct for ourselves and our young.

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            • Sooooo, the TL;DR is “humans are worth more than bears”?

              Is there a list somewhere showing what is worth more than other things? Is it in the Bible? Is there a human Department that handles these lists? How often is it updated?

              The only thing you seem to be saying (over and over) is that humans are better at killing, which means we get to kill other things as much as needed to stop those things from killing humans. Which makes me think that you are saying that humans are worth more than any animal that might kill humans. Why? What gives us that right? That we have guns?

              What a poor and silly argument, if that’s all it is.

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              • JHG, let us for the sake of argument hypothesize that bears lives are more valuable than humans.

                That point so stipulated can you not acknowledge that humans, by and large, consider their own lives and the lives of their fellow humans as worth more than bears? I would think this is pretty evident.

                With those two positions in hand then we must consider the matter of bear killing. If a bear kills a human repeatedly this both results in humans viewing bears very negatively and potentially spreading this behavior to multiple bears which will result in more humans being killed.

                As stipulated in our first hypothetical point the dead humans have no weight on our conscience. Consequentially, however, humans in general will react to this spreading phenomena of bear killings by either
                A) exterminating all bears that kill humans or even worse B) exterminating bears in general.
                Since, in this scenario, we ascribe considerable moral value to the lives of bears and no moral value to the lives of humans we would consider either of these outcomes highly undesirable.

                So, if a bear is killing humans we would, logically, with an eye towards consequences, have two possible paths to follow.
                -Either cull the single human killing bear to prevent that behavior and prevent it from spreading and precipitating a lethal anti-bear backlash or
                -Convince the majority of humans to change their minds on the value of their lives and the lives of their fellow humans and ascribe greater weight to the lives of bears.

                Since the former option has a high probability of succeeding and the latter option has a hell freezing over probability of succeeding then a rational person who is ascribing no value to human life and maximal value to bear life would still, regretfully, agree that culling human killing bears is the least-bad option.

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                • Given the scenarios and stipulations, I agree, North. In the closed system you have presented, I am forced to agree with you that killing the human-killing bear is the choice I would advocate for. It is this simple scenario that humans usually stop at when thinking about this, though you have presented it very thoughtfully, I think.

                  However…

                  The system is much larger than the two scenarios you present. You must present a simplified version of the system in order to make a point and to have a chance to analyze and reach a conclusion in blog comments.

                  However…

                  I am concerned that getting into a discussion of “the system” is quite a large undertaking. One that I have ventured into, time and again. There are old threads on the site where I have done it.

                  I don’t want to hijack Mr. Likko’s thread, nor do I have the time or interest to really delve into it in blog comments.

                  However…

                  With that said, there are other aspects of the system that are easy to start including, as well as some questions that are difficult to answer:

                  Aspects to include in the analysis:
                  – Habitat loss and degradation caused by humans
                  – Effects of pollution and toxicity on the biology, development and hormonal levels of animals (there are many kinds of pollution, not just poisons. Noise pollution and light pollution also exist)
                  – Holocene Extinction
                  – Climate Change and the radical changes in our biosphere (air, water, and soil have all changed)

                  Questions that are difficult to answer:
                  – How many humans should be on the planet?
                  – What is the effect on the system, and individual species, when a species goes extinct?
                  – How many species are needed for various ecosystems to keep the system healthy in the long term?

                  I’ll leave this here for now.

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                • And, this argument can be (and has been) used to justify any number of truly horrible things.

                  Of course, I’m referring to the horrible things that humans do to other humans.

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        • Do we always know what motivates a bear to attack a human? Are we always sure when the attack is to protect cubs and when it is not?

          This divide seems grey to me.

          I’m a father. I’d say over 99% of what motivates me is protecting myself, my mate and my cubs in an uncertain world. Even when I’m not being chased by a bear or a rabid human with a gun.

          I would argue that all bets are off (concerning the bears action) most of the time, because we don’t know if cubs/mate are part of the motivation.

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          • This divide seems grey to me.

            Which is why decisions about culling the animal population should be left to the professionals.

            I’m almost unequivocally on the side of the bears here. Also on the side of the rattlesnakes, bull moose and elk, bison, etc. And lightning, which is more likely to kill you in a national park than any of the animals. Not to mention freedom to drive to the parks, which is far more likely to kill you than animals and lightning combined. Most people visiting a national park or national wilderness area won’t encounter bears (and most likely will encounter mooching black bears*). Most bear encounters are not fatal. We can afford to have some spaces left where the rules are stacked in favor of the wildlife.

            * Often taught bad habits by people feeding them. My own opinion is that anyone caught feeding the animals in a national park should have their visitation privileges removed, immediately and permanently.

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  9. Mr. Likko, you avoid mentioning the real 4 groups of people making up the Republican party, via elision-obfuscation. Namely:

    Jesus!, Guns!, Money! and Moats!

    This is ludicrous. Of course, the correct list is:

    Jesus!, Guns!, Money! and Whites!

    They want Jesus, and moar Jesus! They want Guns, and moar Guns! They want Money, and moar Money! They don’t want Moats. That is only a symptom of the disease.

    And make no mistake, Republicans are diseased.

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      • I’m counting War! as a subset of Guns! because war necessarily involves guns, but not all Gun! lovers want war. A great many of them are retired or reserve military, or close to the same, and know firsthand the horror and cost of war. A strain of the Guns! crowd are downright isolationist. But they all lurve them some Guns!.

        I’m also counting Whites! as a subset of Moats! because while some moatdiggers are indeed motivated by a desire to Keep America White*, others are really more motivated by a desire to Keep America American, in a culturally-sensitive way rather than a melanin-sensitive way. It’s not that they dislike people browner than themselves, particularly, it’s that they really prefer ketchup to salsa, English to Mandarin, quarts to liters (or worse, litres), and Fourth of July to Cinco de Mayo. They dislike seeing quinoa on the shelves of their grocery store, hearing about ex-Presidents practicing veganism, Bansky, millenial ambisexuality, New Atheism, and guava-flavored bubble gum. Those sorts of things are fine in exotic foreign lands like Canada and Belgium; but the way we did things in the 1950’s comes not only with the comfort of familiarity but a track record of (what they see as) economic, cultural, and military success. “Welcome to America!,” they say to the new, brown arrivals (with visas), “Our ancestors were immigrants, too and we hope you succeed here! Please don’t try to change how our community works in anything but a superficial way — our job is to welcome you, which we’ve now done, and your job is to assimilate in the same way that you must obey the laws.”

        But, as always, YMMV. I can easily understand how sees the obnoxiouser subset of moatdiggers as functionally the entirety of them; they are both the loudest and the most photogenic subset.

        * The Keep America White mission is necessarily going to fail. Because demographics. At some level, they know they’re simply fighting a rear-guard, delaying action doomed to failure. Perhaps that’s part of the reason why this crowd seems to buy into the Lost Cause of the Confederacy myth so heavily.

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        • Not sure what you mean here, Mr. Likko:

          the obnoxiouser subset of moatdiggers

          According to this from Rasmussen: http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/immigration/august_2015/voters_want_to_build_a_wall_deport_felon_illegal_immigrants

          The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 70% of Likely Republican Voters agree with the GOP presidential hopeful that the United States should build a wall along the Mexican border to help stop illegal immigration. Seventeen percent (17%) of GOP voters disagree…

          […]

          Among all likely voters, 51% favor building a wall on the border; 37% disagree…

          […]

          Only 30% of Democrats favor building a wall, compared to 57% of unaffiliated voters.

          The U.S. is ~65% White, so 70% (Republicans) comports nicely with that figure.

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          • Well, we’re not tracking each other here, ; US is most assuredly not 70% Republican. AFAIK, it’s around 40% or so (and falling). I know dozens of Republicans who truly don’t care about skin color, so much as cultural affinity.

            And very clearly not all white people advocate building a fence or other physical barriers on the Mexican border: I’m a white dude, for one, and I think the notion of a border fence is a ridiculous and masturbatory waste of money from concept to execution, the most perfect conceivable example of a way to light our money on fire so some people can feel better without actually accomplishing or doing anything of any appreciable impact on the problem it’s purportedly intended to solve. (Worse, I don’t see the problem that a border fence is purportedly intended to solve as a problem to begin with.)

            About the only people who would conceivably benefit from the creation of a border fence are cinderblock and rebar manufacturers. I’m not about to vote for my tax dollars being funneled out in the form of corporate welfare to Big Cinderblock.

            So while I’m a lot more like a Democrat than a Republican in thinking that way (see below), opposition to or support for a border fence may not reliably be traced to European ancestry.

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            • My apologies for the confusion I have caused.

              I didn’t understand who you were referring to with “the obnoxiouser subset of moatdiggers”.

              The 70% figure was the percentage of Republicans that said we should build a wall (your moatdiggers), not the percentage of Republicans in the U.S.

              I can only find some older data, but 2012 data from Gallup says that Republicans are 89% White (2% Black, 6% Hispanic, 1% Asian, 1% Other, 1% No Designation).

              In my response, I was saying “moatdiggers = whites, mostly”. You seemed to be saying that it’s only the more obnoxious part of the country that wants a moat (You wrote: “I can easily understand how JHG sees the obnoxiouser subset of moatdiggers as functionally the entirety of them; they are both the loudest and the most photogenic subset.”). I was saying that more obnoxious part of the moatdiggers is mostly whites. 70% of Republicans (70% of 89% White ~= 63% Whites) ~~ 65% Whites in the country (at the bottom of my comment)

              ====

              In America, in my experience, when one is white and you talk about being “culturally sensitive” (as you do above about people defending Keep America American) you really mean “the dominant white culture must be maintained above all else”. Ask a Republican to describe an American and they will include White in the answer almost every time. Also, Christian. Ask them what they are afraid of and they will say “losing American culture”, which is just a way of saying “losing White culture”.

              As you say, ymmv.

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