Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Real headline: ESPN pulls Asian American announcer because his name is Robert Lee

In a headline that seems like it should be out of The Onion, ESPN has pulled an Asian American announcer because his name is Robert Lee. I don't even know what to say anymore. We have reached a level of stupidity that shouldn't even possible. Robert Lee shares the name of Confederate General and Mexican-American war hero Robert E Lee. That is enough for him to lose a gig.

Robert E Lee is a controversial person of course and there is a discussion to be had about his role in America. I personally think his statues should stay. As a student of history I have found Lee to be an honorable man, but people are free to disagree. He did fight for the Confederacy, which was undoubtedly a bad thing, but there is more to him than that.

But no matter what you think of Robert E. Lee, you have to admit that Robert Lee has nothing to do with him whatsoever. Asian American Robert Lee is not a confederate general, he's a sports announcer. He's not a white supremacist and he isn't even white! He's just a random guy that happens to have someone else's name.

My great fear is that this will continue. What if some jerk does something the left doesn't like and he happens to share my name? Will I be forced to change my name just because a bunch of people are mad at someone else?

Anyways, I don't have much else to say about this, I'm just shocked that this was a thing that happened. People are losing their minds. Regardless of everything that is happening in this country we should at least realize that just because someone has the same name as someone else doesn't mean they should be attacked for it...

Monday, August 21, 2017

Ohio Judge ambushed by gunman, returns fire with concealed carry.

Ohio Judge Joseph Bruzzese. Washington Post/AP

A judge was ambushed by a gunman in Ohio and, along with a probation officer, shot and killed him. Washington Post. The Judge, Joseph Bruzzese, fired five rounds at the attacker and may have hit him after the attacker charged him and opened fire. The attack took place in Stuebenville, the location of the infamous rape case. Shockingly, the attacker, Nathaniel Richmond, is the father of one of the suspects convicted in that case. There doesn't appear to be any link between the suspects son and this case and though the suspect had criminal cases before Judge Bruzzese, it is unclear what the motive was. Bruzzese was injured in the attack but is expected to survive. 

My Comment:
Another example of concealed carry saving a life. Though it is unclear if Bruzzese was the one to take the suspect down as there was a probation officer returning fire as well, it's clear that having armed people around saved this judge. He may have saved his own life, or the probation officer may have, but either way he lived because a good guy with a gun was there. 

It's unclear to me if the probation officer was carrying in the course of his duty or was doing so as a private citizen. According to Ohio state law, probation officers can carry if they pass a safety course (Section C). From what I can gather it's optional but this incident makes a good case that it should be required. 

I am not surprised that a judge would be carrying a gun. They have a job that basically requires them to make enemies. Judges make life changing decisions every day and it's not surprising that a lot of people would be upset with them, just for doing their jobs. Actual attacks on judges are rare due to the respect most of society has for them, but there are a few crazies out there that would attempt an attack like this. 

The suspect in this case has a pretty poor pedigree. His son, Ma'lik, was involved and convicted in the Stuebenville rape case. That case was pretty horrible and was one of the few media cases that actually lived up to the hype in terms of how bad it was. He was convicted because he digitally penetrated a passed out drunk girl.

Still, it doesn't seem like his son's conviction for rape had anything to do with this case. So what was the motive? Unclear. It does appear that he had a few cases under Bruzzese and that might be enough. I don't want to speculate too much but it could have been anything from a ruling he disagreed with to just the fact that he was the judge that was involved in his cases. It's hard to tell without a confession and with the suspect dead we might never know. 

An attack on judges is extremely rare. This is due in part to their popularity. Most people seem to respect judges and very few people have a visceral hatred of them that the police, legislators and the media get. An attack on a judge isn't likely to find any defenders.

The local officials involved in this case compared it to the Alexandria shooting targeting members of congress. I am not sure that comparison is apt. Though both incidents targeted elected officials, the motive in the cases are different. The Alexandria shooting was a politically motivated terrorist attack that was designed as a decapitation attack on Republican leadership. Though we don't know the motivation for the Stuebenville attacker, it seems very unlikely to have been done for political reasons. 

No matter what though it seems clear that concealed carry helped in this case. Had the judge and the probation officer been unarmed there is no question that the judge would have died. And since we don't know what the attackers further intentions were, more people could have died. There is also the possibility that the suspect in this case could have fled if he hadn't been shot. Instead he was the only one to die and we even managed to avoid the expense of a trial. That's a good outcome and the only downside is that the judge was injured in the attack. 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

A few quick thoughts on Afghanistan.

President Donald Trump. 

As you probably know President Donald Trump is expected to give a major speech on Afghanistan tomorrow night. Afghanistan is, quite frankly, a mess. Afghanistan's government has been taking unsustainable casualties against both the Taliban and ISIS. They have lost wide swaths of territory to both organizations and have suffered several major terrorist attacks. In short, they are essentially losing the war. 

Given how bad things are in Afghanistan you would have thought we would have heard more about the issue in the election season and the first few months of Trump's presidency. But we have not. I hardly remember Afghanistan coming up in the election at all, except for Bernie Sanders completely flubbing an answer on the war. The media briefly paid attention when Trump dropped the MOAB on ISIS, but after that they went right back to ignoring it. The issue just hasn't come up, even when there were major terror attacks there.

Trump is expected to deploy additional troops to Afghanistan. Some people might be a bit disappointed that we are rejoining a war that Barack Obama said we were done with, but I would say that we never really left. And, again, we can't really feel betrayed by Trump's strategy here if nobody ever seemed to ask him what his policy actually was. 

I don't think there are any other options, at least none that would have been acceptable. There were other solutions floated but none of them were good. The first was a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan. Though that would avoid further US troops deaths and avoid the sunk cost fallacy, it would be a disaster. Losing Afghanistan to the Taliban, or worse, ISIS, would completely invalidate the sacrifice of all the troops that died there. 

Furthermore abandoning Afghanistan would essentially cause the government to fall back to the Taliban. They are a horrible terrorist group by themselves, but the real fear is that they would allow other terror groups to operate freely and with support. ISIS is probably out, given that they fight the Taliban as well, but there is a real chance that Afghanistan could resume it's role as a terrorist haven and training center. Al-Qaeda isn't dead and given a safe haven they could come back. 

And there is a real chance of ISIS taking over as well. Right now they control quite a bit of territory in Afghanistan and have a decent chance of taking more of the country if the government falls. And it's very possible that an influx of foreign fighters fleeing from Iraq and Syria could use the country as a backup base to regroup and rearm. That would not only undermine our goals in Afghanistan, it would allow our worst enemy to rise from the ashes. 

The other option besides deploying troops was to send in a mercenary army. How serious this proposal was I am not sure, but it seemed like the option was on the table. Using a bunch of military contractors to fight the Taliban and ISIS seems like it would cause huge problems. People tend to hate mercenaries, even when they do a professional and expert job, and there is no guarantee that they would do so. It would be a PR nightmare even if they managed to win. 

I also don't know if there is a contractor out there that can handle a problem as complex and serious as Afghanistan. This isn't the middle ages, we don't have huge mercenary armies just standing around waiting to fight. And even if we did, I don't think that it would be any cheaper that to actually use our own troops. 

That means that we really don't have any good options in Afghanistan. We can't just let them fall and using mercenaries is likely to cause more problems then to solve. That leaves sending in troops. Though the numbers don't seem to be all that many, it might just be enough to keep the Afghani government from falling. It's about the only choice that Trump has so it shouldn't be surprising that he is doing so... 

New video shows Chinese and Indian troops brawling in border area.

Not much to say about this one that I haven't said in previous posts about the China/India border conflict. I just wanted to post this video because it shows how serious this fighting is getting. The previous video I showed from the last conflict was just a pushing and shoving match where it didn't look like anyone could have gotten hurt.

This time the violence seems to have escalated. Though the video isn't clear and is from fairly far away you can clearly see people get knocked over. It also looks like people are throwing rocks at each other as well. Both actions could potentially kill someone. And if that happens, we could have a war...

It's fairly disturbing to see two nuclear armed countries have skirmishes like this. Though I continue to think that war is unlikely, having two groups of soldiers brawl out like this has an extreme chance of causing an unintended death. In short, there's a reason why you don't have your soldiers act like antifa thugs. Let's hope that calmer heads prevail in China and India.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Terror attack in Finland kills two and wounds eight.

A memorial for the victims in Turku. Reuters. 

A terrorist attack in Finland ended with the suspect shot, two dead and eight wounded in Turku. Reuters. The attacker was armed with a knife and stabbed multiple people before police arrived and shot him in the leg. His identity hasn't been released and neither has his motive. Police believe that he was not part of a larger terror cell and acted alone. Finland is a generally peaceful country, but worries about terrorism have increased, due in part to the ramming attack in neighboring Stockholm, Sweden last April. The attack comes a day after the massive terror attacks and raids in Spain. 

My Comment:
Yet another terrorist attack. The Reuters article was very cautious to not say this was Islamic terrorism, but that's just them being careful. There is video where it sounds like someone is yelling "Allah Akbar" and the Finish police have admitted that the attacker had a "foreign background". Though that isn't conclusive proof of this being a terror attack caused by a Muslim extremist, it makes any other option less likely. And honestly, if it wasn't an Islamic attack, what else would it be? Just some random psycho? Seems unlikely.  

The attacker was fairly disgusting in his choice of targets. Other sources say that he stabbed a woman who had a baby with her. I guess there is something to be said for him not stabbing the baby as well, but still, how horrible is that? These attackers have no shame. 

Finland is about the last place in the world where I would expect a terror attack. It's just a country that doesn't make the news very often. I was vaguely aware that they were taking refugees in as well, but my impression was that it wasn't a large number. I also thought that a lot of those refugees left Finland because it is fairly cold and miserable there in winter. 

Still, Finland now joins the ranks of European countries that have had a terrorist attack. this is a minor one but it counts nonetheless. It seems as though any of the countries that participated in the refugee program had to have these kinds of terror problems...

This seems very likely to be a case of a lone wolf attacker. The plot was fairly simple and doesn't look like it had anything in the way of a complex terror plot. There was only one attacker and he wasn't armed with anything other than a knife. That doesn't seem to be a major plot to me. Just a lone guy inspired by terrorists. I guess there is a small chance he was in contact with other terrorists, but my gut says this was a lone wolf attack. 

Given that this was likely a one wolf attack, I don't know if we can call this an ISIS attack or not. My guess is that the attacker was inspired by ISIS propaganda and the various actions that ISIS has taken. I doubt that he had any contact with any larger terrorist group, but if he pulled off this attack in the name of ISIS, I am comfortable in calling it an ISIS attack. 

I would not be surprised if the triggering event for this attack was the massive terrorist attack in Spain. Though that attack only killed 14 people, it was the largest ISIS attack in recent memory. When a major terrorist attack goes down, it's not surprising when the lone wolves come out of the woodwork and launch their own attacks. That doesn't mean that if the attacks in Spain never happened this one wouldn't have, but I do think that this follow up attack was chosen for maximum impact. 

It is fairly disappointing to see an uptick in terrorism in Europe after a long lull. After the London Bridge attack, there wasn't much in the way of successful terror attacks in Europe for most of June and all of July. That good luck was apparently too good to last as the past few days in August have been a disaster. And given that these attacks tend to come in streaks, I would not be surprised if we had more terror attacks before the month is over...