Morning Ed: Crime {2017.04.24.M}

It’s definitely harder for people to stay out of prison when we prevent them from getting jobs.

Sometimes when someone attempts suicide, they really want to be dead.

Beware the Grammar Vigilante (and the Apostrophe Protection Society)!

Military-trained police are trained not to shoot if they can avoid it, and police departments consider this a problem.

The crackdown on unathorized immigrants will have some not-unexpected winners.

Points for ingenuity. If only they had played their internet at a reasonable volume.

The most clickhere title of 2017: How Rape Survivor Wed School Sweetheart and Built a Family After Having Hit Man Kill Her Abusive Dad

Rock on, NASA engineer widow lady. (Is there any government agency that doesn’t have its own law enforcement wing?


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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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83 thoughts on “Morning Ed: Crime {2017.04.24.M}

  1. Is there any government agency that doesn’t have its own law enforcement wing?

    This is really confusing to me. We only have one law enforcement agency – The New Zealand Police. Enforcement powers seem like something that is best kept contained.

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    • Two thoughts…

      How many levels of government does New Zealand have that can make criminal laws that are inconsistent or incomplete? Assuming more than one, are the New Zealand Police required to understand and enforce all of them appropriately? Are there local enforcement policies? Eg, in recent years the US has cities and states that imposed policies that said enforcement of laws against possessing small quantities of marijuana were “the lowest priority” activity, meaning that cops shouldn’t have arrested you for possession, they should have been out enforcing parking violations.

      In a country the size of the US, there would be a natural suspicion of a single million-person national police force.

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    • How many billions of dollars have passed through NASA to private sector contractors? They’d better have their own Inspector General, or an IG with jurisdiction over them.

      As for the incident itself, we laugh when we hear about some stoner showing up at the police station complaining that someone stole his weed. This woman whose husband worked at NASA asked for help selling Apollo 11 artifacts. Of course there should have been an investigation. It was handled poorly. Maybe more agencies should share an IG office so that there would be more expertise in investigations.

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      • I guess I assume any agency of any significance has a law enforcement division to investigate violations in its area of specialization, and at some point they bring in law enforcement experts. Here, the NASA inspector general called in armed federal agents (NASA or FBI?) and the county sheriff’s office to help conduct the sting. Did things go wrong because the NASA IG was a desk-jockey out of his depth when things went down? Or did the sheriff’s office treat this like any other illegal contraband case (drugs)?

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        • Our problem is that each agency has it’s own LEA, when what it should have is simply an IG office. If the IG office comes to believe that a law has been violated, instead of acting on it’s own, it should be required to present it’s findings to a designated LEA (e.g. NASA would contact the FBI), who would then evaluate the findings to see what level of LE involvement is appropriate, and the LEA would then take the lead.

          Of course, that is kinda what happened here, and for some reason the LEAs turned it into a comedy of errors, probably because they drank whatever kool-aid the NASA investigator was offering.

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            • AFAIK, only in the sense that NASA has it’s own guards for it’s facilities. They do everything from man the gates (the larger NASA facilities are gated, for obvious reasons) or doors, to — on the bigger ones — patrol and handle things like speeding.

              I’m pretty sure those guys are directly employed by NASA, but I might be wrong. I’ve only ever interacted with them to show my badge or ask for directions.

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            • I don’t think they do, at least not badged officers with arrest powers. But (IIRC) other federal and state agencies do. If I get a few minutes I’ll see if I can find a list.

              ETA: Thus my original comment is in error, since not all agencies have a LEA.

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              • Apparently, NASA OIG does fill that role.

                NASA OIG special agent badges have a striking appearance, for at the center of each badge is the blue NASA logo. In addition to the badge each agent carries credentials which set out the agents law enforcement authority and contain a one inch by one inch head and shoulders picture of the agent. NASA OIG special agents are armed, have arrest authority and can execute search warrants. They receive their law enforcement training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Georgia. Their hands-on training at Glynco includes hand-to-hand combat, arrest techniques, small arms and shotgun training, high speed pursuit and skid techniques, water safety, interrogation techniques, surveillance training, and search warrant execution techniques. They also have an extensive classroom program at Glynco that includes criminal law, criminal procedure, and related disciplines. The classes contain Agents from various agencies, and the top graduate is designated the class honor graduate.

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            • The court opinion says there were “three armed federal agents and three Riverside County Sheriff’s personnel” when the warrant was executed. I speculate that the federal agents were FBI, but it doesn’t say. Maybe they were MIB.

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  2. “It’s definitely harder for people to stay out of prison….” when they commit crimes… I’m all for less stupid background checks and finger printing, and less gov’t electronic surveillance/invasion of privacy, but you know, folk could not commit crimes too.

    “Military-trained police are trained not to shoot if they can avoid it”…. Conversely, civilian cops are trained to shoot the dog/cat, randomly throw in flash bangs, and shout “stop resisting!” as they beat handcuffed suspects who are lying on the ground.

    “Is there any government agency that doesn’t have its own law enforcement wing?” I doubt very much. That why the feds needed to buy a shitload of ammo a few years ago.

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  3. Criminals and jobs: Wouldn’t the counter-argument be that jobs should first go to people that didn’t break the law in the first place and might need them to? Its a tricky problem.

    The Grammar Vigilante needs something else to occupy his or her time.

    Police seem to be really trigger happy and do not want to risk even the slightest harm even if its a paper cut.

    Of course the private prison industry is going to win big under Trump. Grifters are going to grift and jobs in the private prisons can go to loyal Trump voters as patronage positions without violating capitalists principles.

    Thats the platonic ideal of clickbait. It has something for everybody. Sexual abuse and child abuse for the left, young kids marrying each other and revenge violence for the right.

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    • Criminals and jobs: Wouldn’t the counter-argument be that jobs should first go to people that didn’t break the law in the first place and might need them to?

      It would be the counterargument, yes. I don’t think it’s a good argument – but it’s the counterargument likely to be presented.

      And, based on the article – how the holy hell can databases that don’t even specify the final outcome of the charges – convicted, acquitted, dismissed and the prosecutor got a tongue-lashing for wasting the court’s time, dropped within hours of arrest as it became clear who the actual offender was, etc. – be also accessible to potential employers? In Canada, the only two things employers can find out are whether (1) the applicant has a conviction for which a pardon has not been issued, or (2) there is an outstanding warrant for the applicant.

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  4. I appreciate that the Grammar Vigilante points out that punctuation is not grammar. Self-appointed grammar snobs routinely mistake “grammar” to mean “anything to do with language.” There is considerable irony there.

    The thing is, as a good descriptivist, I totally accept that in informal non-technical use, “grammar” has this wider meaning. Linguists have no more exclusive claim on the word than do physicists to complain about people using “velocity” as a synonym for “speed” in informal non-technical use.

    Ordinarily, that would be that. But the entire basis of grammar snobbery is to reject just this argument. Right is right and wrong is wrong and that is that. Hence my feeling entitled to point and laugh at self-appointed “grammar” snobs complaining about punctuation.

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  5. Ohio Inspector General Randall J. Meyer told CNN affiliate WSYX inmates transported the computers “without being checked by security through several check points … It’s almost as if it’s an episode of Hogan’s Heroes.”

    So, you’d rather your prison guards be *effective* Nazis? I don’t think you thought your analogy all the way thru, Mr. IG Man.

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  6. I hate reading a story and getting through 2/3 of it before I realize it’s suspicious. I should pay more attention to sources. The military-veteran officer story was from NPR. They dismissed the claims of “illegal searches in a vehicle, to the use of profanity with citizens and then also contaminating a crime scene of a potential homicide investigation” presumably because they liked the angle of a white cop getting in trouble for not shooting a black man.

    If backups arrive on scene and find an officer and a suspect pointing guns at each other, or the suspect waving a gun around, then shooting the suspect is a reasonable decision. Even the fired officer admitted that. It’s a problem when a rookie doesn’t follow standard procedures because he thinks he knows better. He may have been right, but it’s a concern. The article played that down though, and put race into the first paragraph. Disgusting, really, considering that nowhere in the article did they allege that there was a racial angle to the incident or investigation.

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    • It’s a problem when a rookie doesn’t follow standard procedures because he thinks he knows better.

      It’s more of a problem when standard procedure is to shoot the moment the officer thinks things might go sideways.

      As I’ve said before, they are cops, they are PAID to take risks to protect the community. Hell, they are paid considerably better than soldiers are and soldiers take considerably greater risks. Policies which place officer safety above and beyond civilian lives are misguided.

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      • “It’s more of a problem when standard procedure is to shoot the moment the officer thinks things might go sideways.”

        Agreed.

        We’ve had disagreements before based on my reluctance to believe the narrative of an article. In this case, I don’t know where the line is between “might go sideways” and “waving the gun”, and I doubt the reporter can clearly make that distinction either. He presents no clear evidence on that matter. The author did know the races of the individuals, though (paragraph 1), and the other claims made against the officer (paragraph 30).

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        • I remember this story when it first happened, and my reading of the local news reports was less racial slanted. From that, the story was more that the initial officer felt he had the situation in hand, and the second officer acted without allowing the initial officer to keep the lead.

          That alone is a problem, regardless of the SOP.

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    • “They dismissed the claims of “illegal searches in a vehicle, to the use of profanity with citizens and then also contaminating a crime scene of a potential homicide investigation” ”

      buddy…of course there were all sorts of reasons, identified after a thorough investigation of the Mader’s background, why he was garbage trash who shouldn’t have been anywhere near a badge and we’re all better off without him on the force. Of course they found reasons. It’s just like how, if Mader had blown Williams away without even a warning we’d have learned that Williams was a known drug dealer with a history of violence and an unlicensed firearm with which he’d made a threatening motion towards a police officer.

      Of course.

      “It’s a problem when a rookie doesn’t follow standard procedures because he thinks he knows better.”

      Considering that the standard procedure is to shoot the shit out of people maybe “not following standard procedure” is what we’re hoping for.

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      • There might be bad motives behind his firing. Yes. That’s not proof that there were. I’m not going to play along with the author and pretend like we know what happened. I don’t know if there was a bad cop, bad cops, or bad administration. I know there was a bad reporter.

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        • So what you’re saying here is, the article should have focused on the vague statements by Blosser about “illegal searches in a vehicle, [the] use of profanity with citizens and then also contaminating a crime scene of a potential homicide investigation”.

          Not, like, the stated reason for being fired, which was “endangering the life of another officer” (who rolled up without announcing himself and started blastin’.)

          No, no; the important part of this story is how Mader used profanity.

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          • I’m saying that the stated reasons for the firing have nothing to do with race, but the article as written didn’t reflect that. I’m also saying that we don’t have enough evidence to judge whether the firing was reasonable.

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    • Man, our criminal justice system is so fucked up folks like Ross Douthat are beginning to think corporal punishment might actually be a better way to go. I take that as a sign of progress, myself, even if “Ross Douthat” is merely Jaybird’s not-so-cleverly-concealed mainstream media handle.

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      • That was a typical Douthat piece. Fact less and unconcerned about it. It was a call for the Old Ways which are always good and true. Only the slightest hint of looking at the pitfalls of his suggestions.

        The use convicts for work was just priceless. Where is D on immigration, i don’t remember? Can’t go wrong with forced labor, that is even cheaper than illegal immigrants and you have a nice solid legal hold on them.

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        • I kinda think we already do use convicts for work. We all know the jokes about “stamping license plates” and whatnot. On top of that, there are already a huge number of call centers benefiting from the Prison-Industrial Complex.

          On one level I think it’s great that they’re learning a trade.

          On another, what the hell? Seriously, what the hell???

          No wonder we need to keep marijuana illegal. It’s the best way to keep call centers here in the US and make sure that the person on the other end of the line has an intelligible accent.

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        • From the linky Jaybird, uh … I mean Ross, included in his article:

          the prevailing view is wrong. Employing the tools of economic analysis, this Article demonstrates that prison imposes enormous but well-hidden societal losses. It is therefore a deeply inefficient device for serving the utilitarian aims of the criminal law system — namely, optimally deterring bad social actors while minimizing total social costs.

          I’m not going to say the dude made his case (cuz I can’t access the paper) but one thing I’m inclined to accept almost without further evidence at this point is that the case against our current criminal justice practices is overdetermined by economic, moral, and social cost analyses. What we’re currently doing – the status quo – is so obviously f***ed up there’s just no coherent defense for it.

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          • I think “criminal justice practices” encompasses a lot of things and i have a lot of problems with many of those very things. The idea of using prisons is not one of those. We should have a lot fewer people in those prisons and treat them differently. But aiming at prisons instead of , lets say, poorly funded public defenders or having more mental health care and substance abuse treatment or better policing seems silly.

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            • We should have a lot fewer people in those prisons and treat them differently.

              Yes, exactly. Which suggests to me that you think we, as a society, need to completely revise our conceptions of crime and punishment. I don’t think we’re disagreeing here.

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              • Maybe, probably. But the idea that public whipping, tarring and feathering, etc is somehow an improvement over prison is not that great an idea.

                I am curious about the Gauntalope though. Sounds like a distant cousin to El Chupcabra.

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                • But the idea that public whipping, tarring and feathering, etc is somehow an improvement over prison is not that great an idea.

                  To be honest, I don’t understand the perspective being articulated here. Suppose that you were convicted of a breaking and entering crime and had the choice between a two year prison sentence and a public flogging followed by three months of restitutive behavior. Which would you choose?

                  You might think that’s an apples to oranges comparison, but it really isn’t. The purpose of our criminal justice system (ostensibly) is that a) individual bad actors need to be punished for their crimes, b) a signal needs to be sent to others in the community that similar actions will also be punished. Both of the above achieve that end. After that, we’re into cost-benefit analyses of various prescriptions based on a utilitarian and economic calculus, analyses which include concepts like “efficacy” and “cost” and “recidivism” and “rehabilitation” and so on. And even then they leave aside a perhaps more fundamental question re: whether the state has the right – and upon what justification – to deprive individuals of their liberty, merely as a form of punishment, for years on end and sometimes for the remainder of their natural lives.

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                  • Applause.

                    The status quo is absolutely monstrous.

                    I suppose I like, in theory, the idea of locking murderers in a room and telling them “you don’t get to live in polite society for the next 20 years and when you get out you’re going to be working minimum wage jobs until you die of old age”… but we’re not just doing that to murderers.

                    Worse than that, the whole second part of the punishment (the work minimum wage jobs) applies to everybody from murderers down to people who bought a bag from an undercover cop.

                    And that’s without even talking about all of the nonconsensual sodomy jokes.

                    It’s absolutely monstrous.

                    What the hell are we doing?

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                  • If the state has the right to deprive people of their liberty then they have the right to publicly flay them. If you can , or can’t do, one then you can, or can’t, do the either.

                    I’m not sure why it should be the choice of the criminal what kind of punishment they get. If punishment and deterrence are to work then why do they get to choose their preference. If we want deterrence to work it needs to take effect quickly but that is an aside.

                    Mostly the problem i see with this is failing to understand who are the people that commit most felonies. Most are young, under 35, men. I’ve worked with a lot of them. The type that end up committing felonies tend to be hyper masculine, very intent on proving their toughness and are tough. Lots of gangs use group beat downs as an initiation rite. Proving how tough you are is a way of being a man, being part of the group, showing the girls you are good enough. Having The Man beat you won’t be a punishment, it will be a test, a rite you had better pass. The public watching will be friends and love interests who will be cheering you on and promising you a rocker of a party when you are out in a couple months. For Ross D the public shaming and pain will be a huge deal, not so for a lot of people that commit violent felonies. I could tell a hundred anecdotes but one that comes to mind is watching a pissed off 17 punch his nasty abusive dad in the chin. The dad, who did local MMA, just took the punch. He didn’t go down and he didn’t’ even wince. His son, who hated him, was impressed. That guy is never going to be deterred by a threat of violence. The punishment that deters Ross or you or me or jay isn’t the kind of punishment that will deter the people who commit most violent felonies.

                    I’ll also add that lots of people who end up in jail have mental illnesses. The thought of punishing a person with schizophrenia or PTSD from being abused a child with physical punishment is appalling.

                    If we want less worse punishment that just have less punishment. Just less punishment. But kinder gentler beatings ain’t that.

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    • It is very important to cultivate people who can stand back and ask “wait, what in the hell are we doing?”

      I’m also always fairly confused by the irony of the difficulty of finding death penalty drugs when we’re smack dab in the middle of the biggest heroin death epidemic since the 70’s.

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      • So a room with Robotic Hookers and Free Blow with generous sides of Heroine (from Afghanistan, not Mexico)? Lock the inmate in there with a stern admonishment not to come out until… well, don’t come out? The optics might be awkward, but probably sellable.

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        • What about the optics of a firing squad? If (part of) the purpose of killing a capital offender is to deter similar acts in the future then why not make it a public spectacle in which citizens, including the victim’s family members, get to see that person’s body riddled with blood splattering bullets? Anodyne solutions (heh) run entirely counter to the goal of deterrence, yes?

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          • I think the optics of a firing squad are closer to what the optics ought to be for what it is we’re doing.

            I’m more concerned about chemically smothering people in a semi-secret room resembling a laboratory.

            Just as I’m more concerned about putting people in semi-secret rooms…essentially forever.

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            • This is starting to sound like the young anti-war activists demanding that the public get lambasted with pictures of death and destruction. I know death and I know war, though at a gentle removes from both, I don’t need visual aids.

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      • Why not put the convict under general anesthesia? Granted, there’s a possibility of the recipient staying awake, but that’s something we should be working on anyway, and I’d have to guess that if we’re not worried about him ever waking up, we could crank up the levels and reduce the likelihood of failure. Once he’s unconscious, there are any number of ways of killing him. The goal is to reduce cruelty and reduce failure rates, right?

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        • I think that the whole anesthesia thing requires a level of skill and expertise that I’m not certain can be replicated easily enough that a high school graduate with a checklist can follow it.

          I imagine that finding an anesthesiologist who is willing to fly around the country and knock people out so they can be executed would be exceptionally difficult.

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  7. Brooklyn Moves to Protect Immigrants From Deportation.

    The DA has created a policy that tailors prosecutions to avoid, when possible, the deportation or detention of immigrants charged with certain misdemeanors or nonviolent crimes.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/24/nyregion/brooklyn-immigrants-deportation-crime.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fnyregion&action=click&contentCollection=nyregion&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=5&pgtype=sectionfront&_r=0

    Why are they so desperate to protect criminals? Must be the votes.

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    • Why is this hard to understand? If you have a community with a large number of peaceful, productive people with a significant percentage here illegally, then having law enforcement actively target those people for removal for any reason is going to create distrust and resentment of law enforcement within that community, which makes it orders of magnitude more difficult for law enforcement to perform investigations within or around that community.

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      • Who said anything about law enforcement actively targeting illegals? This isn’t about actively targeting illegals. It’s about choosing not to charge folks with things that could get them deported office they’ve already been arrested. Should the DA really use a person’s immigration status as a basis upon which to charge someone? Not to mention the fact that if the cops arrest you, there’s a good chance that you aren’t being either peaceful or productive

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        • Right, and if charged, they will get deported when it is reported to ICE. If the feds want to punish cities for failing to report deportable offenses, then fine, they will report such offenses. No one said they had to actually charge anyone or everyone with those offenses, because prosecutors got discretion.

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          • If the feds want to punish cities for failing to report deportable offenses, then fine, they will report such offenses.

            I’m not sure that’s correct from a formal pov. I can’t find a linky right now so maybe the lawyers could chime to correct me if I’m wrong, but NPR had a segment a few weeks ago on that very topic. Specifically, that federal authority cannot compel states or cities (whatever) to report federal immigration violations to the feds. That judgment was determined during (I think) the Bush era and was re-introduced and rejected as part of, or related to, one of Trump’s EOs.

            Hmmm….

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    • Why are they so desperate to protect criminals? Must be the votes.

      Exactly. I’ve long advocated for a new and improved deportation policy, one in which folks who pay an illegal wages or salary for services received get shipped to Guantanamo.

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          • Not just that. The next step is to suppress the illegal voter turnout data by obfuscating the trail of evidence.

            Trump woulda won by millions – MILLIONS! – if it weren’t for Democrat vote-fraud, dude. Well established fact.

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              • Well sure. Conservatism cannot fail to appeal to immigrants, it can only be failed by pandering neo-Marxist Democrats or ideologically corrupt RINO conservatives.

                Here’s the distinction (it just came to me!):

                Conservatives think that if you peal off all the add ons to policy and culture what you’re left with, the analytical residue (so to speak) is “the good stuff”, whereas progressives and liberals think that what you add constitutes the same. Both are fucking crazy.

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          • Yes, in the hope that they can get them citizenship via amnesty at some point in the future. First the Dems have to keep their potential voters from being deported. It’s not that hard to reason if you actually think, Kazzy.

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            • So, your view is that Democrats, as an institution, want to violate the law by concealing folks illegality on the premise that they will vote D in future election cycles even tho those folks can’t legally vote and might be deported merely by engaging in the act of voting?

              Christ, only a group of dumbasses would engage in that type of thing. Of course, your whole theory is premised on Democrats being dumbasses, so it’s an evidence free perfect circle.

              Meanwhile, the GOP and Trump….

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  8. Re: prisoners, immigrants, basically any marginalized group – yes, we marginalize them, and then we blame them for being marginalized and point to this marginalization as evidence that we should further marginalize them.

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