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Isaac Clerencia
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Today, Donald Trump marked Holocaust Remembrance Day with an order against refugees, and a statement that pointedly didn't mention Jews. It talks about horror inflicted on "innocent people;" it makes no reference to how those people were chosen, or why.

And given the executive order of the day, that omission seems far clearer of a message. Among other things, it bans all refugees for the next 90 days (at which point it may be renewed); bans all Syrian refugees indefinitely; and most significantly, bars all nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the United States, regardless of their visa status, for the next 90 days – the time required for the DHS to make a longer-term decision about this.

To clarify what this means, it means that anyone from one of those countries who is living in the US legally, even as a permanent resident, who was outside the country today cannot return for an as-yet indefinite period. (It may also apply to dual citizens, or to US citizens who were born in those countries; the text of the order is very unclear) I am personally aware of a few hundred people who are directly affected by this, at this stage: people who were out of town for one reason or another and are now separated from their homes and families. From some back-of-the-envelope guessing, I would say that there are at least 5,000 people who were affected today, possibly much more.

Rather impressively, even Dick Cheney described this as "[going] against everything we stand for and believe in."

On the radio today, they were talking about how Muslim communities are concerned about possible "civil rights issues" going forward, but they were rather limited in the concerns they raised. Korematsu is still the law of the land; never overturned, it held that the Japanese internment camps of the 1940's were legitimate exercises of executive power. Those won't happen tomorrow, because there's no extra PR vim in it, and it's still too soon; many people would remember and object. But two years from now, or three, when elections are starting to come up? Internment of nationals of various countries doesn't seem so far-fetched.

After all, Wednesday's orders around building a wall between us and Mexico included provisions to build and staff large detention centers next to them.

And both today's order and Wednesday's instruct the DHS to publish regular reports of crimes committed by immigrants, to remind us all of what we're being protected from. If you haven't read a report like this before, and your German is OK, look up back issues of "Der Jude Kriminell;" I added a scan of one below, although it's grainy.

Oh, the other picture? Those are eyeglasses. You can still see some of that pile at Auschwitz-Birkenau; they didn't keep all of it, they didn't have room. It's next to the giant pile of human hair, and the giant pile of baby shoes.

I just want you to remember what this day remembers.

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Oh, look, Basket of Deplorables on display

But, hey, I'm sure they are all hard-working Americans who should be outraged, outraged, that someone would call them on their beliefs and actions.


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A fellow Googler was assaulted by police in Northern California

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"Stochastic terrorism" is a concept in the theory of war. It refers to putting out open calls for terrorism, and trying to incite specific acts of terror, without knowing who (if anyone) will take you up on it. It's one of the principal tactics of ISIS outside its home regions: this is why we hear of "ISIS-inspired" terrorists, who had no particular funding, backing, or material support from the organization, but who were simply acting on a call to arms put out by the terror group to go out and kill infidels. (Or other Muslims, or whoever else ISIS feels like killing that day)

It's not a legal concept, and in fact our laws have no good mechanism to handle it. "Vague threats" are deliberately not threats, under the law; you can't be imprisoned for saying "I'm gonna kill that son-of-a-bitch," or for "Someone oughta do something," unless one can show that in the context it was said, that's something that would cause someone to fear for their life. (It's actually even more complicated than that, but that would be a whole long article in its own right. +Ken Popehat wrote a short summary relevant to today's news here:

In general, this sort of narrow law is wise; we don't want people being rounded up and imprisoned for anything that sounds vaguely angry. However, it creates an opening for groups like ISIS to actively try to radicalize people around the world.

In the specific case of ISIS, of course, there's a workable solution, one which involves the liberal application of high explosives. However, not all terror threats so conveniently live in places where we feel free to engage in open warfare.

All of this brings us to today's news. Remember that just a few days ago, Trump "suggested" that the election was rigged, and that if he loses it, people should reject its legitimacy. Today, he took that a step further, "suggesting" that, if elected, Clinton should be murdered. That is to say, Trump has rather pointedly rejected the most fundamental principle of democracy: that elections should be the mechanism which decides who is in office.

(People often say that elections are the basis of democracy, but that's not quite true. Syria has had elections for decades, in which you could vote for anyone you wanted, so long as it was Hafez (or later Bashar) al-Assad. The crucial thing which defines a democracy is that after an election, the losers step down. The preconditions for people to feel safe doing this are complex, and have a lot to do with why democracy is working better in some places than others)

Beyond the obvious problems of an American Presidential candidate openly preaching against democracy is the issue we just discussed: this was not merely a thinly veiled call to overthrow a potential US President, but a textbook example of stochastic terrorism.

As this article put it:

Stochastic terrorism, as described by a blogger who summarized the concept several years back, means using language and other forms of communication "to incite random actors to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable."

Let's break that down in the context of what Trump said. Predicting any one particular individual following his call to use violence against Clinton or her judges is statistically impossible. But we can predict that there could be a presently unknown lone wolf who hears his call and takes action in the future.

Stated differently: Trump puts out the dog-whistle knowing that some dog will hear it, even though he doesn't know which dog.

h/t +Lev Osherovich.

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Let's take the counterfactual but very similar "In Defense of Military Unions."

Doesn't sound like a great idea, does it? The reason is simple: militaries and paramilitary organizations like the police are coercive instruments of state power. Since at least the 1500s, It's been recognized as fundamentally important to stability that that coercive power remain in the hands of the state. And since the Roman republic, it's been recognized as critically important to democracy that that power be utterly subordinate to democratic institutions.

This is why the military offers recruits only two options: take the terms which are offered or remain a civilian. It's why the military severely curtails soldiers' civil rights. Because everything we care about in our society depends on the consensual illusion that political power comes from somewhere other than the barrel of a gun.

Police are less dangerous, but not much less. Police unions create contractual relationships with the state. Those contractual relations have the force of law. And that private law supervenes on democratic attempts to create police accountability, because -- in criminal matters -- the management of police departments is the very authority to which the police are accountable.

In all other labor organizing, labor and management are negotiating over the usual subjects of contracts: how much is labor paid; what are the conditions of retirement or disability; how many hours are worked, and when. But the primary subject of negotiation between police unions and city governments is policing strategy and citizens' civil rights.

It is utterly impermissible for governments to negotiate with private parties about civil rights in a way that actually supervenes on public law.

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WTF indeed
What. The. Actual. Fuck.

"All those protesters last night, they turned around and ran the other way expecting the men and women in blue to protect them. What hypocrites!" an audibly emotional Patrick said.

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