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Trumpwatch: on prioritizing Christian refugees

A less discussed feature of the Mr. Trump’s much discussed travel ban from January 27, 2017 (See full text here) [1] imposes a temporary (120 day) ban on the US Refugee Admissions Program [USRAP]. The suspension can be found in section 5 of that order. Section 5, subsection B contains the following language:

Upon the resumption of USRAP [US Refugee Admissions Program] admissions, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, is further directed to make changes, to the extent permitted by law, to prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality [emphasis added by GC]. Where necessary and appropriate, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security shall recommend legislation to the President that would assist with such prioritization.

Subsection E has this language,

Notwithstanding the temporary suspension imposed pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may jointly determine to admit individuals to the United States as refugees on a case-by-case basis, in their discretion, but only so long as they determine that the admission of such individuals as refugees is in the national interest — including when the person is a religious minority in his country of nationality facing religious persecution [emphasis added by GC], when admitting the person would enable the United States to conform its conduct to a preexisting international agreement, or when the person is already in transit and denying admission would cause undue hardship — and it would not pose a risk to the security or welfare of the United States.

These clauses seem to prioritize admitting Christian refugees in preference to Muslim refugees. As far as I know, the refugees the US is most likely to receive right now come from Muslim-majority countries. That fact (if it is a fact) suggests Christian refugees have one more tool to draw on than Muslims do when claiming asylum. These clauses also reinforce Mr. Trump’s statement elsewhere, on the Christian Broadcasting Network, that he intends to prioritize Christians over others when it comes to admitting refugees [2].

On balance I think this preference is probably a bad thing. But it’s a closer call than I believed at first.

Is this constitutional?

That question is more for the lawyers in the audience, although my lack of legal training won’t prevent me from answering. There’s a lot I’d need to know, that I don’t know, to answer that question. The practical function of these religious exemptions would be to prioritize Christian refugees over Muslim ones. Whatever one thinks of such prioritization as policy, I don’t think it’s a slam dunk to say that it’s unconstitutional. Here, by “unconstitutional” I mean a federal court will strike it down.

My layperson’s understanding is that the federal judiciary grants wide latitude to the executive and to Congress in determining who gets let into the country. My layperson’s understanding might be incorrect. But I can imagine a non-specious argument to support the above-referenced clauses from the EOs in court. That argument would run like this:

  1. Religious persecution is a legitimate reason to grant asylum.
  2. Religious persecution must be defined somehow.
  3. Limiting “religious persecution” to minority religions is a commonsense way to make that definition, inasmuch that a member of a majority religion is unlikely to be persecuted because he or she is a member of that religion.
  4. The language of this exemption would enable members of other religions, including Muslims, to request asylum for religious reasons presuming they are fleeing states in which Islam is a minority religion.

If it so happens that the “the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality” language has been a standard test used by past administrations (and I don’t know if it is), then one can advance a point number 5 to the argument above that the EO is only following precedent.

Even if such language is standard practice and even if courts have generally deferred to the “political branches” on such matters, standard practice and deference can change. But I do think that speaking strictly in legal terms, it’s not at all clear to me that this portion of the EO is unconstitutional.

More things I don’t know

In a discussion Over There on this matter, I was notified of a few things I didn’t even realize I didn’t know. I had trouble finding the exact comment, but someone suggested that “refugee status” and “asylum status” are different things. I didn’t know that.

In another thread, or subthread, some people argued that I misconceived of how asylum/refugee status gets assigned and suggested that pre-Trump, the standard practice and statutory/treaty obligations were to grant asylum for religious persecution because people are targeted for their religion, regardless of whether theirs is a minority religion. Those comments–right or wrong, probably neither wholly one or the other–are further reminders that I’m not an expert in the legalities or the history of the matter.

But it’s a bad idea anyway

While I’m not prepared to say those portions of the EO are unconstitutional (again, using my constricted definition of “unconstitutional” as “something a federal court will likely strike down”), I’m prepared to say those exemptions are bad ideas.

My first concern is practical. As some said in the above-mentioned Ordinary Times subthread, the “religious minority” standard seems to assign to immigration officials the duty to define what is and isn’t a minority religion. How much does a religious practice have to differ from that of the majority to constitute a new religion? Can someone who practices a non-standard form of Islam (say, e.g., Wahabbism) claim religious asylum because it’s a “minority religion”? Is there some sort of creed people have to profess? Do they have to know how to say “shibboleth” [probably safe for work, but it is a Youtube video]?

My other concern builds on the practicalities. Does this impose in practice a religious test? To me, a religious test for obtaining asylum strikes me as wrong. If we generally accept applications for asylum for religious persecution, perhaps those who apply ought to demonstrate they face persecution for their religion, but ought not to have to demonstrate they profess a certain religion as a precondition.

But still I hedge my bets

In the original draft of this post, I contemplated saying the “Christian preference” clauses appeal to Christians who believe the Golden Rule comes with an asterisk:

Do unto others* as you would have others do unto you.

*….unless those others aren’t Christian, then do whatever the hell you want.

But two concerns suggest my inclination to oppose those clauses of the EO is not quite as defensible as I thought.

First, my “ought’s” here conflict with each other. What if a non-Christian is persecuted because they are believed to be Christian? Ought that person be able to claim religious asylum even though they’re not persecuted for “their” religion?

Second, what if a religious group or ethno-religious group faces persecution directed specifically at it? In that case, it doesn’t strike me as beyond the pale bad for the US to adopt a policy to help members of that group and it doesn’t strike me as beyond the pale bad to define that policy in such a way as to make it easier for them to claim asylum.

Consider this comment from Phil Ebersole at Unqualified Offerings:

….I have no problem with prioritizing Christian refugees, if that is the intent [of the clauses I mentioned above, which I had introduced into discussion there–GC]. Christians are subject to horrible persecution in the countries named under the order, as a result of the jihadist wars instigated by the United States and Saudi Arabia. They are persecuted even in the refugee camps, which is why they are under-represented among refugees admitted to the United States. They are 10 percent of the population of Syria, for example, but only a tiny number of the Syrian refugees admitted to the United States.

While I don’t read Ebersole’s blog much, it’s worth looking at and I think if you do, you’ll agree with me that Ebersole is no fanatic, right-wing or otherwise. Combine that with the fact that I’m just mostly ignorant of the situation in Syria or most of what goes on in West Asia. Yeah, I know there’s a civil war, and I know that ISIS exists, and I know probably enough facts to earn me at least a B- on the final exam for a current affairs 101 class. But that’s about it. If Ebersole is right, then perhaps that preference should somehow be policy. And because Congress dithers, maybe it is appropriate for the president to use what authority he has to expedite the policy.

What to oppose and why….that’s an important question

I fall back on my criticisms against the “religious exemption” clauses of the EO as bad policy. If things are as bad as Ebersole describes, Mr. Trump could do better than restrict most refugees but make special exemption that in practice seems designed to favor Christians. Why not a blanket religious exemption? Of course, I’m pro-admitting more refugees than the US has already and have no particular objection to them being Muslim or Christian. So my priors are very different from Mr. Trump’s.

I also fall back on what’s unstated in the EO but stated at such events as that reported on the Christian Broadcasting Network. Whatever effect the EO may have in practice, and whatever policy I might theoretically support would be consistent with the EO, the spirit animating it seems to be malicious in a way that similar policies implemented by Mr. Obama would not seem to me to be. I’m not sure citing that “spirit of malice” would or should be a viable strategy to contest the EO in court, but it is, in my opinion, to be opposed.

If I or we are going to criticize what Mr. Trump does, we need to focus on the particulars and why. Do we oppose the EO because it’s unconstitutional, or is it unconstitutional because we oppose it? Do we oppose the EO because it seems to carve out a specific religious exemption, or do we oppose it because the exempted profess Christianity? Do we oppose it because it’s bad policy, or because it’s Mr. Trump’s policy? Maybe these contrasts aren’t as stark and “rhetorical” as they probably sound. Maybe Mr. Trump is so bad that even on-balance good (but still questionable) policies ought to be opposed.

In the meantime, of course, I realize that other people’s lives and livelihoods are affected much more immediately than mine are. I’m in the cheap seats and am able to write these notes from my computer without really having to face (at least for now, knock on wood) the reality of what the US chooses to do.

Photo Credit: “Immigrants,” 1930, Minnesota Historical Society, Painter: Peter Wedin (1894-1980). Creative Commons Attribution-SharAlike 2.0 Generic License.

[1] Executive order, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” January 27, 2017, <https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/27/executive-order-protecting-nation-foreign-terrorist-entry-united-states> [accessed February 4, 2017]

[2] David Brody, “Brody File Exclusive: President Trump Says Persecuted Christians Will Be Given Priority as Refugees,” The Brody File [blog], January 27, 2017 <http://www1.cbn.com/thebrodyfile/archive/2017/01/27/brody-file-exclusive-president-trump-says-persecuted-christians-will-be-given-priority-as-refugees> [accessed 1-30-2017]


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Gabriel Conroy [pseudonym] is an ex-graduate student. He is happily married with no children and has about a million nieces and nephews. The views expressed by Gabriel are his alone and do not necessarily reflect those of his spouse or employer. ...more →

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176 thoughts on “Trumpwatch: on prioritizing Christian refugees

  1. Here’s what I would like to know: For this purpose is atheism considered a religion? Because in many countries, including I presume, some on this list, it’s actually illegal to be an atheist and you can be prosecuted for that.

    More general comment: This strikes me as one of those “The law in its majesty equally forbids the rich and poor alike from sleeping under a bridge.” things. The kind of thing that’s technically neutral but only really applies to a particular favored or disfavored group in practice.

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    • “it’s actually illegal to be an atheist and you can be prosecuted for that.”

      Prosecuted? If you assume that everyone is Muslim and then you start showing signs of atheism, I think an argument would be made that you’re an apostate, warrantying death as punishment. And if you were some minority religion, you’re already oppressed. Becoming an atheist, well…that’s even worse, so…off with the head.

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    • For this purpose is atheism considered a religion?

      You can always just *name* yourself a Christian.

      ‘I’m a Christian. I do not believe in God in any form, and do not worship any God. You know,basic standard Christianity..what do you mean, you don’t think that’s what ‘Christian’ is? I would like to see what the correct Christian beliefs are *as legally defined by law*. Oh, there aren’t any? Then what the hell are you arguing about?’

      Next guy in line, of course, is also a Christian…’I think there is no God but God and Muhammad is his prophet, prays to Mecca, you know, normal Christian stuff. What do you mean that sounds like Islam? Please pull out the *official government guidelines of the correct beliefs of Islam*. Oh, you don’t seem to have those *either*, huh?’

      The next guy is a Blibbel. He also thinks there is no God but God and Muhammad is his prophet, etc, but he’s a Blibbel, very obscure religion, a minority so small he’s the only one on the planet. Yes, yes, sounds like Islam, but we’ve already determined that the US government has no official rules about what is and is not Islam, so…he says it’s not.

      As I pointed out over there, the problem isn’t just ‘What is a distinct religion?’, it’s…who is supposed to be defining what is, and isn’t, those things to start with? Even pretending people state their belief correctly, what is to stop them from just *calling* it any religion they want, or making a name of a different religion than the majority one?

      Are we going to *legally argue* with them that their stated beliefs do not appear to fit the religious name they are calling themselves, and seem to fit the beliefs of the majority?

      Are we going to ask the government of the United States of America to decide that someone is not *legally* a Christian because they do not believe in the divinity of Jesus or whatever?

      Hey, look, it’s obvious violation of the constitution time!

      This actually, despite sounding silly, is actually a bigger problem than the ‘they could just lie’. Lying is, in theory, illegal. How we’re going to catch lies about someone’s *religious belief* is unknown, but it is, in theory, illegal for them to misstate those, for them to state they do *not* follow the teachings of the prophet Muhammad but actually they do. That would be, if we had mind-readers, illegal…

      …but them deciding to *label themselves* with the name of a different religion, while still correctly stating their beliefs, isn’t ‘lying’ per se, and thus isn’t illegal(1), and we constitutionally have no way to set up rules about that.

      Which is, of course, why we don’t do this sort of thing to start with. The US government does not argue about who is, and who is not, in what religion.

      You know, we sorta already had a case like this, not over the name of a religion, but over what could be considered ‘obscene’, which the law said you could asked to be blocked from your mail. The courts said that ‘obscene’ was a religious determination and the government *could not disagree with you*, so now, you can waltz down the post office and claim the mail from the local car insurance place is ‘obscene’ and get it blocked.

      So, well, people: Waltz down to immigration and claim any belief is Christian.

      And, again, none of this ‘People trying to enter this country do not have constitutional rights.’ Well, *I* have constitutional rights, and I will be *damned* if I let the government set up rules about who is, and is not, in my religion. Or anyone in anyone’s religion. I don’t care if they claim they’re only going to be applying to people entering the country…the government *is not allowed to define what is ‘correctly’ my religion*, in any way, shape, or form. (2)

      1) And it’s probably less of a violation of their conscious of a believer, so is more likely to happen in practice once people realize this loophole. A lot of religions, or just believers, would have problems with those believers denying their beliefs, but admitting those beliefs fully and just calling the religion a different name because you have to do that to walk through a door? Well, you haven’t actually *mislead* anyone…

      2) I sometimes joke I’m a reasonably good Christian, a pretty crappy Southern Baptist, but a *really good* Baptist in general. Well, there’s your evidence of it.

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    • I don’t know about the answer to your first question, but I would hope so. I’m not trying to defend the EO, but if we must have that “minority religion” standard,” I would think atheism should be included.

      For your second comment, I’d say it’s in practice like what you’re describing (the majesty of the law, etc….), but in theory, it seems facially neutral. (Which, I guess is the point of the quotation you’re referring to: the law is facially neutral, or at least “equal” in its application, but only the poor would find it necessary to sleep under bridges.)

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  2. I have no problem prioritizing christian refugees at all. As noted in the OP they face a lot of persecution, and there’s lots of islamic countries muslims can go to.

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  3. Religion is one of the five reasons why an alien may be granted asylum in the United States under the INA. The others are political opinion, race, nationality, and membership in a particular social group. Christians from Muslim majority countries can already come to the United States, fill out an I-589, the asylum application, and apply at the nearest asylum office.

    The issue is whether Trump can order USCIS and the Executive Office for Immigration Review to favor Christian refugees over Muslim or other religious refugees is complicated. The closest historical example that I know of is that after Tiananmen Square, President Bush ordered that asylum seekers from China be given special consideration. Before this order, only a third of Chinese asylum applicants were successful in their claims. After the order, nearly 80% of Chinese asylum applicants were successful. So theoretically, Trump can order that special consideration be given to certain groups and that the officials and immigration judges listen to the cases with the assumption that the alien is telling the truth. At the same time, favoring Christians from a particular country or region rather than people from a particular country or region in general seems like a violation of the Establishment Clause.

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    • This is an interesting example, the EO itself provides a lot of bureaucratic relief for “Chinese nationals” but the section about special consideration is general, the “any country” part really stands out in the context of the order which is explicitly about China:

      Sec. 4. The Secretary of State and the Attorney General are directed to provide for enhanced consideration under the immigration laws for individuals from any country who express a fear of persecution upon return to their country related to that country’s policy of forced abortion or coerced sterilization, as implemented by the Attorney General’s regulation effective January 29, 1990.

      A few more notes:

      (1) The order was passed by Congress two years later (co-sponsored by Nancy Pelosi!), which has much broader powers over immigration preferences than the Executive. It is likely that much of what Trump’s EO allows could easily pass through Congress (if Trump wasn’t so singularly focused on appearing strong in his first week).

      (2) I think the issue of standing is much more challenging for an order that *preferences* individuals as opposed to one the *excludes* individuals. The sloppy roll-out of Trump’s EO compounds this by generating thousands of individuals who were directly affected by the change. In the Washington case against Trump, universities were able to make a clear argument that they had invested in a visa process for students that were now banned.

      (3) In the Washington case against Trump the judge proposes the religious discrimination argument specifically

      THE COURT: But under the establishment cases, I think you’re arguing against your own position aren’t you? What you’re saying is, in any particular country we’re going to reward someone for belonging to a particular faith or practicing a particular faith.

      ~ https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/view/56823116/the-department-of-justice-s-appeal-to-restore/103

      Read the whole thing, but in my opinion the response is underwhelming. DOJ disputes the fact that this preferences one religion *in a given country* because government has previously prioritized religions persecution, which is pretty clearly not the same thing as prioritizing a *specific* religion for persecution. They further argue that … well, basically they say we have to pass the EO to see what’s in it.

      I’m just a nobody reading through the briefs, but I found this defense to be quite poor and I very much doubt it would hold up in higher court.

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      • Its not an exact comparison but it was the closest one I could think of. The language in the Executive Order regarding China’s Family Planning Policy was put in because in 1989, the Board of Immigration Appeals held that being subjected to the Family Planning Policy does not fall under one of the enumerated grounds for asylum in Matter of Chang. Bush’s EO slightly changed that but it took IRAIRA to really make persecution under China’s Family Planning policy a ground for asylum by stating that persecution under it constitutes a political opinion.

        I used Bush’s EO regarding Chinese nationals as the closest example of an EO where the President told immigration officials to give special consideration to a particular class of aliens and that leading to beneficial effects for the aliens, a marked increased in approved asylum applications. I think that Trump’s policy of favoring Christians would run afoul of the Establishment clause though for the reasons outlined above.

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    • But isn’t the grounds for asylum that the government is persecuting the seeker because of the government’s view of the seeker’s religious status?

      So it’s not a question of the asylum-seeker’s true beliefs and true membership in a particular religious sect. The issue is that the persecuting government holds the (collective) belief that the asylum-seeker belongs to a disfavored group, even if that belief is incorrect.

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      • Your correct. The asylum seeker’s true beliefs do not matter. A person could have beliefs imputed on them by their persecutors and still get asylum. I’ve had clients who were persecuted because of an employer’s beliefs or relative’s beliefs.

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  4. Isn’t the difference between a refugee and an asylee a matter of why they’re seeking the status? I.e., a refugee is fleeing a country or region due to some condition or event that renders staying in their home untenable. Something like a war or natural catastrophe. Being a refugee doesn’t necessarily entail persecution.

    On the other hand, people seek asylum specifically due to persecution for religious or other reasons. There’s doesn’t need to be anything catastrophic occuring.

    Now to be sure, it’s entirely possible to have both occur simultaneously, which could lead to category errors in thinking, but I think the distinction is important. The Syrian refugees, in the main, aren’t fleeing due to persecution but because all the bombs and bullets and such. But it’s also possible, and likely, that certain of them face additional dangers from religious persecution as well.

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    • That’s the popular definition but the legal reality is different. Under the INA, people seeking asylum in the United States must prove that they are refugees. The real practical difference between asylum seekers and refugees is that asylum seekers are trying to prove why they should remain in the United States in the United States while refugees are the ones that get the paper work done outside the United States and come in with refugee status.

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  5. The wars in the Middle East are primarily a war between the Sunni and Shia religions.
    Yes, they are both Muslim, but analagous to the Protestant/ Catholic factions of Christianity.

    If we were to read the EO uncritically, we would prioritize the victims of religious oppression of Shia in Sunni-dominated lands, or vice versa.

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    • You raise an interesting question if in terms of the text Shia and Sunni are the same or different religions. Another potential full employment for lawyers act issue. How different do two faiths have to be distinct faiths. Of course in the US historically Catholics and Protestants were regarded as different religions with the Catholics wanting to install the pope as ruler of the country.
      If it were ruled as different sunnis from Iraq and Iran could emigrate, as well as Shia from Saudi Arabia etc.

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  6. First this was a great post thanks for writing it.

    The facet of the policy I struggle most with isn’t the constitutionality but the incoherence of the policy, particularly with regard to Syria. After all the United States and our Gulf allies are in many respects supporting the side of greater sectarian repression (i.e. Islamist Sunni militias) against the secular but politically repressive Assad government that most religious minorities (Christian, Allawite, other Shia) would prefer. To the extent we are talking about prioritization based on religion it seems we’d be taking in asylum seekers frightened by the side in the conflict we ourselves are supporting and who support the government we oppose.

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    • Thanks for the compliment, InMD. I do have a question about what you mean, here:

      After all the United States and our Gulf allies are in many respects supporting the side of greater sectarian repression (i.e. Islamist Sunni militias) against the secular but politically repressive Assad government that most religious minorities (Christian, Allawite, other Shia) would prefer.

      I guess my question is about the “in many respects” portion of your statement. If you mean that by opposing Assad and through the US’s alliances with Saudi Arabia, etc., the US is aligning itself with sectarian repression, I agree. But it also strikes me that the US is embarked on a campaign against the ISIS “militia,” too.

      That said, I do get the paradox you’re pointing out.

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  7. Note that there are also groups like the Yazadis in Iraq, Zorastrians in Iran and Iraq, Bahai in Iran as well as non Chalcedonian christians such as the (Church of the East) , the various churches that originated from the Antioch wing of the church (which lost big at Chalcedon) such as the syriac othodox church, shabakism, Mandaean, and jews as well. Because until recently the writ of government did not extend far into the boonies (in particular the ottoman empire), a lot of fairly small minority groups exist and governments would like to assimilate them, ala the borg, or the US and Canadian Indian Schools. If you read books on religions in the area such such as Heirs to forgotten kingdoms by Gerhard Russel, on the remants of folks that still hold the various pre-islamic and pre-christian religions in the area. In addition to this there is Lost Christianity by Philip Jenkins on the non Chalecdonian churches of the world.

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    • On Zorastrians in Kurdish Iraq:

      The Zoroastrian representation in the Kurdistan Region has filed a legal complaint against a Kurdish Islamic preacher whom they claim has issued a decree that all converts to the pre-Islamic faith must be killed if they did not repent within days.

      “We filed a lawsuit against Mala Hasib, the [Islamic] preacher at Mala Rasul mosque, before the public prosecutor’s office today,” said Awat Hussamaddin Tayib, the representative of the Zoroastrians at the Kurdistan Region’s ministry of religious affairs, “He has given a three-day deadline to all the Zoroastrians,” she claimed.

      “He says ‘if they [the Zoroastrians] do not return to Islam’, which he described as the religion of our ancestors, while our ancestral religion is Zoroastrianism [then] they have to be killed as he issued against all the Zoroastrians,” Tayib explained.

      Link

      Its worth noting the awkwardness of competing notions of what is a “convert,” to some extent it is being conceded that converts don’t deserve to live.

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  8. As someone who does not believe in a deity, I see “religion” as a proxy for “culture”.

    As such, I can totally see why someone might say “oh, people from this culture are okay but people from *THAT* culture aren’t okay.”

    Europe, for example, is in the process of finding out what it means when people who don’t share a handful of fairly important norms show up. It’s easy to see what’s happening in Europe and say “you know what? We don’t want that to happen here.”

    The assumption is that Christians from the region will have compatible norms. I am not certain that that’s a justified assumption, but, on its face, it doesn’t strike me as absurd.

    But I say that as someone who doesn’t believe in a deity.

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    • Well yeah, people’s concerns about immigrants typically break down into (1) they are dangerous; (2) their culture will destroy ours; (3) we can’t afford it / they’ll take our jobs. These fears are perfectly understandable but they’re just that – fears. The American people have been hand-wringing about refugees since the Mayflower and every time some elitist politician overrode their opinion and pushed to let refugees in they have integrated peacefully, enriched our culture, and benefited our economy. Part of the problem is falsely assuming that culture is destiny. Soviet Jewish refugees are a great example of people who were cultured in a deeply corrupt, statist society coming here and becoming fierce free-market conservatives who sing “God Bless America” on Thanksgiving. Part of the problem is that people have very little sense of what Syrian or Persian or Somali refugee culture actually *is* and are instead responding to a hodgepodge of xenophobic nonsense that has been sold to them.

      So yeah, blame the political elites who took it for granted that they could push through unpopular legislation without making a credible case to the public; blame the huckers and fearmongers who pray on well-intended folks eager to understand why their life isn’t working out like it used it. But let’s not pretend like these fears have any basis in reality.

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      • But let’s not pretend like these fears have any basis in reality.

        Ah, but is it possible to pretend like those fears have a basis in Europe?

        If so, we’ve got a problem.

        It might be a problem that is bad to the point where telling people to stop pretending won’t work.

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        • No idea. I don’t know what the assimilation experience is like in Europe beyond headlines, and I doubt the average refugee-fearing American has a much better appreciation for it than I do. I know from Jewish friends that they face much more mundane anti-semitism from native Europeans there than from Americans here, which leads me to think that not everything generalizes to the US experience.

          >>It might be a problem that is bad to the point where telling people to stop pretending won’t work.

          Are we talking about what we should be telling people to achieve some outcome? Have we settled on a desirable outcome to achieve? I’ll whole-heartedly concede though that telling people they believe in fiction is not a good way to get them to stop believing it.

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            • I’d like to see people come to conclusions from a generally agreed upon set of facts. I’m not going to tell someone how much they should or shouldn’t fear people from Syria, but I would like to have that conversation within the context of (a) how many Syrian refugees have committed acts of terrorism in the US; (b) how quickly Syrian refugees have assimilated into US culture relative to other refugee groups; (c) the contributions that Syrian refugees and their children have made to our country and economy. There are a lot of people who think Shakira Law has taken over large swathes of America which are now routinely unsafe for non-Muslims. I hope we don’t think so little of those people that we pretend their fears are justified.

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              • I’d like to see people come to conclusions from a generally agreed upon set of facts.

                Does “what happened in Europe” contain facts that will be generally agreed upon?

                There are a lot of people who think Shakira Law has taken over large swathes of America which are now routinely unsafe for non-Muslims.

                “If your hips lie, you will be subject to the following punishments.”

                There are swaths of Europe that are now routinely unsafe for non-Muslims. (I don’t know how large the swaths are.)

                I hope we don’t think so little of those people that we pretend their fears are justified.

                Is there a size of swath that we would agree would provide justification?

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                • “There are swaths of Europe that are now routinely unsafe for non-Muslims. (I don’t know how large the swaths are.)”

                  I have no doubt that if a European watched only Fox News, they’d come to the conclusion there was swaths of America unsafe particularly for white people.

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                • >>Does “what happened in Europe” contain facts that will be generally agreed upon?

                  I doubt it. You said ‘It’s easy to see what’s happening in Europe and say…’ but as someone who has lived in and traveled to Europe on many occasions *I* certainly don’t have a coherent picture of what cultural interactions between refugees and Europeans are like there. Nor have I heard a compelling evidence-based argument for how those cultural issues are generalizable to the US.

                  The fact is that every single wave of immigration has been met with precisely the response we’re seeing now with Muslims – they’re scary and wild, they’re going to destroy the culture for our children, and they’re going to take away our social services and jobs. And these fears have always proven wrong. Not just wrong, in fact, but 180 degrees from the truth: immigrants have not been net-neutral for society, they’ve been a net-positive. As far as I’m aware, Muslim immigrants are assimilating at comparable rates to those previous waves (though I welcome any studies to the contrary). So if your argument is that all those other times people’s fears were irrational but *this* is the one time they’re not, you need to have the data to back it up, and “lots of people are saying it” isn’t sufficient.

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                  • *I* certainly don’t have a coherent picture of what cultural interactions between refugees and Europeans are like there.

                    I’m looking at stuff like Brexit and the rise of right-wing parties.

                    Nor have I heard a compelling evidence-based argument for how those cultural issues are generalizable to the US.

                    My argument for that is just some variant of “people are people”.

                    The fact is that every single wave of immigration has been met with precisely the response we’re seeing now with Muslims – they’re scary and wild, they’re going to destroy the culture for our children, and they’re going to take away our social services and jobs.

                    Just ask the Native Americans. If you look at the GDP of North America over the last 400 years, it looks like a hockey stick! Unfortunately, the unemployment rate for Native Americans has been over 10% for 5 years.

                    As far as I’m aware, Muslim immigrants are assimilating at comparable rates to those previous waves (though I welcome any studies to the contrary). So if your argument is that all those other times people’s fears were irrational but *this* is the one time they’re not, you need to have the data to back it up, and “lots of people are saying it” isn’t sufficient.

                    I’m not sure what you’re asking me to show what is measured.

                    Would pointing out employment rates be a good proxy for assimilation? Because I happen to know that those numbers are googleable.

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                  • trizz,
                    America has a damn fine record of assimilation. Remind me to explain to you how black people turned white — because that was a thing too, here (blame the Scots Irish).

                    The Powers that Be are using Europe to test out a new way of creating the American Race War with the Muslim Immigrants. Specifically, they are using “Political Correctness” to quash police presence in immigrant areas. Rape is rampant in these areas.

                    Yes, THIS is the one time that we are being jolly well fucked up the arse by the powers that be. They’re a lot more powerful than they were back in the fifties, ya know?

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    • As such, I can totally see why someone might say “oh, people from this culture are okay but people from *THAT* culture aren’t okay.”

      Europe, for example, is in the process of finding out what it means when people who don’t share a handful of fairly important norms show up…

      The assumption is that Christians from the region will have compatible norms. I am not certain that that’s a justified assumption, but, on its face, it doesn’t strike me as absurd.

      I am going to call BS on this every time I see it. Europe’s problems are Europe’s problems and have much more to do with the particular combination of a comprehensive welfare state and a set of civic norms that may make it difficult for certain types of immigrants to assimilate.

      The people I’ve met in my life who are the most reactionary – that is, the most hostile to women’s and LGBT rights, the most insistent on injecting their religious beliefs into politics, and the biggest critics of secular society – aren’t Muslim immigrants, they are native-born conservatives. Likewise, the people I’ve met in my life who are most hostile to private enterprise and the most insistent on growing the role of government aren’t immigrants from Latin America or wherever else, they are native-born members of the far left.

      Either show me some real evidence that immigrants are a threat to the values of liberal democracy or stop saying it.

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      • For the conservatives it is an issue well addressed by Tofflers book future shock where to much change happens to fast. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Future_Shock.
        To much change to fast and in a direction they did not expect means people react. It is the rate of change that is a problem. At several times in US history future shock became obvious one of which is the American Party in the 1850s (know nothngs) and their anti catholic moves, the second is the 1920s version of the KKK which was as much against Catholics and southern Europeans and blacks, since some of its major branches such as Indiana did not have a lot of blacks in the 1920s. Then of course we have today.
        A minor sign of change might be the number of Mexican restaurants in an area, when I grew up in the 1960s in Detroit, there were very few of them, and Cantonese was the only Chinese type found. (Getting to the Mandarin in Ghiradelli Square in 1967 was an eye opener on this for example)

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      • I am going to call BS on this every time I see it. Europe’s problems are Europe’s problems and have much more to do with the particular combination of a comprehensive welfare state and a set of civic norms that may make it difficult for certain types of immigrants to assimilate.

        Fair enough. But I do think that the argument that “what happened over there is likely to happen over here” has enough foundation to not be called “BS”.

        Either show me some real evidence that immigrants are a threat to the values of liberal democracy or stop saying it.

        Okay: Immigration policy is one of the reasons Trump got elected.

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        • Jay,
          Nah, it’s bullshit. Total bullshit run by people who don’t have any concept about the incipient Race War and why BLM actually exists. Powers that Be already got division here — they don’t need to foment it.

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    • The assumption is that Christians from the region will have compatible norms. I am not certain that that’s a justified assumption, but, on its face, it doesn’t strike me as absurd.

      Really? Strikes me as pretty absurd.

      In any place where multiple religions are deeply part of culture (That’s not a great way to explain what I mean, but I don’t know how), you will have a few cultural differences between religion.

      So it is entirely possible that, for example, Syrian Christians and Syrian Muslims have slightly different cultures.

      But you can’t think logically make the leap that the cultural differences between those two groups is, in any way, noticeable within the huge cultural shift of them entering the US. We’re basically talking about people driving from LA to New York, and trying to figure out what side of LA they’d be starting from. I’m not sure that’s really relevant.

      The US is going to be a *huge shock* to anyone who is culturally Syrian, in all sorts of ways. There’s not really any evidence the Christians would start *closer* to our culture. Just because two places *nominally* share basically religious beliefs doesn’t mean their culture, in any way, syncs.

      And it is perhaps worth pointing out Syria Christians are most *Eastern Orthodox*, and split from Catholicism (which was pre-Protestant, so them also) in 6th century AD, whereas Islam basically split from Christianity in *7th* century AD. I’m not trying to say that Islam is *closer* to common US Christianity, just to point out how far away Eastern Orthodox is from what we think of as ‘standard Christianity’. Of course, there are some Greek Orthodox (And other Eastern Orthodox) churches in the US…but not as many as there are mosques.

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      • Of all of the refugees/asylees who moved to Europe/North America, did the Christian refugees/asylees tend to have the same troubles with violence and non-assimilation as the Muslim refugees/asylees?

        To the extent that such a thing is measurable, I mean?

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        • Of all of the refugees/asylees who moved to Europe/North America, did the Christian refugees/asylees tend to have the same troubles with violence and non-assimilation as the Muslim refugees/asylees?

          I rather do suspect we will find Christian refugees have just as much of a problem. They have the same skin, the same accent, the same culture. They are pretty much grouped with their Muslim countrymen by the society they are now in.

          So to show that, you’re going to have to give me some evidence that the Muslim refugees have troubles with violence and non-assimilation that is, in some manner, due to *them* instead of due to their new country *actively discriminating against them*.

          You seem to be operating under the odd impression that Muslims don’t assimilate well, and are just doing better in the US for some unknown reason…when in fact the level of assimilation in *Western* countries is mostly due to a) what country people are moving into and whether there is a support network there for them, b) if they already know the language, c) if their country of origin is also ‘western’ or not, and, of course:

          d) whether they *look like* people already there.

          I think we should all take note that Britain just exited the EU because, in part of *Polish plumbers*. Let’s stop pretending that the US is the only country with racism. People should, perhaps, google how French-Algerians are treated, and how France cleverly refuses to admit it has a problem with discrimination by *flatly refusing to collect any statistics about race at all*, so no one can point out that French citizens with dark skin seem to be massively unemployed and have almost no government representation, proportionally speaking. No statistics proving this exist, (because the government will not collect them) so it must not be true.

          Religion is practically a non-issue. It’s way down there on things causing assimilation difficulty *for the person assimilating* in a western non-theocracy. If it does cause problems, it’s usually because it’s a handy thing to hang already-existing discrimination on, like the facial covering nonsense.

          And I really don’t know why anyone would think otherwise…a lot of those people are used to the government basically enforcing their religion, and for some reason people in the Western world come to *literally the opposite* of the correct conclusion about that fact, concluding that this will somehow cause problems because they will…keep expecting that here? They will demand it here? Huh? (When did they ‘demand’ it in their home country?)

          The thing is…this clearly is not a Muslim country, or a Muslim majority country and immigrants are not morons and can see that. So ‘not changing’ would be them thinking ‘Oh, I’m now a member of a minority religion, I better keep my head down and my beliefs to myself, as minority religions must do.’ and not realize their religious beliefs are protected under the law. They don’t have to, like, secretly pray, or get some sort of permission for that, or find an authorized place of worship for their religion.

          It is worth pointing out that the only two Muslim *immigrant* terrorists that we have had (as opposed to people who traveled to this country as part of a terrorist plot, or who grew up here) were the Boston Marathon bombers, both of whom immigrated here when really young. And that was less ‘lack of assimilation’ and more ‘fringe anti-American conspiracy theories’.

          We’ve never really had an instance of an adult who migrated here, and then failed to assimilation, and attacked anyone due to that. I don’t mean from Muslim countries, I mean from anywhere. Granted, that’s a pretty specific test, and we haven’t had large sample size, but still.

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          • So, let’s see, before I can appeal to something like the Nice attack, I have to prove that the Nice attack was due to the Muslims being Muslims rather than as a response to the systemic discrimination that Muslims face in Europe?

            And I have to do that before we can discuss how the people who are opposed to Muslim discrimination to the US might not be bad?

            That’s a tall order.

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            • So, let’s see, before I can appeal to something like the Nice attack, I have to prove that the Nice attack was due to the Muslims being Muslims rather than as a response to the systemic discrimination that Muslims face in Europe?

              Erm, no. That man wasn’t a refugee, for one, and was staying in France voluntarily.

              And, as I mentioned with French-Algerians and didn’t mention but French-Tunisians and French-Libyans, the problems they are facing is not anything to do with *assimilation*…those countries were *former French colonies*, they are physically very close to France, and they are very, very French. (The northern, i.e., non-desert, part of Algeria was legally considered part of France at one time. Not a colony, straight up part of France.)

              In fact, the problems with *North Africans* shows what’s really going on there. That can’t possibly be ‘lack of assimilation’. Northern Africa sits a quick jump across the sea from France, and Tunisia is probably the most ‘Europeanized’ Muslim country in the world, or maybe right after Turkey.

              The problems they face in France are, very clearly due to race, not their failure to assimilate into a country that…literally overwrote their native country’s culture and language for over 100 years, ending a mere 50 years earlier! Man, that French government *that their grandparents lived under* must be incredibly confusing to them.

              This does not stop some of them from becoming terrorists in the name of a religion, though. It happens. There was an entire group of French-Tunisians and Tunisians involved in that.

              He’s just not a good example of not assimilating. He’s a good example of someone radicalizing and attacking. We are not entirely sure why, but ‘never assimilated’ does not seem like a good answer.

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                • I’m not quite sure what you mean.

                  It is clear, in my mind, that there are really three possible sources of terrorists.

                  1) One is just people outside the west travelling here to commit terrorist attacks. This is the most obvious, and the most dangerous, because sometimes people have Plans (And sometimes they’re dumbasses.)…and it’s also not that common.

                  2) Another is inhabitants of western democracies who appear to be fully integrated members of society becoming radicalized for no apparent reason. The Nice attacker, for example, started attending a mosque *about a month* before the attack. These people almost never have very good plans.

                  This is fairly common, and very incoherent, and we need to start trying to figure this out.

                  3) People from Muslim countries moving here with extremist views and getting more and more extremist and finally get violent. That…just doesn’t happen. At all. This is probably because people like that, uh, don’t want to move here. Duh. And also we’re pretty good at screening them out.

                  And despite the fact we don’t have any real documented instances of #3, about half of the people against Muslim immigration seem to think #3 is our biggest threat! A thing that, basically, doesn’t happen!

                  Which means they, somewhat idiotically, aim their sights on fully integrated, or at least integrating, members of society who happened to be Muslim…and *their action makes #2 more likely*.

                  I don’t pretend to know what is causing #2. I suspect it’s basically the same reason that all sorts of people fall into nonsensical crevices of conspiracy theories and violence, and I don’t know if we should even *care* that they happen to start parroting ISIS propaganda vs. neo-Nazi nonsense or anarchist stuff.

                  But I am suspecting that some people constantly *attacking* Islam as the source of this is probably causing more people who happen to be Muslim to snap *that particular direction*. Something is wrong, they need something to believe in, something that will show all those normal people who keep causing them pain…how about Radical Islam! That sounds good…man, where did I put my copy of the Koran? It says something about killing people, right?

                  The Islamist stuff seems *slightly* more dangerous as a choice, in that it tends to lead directly to violence (As opposed to stockpiling weapons or retreating into conspiracy theories, both of which are recoverable from.) , but that’s really just because ISIS is pushing violence, and instead of focusing on the *result* of the snapping, we probably need to figure out *why people do that and how to stop them*, or, failing that, detect them.

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                    • Have there been any #2’s that happened with Christians from the Middle East?

                      I think you misunderstood what I said there.

                      When I said ‘fully integrated members of society’, I didn’t really mean ‘immigrants who had been here for years. That’s *included*, yes, but the majority of people I was talking about are *born here*.

                      For example, Omar Mateen, the Pulse nightclub shooter, was American, and he committed the largest attack by a Muslim extremist since 9/11. (Which, obviously, is type #1.)

                      The vast majority of Muslims who suddenly radicalize in America are *born here*.

                      Likewise, the vast majority of Christians who suddenly radicalize in America are *born here*.

                      But you want Christians from the Middle East? That’s strangely specific. Well, first, maybe we should look at if we should even *expect* any of them, proportionally speaking.

                      How many Christians from the Middle-East even move here? It’s hard to find hard numbers, mostly because of far-right places just making crap up. I can’t get exact numbers, but in 2012, 600,000 Christians came in, 3% from the middle east, so that would be ~9000. Meanwhile, 100,000 Muslims came in, 30% from the middle east, so that’s ~30,000. Note there a *lot* of claims that there have been more Muslims admitted in recent years, but we’re talking about people who have lived here for years, so those proportions seem fine.

                      So there should, roughly, be three times as many Muslim immigrants from the Middle East as Christians immigrants from there. This seems odd based on the proportion of *people*, but we can assume Christians leave more.

                      So how many Muslims from there became radicalized that we should compare to? Since 9/11, we have:

                      Mohammad Abdulazeez, the U.S. Navy Reserve shooter, was from Kuwait. Hesham Hadayet, the LAX shooter, was from Egypt.

                      And Tashfeen Malik was a Pakistan national and one of the San Bernardino shooters…except she had only been in the US about two years, and probably was radicalized before she got here, and her husband, a US citizen, was also radicalized. I’m not sure how well she fits.

                      And…uh…that’s it.

                      So, uh, two *immigrants*, and maybe another, fit into #2 (Meanwhile, there are probably dozens of born Americans who do), so, proportionally, we’d expect somewhere around…5/6ths of a Christian immigrant from the middle east becoming radicalized?

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                      • Tashfeen Malik, incidentally, appears to maybe be one of the *incredibly rare* cases of #3, not a #2.

                        But, like I said, it is unknown how much the attack had to do with *her*, and how much of it was from her husband (A US citizen born here.), and she maybe just joined him.

                        That’s one that’s sorta hard to pin down.

                        But it is *hypothetically possible* it was the sort of Islamic terrorist attack that the right seems to think all of them are. Someone moves here with evil intentions, starts plotting, and a year or two later, attacks!

                        It *could be* that. That might have actually happened!

                        That one time.

                        Or it might just be a woman who lived under Islamic rule all her life and thought she was was supposed to obey her husband, or maybe she just loved him that much. And her husband became radicalized and was the extremist. We will probably never know.

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                      • But you want Christians from the Middle East? That’s strangely specific. Well, first, maybe we should look at if we should even *expect* any of them, proportionally speaking.

                        … the name of the post is “On Prioritizing Christian Refugees”.

                        So, uh, two *immigrants*, and maybe another, fit into #2 (Meanwhile, there are probably dozens of born Americans who do), so, proportionally, we’d expect somewhere around…5/6ths of a Christian immigrant from the middle east becoming radicalized?

                        If we can say “members from this particular sub-culture have created misery (or their children have created misery)” but not say that about another sub-culture, why wouldn’t you prioritize the latter over the former?

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                        • If we can say “members from this particular sub-culture have created misery

                          My God, two whole terrorists!

                          (or their children have created misery)

                          You can’t just slip in ‘or their children’. You’re trying to include native born Muslim terrorists. The problem there is, there are *much more* native born non-Muslim random mass murderers of people.

                          Note the problem with ‘terrorism’ here. Muslim-Americans often decide their cause is al Qaeada. Whereas white Christian mass murderers just kill a bunch of people for no reason, or vague racist reasons, so it doesn’t count as terrorism. (And other mass murderers don’t even come up with reasons.)

                          I have a hard time seeing ‘no cause’ mass murder as somehow better than terrorism. Mass murder is mass murder.

                          Almost every time, someone clearly snaps, and goes out *looking* for a cause to murder people for. That is what is *actually* happening here, not ‘terrorism’.

                          Sometimes they find radical Islam and decide to latch onto that, and we call it terrorism. Sometimes they find white supremacy or anti-abortion stuff, and we *might* call that terrorism…or not, depending on how much influence Republicans have. But the thing is, as we can clearly see, if they don’t find a cause, *they kill people anyway*.

                          Look at Seung-hui Cho, who by virtue of his race and religion wouldn’t really be able to go with white supremacy *or* radical Islam…so he decided to go with ‘evil women who won’t date me’. Or Adam Lanza, who might have had a reason to kill his mother (not a good reason, but possibly some sort of logical reason), but didn’t have any reason at all to shoot up an elementary school, other than, presumably, ‘People sometimes shoot up schools on TV’. (And not realizing they usually shoot up *their own* school.)

                          The stated cause is *utterly unimportant*, a completely incidental thing that has no bearing on anything. #2 is almost entirely people just snapping, and deciding to kill a bunch of people, and the ‘terrorists’ that people are worried about are people who snapped who *happen* to be Muslim so they decide to go with radical Islam. (Sometimes in ways that make little sense…the Pulse Nightclub shooter attributed his shooting to ISIS, but, uh, didn’t bother to connect the fact it was a *gay* nightclub to a reason to attack it.)

                          You start including people like Dylan Storm, James Holmes, Aaron Alexis, Christopher Sean Harper-Mercer, Adam Lanza, etc, in the body counts, and the counts suddenly look a lot different.

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                          • So we won’t solve the entire problem of mass murder by restricting certain kinds of immigration, therefore we shouldn’t solve some of the problem of Islamic Terrorism by restricting certain kinds of immigration?

                            I’m not sure how that argument will play out at the ballot box.

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                            • No one can seem to identify any problem that the Muslim ban actually solves.

                              Because even the defenders don’t assert it is a permanent ban, they insist it is only temporary, to allow for “extreme vetting”

                              What is “extreme vetting”?

                              No one ever seems to say.
                              Apparently it is like the vetting we already have, but with extra vim and vigor.

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                              • True enough, but the wacky thing is the sheer number of people who have been yelling that if we wanted to prevent terrorism, we wouldn’t ban immigrants from the countries that appeared on the order. We’d, instead, ban immigrants from (they then provide a list).

                                And I sit here and think “whose side are you on?”

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                                    • Wait a moment.

                                      On one thread I hear it said that liberals need to get real on immigration and acknowledge we must have limits, or the Invisible Man will continue to vote against us.

                                      On here, liberals must not accept the idea of a logical examination of immigrants for security reasons, else the Invisible Man will label us hypocrites.

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                                      • Chip,
                                        “Nobody could have foreseen”

                                        yeah. sure.

                                        No, nope, nobody’s going to vote you out of office for causing a catastrophe in the future. They’ll vote you out of office when there’s a clear and present danger, and not afore.

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                                      • It seems to me, that, strategically, you ought to be “getting real on immigration” and, at the very least, tactically, you’d ought to *NOT* argue that the list of countries that we ought to be banning Muslims from isn’t long enough.

                                        I mean, depending on what your goals might be.

                                        If you’re just arguing that immigration is fine the way it is and we don’t need to change it, I suppose that just arguing against whatever Trump brings up might work.

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                                    • >>As ways of making that point, it seems to me to be more likely to backfire than not.

                                      Arguments about process or hypocrisy (“Pence used to be against this!”) will do little damage, but I don’t see this kind of backfire happening for arguments within the context of the law’s intent.

                                      Lots of conservatives argued that the Obamacare penalties were small enough for people to ignore and that the law would yield a healthcare death spiral. I don’t remember people on the left saying “Aha! So you want a stricter penalty, whose side are you on?”.

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                            • So we won’t solve the entire problem of mass murder by restricting certain kinds of immigration, therefore we shouldn’t solve some of the problem of Islamic Terrorism by restricting certain kinds of immigration?

                              I have no idea how you got that from what I said.

                              I assert there is no problem of ‘Islamic Terrorism’ WRT citizens and long-term residents of this country. (1)

                              There is a problem of Americans snapping, and killing a bunch of people based on whatever random ideology they can find at the bottom of their cereal box.(2)

                              Stopping certain kinds of immigration doesn’t do anything, unless the argument is ‘the general population will be slightly smaller so, statistically, there will be slightly less people who snap’.

                              1) There is an actual real-if-slightly-over-inflated problem of terrorists from other places coming here to kill people, which usually involves airplanes in some way. This is something we’re all worried about because of one incredibly successful attack, and probably a bit too much worried about, but it *does happen*, and is important.

                              2) Note the fact they pick *random* ideology is not, in any way, an attempt to claim we shouldn’t do something about these ideologies. We need to shut down Islamic groups spreading their hate, we need to shut down white nationalists, we need to shut down all these people. Hell, we probably need to stop glamorizing mass shootings.

                              It is entirely possible for people to ‘snap’ and end up…just shooting a few people they don’t like. In fact, this is *probably what normally happens*, we just don’t even notice it.(3) And this is, obviously, not *ideal*, but it’s probably better than someone determining the thing to do is to strike a blow for Islam/white people/babies/whatever and mass murder a bunch of random people.

                              If ‘school shootings’ weren’t glamorized so much, Adam Lanza would just be some random guy who shot his mother.

                              3) There’s always been an interesting fact that a lot of murders are incredibly ‘incompetent’. Even once you remove clearly spur of the moment stuff, you end up with a bunch of instances of someone going and buying a gun, being seen going up to someone, shooting them, and leaving, and it’s like ‘WTH sort of dumbass murder is that? We know exactly who you are!’

                              Well…it’s because those people have snapped, but *didn’t* decide to take it out on the world. They just decided to kill that guy, or that guy and a few others. People they personally didn’t like.

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                                • It’s under-appreciated that most mass shootings are both murders and, for all intents and purposes, suicides.

                                  I didn’t even think of that. And putting it all together…

                                  So, really, there are probably three levels here, and I want to make clear, I don’t mean to suggest that all or even a significant amount of suicidal people are evil.

                                  1) People who want to kill themselves, and will be content with that. This is where most suicidal people are.

                                  2) People who essentially (or literally) committing murder-suicide. People who are going out, and they’re taking a specific person or two with them. This includes the people I mentioned, the ‘dumb murderers’ who just blatantly deliberately murder someone in full view of other people with no intent on hiding their guilt or any plan past that. Bang, they’re dead, I’ll go get in my car and drive home, oh, look, the police are here. They’re basically committing suicide, (by purposefully destroying their life) but not bothering to actually kill themselves.

                                  3) People who are going out, and they’ve decided the person to blame is actually *an entire group of people*, and they turn into mass shooters or terrorists.

                                  It is worth noting how often #3 *starts* as #2. They kill people they personally know, and *then* head off to a mass shooting.

                                  It’s all a form of suicide, with an additional question of *who else* will end up dead.

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                                  • 3) People who are going out, and they’ve decided the person to blame is actually *an entire group of people*, and they turn into mass shooters or terrorists.

                                    Not always “blame”. IMHO many of these just want to make a name for themselves. It’s probably related to why young men often do stupid things that get them killed.

                                    Unfortunately “make a name” can also be “get the largest body count ever”, which can mean “head to a gun free zone and start shooting”.

                                    And then we have ideology, if you’re a massive screw up then your only chance at heaven is to kill your way into it.

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                          • Almost every time, someone clearly snaps, and goes out *looking* for a cause to murder people for. That is what is *actually* happening here, not ‘terrorism’.

                            Well put, and agreed about this covering pretty much every lone wolf shooter.

                            However there are groups of problems it doesn’t cover. The 19 attackers from 911, ISIS, and the mass sex assaults in Germany on new years. And it is very easy to confuse the lone wolves with ISIS with both of them proclaiming they’re one and the same.

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                            • However there are groups of problems it doesn’t cover. The 19 attackers from 911, ISIS, and the mass sex assaults in Germany on new years.

                              Oh, yes, I agree. There are, indeed, radical Islamic terrorists who attempt to travel to the West to commit terrorism.

                              And there is, indeed, a real problem in that in Europe due to open borders and the fact that terrorists can enter via countries that have no problem with terrorism (And thus have real no incentive to care who enters) and then travel to other countries. It’s just bad incentives.(1) I don’t know how to solve that, but considering I’m not European, I’m not sure how I would be expected to know.

                              As for terrorists travelling *here*…they have, oddly, been spectacularly incompetant in wildy improbable ways, except that one time they were super-competant in pretty improbable ways. It’s a bit weird, and makes risks hard to judge.

                              I have no objection to additional ‘vetting’ before issuing a travel visa (Note ‘before’, not ‘after’, Donald.), although I suspect everyone is *underestimating* how much vetting already happens. Almost no one discussing this issue has ever tried, in their entire life, to get a visa to travel to the US, and even the few who have probably haven’t tried it from certain countries. (And, yes, they already vet people differently for different countries. It’s *immigration* that is, in theory, country-neutral, not the various travel visas.)

                              If there is some hole in the system, by all means, let’s plug it. But let’s try to actually identify said hole and plug it in a way that makes sense.

                              Refugees…haven’t been a hole. Although it’s worth mentioning that a few attackers slipped in as refugees *before* 9/11. But they haven’t managed it since, so I suspect we *did* identify something and fix it…and we didn’t tell *anyone* what it was, because why would we?

                              And I have a feeling that Trump…is just making stuff up. He’s certainly not *referenced* any specific hole, or explained what ‘extreme vetting’ would do. And, frankly, if an actual hole has been identified, the *logical* thing to do would just *be to have the State Department* start checking it immediately, not announce all this stuff in a public EO…which the State Department didn’t even know what was supposed to be doing under!

                              Vetting visas is pretty much entirely under executive control. If, for example, people start committing identity theft to sneak into the US, and we need to start checking that more…just tell the State Department to figure out how to detect that. Or come up with a way to do that, and tell State to do it. You don’t need to make that public…*why* would you make that public?

                              What Trump, OTOH, did, was clearly just some weird PR thing that he doesn’t know how to implement, or even if it exist. There’s not some hole he demands being fixed, he just wants from vague ‘extreme vetting’ and he doesn’t have the slightest idea what that is. Hell, he doesn’t even know *how vetting works*. As I’ve mentioned before (And will keep harping on, because this is so stupid.), Border Patrol do not do fricking vetting of visa holders as they enter the country!(2) People request visas from embassies, aka, from the State Department, and they are vetted and checked for reasons not to be allowed entry *at that time*.

                              And it is very easy to confuse the lone wolves with ISIS with both of them proclaiming they’re one and the same.

                              Yeah. I kinda wonder how we’d see other sorts of terrorism if, for example, every white supremist yelled ‘For the KKK!’ during their attack. (Even if their ‘connection’ to the KKK was ‘reading a website’.)

                              1) The EU is pretty entirely *built* out of bad incentives. Almost every part of it has incentives in the wrong place. What they are trying to do is not workable in the way they are trying to do it. Their goals are very good, and frankly a bit noble (And I say that as an American who is well aware they are deliberately building a competitor to us, another superpower…but competition is good.) but the only way those goals work is by *building a country*, and they going about that entirely the wrong way.

                              2) Well, they make sure you haven’t stole someone else’s passport, but that’s it. Oh, and make sure you aren’t smuggling stuff. And aren’t planning on overstaying your visa. They do a lot of checking, actually, but they don’t check if you’re a terrorist. That is something that, frankly, they are not competent to do, and also they do not have access to classified information. We try not to issues visas to terrorists *in the first place*, because whether or not a terrorist can enter the country should not be determined by, for example, whether some random Border Patrol guy at a boat dock or backwoods border crossing thinks the person is a terrorist. (Not to mention that would be *really easy* to subvert with an inside man.)

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                              • There’s also the ugly truth about the list of things that are not terrorism but probably can best be described as incompatible norms.

                                And getting into issues of incompatible norms is…

                                Well, it’s not like the US is perfect. There are a lot of people who don’t have the norms that we think we have. You think our country’s so innocent?

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                              • traditionally vetting includes requiring a certificate from the local police saying you have not committed any crimes for some period. Indeed this is needed for most anything more than a tourist visa. (Countries do this to us citizens also, my niece wanted to do a semester in South Africa and one was require). In the case of several of the countries in the ban those certificates and thus part of a background check are not available, Start with Syria, add Libya, Somalia and Yemen all where for at least part of the country the government is not in control and in many cases records are now ashes or deleted.
                                This of course just checks for crimes like rape kidnapping, murder theft etc. Indeed the lack of vetting in the case of the Murial boat lift has proved to be a problem.
                                I do wonder if one could say if we can’t vet you you can’t come to the US.

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                              • As for terrorists travelling *here*…they have, oddly, been spectacularly incompetent in wildly improbable ways, except that one time they were super-competent in pretty improbable ways. It’s a bit weird, and makes risks hard to judge.

                                At the moment, it’s *easier* to get into Europe, so that’s the low hanging fruit. You don’t need to be faster than the bear, you just need to NOT be the slowest guy he’s chasing.

                                Note this is actually a pretty grim answer, it suggests sooner or later we’ll see something news making until these groups are destroyed, which might be a century or two.

                                I suspect everyone is *underestimating* how much vetting already happens.

                                Given how many years it takes, my expectation is that it’s already a LOT.

                                Refugees…haven’t been a hole.

                                Unclear because at the moment, we basically don’t allow them in. We let in maybe (tens of?) thousands compared to other countries millions.

                                And I have a feeling that Trump…is just making stuff up.

                                Sure. He’s playing on the crowd’s emotions.

                                Yeah. I kinda wonder how we’d see other sorts of terrorism if, for example, every white supremacist yelled ‘For the KKK!’ during their attack. (Even if their ‘connection’ to the KKK was ‘reading a website’.)

                                What did Chip’s link suggest? Maybe 40 bodies over the last 15 years, with the Islamic groups doing about the same (before that gay bar). It’s cherry picking to avoid 911 but whatever.

                                But you basically have to slap two zeros, x100, to adjust for size of population. So call it 4,000 bodies. We just went from there not being a problem at all to there is a problem and the Left is determined to ignore it for the sake of political correctness.

                                To be fair I’m not sure what the answer is. I’m a guy who wants to solve most immigration problems by handing out green cards, but Trump’s emotional manipulation has a basis in reality. My feeling is we let them in and they assimilate to the same degree as everyone else, that Europe does a bad job with this just because they’ve always done a bad job.

                                However there really are bombs being both dropped and thrown.

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                                • Unclear because at the moment, we basically don’t allow them in. We let in maybe (tens of?) thousands compared to other countries millions.

                                  It’s capped at 85,000, and is pretty much entirely full every year.

                                  The cap is weirdly stupid, BTW. It’s not like we’re sorting them and letting in the *best* (aka, most likely not to be terrorists) 85,000 refugees. It’s the first 85,000 who are cleared. (Well, technically, there are caps by countries, with some general spaces left over, and if countries don’t use their allocated spaces, we let other countries use them. But it’s the first X in each country we clear.)

                                  And if we’ve already chosen to let in someone, but we’re already at 85,000, why do they have to wait until the next year? Will the same person be *less dangerous* the next year? (Spoiler alert: They will not, but they could be *more dead*.)

                                  This is also why the six month ban on refugees is completely nonsensical. Taken at face value, what that is going to do is mean…we wait six months, and then let in the same 85,000 people we…would have already let in? That we already knew we wanted to let in months ago? Huh?

                                  I guess it’s to try to get a reasonable speed limit, a low flow, but…over a million people are granted permanent US residency each year. Saying we’re only going to let in 1/12th as many refugees as we allow people to live here forever seems…really really low.

                                  I think this needs entirely restructuring. I suspect we could assign some sort of ‘threat levels’, and let in *everyone* at the lower threat levels, and do more extensive screening (Because that takes a lot of resources) at the upper ones.

                                  And also let in everyone we vet *as soon as we finish*, because making people, at risk of their lives, who we’re willing to let into the country, wait until the calendar ticks past is stupid.

                                  My feeling is we let them in and they assimilate to the same degree as everyone else, that Europe does a bad job with this just because they’ve always done a bad job.

                                  Yeah, that’s what I think a lot of people miss. We’re basically two orders of magnitude better at this…England basically just freaked right out of the EU because *other Europeans* were moving in. Germans and Poles! Oh nooo!

                                  And a lot of European countries don’t have any sort of birthright citizenship, which means second and even third generation people might not be citizens, especially if their parents entered illegally…or even entered as refugees and thus didn’t get citizenship. (IIRC, France, a while back, had a weird problem where there were people who had been born there to non-citizen immigrants, and had literally never gone anywhere else, but couldn’t become French citizens until they were 13. They were, in theory, citizens of whatever nation their parents were, but as that country often *literally had never heard of them*, and they were stuck in France, good luck getting a passport. There’s all sorts of these stupid minefields in Europe.)

                                  We are really, really, really good at assimilation of people.

                                  But you basically have to slap two zeros, x100, to adjust for size of population. So call it 4,000 bodies. We just went from there not being a problem at all to there is a problem and the Left is determined to ignore it for the sake of political correctness.

                                  But this is mostly because every Muslim that snaps turns into a ‘terrorist’ (Both because the media assumes it, and because they’ve spent three days reading ISIS stuff and yell something about Allah.), whereas 99% of other people that snap become a ‘mass shooters’ with no obvious goals.

                                  And, yeah, we really do have that many mass shootings.

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                                  • It’s capped at 85,000, and is pretty much entirely full every year.

                                    Yeah but that’s all countries combined. If we’re talking about just these 7 countries, or even just Muslims, then it’s a lot less.

                                    And, yeah, we really do have that many mass shootings.

                                    Only if “mass shootings” includes “drug dealers killing drug dealers” and “man shoots wife and wife’s lover”. Exclude dealers, gangs, and families and those numbers go way down.

                                    But this is mostly because every Muslim that snaps turns into a ‘terrorist’ (Both because the media assumes it, and because they’ve spent three days reading ISIS stuff and yell something about Allah.), whereas 99% of other people that snap become a ‘mass shooters’ with no obvious goals.

                                    Afaict, excluding outliers, the terrorism done by 1% of the population roughly matches the rest of the population. Include outliers and it’s even more lopsided. Further while McVay discredited his organization, 911 and that gay bar didn’t discredited theirs.

                                    The world is fighting an organization and ideology which actively promotes terrorism and encourages losers to become terrorists. That ideology isn’t just channeling violence that would happen anyway, it’s also creating violence.

                                    We have lunatics who have been given a cause who would have killed anyway. We also have losers, small time criminals, and engineers being turned into terrorists.

                                    So sometimes we get Bill and Ted, and sometimes we get a professional gun bunny (thus that gay bar).

                                    The nasty part is at the moment, most serious players go elsewhere in the world to do their thing and/or get training… but that doesn’t have to be true forever.

                                    Having said all that, I don’t have better ideas on what to do differently than what we have… but trying to claim there isn’t a problem is basically trying to avoid uncomfortable cultural questions. There clearly is a problem.

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                                    • Afaict, excluding outliers, the terrorism done by 1% of the population roughly matches the rest of the population.

                                      No. First, let’s look at that 1%. It’s not quite right. Yes, Muslims are 1% of the population, but that 1% is clustered largely *in the key violent age*. _2%_ of the people aged 18-29 are Muslim, and if we’re comparing which groups are violence vs. their population, we should be comparing proportions of that specific group, because it is that group that is violent by a large margin. A 1% change might sound like minor quibble, but it is twice as much.

                                      And here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1XV4mZi3gYDgwx5PrLwqqHTUlHkwkV-6uy_yeJh3X46o/edit#gid=0

                                      The thing is…we often don’t even *hear* about mass shootings if people’s name aren’t Muhammad *or* if it doesn’t fit some other political narrative, like a police or military shooting or a planned parenthood getting attacked…or if it’s a school or church or airport, I guess.

                                      Do *you* recall the Cascade Mall shooting? I don’t. It happened less than six months ago. What about the Excel Industries mass shooting? Not particularly large body-count, but the guy was sniping from his car, you think we would have heard about it. The Kalamazoo shooting spree? Don’t remember that one either. Isla Vista mass murder? That one sounds crazy. Alturas tribal shooting? Hialeah apartment shooting? Pinewood Village Apartment shooting? Mohawk Valley shootings? Accent Signage Systems shooting? Seattle cafe shooting? Su Jung Health Sauna shooting?

                                      Those are the mass shootings within the last five years we *don’t* remember. There is also, of course, Newtown and the Aurora theater shooting and the Washington Navy Yard shooting and the Charleston Church Shooting and even some school shooting I know must have made the news, so others probably remember them, but I legitimately don’t. (The Umpqua Community College shooting?)

                                      Hell, did I hear about the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting? It seems impossible I would have missed an airport shooting one fricking month ago, but, I don’t remember it.

                                      So let’s look at the numbers: In those last five years, there have been three hypothetically radical Islam-related terrorist attacks. Granted, the Pulse nightclub had an *extremely large* amount of casualties, and the San Bernardino mass shooting was also pretty high. (The other one, the Chattanooga military recruitment center, just had 5.)

                                      *Even with* those numbers, with the largest mass shooting ever in US history, that side gets 68, and the other side a whopping 179. But that was Pulse, and any random chance could have had that attack ‘fail’ at five people, or some other random non-Muslim guy to be wildly successfully. So let’s just look at the number of attacks. It’s…3 vs. 27. And I think that’s a much saner number.

                                      Let’s look at the five years before that. 1 incident on the Islamic side…and 14 incidents on the other.

                                      And at this point, I think we have some rough orders of magnitude.(1) Of mass shootings, somewhere between 7%-10% are done by Muslims.

                                      And we ‘should’ only have 2%, based on the amount of ‘mass shooting age’ people that are Muslims.

                                      So even assuming that’s the final word, we’ve got *roughly* four times as many Muslims that snap and mass shoot people than they proportionally ‘should’. Not 1% that are doing as much killing as the entire rest of the population.

                                      But two points:

                                      First, the correct way to look at this is isn’t the fact that X% of shootings are done by who, it is that the calculated odds of a Muslim being mass shooter, over five years, is something like 1,000,000 to 1, verse the general population being closer to, say, 4,000,000 to 1. This isn’t, like, in a group of 100 people, more of the Muslims will be mass shooter than non-Muslims…in a group of 100 people, none of them will be mass shooter, statistically.

                                      Second, note our sample size is *really really* low. Astonishingly low.

                                      Statistically, it is almost complete nonsense to make statements about the likelihood of a group of millions or hundreds of millions of people doing something if the observed events are only in the *double digits*.

                                      It wouldn’t even be *possible* for Muslims to ‘correctly’ be at 2% of mass shootings, because 2% would give them a fraction of an attack over five years. The numbers are that low.

                                      1) We also should, disconcertingly, notice that the numbers are doubling every five years!!! The five years before that had only 7 total mass shootings! 7, 15, 30…

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                                        • Do *you* recall the Cascade Mall shooting? Sure, it was in Bowling Green.

                                          I don’t, but looking it up, what’s your point?

                                          Are you trying to suggest this is the average?

                                          Edit: Sorry, your post may not have been meant for me.

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                                      • . _2%_ of the people aged 18-29 are Muslim, and if we’re comparing which groups are violence vs. their population, we should be comparing proportions of that specific group,

                                        Fair enough. We need a 50x adjustment rather than a 100x adjustment.

                                        In those last five years, there have been three hypothetically radical Islam-related terrorist attacks. Granted, the Pulse nightclub had an *extremely large* amount of casualties, and the San Bernardino mass shooting was also pretty high. (The other one, the Chattanooga military recruitment center, just had 5.)

                                        No. You’re claiming “terrorist attacks” are “successful mass shootings”. “The Boston Marathon bombing” and the guys who attacked the “Draw Muhammad contest” were obviously Islam-related terrorist attacks.

                                        The ones you skipped were:
                                        1) The Boston Marathon bombings – 3 dead, 183 injured.
                                        2) NY Subway hatchet attack – 0 dead, 5 injured
                                        3) Curtis Culwell Center attack (during the draw Muhammad contest) – 0 dead, 1 injured (amazingly two heavily armed and armored guys and both get shot before they get to do their thing).
                                        4) 2016 Ohio State University attack – 0 dead, 11 injured (attacked with a car)

                                        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Islamist_terrorist_attacks

                                        Further, even with your numbers, you’re ignoring percentage of population. Multiple either the number of attacks or (especially) the number of dead by 50 (because 2%) and we get really high numbers.

                                        But that was Pulse, and any random chance could have had that attack ‘fail’ at five people, or some other random non-Muslim guy to be wildly successfully.

                                        The problem with ignoring the high number attacks is they’re more successful because of professional training.

                                        The Boston Marathon bomber had overseas training on how to do it and Pulse’s attacker was a high functioning guard.

                                        Typically high functioning people don’t run amuck, and low functioning people can’t get professional training on how to kill lots of people. We have an Islamic movement out there actively trying to train life-failures into mass murderers, and actively trying to convince high functioning people that it’s part of their job to commit mass murder.

                                        Further, all these numbers are in the context of society putting lots of resources into preventing Islamic terrorism. That’s the first priority of law enforcement. That’s why the Curtis Culwell Center wasn’t Pulse, if the attackers had gone to a gun free bar rather than “Draw-Muhammad” law enforcement wouldn’t have been waiting for them and the body count would have been awful.

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                                        • There’s two types of discussions that take place here. The first is a quibble about statistics. The second is whether or not Islamic violence against the West, and the US in particular, is causally connected to Western meddling in Muslim countries and the Middle East in general. OBL said it was. I don’t know why we shouldn’t take his word for it. And as a response to OBL’s actions we invaded Iraq, bombed Afghanistan, and engaged in proxy wars in Syria, Yemen, Libya, etc etc.

                                          Maybe the right answer here is that we – meaning the US – shoulda gotten outa ME meddling a long time ago, a historical pattern which Obama had actually begun to unwind. Maybe it’s too late (baby) now to put the ISIS genie back in the bottle, but conservative (or reflexively anti-Dem/liberal) suggestions that we (the US) need to unilaterally take the fight TO them strikes me as ignorant beyond any recognition of reasonable intelligence.

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                                          • Maybe the right answer here is that we – meaning the US – should gotten outa ME meddling a long time ago

                                            This makes intuitive sense. When we’ve tried it…
                                            …we got 911
                                            …and then we almost put ISIS in charge.

                                            The terrorists don’t hate us because we meddle. They hate us because they (correctly) view our culture as attacking theirs.

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                                            • The terrorists don’t hate us because we meddle. They hate us because they (correctly) view our culture as attacking theirs.

                                              Exactly! We attack their culture! (In large part by meddling.)

                                              Add: you’re not going to move into the “they hate us for our freedoms” bullshit, are you?

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                                              • Exactly! We attack their culture! (In large part by meddling.)

                                                The cultural aspects they want to stop (i.e. our attack), is giving women rights, letting women learn to read, not killing homosexuals, separation of church and state, and not letting people to be put to death for leaving Islam.

                                                This is what they consider meddling. It’s a war of ideas, and those are the ideas they want to stop… and us giving up on them is a non-starter.

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                                                • You’re forgetting real meddling: (in the modern era) colonialism, economic imperialism, OIL!!, post-WWII straight-line nation construction, Israel/Palestine, subjugation, assassination, OIL!!, sponsorship of state terrorism, invasion, bombings, rendition, enhanced interrogation, OIL!!, fucking over AQ after they kicked the Rooskies outa Afghanistan…

                                                  You don’t see a pattern there? It’s not about ideas, unless the idea is that they want the West to stop fucking with their domestic affairs and the west has the idea that it’s not gunna.

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                                                  • You’re forgetting real meddling: (in the modern era) colonialism, economic imperialism, OIL!!, post-WWII straight-line nation construction, Israel/Palestine, subjugation, assassination, OIL!!, sponsorship of state terrorism, invasion, bombings, rendition, enhanced interrogation, OIL!!, fucking over AQ after they kicked the Rooskies outa Afghanistan…

                                                    To sum up: They’re weak, and we’ve repeatedly shown them just how weak. Their culture and holy book teaches them to be strong, and they’re not handling being weak very well. We haven’t cared about them beyond “OIL” because we haven’t needed to care.

                                                    They want to be strong, and they’ve tried Bad Idea after Bad Idea. Communism. Big man in charge. Doubling down on religion and what worked in the 14th century. Having Oil instead of an economy.

                                                    So what would “strong” look like? (Not in order of importance)

                                                    1) Not wasting human capital by refusing to educate women and refusing to let them have jobs. Give women rights so they have motivation to be economically productive.

                                                    2) Not taking religion so seriously, if god’s will conflicts with economics (i.e. math) then economics wins. Similarly they should separate church and state because to oppose the state shouldn’t be to oppose god.

                                                    3) Don’t use the power of the state to repress people, don’t mishandle Oil money, don’t use the power of the state to repress economic growth and activity (and unfortunately, some social programs count).

                                                    4) Educate the masses in math, science, language, and economics (not religion).

                                                    5) Have rule of law. Be able to enforce contracts so you don’t need to depend on personal relationships.

                                                    And a LOT of this is going to be strongly opposed by the big power players. The Priests aren’t in favor of God not being in charge, and they’re going to preach this is an evil idea. Rule of law implies everyone doesn’t need to kiss the ruler’s ass, and the ruler may disagree with that.

                                                    They want to be strong, but they haven’t yet made the cultural transitions which make much of the modern economy really work… and important parts of their society don’t want to.

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                                              • We got 911 because we stopped meddling? ?

                                                Seriously?

                                                Yes. We walked away from Afghanistan and let them sort themselves out.

                                                So they did, and victory went not to the nicest, but the most ruthless and brutal… and their idea of what to do in a cultural war is kill lots of people.

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                                                • Do you know why OBL called the house of Saud the “Near Enemy”?

                                                  Are you aware that after Desert Storm America kept bases in the Saudi kingdom?

                                                  And that for fundamentalist Muslims infidel armies in the kingdom safeguarding Mecca and Medina is an outrage?

                                                  And that he devised 911 as a way to force America to leave the holy land?

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                                                  • Do you know why OBL called the house of Saud the “Near Enemy”?

                                                    Yes, but it doesn’t sound like you do.

                                                    OBL went to Afghanistan and became a war hero organizing the fight against the Russians and putting together a solid crew of soldiers who backed him.

                                                    Then Saddam invaded and took Kuwait, showing that “Arab Solidarity” wasn’t a real thing. Saudi Arabia didn’t have an army by Saddam standards, they’ve always been afraid that their army would be used to take over Saudi Arabia by whoever was in charge.

                                                    Saddam’s army could have trivially taken over Saudi Arabia, there’s an argument that if he’d done that then, with a lot of the world’s oil, he could have sued the West for peace.

                                                    OBL offered to deal with the situation by bringing in his crew. Creating a *real* army of battle hardened Arabs (mostly not from Saudi Arabia)… who answered to OBL.

                                                    The Saudis (correctly IMHO) figured that if they did this OBL would be taking over the country in a few years, so they exiled him, and brought the Americans.

                                                    So the Saudis are why OBL was living in a cave in Afghanistan rather than a Billionaire’s palace in Arabia. Without their “betrayal” he’d literally have been king of one of the most important countries in the world.

                                                    Of course if the US hadn’t put army bases in SA or invaded Iraq then SA might have had no choice but bring in OBL’s guys and use them as the backbone of a real army… but given what we know about OBL it’s very hard to see that ending well.

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                                                • Yes. We walked away from Afghanistan and let them sort themselves out.

                                                  That’s only true in hindsight. At the time, US decision-makers didn’t give a shit which of the two factions – AQ or the Taliban – gained control of Afg., which, from a 20/20 strategic perspective, mighta been a mistake (since we had closer relations with AQ than the Taliban). But that doesn’t constitute an example of the benefits of US “meddling in the ME”. If anything, it constitutes an example of the extent to which the US is responsible for the terrorism you want to blame on Islamists.

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                                                  • And I gotta add, Dark, that this is just another example of you arguing something to the effect that IF ONLY the US engaged in rational policy (by your view) and understood all the information at hand (by your view, sometimes including information that only subsequently is at hand) then we wouldn’t be in all the problems we’re in. The origins of your arguments are an ideal rather than the actual facts on the ground. And while those types of arguments may have merit when they’re consistent across topics they lose legitimacy when invoked merely as a tool to criticize others. When that happens, I can’t help but think the person shifting goal posts to maintain a negative critique is expressing emotional pissed-off-ness more than anything resembling a positive policy perspective.

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                                                    • that this is just another example of you arguing something to the effect that IF ONLY the US engaged in rational policy (by your view) and understood all the information at hand (by your view, sometimes including information that only subsequently is at hand) then we wouldn’t be in all the problems we’re in.

                                                      Just the opposite. I’m arguing that there is no way to be at peace with these guys.

                                                      This is a culture clash, and they are wrong, and by our standards, evil. However they’re not evil from their own point of view.

                                                      From their point of view, even when we were willing to look the other way at them murdering their gays, and adolescent girls who wanted to read or wear something other than a veil, we were still attacking them.

                                                      Every 13 year old girl they shoot in the head for the crime of wanting to learn is our fault because we’re the ones who put that idea in her head.

                                                      The internet has pictures of women wearing illegal clothing, and it’s common knowledge that they can have forbidden jobs and lead forbidden lives here. What’s worse, we’re richer and more successful than they are, our armies can defeat theirs, our scientists create stuff theirs can not, etc. Their culture teaches that this is impossible and vast parts of our society are evil. The idea that Islam shouldn’t be running the government is abhorrent and heretical.

                                                      From their point of view, we’re the nazis. Being in their lands is a problem but so are their countries own leaders because they’re hardly following God’s path themselves.

                                                      Everything that’s wrong with their place in the world is our fault and there’s no way we can appease them into peace.

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                                                      • The way you so airily talk about 1 billion people you obviously know little about, using bits and fragments of Rupert Murdock most lurid fantasies.

                                                        Its like some Stone Age tribesmen in Papua New Guinea who sees a clip of a KKK rally then spends his days expounding his deep wisdom about the innate evil of the arriving Christian missionaries.

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                                                        • The way you so airily talk about 1 billion people you obviously know little about, using bits and fragments of Rupert Murdock most lurid fantasies

                                                          Truly impressive Straw man. I’m claiming every Muslim is a Terrorist? Seriously?

                                                          However it does seem to be the case for some of the people on this board that none of them are. That we’re not dealing with a culture clash. That things would just magically become flowers and bunnies if we let the people we know are into genocide do their thing without our “interference”.

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                                                          • I didn’t create a strawman, you did with this:

                                                            no way to be at peace with these guys.

                                                            What the hell else is this supposed to mean?

                                                            When you make these statements about “Muslims” who are you talking about? A tiny minority or radicals, or my old neighbors who had me over for dinner, or the friends I work with, or the hundreds of millions of Muslims the world over who are perfectly peaceful?

                                                            Do you actually know Muslims, have you talked with them and gotten to know them and how they actually interact with their womenfolk?

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                                                            • Dark Matter: no way to be at peace with these guys.

                                                              Chip Daniels: What the hell else is this supposed to mean?

                                                              We are talking about ISIS, AQ, and Islamic Terrorism. You and others are talking about how everything would be fluffy bunnies if we’d just stop interfering.

                                                              No, ISIS and AQ are not going to stop hating us because we stand back and let them enslave women and kill their gays and religious minorities. This is the equiv of claiming the KKK would be nice and gentle if we’d just let them lynch any black they consider uppity.

                                                              The problem is AQ is way more popular and influential than the Klan, and I expect they’re going to remain so for a long time.

                                                              I think we’re going to be blowing up these guys with drones for the next generation or three.

                                                              When you make these statements about “Muslims” who are you talking about?

                                                              AQ is to the general Muslim community what the KKK is to the general White community.

                                                              Which doesn’t change that AQ/ISIS can field armies and threaten countries while the KKK can’t even carry out a lynching now days.

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                                                              • OK, so if we are only talking about AQ/ISIS, then we should also be honest about the threat level they represent.

                                                                This is where my snark about murderous toddlers comes in.

                                                                The Murdoch news and its dozens of tentacles is waging a concerted propaganda effort to fan the flames of panic and rage that there is an imminent existential threat, when in fact ISIS and AQ have almost no ability to carry out anything more than the occasional mass shooting.

                                                                In other words, the same threat level of white supremacists.

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                                                                • OK, so if we are only talking about AQ/ISIS, then we should also be honest about the threat level they represent.

                                                                  True. AQ/ISIS can field armies which threaten countries. They’ve actually gone as far as set up regions where they *are* the government, which includes taxation and control over Oil, i.e. state level resources. They kill maybe 10k people a year. They’re creating refugees in the millions.

                                                                  We’re actively bombing them in multiple countries and will probably be doing so for many decades. Because dealing with them is the TOP PRIORITY of multiple levels of law enforcement, we don’t have problems in the US beyond the occasional mass murder.

                                                                  They’re not an existential threat and they don’t threaten to become one any time soon. Their culture is a joke compared to ours, we have the most aggressively assimilative culture on the planet, so the odds that they’ll come here and supplant ours, even in the Muslim community, is up there with finding out the world is flat.

                                                                  Conclusion: There’s a problem, it’s manageable, what we’re doing is buying time, enough decades and the Muslim community will get their act together enough to deal with their own demons. Eventually ISIS will be a matter the police (as opposed to the army) can deal with.

                                                                  However in the mean time we’re going to have the occasional mass murder by professionally-trained highly-functional fanatics, and that’s a tough political sell. ISIS, both the organization and the ideology, is legitimately a MUCH bigger problem than groups like the KKK.

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                                                                  • OK so we agree they can’t do anything HERE.

                                                                    And in order to contain them we need allies, such as Iran and Syria, who are currently doing more to fight ISIS than any American.

                                                                    Because ISIS is less a threat to Western nations than it is a threat to their fellow Muslim nations.

                                                                    Because the battle is not a “clash of cultures” between Christendom and the Muslim world. Instead it is a battle within the Muslim world, and the West is largely a irrelevant to the Shia/Sunni schism.

                                                                    So whats with the Murdoch/ Pam Geller/ Christianist fear campaign?

                                                                    According to them, ISIS is coming, tomorrow, to rape YOUR daughter, and install Sharia Law in Oklahoma.

                                                                    However in the mean time we’re going to have the occasional mass murder by professionally-trained highly-functional fanatics, and that’s a tough political sell.

                                                                    No, that’s demonstrably false.

                                                                    We have had multiple mass murders, including the slaughter of 26 children and the political consensus is “Meh, Shit Happens, get used to it“.

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                                                                    • OK so we agree they can’t do anything HERE.

                                                                      The irony in all this is that Trump poses a statistically greater and more obvious existential threat to the US than ISIS does (cuz the threat ISIS poses is pretty much exactly zero whereas with Trump it’s wildly above that) and we’ve got commenters here who’ve convinced themselves of the exact opposite view.

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                                                                    • OK so we agree they can’t do anything HERE.

                                                                      As long as they’re the top priority of law enforcement, and as long as the rest of the world is low hanging fruit, Yes.

                                                                      Because ISIS is less a threat to Western nations than it is a threat to their fellow Muslim nations.

                                                                      Agreed.

                                                                      Because the battle is not a “clash of cultures” between Christendom and the Muslim world. Instead it is a battle within the Muslim world, and the West is largely irrelevant to the Shia/Sunni schism.

                                                                      Mostly agreed. Although the West is largely irrelevant, I think the problem goes deeper than Shia/Sunni. Large regions were basically still in the 14th century, and then they were given Oil money. They spent the money on keeping the peasants down, or bribing people to stay in charge, or building armies to stay in charge, or bribing the priests to stay in charge.

                                                                      They mostly didn’t try to overhaul their religion and culture to mimic the West because, well, why would they? Problem is the West’s culture is what created all this prosperity and good things, and it’s already been thoroughly scrubbed from the 14th century. We’ve already given up the parts of our culture that can’t work in the modern era (for example the Bible forbids the charging of interest).

                                                                      If the reverse had happened, if a group of ancient Christians had somehow found themselves in the modern era, then we’d have massive fights on the charging of interest, the world being flat, the earth being the center of the universe, and so on.

                                                                      So whats with the Murdoch/ Pam Geller/ Christianist fear campaign? According to them, ISIS is coming, tomorrow, to rape YOUR daughter, and install Sharia Law in Oklahoma.

                                                                      Some of that is the Christian religion needs an enemy to “defend” against in order to stay relevant, some of it is xenophobia, some of it is political opportunism, some of it blaming others for our own problems. So it’s the right wing equiv of BLM.

                                                                      Dark Matter: However in the mean time we’re going to have the occasional mass murder by professionally-trained highly-functional fanatics, and that’s a tough political sell.

                                                                      Chip: No, that’s demonstrably false. We have had multiple mass murders, including the slaughter of 26 children and the political consensus is “Meh, Shit Happens, get used to it“.

                                                                      The typical response of an incident like that “26” is to arrest, maybe even give the death penalty to, everyone involved. With AQ, everyone involved includes the people deliberately either creating or channeling these sorts of incidents, and they’re overseas… trying to create more.

                                                                      Saying that it’s a manageable problem is very far away from saying there is no problem.

                                                                      911 killed about 3k people and inflicted between $100 Billion and $2 Trillion in economic damage. That’s what happens if law enforcement takes their eye off the ball, and it’s a good example of what AQ state resources should be used for.

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                                                              • You and others are talking about how everything would be fluffy bunnies if we’d just stop interfering.

                                                                No, what Chip and others are talking about is a) that the existential threat ISIS poses to the US is effectively zero, b) that the threat to American lives ISIS poses is statistically negligible, and c) that Islamic terrorism against the West is causally created and justified by the US/West (as you said) “attacking” Islamic countries in the ME.

                                                                The conclusion of that argument is to challenge the view that the US must or should engage in unilateral action against ISIS and to provide reasons to think that conclusion is based on faulty reasoning.

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                                                                • No, what Chip and others are talking about is that a) the existential threat ISIS poses to the US is effectively zero, b) that the threat to American lives ISIS poses is statistically negligible, and c) that Islamic terrorism against the West is causally created and justified by the US/West (as you said) “attacking” Islamic countries in the ME.

                                                                  I agree with the first two but disagree with the last. Our “existence” is a bigger problem for them than the odd country we invaded years ago and the bulk of Islamic terrorism is against their fellow Muslims.

                                                                  The conclusion of that argument is to challenge the view that the US must or should engage in unilateral action against ISIS and to provide reasons to think the conclusion is based on faulty reasoning.

                                                                  The ME is a snakepit. There’s always going to be countries which disagree with us and basically all of them are following their own interests at the expense of everyone else. Worse, a lot of really bad ideas are popular there.

                                                                  Should we be more multilateral? Sure. Should we continue to act if we decide it’s in our best interests and we can shoulder the cost? Also sure.

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                                                                    • we tend to vastly overestimate the number of military interventions there that are in our national interests.

                                                                      Yeah, but that can be a tough sell at the time.

                                                                      Take Black Hawk Down; There are lots of starving people on TV, and stepping back and not doing anything can trivially being spun into letting innocent people die because they’re Muslim and/or Black Africans…

                                                                      …and maybe it’s not spin. Maybe “not in our national interests” means exactly that.

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                                                  • Yes. We walked away from Afghanistan and let them sort themselves out.

                                                    And actually, even that’s not true. The US backed the Taliban because it had a greater governmental presence and (ALSO!) because the US thought it could leverage the post-Afg/Russia Taliban to its will. Dude, we shipped them cash money!

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                                                    • Congressman Dana Rohrabacher of Newport Beach, CA proudly displays a picture of himself posing with members of the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan.

                                                      Later of course, many of the Mujahadeen went on to morph into the Taliban and AQ.

                                                      He knew who these people were, what they stood for, but just didn’t care. All that mattered at the time was that they were the enemy of our enemy.

                                                      We have been continuously engaged in the shifting sands of Middle East politics since the British left.

                                                      I’m amused at the notion that we somehow were just standing over here, minding our own bidness when OBL decided to attack us because Muhhammed and 72 virgins or something.

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                                                  • But doesn’t constitute an example of the benefits of US “meddling in the ME”.

                                                    It doesn’t? Most cities have police, if the cop isn’t around then the local bad actors do bad things.

                                                    More importantly, the bad actors which we thought we could leave to their own devices (i.e. not interfere) have shown twice now that we simply can’t.

                                                    We didn’t understand that AQ could pull off 911 on us. We didn’t understand that ISIS would beat the Iraqi army.

                                                    Now that we do understand these things, what exactly are you suggesting we do? Let them kill & genocide their way back into power and hope for the best?

                                                    When “non-interference” means “let AQ/ISIS kill all the local gays/Christians/etc”, why is this supposed to be the ethical course of action?

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                                                    • We didn’t understand that AQ could pull off 911 on us.

                                                      Some people did. Bill Clinton, for instance, but he was only wagging the dog trying to get Monica off the front page. Richard Clarke, but he was only trying to sell his book and didn’t even vote for Bush,

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                                                      • Bill Clinton, for instance, but he was only wagging the dog trying to get Monica off the front page.

                                                        Maybe. Bill’s claims to have been focused on stopping AQ only came out after 911 and seemed self serving.

                                                        That we can even have a conversation speculating on whether Bill’s thing was W-T-D or Legit suggests he should have resigned.

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                                                        • Clinton was bombing AQ camps in Afghanistan in ’99 and ’00 . It was in all the papers. The ones who didn’t catch on until after 9/11 were the Bush administration, who then went into full blind panic mode, including smearing Richard Clarke for not having taken his eye off the ball.

                                                          And does your second comment apply to all presidents? There’s no question why Reagan invaded Grenada the day after all those Marines were killed in Beirut.

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                                                          • In fact, the outgoing Clinton administration briefed the Bush team and told them terrorism was going to have to be their top law enforcement priority.

                                                            Instead, Bush focused on internet porn. Not that anyone remembers that.

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                                                          • Clinton was bombing AQ camps in Afghanistan in ’99 and ’00 .

                                                            One camp in ’98. ’99 and ’00 were crickets chirping which makes me wonder how serious he was, or how much his sex scandles affected his ability to do things.

                                                            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Infinite_Reach

                                                            It’s an example of “US unilateral action” which some on this forum claim they’re against but whatever.

                                                            And does your second comment apply to all presidents?

                                                            Yes.

                                                            There’s no question why Reagan invaded Grenada the day after all those Marines were killed in Beirut.

                                                            Unless he had a time travel machine that invasion was planned and set into motion before Beirut.

                                                            Reagan should have resigned because he had Alzheimer’s and it deeply affected his work to the point where he “forgot” who was doing what and what orders he’d given.

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                                        • No. You’re claiming “terrorist attacks” are “successful mass shootings”. “The Boston Marathon bombing” and the guys who attacked the “Draw Muhammad contest” were obviously Islam-related terrorist attacks.

                                          I am ignoring non-shooting attacks by Muslims because I am ignoring them by *everyone*. Shootings are, by far, the most efficient way to kill people.

                                          The ones you skipped were:
                                          1) The Boston Marathon bombings – 3 dead, 183 injured.

                                          As I pointed out, those are *literally the only Americans killed by bomb attack in the US in the last two decades*, so hardly is evidence that some large amount of attacks are being overlooked? (Also, technically, even if we pretending those were ‘shootings’, they would not make that list of *mass* shootings, which required three fatalities.)

                                          In reality, bombs are *really good* at area denials. You can use them to make it impossible to drive down roads, you can use them to make it approach people, you can even use the *claim* of a bomb to keep a building empty. What you can’t do with bombs is kill any meaningful amount of people, unless your bomb uses a *gigantic* amount of fertilizer, which gets you noticed since Oklahoma City. (And also you need to take down a building.)

                                          Hey, can we provide free airfare to jihadists, have them fly to ISIS and get some bomb training, so they spend a bunch of time and effort to kill only one person per attacker? Instead just buying guns, which kill a lot more people?

                                          2) NY Subway hatchet attack – 0 dead, 5 injured
                                          3) Curtis Culwell Center attack (during the draw Muhammad contest) – 0 dead, 1 injured (amazingly two heavily armed and armored guys and both get shot before they get to do their thing).

                                          I am ignoring attacks without fatalities by Muslims because I am ignoring attacks without fatalities by *everyone* because I am comparing two otherwise identical things. If you want to compare the amount of non-fatal attacks by Muslims, you have to compare them to the amount of *non-fatal* attacks by non-Muslims. Which I do not have a list of.

                                          4) 2016 Ohio State University attack – 0 dead, 11 injured (attacked with a car)

                                          And if you want to include *automotive* attacks by Muslims, you have include automotive attacks by everyone. Why this is supposed to matter, I don’t know, as there was *literally only one of those* so it can’t be statistically significant, but let’s see what non-Muslims were up to in the last five years with a quick google search:

                                          2016 Martinsville Speedway…0 dead, 22 injured
                                          2016 Ewa Beach…0 dead, 2 injured
                                          2016 Oklahoma State homecoming parade…4 dead, dozen injured
                                          2015 Las Vegas Strip sidewalk…1 dead, more than three dozen injured
                                          2013 LA attack…1 dead, 17 injured

                                          Note I am excluding at least two incidents of people driving vehicles into *protesters* on purpose, and a bunch of others that involved driving into groups of people they seemed to had some reason to attack. These are *random* attacks, as far as anyone can tell. (I mean, they have ‘reasons’, but it’s lunatic reasons like ‘The parade is in the way’ and ‘I don’t like tourists’.)

                                          Just a random google search has demonstrated that Muslim car attacks over the last five years seem to be, *at most*, 17% of car attacks, and I suspect some sort of *actual researched* list of car attacks (Like the researched list of shootings) instead of my googling would produce a lot more non-Muslim ones, reducing that down to basically the same percentage as the shootings.

                                          You seem to want to compare ‘all Muslim attacks’ to…what…? If you’re listing ‘all attempted undirected attacks, by Muslims, in any manner whatsoever, in the US’ as one side, the thing you have to compare it to is ‘all attempted undirected attacks, by anyone, in any manner whatsoever, in the US’

                                          Well, you can certainly do that, but there is *no way in hell* you’re finding that second list. That list *simply does not exist*. You can’t just *hypothesize* how long it is.

                                          And if you’re going *that* broad, I am completely baffled as to how you’re excluding serial killers and deliberate people in bars.

                                          Further, even with your numbers, you’re ignoring percentage of population. Multiple either the number of attacks or (especially) the number of dead by 50 (because 2%) and we get really high numbers.

                                          I have no idea what that math is attempting to show.

                                          As I said, attacks ‘should’, statistically, be at 2%. They are, instead, a few times higher.

                                          The problem with ignoring the high number attacks is they’re more successful because of professional training.

                                          It is possible to make an argument we should count attacks with a lot of dead bodies more. It is also possible to make the argument we should count attacks without any deaths. It’s not really possible to argue both *at the same time*.

                                          The Boston Marathon bomber had overseas training on how to do it

                                          Best training they could get, a perfect crowd, and two people manage to kill…two people. One each. Nice work. Really worth the training there, guys. Pretty sure you two could have had that body count if you’d just randomly started *garroting* old people in public with shoe lace. (Or, hey, started running over them in your car.)

                                          Typically high functioning people don’t run amuck, and low functioning people can’t get professional training on how to kill lots of people.

                                          The two deadliest attack by domestic Muslim terrorists: Pulse nightclub and San Bernardino, both shootings. Where did those people learn to shoot?

                                          Pulse shooter: Never left the country. He did read and watch ISIS produced stuff, but none of it appears to have been ‘how to successfully do a terrorist attack’, just religious stuff and some beheadings. He actually got his training from…the Florida Department of Corrections and as a security guard for an American company.

                                          2015 San Bernardino attack: The man had left the country a few times, but appears to have received no training during that. The woman was possibly ‘racialized’ religiously before she moved here, but it is hard to imagine the religiously-conservative upper-class Muslims that she supposedly became radicalized by in Saudi Arabia…teaching a woman how to use a gun. She almost certainly learned to use a gun the same place he did: The year of target practice in the US they did *before* the attack.

                                          Note the San Bernardino attackers attempted to modify a gun to illegally be fully-automatic, but failed. They also made some pipe-bombs on remote controlled cars…that did not explode.

                                          Guns: Apparently they’re quite dangerous and don’t need any special training from ISIS. You can just get trained *here*, or even train *yourself*. Who knew?

                                          So, to recap: The only Americans who were trained by terrorists and killed anyone were the Boston Marathon Bombers, who, with two people and spending a lot of effort building bombs, killed…two people. One wonders how many they would have gotten if they had just, you know, bought some damn guns, practiced a bit, and started shooting. (Again…can we provide some free bomb-making training to would-be terrorists?)

                                          We have an Islamic movement out there actively trying to train life-failures into mass murderers, and actively trying to convince high functioning people that it’s part of their job to commit mass murder.

                                          Well, you’ve convinced me. I was on the fence before, but now I’m fully on board: We should attempt to shut down ISIS and other places that train terrorists!

                                          Wait, no, I was already in favor of that.

                                          Further, all these numbers are in the context of society putting lots of resources into preventing Islamic terrorism. That’s the first priority of law enforcement. That’s why the Curtis Culwell Center wasn’t Pulse, if the attackers had gone to a gun free bar rather than “Draw-Muhammad” law enforcement wouldn’t have been waiting for them and the body count would have been awful.

                                          That claim only makes sense if most attacks of Islamic terrorists were, in some manner, directed at things that were obvious targets of Islamic terrorism, and other places were less defended.

                                          Almost none of the attacks *were* directed at those places, though. The Curtis Culwell Center was, indeed that, but that’s almost the sole example I can think of….I think there was one example of some bullets fired at some other building, maybe? (But clearly we weren’t spending any resources defending that building, so even that logic doesn’t work.)

                                          If you’re trying to claim that’s where law enforcement is looking *in general*, not just protecting locations but investigating…no, it’s not. Law enforcement is, as it has been for a while, mostly worried about white nationalist/far-right terrorism, because *that* is disproportionally where terrorists come from in America.

                                          In this discussion, we’ve sorta been pretending that terrorism is proportional across groups *except* with a higher rate for Muslims. That’s…not true. There are actually several identifiable groups that have even *more* disproportional terrorist from them. (And I don’t mean ‘men aged 18-29’, although obviously that’s true.)

                                          Pro-life organizers (People who actively do anything in the movement, not just people who say they’re pro-life) turned terrorists, for example, are *way* out of proportion of their numbers. Likewise, anyone who is even *vaguely* involved in a militia (At whatever level you want to define ‘involved in’) is flashing red alarm bells. Tax protesters, way up there.

                                          You want to produce a heat map of what groups are most likely to be terrorists, Muslims are indeed, in general, warmer than J. Random Person…but there are a lot of groups that are almost incandescent.

                                          And I’m sure there are specific groups of Muslims that are incandescent also, but if we start talking about *that*, this entire premise that the ‘Muslims’ are committing more attacks falls apart.

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                                          • As I pointed out, those are *literally the only Americans killed by bomb attack in the US in the last two decades*, so hardly is evidence that some large amount of attacks are being overlooked?

                                            We’re deep into small numbers and outliers, so anything we exclude has dramatic effects on the analysis. It’s VERY awkward to claim the Boston Marathon Bombings (which killed or injured 186 people) were not legit terror attacks because bombs aren’t used by normal people. That same logic could be used to exclude 911.

                                            I am ignoring attacks without fatalities by Muslims because I am ignoring attacks without fatalities by *everyone* because I am comparing two otherwise identical things.

                                            This may not be appropriate. Granted, there’s a logical purity to just counting dead bodies, and in other contexts I like it a lot. There’s also a logical purity to apples to apples method wise… however…

                                            That other groups aren’t using bombs or crashing airplanes into buildings doesn’t means you get to exclude those data points. 911 and Boston weren’t in the news because they were done by Radical Islam, they were in the news well before that for good reason, ditto Pulse, etc.

                                            The second problem is you’re claiming a lack of dead bodies means we don’t have terror attacks. At the Curtis Culwell Center two heavily armed and armored attackers showed up to kill everyone there. The media reported some cop headshotted both of them. That’s a seriously impressive level of skill, and demonstrates the problem.

                                            These numbers we’re looking at are *after* law enforcement uses their A-list players to stop this. I’m fine saying we have a controllable problem, but that’s very, very far from claiming there is no problem.

                                            I’m fine with that guy on the subway (or even the car) being lost in background noise of random nuts, but at some point we’re in a different category.

                                            Further it’s also extremely awkward to start out counting dead bodies and then switch to counting incidents. If we extended our timeframe you’d be claiming 911 was “one” incident just as bad as others.

                                            Further, even with your numbers, you’re ignoring percentage of population. Multiple either the number of attacks or (especially) the number of dead by 50 (because 2%) and we get really high numbers.

                                            I have no idea what that math is attempting to show.

                                            I’m pointing out that adjusted for population (i.e. multiplied by 50), even your numbers are eye-poppingly high. Radical Islam is way more popular in it’s niche than White Supremacy is in it’s. That shouldn’t be a shock since the whole “can field armies” thing.

                                            Best training they could get, a perfect crowd, and two people manage to kill…two people. One each. Nice work.

                                            They got to be in the news, shut down a city, injure more than a hundred people, and “cause terror”. They may end up with schools named after them in certain parts of the world. I’d say it was very successful.

                                            Pro-life organizers… turned terrorists, for example, are *way* out of proportion of their numbers.

                                            Oh, much worse than that. Many pro-life organizations actively use tactics which I’d say are “terroristic”, threatening people’s families, that sort of thing. Ditto the animal rights groups. They’ve gotten away with it because these groups haven’t gone after the general public, they have political support for their ideology, and it hasn’t been a police priority.

                                            Pakistan has shown that tolerating terrorism because it’s politically convenient can result in out of control terrorism causing large problems. I’d argue Israel has demonstrated the same since the tools (and social acceptance) used to attack Jews now are used on the people who created them.

                                            Both the radical pro-life and pro-animal groups should be treated seriously while they’re small. There are a few other groups I’d lump in there but whatever. Tolerating violence & terrorism from groups that are currently your allies is a long term problem because that’s what the future looks like for everyone.

                                            So I agree with you that these groups are also problematic, but where I disagree is I’m willing to go further and say they also need extra attention. If your friends are terrorizing people, for whatever reason, then that’s a problem and society needs to treat it as a problem.

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                                            • That other groups aren’t using bombs or crashing airplanes into buildings doesn’t means you get to exclude those data points. 911 and Boston weren’t in the news because they were done by Radical Islam, they were in the news well before that for good reason, ditto Pulse, etc.

                                              I am not saying those data points are ‘excluded’. We are attempting to compare acts of violence or attempted acts of violence by Muslims to the population *to see if Muslims are committing them out of proportion to the population*. That was your entire premise, that they were doing that.

                                              To compare *failed attacks* to anything, you have to have some sort of big list of ‘attempts at mass random violence by the population’, which in addition to neither of us having, is *extremely* hard to define.

                                              And that further starts us with arguing why, exactly, we’re requiring the violence to be ‘mass violence’. Why don’t individual hate crimes count? Those are acts of violence directed randomly, but usually happen with one victim.

                                              And, hell, considering you want to include *failed attacks*, I’m having trouble see how bank robberies and hostage taking don’t count. You’re making a *really* broad net, one it’s going to be almost impossible to get stats for.

                                              Or we could do what *I* did, which is just *arbitrarily* pick the most efficient form of killing, one we happen to have some recent reasonably-good records on thanks to gun-control advocates, and limit it to ‘at least three victims’ (Thus making it unlikely this it was some sort of ‘had some sort of rational motives’ killings.), which is what I did.

                                              You can’t say ‘They’re doing it out of proportion’…of course they are when you are including *every* attack by them and not bothering to have *anything to compare them to*.

                                              Further it’s also extremely awkward to start out counting dead bodies and then switch to counting incidents. If we extended our timeframe you’d be claiming 911 was “one” incident just as bad as others.

                                              Uh, no, we wouldn’t, because the thing we are discussing is activity by *Muslim Americans*, or at least Muslim immigrants. Domestic terrorism.

                                              People entering this country to commit acts of terrorism is an entirely different thing.

                                              Further, even with your numbers, you’re ignoring percentage of population. Multiple either the number of attacks or (especially) the number of dead by 50 (because 2%) and we get really high numbers.

                                              Multiplying things makes no sense. Proportionally, Muslims should be committing 2% of the mass violence crimes in America. They appear to be committing *about* 8%, in a very very rough estimate.

                                              That math is simple to understand.

                                              These numbers we’re looking at are *after* law enforcement uses their A-list players to stop this. I’m fine saying we have a controllable problem, but that’s very, very far from claiming there is no problem.

                                              You keep saying law enforcement is focused on stopping domestic Muslim terrorism, but this is nonsense.

                                              As I’ve pointed out before, Federal law enforcement has, repeatedly, said they have a much larger problem with, and spend more resources on, tracking white supremacists, which commit crimes even *more* out of proportion to the population.

                                              Mainly because white supremacists rob banks and deal drugs and infiltrate law enforcement agencies. White supremacists are a *very organized* threat, and thus pose a much larger threat than random Muslim extremists in the eyes of law enforcement.

                                              Oh, much worse than that. Many pro-life organizations actively use tactics which I’d say are “terroristic”, threatening people’s families, that sort of thing. Ditto the animal rights groups. They’ve gotten away with it because these groups haven’t gone after the general public, they have political support for their ideology, and it hasn’t been a police priority.

                                              I know you wanted to include something on the left, but the ‘animal rights groups’ working in the US are, like, one entity and a few dozen people centered around UCLA, and aren’t anywhere near the level of the pro-life network, who have actually managed to kill two people since 9/11.

                                              Yes, they need to be shutdown, but the only supposed attack that could have killed anyone *in the US* (What’s going on Britain is a different matter, they’re a lot more active over there.) in the past few decades is one attempted and weirdly off-target firebombing in 2006, and I find the story of them doing that dubious even if ALF did take credit for it. (It’s hard to get a handle on what ALF is really doing, and how much of it is just random crap they take credit for. They’ve even taken credit for things that didn’t even happen. This is all deliberate on their part.)

                                              If you’re going to try to point at ‘left’ terrorist groups, try ELF, which has actually caused a hell of a lot of property damage in the US, often by arson, which is really fricking dangerous even if they *aren’t* trying to hurt people.

                                              OTOH, I can’t think of any instances of ELF threatening people, whereas ALF threatens people all the time.

                                              Of course, all those groups, ALF, ELF, and even the pro-life people added in, are nothing compared to the white supremacy people, which are a huge problem because they are, functionally, operating as organized crime *and* a terrorist group. (Which also means they are very attractive for people who *do not share their beliefs*, at least at the start. It’s an interlocking group of very successful criminal gang, and all white people have to do to join is talk trash about minorities. Eventually, parroted beliefs become real.)

                                              Whereas none of the other groups are actually organized at all. There are semi-respectable groups that operate, within the law, sharing propaganda and talking about the evils of whatever, and eventually someone, or some very small group (Two or three people), crosses a threshold where they’re willing to commit a crime. (Which is why, of all those groups, ELF is most active, because ELF crimes don’t require *murder*. ‘Hey, let’s go spraypaint some cars’ is a much lower threshold than ‘Hey, let’s go kill some people’.)

                                              This is how Muslim terrorism works in the US, too. Except there the threshold is even higher, because the crime usually includes ‘obvious ending in suicide’. (And the group sharing propaganda is ISIS, which I guess isn’t really ‘operating within the law’.)

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                                              • Why don’t individual hate crimes count? Those are acts of violence directed randomly, but usually happen with one victim.

                                                The definition of “hate crimes” is heavily subjective, political, and geared to protect minorities so the data is not good. And we’re also introducing a lot of background noise here.

                                                …the thing we are discussing is activity by *Muslim Americans*, or at least Muslim immigrants. Domestic terrorism.

                                                Domestic terrorism is terrorism that is domestic, that’s where it happens, not who died or who killed. Lots of terrorists overseas target tourists, if that ever happens here then their corpses will still add to the body count.

                                                To compare *failed attacks* to anything, you have to have some sort of big list of ‘attempts at mass random violence by the population’, which in addition to neither of us having, is *extremely* hard to define.

                                                Agreed it’s hard to define and impossible to do, but I’m not sure it makes the point irrelevant. I’m trying to make a “quality not quantity” argument, with some of the really high body counts being a reflection of the quality of the attacker and not “chance”.

                                                Proportionally, Muslims should be committing 2% of the mass violence crimes in America. They appear to be committing *about* 8%, in a very very rough estimate.

                                                Your 8% is from counting events, not corpses. If we stayed with corpses we’re at what, 40% or more?

                                                And your 8% also discounts the Boston Bombing, which is problematic to the point of absurdity if you’re trying to count events of mass violence.

                                                Further, we can dial up the definitions and tell a very different story. Killed or injured more than 50 people limits us to the Boston Bombing and Pulse. Although there’s an element of cherry picking there, it might be appropriate because these events inflicted a lot more trauma on the country than the typical 3-dead.

                                                …the ‘animal rights groups’… aren’t anywhere near the level of the pro-life network, who have actually managed to kill two people since 9/11.

                                                Agreed pro-life is much worse, and even counting bodies is probably understating things. However they are bigger in other countries, and they are known for crimes against property here. If we were going further back in time I’d include McVay’s outfit, but I’m not sure if they survived the shock of his actions.

                                                white supremacists, which commit crimes even *more* out of proportion to the population.

                                                Oh, I believe it. But the equiv would be narrowing the focus from “all Muslims” to “radical Islam”.

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                                                • The definition of “hate crimes” is heavily subjective, political, and geared to protect minorities so the data is not good. And we’re also introducing a lot of background noise here.

                                                  *You’re* introducing a lot of background noise here. I made some really clear, easy-to-determine rules for comparison, and you’re the person who wants to bring in other stuff to puff up the Muslim side, so I’m pointing out you have to include that on *both* sides for a *comparison*.

                                                  And while the Muslim stuff *makes all sorts of lists* as evidence for things, actually collecting ‘undirected violence’ or whatever we’re trying to collect is pretty difficult. A Muslim guy punches some people in a bar due to the bombings in Syria makes all sorts of lists as ‘terrorism’, a non-Muslim guy punches some people in a bar because his sports team lost does not make any lists at all. And both are equally stupid to worry about.

                                                  Domestic terrorism is terrorism that is domestic, that’s where it happens, not who died or who killed. Lots of terrorists overseas target tourists, if that ever happens here then their corpses will still add to the body count.

                                                  1) That’s not what domestic terrorism means.
                                                  2) We’re specifically talking about restricting immigration, under a theory that Muslims commit more terrorism *here* than their population proportions *here* would suggest, so, yes, who is committing it matters.
                                                  3) Start including overseas events (Or people coming from overseas to commit terrorism here), and you have to switch from Muslims being 2% of the population to them being 22% of the population. (OTOH, there’s probably not any sort of age imbalance world-wide.)

                                                  Your 8% is from counting events, not corpses. If we stayed with corpses we’re at what, 40% or more?

                                                  No, it’s 23%. 88 out of 385 dead in mass shootings.

                                                  From the last ten years, at least. (Erm, the last ten years when we started this. The Trolley Square shooting was 2/12/07, so got included to start with, and has continued to be.)

                                                  And your 8% also discounts the Boston Bombing, which is problematic to the point of absurdity if you’re trying to count events of mass violence.

                                                  It also discounts the Oklahoma City Bombing, the largest domestic terrorism attack in history, which killed approximately as many people as all Muslim domestic terrorist attacks added together…and then doubled.

                                                  Further, we can dial up the definitions and tell a very different story. Killed or injured more than 50 people limits us to the Boston Bombing and Pulse. Although there’s an element of cherry picking there, it might be appropriate because these events inflicted a lot more trauma on the country than the typical 3-dead.

                                                  If you don’t think the Virginia Tech shooting, or the Aurora theater shooting, or fricking *Newtown* didn’t have a large effect on the country, I don’t know what to tell you.

                                                  But the equiv would be narrowing the focus from “all Muslims” to “radical Islam”.

                                                  Not really in that way. Contrary to what people seem to think, there isn’t a radical Islam network *in the US*. There’s not really a group of people we could narrow anything to.

                                                  There certainly *is* such a network, a few of them in fact, but they exist in other countries. (Which, incidentally, is, to loop everything back, is why the Obama administration required people from ‘non-visa requiring countries’ to get a visa anyway if they had visited certain countries…because part of visa clearance is check to see you *haven’t* been screwing around with those people.)

                                                  Terrorist groups fund themselves by one of two ways. They either commit crimes, or have rich sponsors, or both. They use this money to bribe authorities and hire more minuscule and purchase weaponry.

                                                  White supremacists fund themselves as criminal organizations. Organized crime, often drug dealing or bank robbery. They’re essentially *gangs*, except operating at a higher level.

                                                  Radical Islam works entirely different…actually, I don’t know how they work in other countries. The claim is always that they have sponsors, but ISIS appears to be looting their way across the Middle East, so perhaps they go with crime also.

                                                  Doesn’t really matter. My point is, that’s not how it works *here*.

                                                  Muslim terrorists do not fund their operations here using crimes. In fact, they don’t fund their operations *at all*. They buy a damn gun or some pressure cookers or use a car they already had. And they have no support organization. There is not any ‘group’ at all. Rarely, they might get *training* from the network, but that’s it.

                                                  And the same with all other terrorists groups in the US. ALF may run around *claiming* it does things, but in reality it has a bunch of tiny groups that say they’re ALF that does things, and no money’s moving around. Same with the pro-life people, although that’s more ‘a bunch of respectable people constantly talk violence and then act utterly shocked when, every few years, someone takes them at their word’.

                                                  White supremacists organizations, OTOH, are completely different in how they are structured. It is a criminal funnel of money that moves upwards and ends up in the hands of ‘militias’ that arm themselves and plot government overthrow, and meanwhile pay off or infiltrate local police and commit crimes with impunity.

                                                  It’s actually *very worrying*, and the law enforcement people who actually *look at threats* are way more worried about it than radical Islam.

                                                  We just don’t talk about it as a country because Republicans get pissy when we do.

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                                                  • *You’re* introducing a lot of background noise here. I made some really clear, easy-to-determine rules for comparison…

                                                    Your “clear” rules claim the Boston Bombing wasn’t a terror attack.

                                                    I’m pointing out you have to include that on *both* sides for a *comparison*.

                                                    So if no one else is engaged in large scale bombings, we just ignore it?

                                                    actually collecting ‘undirected violence’ or whatever we’re trying to collect is pretty difficult

                                                    True, which is why we really should be limiting ourselves to violence above a certain level.

                                                    A Muslim guy punches some people in a bar due to the bombings in Syria makes all sorts of lists as ‘terrorism’,

                                                    Are you seriously claiming this is on “all sorts of lists as terrorism”? If so please link to a couple.

                                                    No, it’s 23%. 88 out of 385 dead in mass shootings.

                                                    So after we expand 1% to 2% of the population based on age; And after we limit the events we’re looking at to mass-shootings; And after we define “domestic” to mean something other than “crimes here”; We’re only at 10x the violence level of their population.

                                                    It also discounts the Oklahoma City Bombing…

                                                    Oklahoma City was in 1995. We’ve been discounting it because it’s 23 years ago, not because it was a bomb.

                                                    If you don’t think the Virginia Tech shooting, or the Aurora theater shooting, or fricking *Newtown* didn’t have a large effect on the country, I don’t know what to tell you.

                                                    We can change the threshold level to wherever you want, but the data (and the news) is dominated by spectacular large-casualty incidents. Well, unless you set the incident threshold so low that you’re counting bar fights as “terrorism” and then you’re using noise to obscure data.

                                                    Contrary to what people seem to think, there isn’t a radical Islam network *in the US*. There’s not really a group of people we could narrow anything to.

                                                    True, but it misunderstands the problem. Checking up on it… we’ve had about 250 Americans run off to join ISIS. Mostly they seem to be put to work recruiting their peers. http://www.npr.org/2015/09/29/444398846/report-250-americans-have-gone-to-syria-and-iraq-to-fight

                                                    Notice the problem? Some guy in Syria recruiting his high school fellows, until there’s a cluster of them there. Peer-to-peer recruiting. So… ah… huh? Imagine Roof (church killer of 9) asking his high school friends if they wanted to go slaughter a church. From the interviews of his peers, he’d have been jailed.

                                                    But the guys in Syria? From a certain mindset, they’re doing good deeds, defending their religion. That mindset is apparently fairly common. This isn’t only the problems every society has with nuts or losers looking for causes to kill for. It’s a corrosive idea to the point where there’s an army in Syria.

                                                    Terrorist groups fund themselves by one of two ways. They either commit crimes, or have rich sponsors, or both. They use this money to bribe authorities and hire more minuscule and purchase weaponry.

                                                    Terrorist groups need to pay for their army. Excluding that, unfortunately the amount of money needed to do terrorism is pretty low, if they have a job or even a credit card they don’t actually *need* a rich sponsor. McVay didn’t have one, Pulse didn’t, and so forth. Even the 19 911 attackers had a budget of… I think it was in the low-to-mid 6 digits. Plane tickets and box cutters aren’t expensive.

                                                    Radical Islam works entirely different…actually, I don’t know how they work in other countries.

                                                    It varies regionally, but I don’t think there are clear dividing lines between “radical islam” the religion (funded by Saudi oil and other ‘church’ type moneys) and “radical islam” the terror movement. Think about how the pro-life movement gets its funding. Of course there are also regions where they’re basically the gov, and crime, charities, and deep pocketed people (Bin Laden was a Saudi Billionaire) fund them. And yes, by “gov” I’m including “the US gov” at certain times and in certain places.

                                                    White supremacists fund themselves as criminal organizations. Organized crime, often drug dealing or bank robbery. They’re essentially *gangs*, except operating at a higher level.

                                                    Yes, and a fair bit of this exists because of what the inside of prisons are like.

                                                    ‘militias’ that arm themselves and plot government overthrow.

                                                    They’re criminal organizations who pretend to be revolutionaries, that they’re not can be measured by the lack of mainstream support for their ideology and by counting corpses. Below is a progressive web-site making your argument. Since 911 (as of 2015, before Pulse), the White Supremacy groups have killed 48 people and the Islamists have killed 28.

                                                    Part of the problem is he’s including “Homegrown violent extremists can be motivated by any viewpoint on the full spectrum of hate?—?anti-government views, racism, bigotry, anarchy and other despicable beliefs”.

                                                    https://thinkprogress.org/right-wing-terrorists-are-killing-more-americans-than-jihadists-are-and-now-the-doj-will-act-9000a7e09ed5#.7881age9e

                                                    The poster child for this sort of thing is that guy who killed 9 in a black church, but you’ll notice he’s not attracting praise and followers. His core problem (other than being a loser and a killer) was taking the ideology a lot more seriously than the criminal groups do. So it’s the same as the pro-life groups where one of them goes to kill a doctor.

                                                    I can easily believe that the White Supreme groups pose more of a threat to the gov than Radical Islam, but that’s because of the numbers and because organized crime is a bigger threat to democracy than terrorism.

                                                    None of this changes that Radical Islam, despite it’s very low percentage of the population, is apparently going to continue to be responsible for the occasional pile of corpses, way more than their numbers would suggest. Further, those piles of corpses will occasionally be really awful even by mass murder standards because the people doing it will be more functional than the typical mass murderer, maybe even professionally trained.

                                                    “Professionally trained” btw does not have to mean “overseas terrorism” training. McVeigh was ex-military. Pulse was a professional gun bunny.

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  9. You know about Chatham House? It’s also known as The Royal Institute of International Affairs.

    They recently had a poll in which they gave people the following statement:
    “All further migration from mainly Muslim countries should be stopped.”

    They allowed three responses: Agree, Disagree, Neither Agree Nor Disagree.

    Here’s the result:

    In our survey, carried out before President Trump’s executive order was announced, respondents were given the following statement: ‘All further migration from mainly Muslim countries should be stopped’. They were then asked to what extent did they agree or disagree with this statement. Overall, across all 10 of the European countries an average of 55% agreed that all further migration from mainly Muslim countries should be stopped, 25% neither agreed nor disagreed and 20% disagreed.

    Majorities in all but two of the ten states agreed, ranging from 71% in Poland, 65% in Austria, 53% in Germany and 51% in Italy to 47% in the United Kingdom and 41% in Spain. In no country did the percentage that disagreed surpass 32%.

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    • Yet, here’s polling of actual Americans –

      https://poll.qu.edu/national/release-detail?ReleaseID=2427

      American voters oppose 51 – 46 percent President Donald Trump’s order suspending for 90 days all travel to the U.S. from seven nations, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today.

      Voters oppose 60 – 37 percent President Trump’s order suspending immigration of all refugees from any nation to the U.S. for 120 days, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University Poll finds.

      Voters also oppose 70 – 26 percent Trump’s order suspending indefinitely all immigration of Syrian refugees to the U.S.

      American voters give President Trump a slightly negative 42 – 51 percent job approval rating, compared to his negative 36 – 44 percent job approval in a January 26 survey by the independent Quinnipiac University. Today, men approve 50 – 43 percent, while women disapprove 58 – 35 percent.

      Voters approve 44 – 41 percent of the way Trump is handling the economy. Looking at his handling of other issues, voters:

      Disapprove 56 – 38 percent of the way he is handling foreign policy;
      44 percent approve of his handling of terrorism, as 49 percent disapprove;

      Disapprove 56 – 41 percent of the way he is handling immigration issues.

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      • I saw that poll. I also noticed its sample and methodology details. I also saw this poll. Sadly, I can’t find the sampling/methodology, I did do some light comparisons of “who got the election right?” between IBD/TIPP and Quinnipiac and IBD/TIPP did better.

        I think sample and methodology had something to do with that.

        This is the information from the IBD/TIPP poll:

        Despite almost nonstop criticism from politicians, prominent business leaders and the media over President Trump’s decision to suspend refugees for 120 days, the public still supports Trump by a margin of 51% to 48%, according to the latest IBD/TIPP poll. Trump, however, starts his presidency with very low approval ratings.

        Here’s information about the Investor’s Business Daily. TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence (TIPP), sadly, doesn’t have a Wikipedia page.

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        • As has been noted the results of polls depend on exactly how you ask the question, by the choice of words you can get the results you desire. Thus polls validity on issues is even less than polls on election where at least the question is who would you vote for for X.

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          • So out went the candle and we were left darkling.

            by the choice of words you can get the results you desire

            This is dangerous because, by the choice of words, you can also get accurate results.

            And if they are not the results you desire, you can find yourself appealing to the wording.

            Here’s another meaningless poll that changes when you change the wording.

            President Donald Trump’s executive order barring refugees and people from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the US is one of his most popular so far, according to a new poll from Morning Consult and Politico.

            The order has a 55% approval rating among voters polled, with 35% saying they “strongly approve.” Thirty-eight percent of voters said they disapprove.

            If people answer differently because of the wording, it might not be because of what they think, it might be because of what they’re willing to say out loud.

            And if we’re in a place where there are a lot of people who don’t agree with us even though we think they do, because we have been careful with wording, we may find ourselves waking up in a country that elected Donald Trump a second time.

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  10. Prediction after listening to the 9th Circuit arguments: injunction upheld but narrowed to apply only to people who had a legal right to be in the country prior to the EO (or whatever the exact language being argued by DOJ).

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    • I didn’t listen to the arguments, but the big weak points for the *entire* EO going in where (a) that it sets up a religious test within each nation; (b) that it discriminates based on nationality which Congress has expressly forbidden the executive from doing (for immigrants). Do you think the DOJ did a good job addressing these arguments?

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      • I thought everybody seemed to do a good job, but (a) on the constitutional issue the central problem appears to be that the EO is facially non-discriminatory, but newspaper clippings evidence an underlying discriminatory intent. This poses a problem that the EO could very well be Constitutional when issued by non-Trump, and I don’t think that is a comfortable place for the Judges to go (‘While President Obama could have entered this order, we find President Trump cannot.’)

        On (b) their appeared to be an agreement that the Congressional restriction only applies to a narrow portion of the injunction, I believe visa issuance. When the opponent was told he had four minutes left to argue, he said that we’ve only been discussing the constitutional issues and if the courts wants to avoid those there is this statute, he was interrupted by the Obama appointee who indicated that wouldn’t help because it only applies to a narrow range of concerns. And I think she laughed in saying we would still have to deal with the Constitutional issues. (This was new information to me)

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        • Thanks PD! I agree that relying statements from candidate Trump and Giuliani et al. on the intent of the law is a direction the court really shouldn’t be heading in. I thought the Washington judge was dubious of the argument that a “minority religion” test was substantially different from a “religion test” and it will be interesting to see if the 9th Circuit agrees.

          Reading the transcripts from that decision also gave the impression that everyone involved was doing a thorough, well-intentioned job dealing with the legal issues. It’s actually pretty amazing how efficiently and politely the in-court discussions get right down to legal issues at stake. Especially since I’ve yet to see a single bit of news coverage that actually discussed the issues and not what this means D and R elections.

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      • The main reason for my prediction had less to do with the laws that I’ve never read, but the balancing of interests for imposing a preliminary injunction. The DOJ has re-positioned the government on stronger grounds than it exerted a week or so ago, and cannot complain about interference with national security concerns for that portion of the injunction that prevents the government from doing things it no longer says it intends to do. This was a good tactical decision.

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      • So they ruled that there are potential Due Process violations, which also apply to people here illegal. Unfortunately (though understandably) they said the establishment/equal protection issues are worrying but will not rule on them because the Due Process case is already so fucked.

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        • A 4-4 Supreme court means that the 9th Court’s ruling stands.

          Look at the Senate. How quickly can they get a judge through there, if (for whatever reason) they suddenly decided they really really wanted to?

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        • The really big factors from my read of the rulings is that in the courts opinions balance of convience/harm strongly favours the plaintiffs and that they aren’t going to rewrite policy on the fly but leave it to the President to make his own policy comply with the law.

          Plaintiff side can push a lot of arguments with a small amount of support because they only need to be credible, rather than proven assertions. Defendants can of course bring their own credible but not proven arguments, but suffer from a notable lack of support to their assertions (this speaks a lot to the executive branch’s incompetence at sending out this order at a drop of a hat, they didn’t have an established rationale for the decision to send down the line).

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          • Excerpt on that point:

            At this point, however, we cannot rely upon the Government’s contention that the Executive Order no longer applies to lawful permanent residents. The Government has offered no authority establishing that the White House counsel is empowered to issue an amended order superseding the Executive Order signed by the President and now challenged by the States, and that proposition seems unlikely.

            Nor has the Government established that the White House counsel’s interpretation of the Executive Order is binding on all executive branch officials responsible for enforcing the Executive Order. The White House counsel is not the President, and he is not known to be in the chain of command for any of the Executive Departments. Moreover, in light of the Government’s shifting interpretations of the Executive Order, we cannot say that the current interpretation by White House counsel, even if authoritative
            and binding, will persist past the immediate stage of these proceedings.

            [I imagine that the career DOJ attorneys are not amused by this beating.]

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            • Moreover, in light of the Government’s shifting interpretations of the Executive Order, we cannot say that the current interpretation by White House counsel, even if authoritative
              and binding, will persist past the immediate stage of these proceedings.

              This actually solidifies a problem I’ve had here from the start: The EO is not law.

              I mean, that was obvious, but it doesn’t quite mean what people think it means.

              For example, I’ve heard some people talking about ‘severability’ in relation to this EO…which doesn’t have a lot of meaning in an EO. Mostly because if parts of it are found bad, and the court decides those parts ‘take down’ another part, the president can just issue *another* EO with only that ‘bad’ part.

              Severability only applies to *existing laws on the books*, where parts are bad but the law is still in force and we have to keep using it under the legislature gives a new one. It doesn’t really apply to EOs, which are literally just staff instructions the president gives out, and can (and should!) be re-given out when courts strike down any part of them.

              People should realize it’s not actually laws or EOs that are unconstitutional, it’s *actions of the executive* that are unconditional or not. When a specific behavior is created by a law, and the courts disallow that behavior, we say that law was ‘struck down’.

              But what the hell does it mean with this incredibly vague EO that no one seems to understand, and whose interpretation keeps shifting? Everyone’s using weird terminology here, because there have *already* been things the government has done that it ceased to do when ordered by the court. Are those things ‘struck down’? No, because that doesn’t mean a lot here.

              Guys, the actual text of the EO is not important, and we should probably stop acting like it’s a law that will be ‘upheld’ or ‘struck down’. What we need to talk about is the *actions* of the executive, and which of these actions have been blocked by the courts, and which actions the courts appear to be allowing.

              Also, we need to watch where the executive is *backing off* from things, by not actually doing thing, but still claiming it *can* do them, as a way to sneak past the courts.

              Like its ‘vetting’ for green card holders. It’s trying to keep that going by *not actually blocking anyone* anymore. It needs pointing out, repeatedly, that it has no legal authority to block current green card holders from this country in any manner whatsoever, and thus it cannot hold sham ‘vettings’ where it pretends it can block if it doesn’t like the answers given, even *if* it doesn’t actually block anyone.

              And it would be really nice to have a court slap that down permanently, for example.

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  11. The Christian community has been complaining for years that there’s a slow motion Christian genocide going on in some Islamic nations. Under ISIS that has become a lot more explicit and faster.

    So, would it have been “unconstitutional” to prioritize Jewish refugees during WW2?

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    • >>So, would it have been “unconstitutional” to prioritize Jewish refugees during WW2?

      It would have been unconstitutional to ban all non-Jewish refugees, yes, obviously. You are allowed to set up religion-neutral policies that have unequal outcomes, so you could prioritize individuals who are singled out for concentration camps. You are also allowed to have “presumed refugee” status for certain religious groups, so if the Nazis say “we’re targeting Jews and homosexuals” the US can say that Jews and homosexuals have “presumed refugee” status which makes the interview/vetting process simpler (each applicant does not have to demonstrate that they are being targeted because we’ve established that). But it would be unconstitutional to only allow Jews and completely disallow non-Jewish homosexuals, for example, which is one of the arguments against Trump’s executive order.

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      • which is one of the arguments against Trump’s executive order.

        You lost me. What has he done that’s comparable? His order is basically against the countries we’re bombing that don’t have effective governments plus Iran.

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        • (1) The EO prioritizes refugee claims made by people of the minority religion, within a given country this creates a religious test and is therefore unconstitutional. One way this *could* be done is if Trump goes through country by country, demonstrates that followers of Religion X are under systemic persecution and therefore if you are of Religion X you get refugee status by default (that is, the bureaucratic process is expedited). BTW, my view is if the White House can demonstrate this I see nothing wrong with prioritizing such people, but I suspect their interest is in the *kind* of people who are let in and not actually in identifying extreme victims.

          (2) The EO discriminates based on nationality which is explicitly forbidden by a Congressional order and therefore unconstitutional (“discriminated against in the issuance of an immigrant visa because of the person’s race, sex, nationality, place of birth or place of residence.”). This could also be circumvented if the EO was actually moved through Congress as law (and it would have the added bonus of giving our representatives an opportunity to discuss and go on record in support of the law), but here again Trump is more interested in symbolism than in governing effectively.

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          • Has case law expanded the Religious Test clause in Article VI?

            3: The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

            Possibly it has, but a quick google search is not showing that the Test Clause has universal applicability outside of the above.

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              • Yes, but also don’t forget the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment.

                Which is not to say that the government is doomed to lose the challenge, by the way. Congress has delegated substantial discretion to the President in this arena. But there are still limits, and equal protection, establishment, and free exercise are the ones that come most immediately to mind.

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              • Ok, I just re-read Burt’s post on this. I was confused by the QED position you were taking… as if it was settled case law. I can see how you would argue it… I’m wondering if you would bet your house on the outcome? I wouldn’t.

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                • My fault, I meant that comment as a summary of what has been successfully argued against the order in lower courts, not as settled law.

                  As to the outcome, I’d bet a bottle of scotch that the religious test will be partially or completely stricken. I think the court will be very weary of any executive order that is intended to change the ethnic/religious makeup of the US, and this language does not provide even a fig-leaf of support to the contrary. This could have been avoided if they went through country by country and prioritized refugees, or if they just added some caveats like “individuals of a minority religion *facing disproportionate persecution* get preference”. As it stands, the administration will have to argue that there is a rational national security argument for why a Muslim from Europe gets priority over a Buddhist from Myanmar and I don’t see that holding up, especially take together with President Trump’s statements that the law is intended to favor Christians.

                  The one thing that could actually work in favor of the order is the fact that it hasn’t been implemented yet and none of the details have been decided. So it’s possible the court will simply not want to rule on something that’s still up on the air, and I don’t have any experience to say how likely that is.

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                  • Yes, I expect it is a much safer bet that the EO didn’t under-go “extreme vetting” to help it pass scrutiny. But I still think that leaves us in a weird space where its not so much unconstitutional as uncompetent.

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    • That article says:

      They and untold thousands like them are the extremists who hide among us, the right-wing militants who, since 2002, have killed more people in the United States than jihadis have. In that time, according to New America, a Washington think tank, Islamists launched nine attacks that murdered 45, while the right-wing extremists struck 18 times, leaving 48 dead.

      But 49 were killed at Pulse Nightclub.

      What’s going on?

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      • These numbers games are always a little ridiculous. Even ignoring that, it’s pretty hard not to notice that the outcome depends 100% on whether or not you start your impartial data-driven analysis on 9/10/2001 or 9/12/2001. Statistically dangerous or statistical nothingburger? Only the choice of endpoints will decide.

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        • I’m cool with starting it in 2002. I’m fine with allowing the thumb on the scale.

          I just can’t help but notice that there is a difference between the thumb being on the scale and the article being demonstrably wrong within seconds of it having been posted as evidence.

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        • it’s pretty hard not to notice that the outcome depends 100% on whether or not you start your impartial data-driven analysis on 9/10/2001 or 9/12/2001. Statistically dangerous or statistical nothingburger?

          All of my comments on numbers allowed them to avoid that day.

          …although we really shouldn’t. It’s tempting to ignore outliers because they’re not “typical”, but really bad outliers affects the total risk of the system.

          This is true in Wall-Street, i.e. “picking up pennies in front of a steamroller” like “Long-Term Capital Management” did. And it’s also true for things that risk war or natural disaster or whatever.

          Moving us back on topic, the numbers posted don’t adjust for a tiny population percentage.

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          • As usual, it all depends on the question you’re trying to answer, and for this case, I agree with you. The question of which groups are more dangerous in aggregate doesn’t seem like it has any real policy implications for this problem.

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            • The question of which groups are more dangerous in aggregate doesn’t seem like it has any real policy implications for this problem.

              We make policy decisions based off of aggregate group behavior all the time.

              Not every doctor is going to be competent, but imho “brain drain” is a good thing for us. Similarly not every immigrant is going to be a entrepreneur, but enough are that it’s a really good thing. Some of the smartest people in the world come to our colleges.

              There are all sorts of policy implications from all that. For example IMHO we should be handing out free green cards with every Masters Degree from the top 200(ish) colleges.

              We’re actively bombing groups of people because their culture does nasty things and isn’t willing to play nice with ours. There are immigration policy implications in that too.

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    • Ignoring the questionable nature of that line of analysis, it seems to me that an equally valid response to that revelation would be, “We should keep a closer eye on domestic right wing militants.” Which is something that makes quite a bit of sense to me.

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  12. Ninth circuit court of appeals ruling of Washington v Trump (awesome short name for the case) is handed down. Unaminously rejects reinstating the ban. From Trumps tweeted reaction, it looks like we’re going to the Supremes on this, which aught to be good wholesome fun entertainment for the whole family.

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    • From a quick skim of the ruling: wow, the court was pissed.

      Notable excerpt: The Government indeed asserts that it violates separation of powers for the judiciary to entertain a constitutional challenge to executive actions such as this one. There is no precedent to support this claimed unreviewability, which runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy.

      Second notable excerpt: The Government cites Mandel for the proposition that “‘when the Executive exercises’ immigration authority ‘on the basis of a facially legitimate and bona fide reason, the courts will [not] look behind the exercise of that discretion.’” The government omits portions of the quoted language to imply that this
      standard governs judicial review of all executive exercises of immigration authority.

      The DOJ accused by the 9th Circuit of mis-citing and misrepresenting a case! That’s gotta sting.

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      • To be fair to the DOJ attorneys, their client put them in a really bad spot. Their best hope seemed to be, it doesn’t matter if its unconstitional or not, you aren’t allowed to decide what is constituional here.

        Which is itself a pretty bonkers legal theory. But executive discretion is pretty much all they had to go on.

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        • You still don’t mis-cite cases. I’ve met a couple of DOJ attorneys – they were representing the Department of Interior in a complex case that I was tangentially involved in — and they were deadly serious people when it came to representing their client. They knew that even the slightest sign of unethical behavior could have tremendous spill-over effect.

          (maybe I just met some hard-asses and other people in the agency were more arrogant about the deference due them. but i doubt it.)

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          • Oh yeah that’s definately really bad to do. Beyond it being unethical, the one thing every single teacher of court advocasy has ever told me is never mis-cite an authority, it tanks your crediblity with the judges, not just on that point but everything else. Legal advocasy being all about your ability to be seen by the court as an aid to the judge make the right decision rather than a hinderance.

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