Monthly Archives: August 2019

Confounding The Obvious

This story is probably emblematic both of the favoritism shown to police-turned-criminal-defendants, and of something deeper.

Three police detectives “had sex” with an 18 year old woman they had in custody.  In handcuffs, no less.  By any sane definition, this is – and always has been – rape.  It is also difficult to imagine a more flagrant and shocking abuse of power by police officers.

The sentence is probation, not prison.  That may be an appropriate sentence for any number of reasons, but the reasons given are why we comment on the whole affair this morning.

Two of these reasons stand out.  One is that the incident took place before the state closed a “loophole” by passing a law explicitly saying that police officer sex with a person in custody was rape by definition, as if this needed to be said, as if any sane person could regard this as a loophole needing to be explicitly closed by language in a statute.  The other is that the judge stressed that the victim was a liar and not credible, to which a more normal response would be:  even if that’s true, so what?  The detectives are going to argue “consent”?  Under those circumstances?

Alas, things are not normal in our legal profession and our judiciary.  And this is another example of the surprising role – surprising to us, at least – of the profound intellectual errors the pseudo subject of “political science” – the most common undergraduate course of study for lawyers and judges – has wrought.  We’ve written about this before.  We may come back to it again, so often does it make itself felt in this or that high profile context.

Briefly:  political science encourages a “positivist” view of things.  In the positivist view, only “empirically verifiable” or “analytically true” statements have cognitive meaning.  And strictly speaking, in reality only the former do, because the latter are mere tautologies, true merely by definition, devoid of cognitive content, always subject to being refuted by empirical “proof”.

So it is possible, in the positivist trained mind, that in a situation where there has been a rape by definition – which would of course be merely an analytically true statement – the axiomatic nature of that assertion could be overcome by an empirical finding of consent due to the victim credibility issue.  Until, of course, what is not coincidentally called the “positive law” codifies the axiom, precluding that conclusion no matter what the empirical evidence might be.  But such a positive law did not exist at the time of the incident in question.  Thus an obvious incidence of rape can be deemed otherwise by a positivist.

Which is to say that positivists are not sane.

They nevertheless dominate the legal profession and the judiciary.  Positivism is at the foundation of their very intellectual formation (though they are not educated enough to be aware of this, or its significance), and there is no atrocity that they are not capable of in their administration of the “law”, as they understand it.  Rape and murder are not off the table, because they do not exist as concepts – or in reality – in any meaningful way unless and until they are positively proscribed by appropriate authority or empirically established by a “fact-finder”, usually a jury.

 

 

 

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A Short Musing

Why – with the advent of the #MeToo movement and Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein and so on and so forth – hasn’t the “Ke$ha-Dr. Luke” matter been re-evaluated?

Why is Dr. Luke getting a pass?

Maybe he should.  We don’t know.  But on the surface, we think it pretty obvious he shouldn’t.  So we’re a little perplexed.

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A Moment In Philadelphia

And a missed opportunity.

There are agendas.  Apparently Philly’s District Attorney Larry Krasner has one:  “reform”.  One would think there’d be widespread agreement that reform is in order.  And maybe there is.

But there’s a counterargument, as twitter traffic will attest.  Krasner’s agenda is encountering law enforcement push back.  Perhaps not all law enforcement, but the unofficial-official LEO party line, which is that Krasner coddles criminals and undermines police and in general is just a “disgrace”.

Philly’s federal prosecutor is cheer leading the push back.  Which is kind of odd, but then some seem to believe that this is US DOJ policy.

Not to get too partisan about it all.  We pride ourselves on not being partisans over here at LoS.

And here’s the point.  There is really only one take-away from the #PhillyShooting incident:  it was very fortunate that no one was seriously injured or killed, including the gunman.  The police are to be commended for their restraint and collective good judgment.  The lawyer is to be commended for his heroism and good judgment.  This was an all’s well that ends well scenario by any sensible interpretation.

But the official party line twists the incident into an occasion to take potshots at a reform District Attorney who apparently doesn’t sufficiently toady for the LEO party line, somehow dreaming up an “argument” that the fact anything happened at all is the DA’s fault, and we put argument in quotes because that thesis is too poorly reasoned to be taken seriously as a decent argument.

We’re saddened that the prediction we made in our last post – that we would be the only place where Shaka Johnson’s heroism was noted – came true so unambiguously, so quickly and so readily.  It’s a testament to the raw political power of the LEO party line, and the lamentable media servility to it.  And it is another example of the malignant belief that facts having only one legitimate interpretation can be interpreted in an entirely different way if we suppress the truth enough, and push the falsehood enough.

We hope Mr. Krasner can withstand the barrage, because the lines have been drawn, the sides chosen and the die cast.

 

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Heroic Philadelphia Lawyer

His name is Shaka Johnson.  Read all about it here.

This is one of those situations where a lot of folks deserve commendation.  The police were patient and restrained in the face of six of their comrades having been shot.

Yes, shot.  Somewhat miraculously, none of them had life threatening injuries.

So, kudos to the Philly cops.

But Johnson is in a league by himself.  Apparently the gunman was a sometime client who called his lawyer – Johnson – in the midst of the tense standoff.  Johnson goes to the site, the cops put him in body armor and he goes in and convinces his sometime client to surrender.

Wow.  Nice job.  Really, really nice job.

We’ve had a lot of shooting stories lately with really sad endings.  Now we have one – out of Philadelphia, of all places – where everyone went home safe, or at least safely to jail, including the “gunman”.  And the key figure in it all was a lawyer.

Crediting a lawyer with heroism, by the way, is such an alien and disfavored narrative in the media at this point that no outlet is even stressing the obvious heroism shown by the lawyer here.

His name is Shaka Johnson.  It would be nice if we heard that name a lot more over the next few days.  But we’re not holding our breath over here at LoS; our paean is likely to be the only one.

Maybe there should be an annual “John Edland” award for unheralded heroism in the service of peace and justice.  We think 2019 has a hands-down winner already.

Ugh.

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Trade War Counter-Spin

So, farmers are upset and claiming that the “trade war” with China is putting them out of business.

We don’t want to see any productive hard working people put out of business.  Especially farmers.  But we also think there may be foundational and structural adjustments to be made and that it’s not easy to do that without some pain.

The way things have been working, we run enormous trade deficits with China and other cheap labor countries so we can buy trinkets at Walmart for virtually nothing, while China buys up our food from our farmers, which is one of the only things ameliorating our trade deficit with them.  One of the effects of all this is to sustain our relatively primitive agrarian economy while China builds up its relatively more sophisticated manufacturing economy.

There’s a sense in which this arrangement is sort of obviously, you know, unwise.

But there’s a deeper issue.  We have grown very accustomed to cheap food and cheap consumer goods while at the same time we have incredibly expensive housing and health care, and pretty high taxation.  Put another way, we transfer an enormous percentage of our national income to bankers for mortgages, government for taxes, and insurance companies for health care.  This sustains in high fashion a basically parasitic managerial class that draw their income from government, or large institutions that feed off of government directly or indirectly, like banks and insurance companies.  And defense contractors – you know, the MIC.

It’s only our opinion, but we think it’s more economically healthy to pay relatively more for food and necessary manufactured goods, and relatively less for housing and government and weaponry and troops.  So we’d like to see farmers paid more by their own neighbors and countrymen for what would probably wind up being better food, but that won’t happen easily because the parasitic class in New York City and Washington isn’t just going to roll over and take a relative pay cut.

So, you know, it’s a difficult adjustment.  Maybe we can bridge the gap with increased subsidies to farmers.  We’ve been doing a lot of that since the New Deal anyway!

Just a little musing here.

 

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Mutual Admiration Society

The Solicitor General’s Office and the SCOTUS.

Things get a little slow over at the SCOTUS blog in the summer, so we guess they figure it’s time to publish the SCOTUS praising lawyers from the SG’s office, or lawyers from the SG’s office praising each other, or the SCOTUS, or vice versa.  Or whatever.

They’re just a little insulated.  As we have noted before.

 

 

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Eureka! The Pied Piper Of The Amateur Epistemologists

His name is Brian Leiter.  He’s a law professor at the University of Chicago.  And he’s a big fan of Nietzsche.  He writes a blog about it.

Ugh.

Odd that we had never run across the man before – we have our own interest in the subject – because clearly he’s been at it a while.

Somewhat recently we socialized with one of our friends from our undergraduate years who was also a philosophy major but never became a member of the legal profession, as we did.  We were finally able to complain, to someone who would actually understand from outside, about the sheer horror of a real world practical profession in the grip of the Nietzschean insanity, inflicting its atrocities on the guilty and innocent alike, and preposterously dubbing itself a “justice” system.  He commiserated.

Where to begin?  Maybe with Xenophanes, who around the 6th century BC, and not long before Parmenides (whom we have discussed before) may have been the first western “thinker” to lend intellectual weight to what could be termed a “monotheistic” view of things.  It’s an imprecise use of the term, though, because neither Xenophanes nor Parmenides was explicitly advocating a “one god” hypothesis in the religious sense.  They were just thinking things through.

Reasoning, in other words.

So for Parmenides a thing cannot both “be” and “not be”; and since a thing changing necessarily entails going from one thing (that it presently is) to another, different thing  (that it presently is not ) you’d have both being and non-being in the same thing at the same time, which is logically impossible.  Or so the argument goes.  And then it follows that whatever is truly real must be one thing only, entire and complete.  And it must be unchanging and un-moving.  Therefore eternal.

And it also follows from there that everything we see and experience changes and moves and must therefore not be real and true.

Of course this was all rejected by Heraclitus at the time, but western thought in turn rejected him and came to embrace a modified version of the Xenophanes/Parmenides outlook, which did not reject the empirically observed reality entirely but rather accorded it a lesser reality and lesser importance than the unobserved reality that was “known”, if at all, only through reason, which was regarded as a faculty higher than mere sensory perception.

And what the west also came to understand about all this was that this view of things – that is, an unobserved, unchanging and unitary reality underlying the sensory, multiplicitous and changing perceived reality – was not the same as religious ideas of one god, heaven and hell.  But it was consonant with those religious ideas, and it was arrived at independently by respected thinkers who were not religiously inclined.  Which is to say that there were at least two independent sources of intellectual support for monotheistic belief.  And this in turn lends weight to such beliefs.  And they became, as they remain today, reasonable to believe.

But professor Leiter and the followers of Nietzsche base their view of things on the opposite proposition – that traditional monotheistic belief is unreasonable and has been superseded in the age of “science”.  They do not deny that there is an ostensibly valid process of reasoning that leads to monotheistic belief; rather, they deny that the process of reasoning itself is anything more than rationalization of a position taken out of psychological or emotional need or desire.

This is exactly the position of the legal profession and justice system in the United States circa 2019.  It is as untenable and destructive for that system as it was for Nietzsche himself who, as we noted before, went literally mad and became an invalid.  As it probably also is for Professor Leiter, who may have had a weird episode or two of his own.

The process of reasoning is mysterious and, it is true, a source of constant frustration for Nietzsche and his followers.  Not least because it is the most inescapable fact of our existence, no matter how mysterious it may otherwise be.  Nietzsche therefore affirmed reason even as he denied it because he had to use reason to attack reason, because reason is the only way we ever understand anything.  Nietzsche’s entire mode of “thought” is immediately self-refuting.  It’s idiotic.

The answer to that from the Nietzscheans, of course, is to deny that self-refutation matters.  But this is obviously pathological.  And then that objection is answered with psychological projection:  the Nietzschean makes the “pathological” accusation preemptively, echoing Hume’s declaration that reason is just the servant of the passions.  Thus, the argument goes, the well reasoned rejection of Nietzsche is just as pathological as the poorly reasoned “thought” of Nietzsche.  According to the Nieszscheans, anyway.

Nietzsche’s philosophy has an attraction for an immature mind that seeks primarily to outwit an interlocutor, not to attain learning or insight or wisdom through our exchanges with others but rather to brow-beat them into what is seen as a “losing” position.  So in addition to being idiotic it’s childish, too.

All of us philosophy majors encountered Nietzscheans along the way.  A few of us actually became Nietzscheans (not us personally, of course) but usually even those few who experienced an attraction to Nietzsche abandoned the whole thing after a while.  The solution with respect to anyone who didn’t would be to stop interacting with them.  Interaction would be obviously pointless if not eventually destructive for all involved.

Professor Leiter loves the “trolley problem“, because it supposedly undermines the basic traditional moral proscription against killing human beings.  You know, the trolley is rolling down the track and it’s going to kill five people but if you switch the track the five people will be saved but the trolley will still kill one person and that person is Beethoven, who has yet to write the 9th symphony.

But this supposed conundrum is both impossible and unintelligible for the radical empiricist a Nietzschean claims to be:  it can’t possibly be known that Beethoven will write the 9th symphony if he hasn’t written it yet.

This is why we say it’s tedious dealing with these arguments.  They are so poorly reasoned and so easily exposed, always exactly the same way:  pointing out the glaring contradictions.  We could have patience with youngsters sorting their way through their own thinking about things, who pass through a Nietzsche phase.  But we can’t long abide such nonsense in adults, who we would ordinarily just treat dismissively.  Or not at all.

But we’re not allowed to ignore a Nietzschean justice system.  It comes after you meaning to jam Nietzsche’s pathology and corruption of thought down your throat.  It has force at its disposal.  It’s a toddler with a loaded revolver.  It’s a nightmare.  It would be a sizable accomplishment to bring even a scintilla of sanity to it.

 

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