A short course in counter-terror theory

In the wake of the San Bernardino shootings, more Americans than before are trying to grapple with questions about the nature of terrorism, terror activity versus rampage killings, and what can be done to prevent these bloodlettings.

I have been studying these questions for years as part of my self-training. I learned some of the basics of counter-terrorism theory from a former SpecOps officer, and more from my Kung Fu instructor whose day job is as a criminal forensics and counter-terrorism specialist consulting to law enforcement. I’ve also read up on the subject, and thought carefully about what I’ve read.

The following is a primer on how people whose job it is to prevent and mitigate terrorist activity and spree killings think about it.

First I’m going to present a couple of perpetrator types which, between them, account for almost all terrorist acts and rampage killings. Later I’ll point at some edge cases and exceptions.

Our first perpetrator type is what I’ll call a “terror soldier”. This is not a term in use among professionals, I’m presenting it here in order to avoid pre-empting the term “terrorist”.

The terror soldier does not act alone. He has a network behind him; the network provides him with, at minimum, ideological and tactical direction. It may also provide him with safehouses, money, and weapons. Because the terror network has public political objectives, it either has an above-ground political arm or a deniable conduit to a “legitimate” political organization that can operate as its propaganda and recruiting arm.

The opposite archetype is the lone wacko. The lone wacko doesn’t have a network. His motivations are not public and political but personal and, usually, delusional. He is likely to have been a former mental patient, or to have a history that clearly indicates previously undiagnosed mental illness when it is scrutinized after he has gone violent. More often than nor he will have been on long term use of SSRIs (more than five years) or some other prescription antidepressent or antipsychotic medication, and the violent break will be associated with going off or changing his meds.

An important contrasting point about terror soldiers is that they are usually not clinically nuts. Terror networks (like covert operations in general) avoid recruiting mental cases because they’re brittle and unreliable.

A terror soldier has signed up for a bit part in a political war planned by others. A lone wacko is his own reason for slaughter; his motivations are not political but psychological and often inscrutable to anyone outside of his skull.

Generally, when you hear the phrase “terrorism” used to describe a mass shooting or bombing, terror soldiers are at the back of it. Generally, if you hear of a “spree killing” or “rampage killing”, a lone wacko did it. There are some exceptions, which I’ll get to.

These distinctions are important because lone wackos and terror soldiers have different threat profiles. A lone wacko is a tragedy but almost never a disaster; a terror network can scale up violence to much greater levels by deploying multiple soldiers, and is far more likely to have expertise in bomb-making, airplane hijackings, and other means that can inflict casualties well above the level of a rampage shooting with personal firearms.

The difference even has tactical consequences; armed civilian shooters are highly effective at stopping lone wackos, and a major reason is that wackos tend to freeze and surrender when shot back at. This is not the case with terror soldiers.

Thus, if you are a pro, you worry a lot about terror soldiers and much less about lone wackos. The lone wackos are much less dangerous, and (as we’ll see) there’s less you can do against them anyway.

These distinctions are also important because lone wackos and terror soldiers require different counterstrategies. To stop terrorists, you penetrate and destroy their support networks. In fact, you must do this, because unless the network is taken out it will recruit and indoctrinate more soldiers.

Lone wackos can’t be attacked through their networks because they don’t have any. The only way you could stop them is by massively increasing screening for mental illness and getting tough about involuntarily committing the potentially dangerous. In the U.S. the political will to do this has been absent since the de-institutionalization movement of the 1960s; attempts to reverse that would run into both cost problems and serious civil-liberties objections.

The San Bernardino shooters were terror soldiers, not lone wackos. There was more confusion about this than there should have been until Tashfeen Malik’s declaration of allegience to ISIS was discovered. Some people are still confused by the fact that ISIS didn’t provide them material support. But this is exactly what makes ISIS novel and dangerous – it has built a doctrine and toolkit for running soldiers with ideological and tactical direction only, purely through its propaganda arm.

By contrast, the Aurora Theater shooter, James Holmes, was a classic lone wacko. So was Elliot Rodger, the shooter in the 2014 Isla Vista killings. So were Harris and Klebold, the Columbine High School shooters. No network, no ideology, just boiling cauldrons of private hatreds and resentments.

Almost all terrorists or rampage killers fit one of these two profiles. Very occasionally you get some outliers that break the classification. Timothy McVeigh was one – politically motivated, military demolition skills, not mentally unbalanced: every attribute of a terror soldier except the network.

The Unabomber was similar, except borderline crazy. Unlike McVeigh he might not actually be an exception to the usual rules but, rather, best understood as an exceptionally intelligent lone wacko. In the real world, you can never count on category boundaries being perfectly sharp.

One recent borderline case deserves special attention: Dylann Roof, the virulent racist who shot 9 people in a Charleston church in June 2015. Dylann is best understood as a would-be terror soldier who, in contrast to the self-radicalized San Bernardino shooters, failed to find a network to hook up to. There was no ISIS for him; his Facebook stream included complaints that he couldn’t find any racists to hang with.

But I emphasize that Roof and McVeigh and the Unabomber were exceptions; 99% of the time it is very obvious that you are dealing with either a terror soldier (backed by a network) or a lone wacko from just the modus operandi of the killing, and there is almost never any need to change this assessment later.

I’ve been talking as though terror soldiers and lone wackos have roughly the same prevalence, but in fact lone wackos are both less dangerous and far, far more common than terror soldiers – the difference, in the U.S., seems to be roughly an order of magnitude. This has an important consequence; if you’re even a little bit off about distinguishing them, your threat model of the most dangerous bad guys (the terror soldiers) will be badly compromised.

Now I’ll get to the controversial part. A lot of the confusion about terror and rampage killings is politically generated and unnecessary. The operators on the ground are seldom in much doubt about what species they are dealing with, but they’re used to seeing their analyses spun into garble, vagueness, and sometimes outright fabrication by their superiors and the news media.

There are two major reasons for this. One is that for PR reasons, the U.S, government has chosen to underplay the role of Islamist indoctrination in recent terror incidents, implicitly binning terror soldiers as lone wackos. Perhaps the single most egregious example of this was in the 2009 Fort Hood shootings, which the government insisted on publicly categorizing as “workplace violence” despite the fact that the shooter screamed “Allahu akbar!” while firing and the Joint Terrorism Task Force found him to have been communicating with a jihadist imam in Yemen. Co-workers had been aware of the shooter’s increasing radicalization for years.

Another major reason is that the left end of the American political spectrum is heavily invested in the belief that “right-wing terrorism” is prevalent in the U.S. and a greater danger than either left terrorism or Islamism.

This belief is a myth. One recent indicator is the fact that Dylann Roof, a natural hard-right-wing terrorist soldier if there ever was one, never found his network. Another is that anybody can name Islamist terror organizations that operate in the U.S. – ISIS, al-Qaeda – but only specialists know about U.S. incubator networks like The Order and the Christian Identity movement.

In fact, the potentially-terrorist hard right in the U.S. is tiny, isolated, and so incompetent that it can barely find its own ass with both hands, a flashlight, and GPS guidance. It is also heavily infiltrated. (This is not just my opinion, it is what any pro in the field will tell you if you can get them to talk.)

What sustains the myth that right-wing terror is more prevalent than jihadism is, basically, the news media instantly counting any lone wacko with a white skin as a “right-wing terrorist” and sticking to that categorization even when facts contradict it.

This bias is so extreme that Joseph Stack, who flew a light plane into an IRS office in 2010, is still routinely described as “right-wing” even though his suicide note ended by quoting the Communist Manifesto! Another notable example is Jared Lee Loughner, characterized as “right wing” even though his political connections were an incoherent mess of mainly left-wing conspiracy theories and a former classmate testified that he was “left wing, quite liberal” before retreating into private psychosis.

I have to single out for particular opprobrium the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that used to do noble work in civil rights but has in recent years been particularly persistent and dishonest in promoting the myth of pervasive right-wing terror. Journalists still treat them as a reliable source, and should not.

Another political hobbyhorse that gets ridden after every mass shooting, whether terrorist incident or rampage killing, is gun control. This article is not really the place to fully analyze the kind of dimwitted magical thinking involved, but I will note one relevant fact: both terror soldiers and rampage killers are known to preferentially seek out posted “gun-free zones” – venues where they are reasonably confident their victims will not be able to shoot back.

Turning away from the politics, ignoring Islamist connections and mis-classifying lone wackos as right-wing terror soldiers are bad things because they distort threat modeling and countermeasures. Reality is what it is. To hold terror and rampage-killing casualties to a minimum you have to face that reality rather than substituting a politically convenient narrative.

A rational strategy for addressing mass killings in the U.S. would include the following elements:

1. Traffic analysis of social-media posts. Terror soldiers leave one distinctive kind of trail, linking to their network. Lone wackos leave another – they tend to be socially isolated by mental illness.

2. Stepped-up efforts to identify violently unstable people and institutionalize them before they flip out. An end to over-prescription of SSRIs and other medications that screw with neurotransmitter balance.

3. More armed civilians and the elimination of “gun-free zones”. (This has been tested and found effective in Israel. In the wake of San Bernardino we are beginning to see police organizations recommend it.)

4. Conventional-force expeditions to recapture or destroy the home grounds of organizations like ISIS and Boko Haram.

These show up repeatedly in every conversation I’ve had with anyone knowledgeable in the field. There may be be good political or ethical reasons for not doing some of them (I’m rather wary of reinstitutionalization, myself), but we must acknowledge that such high-minded restraint will have a cost measured in lost lives.

I will also note some measures which might be effective but are debatable among professionals:

* Tighter border controls. They may work tolerably well in a small, ethnically homogenous country; it is unclear that these can be made long-term effective enough in the U.S. We have porous borders just as a consequence of geography and economics, and a multiethnic population that infiltrators can easily disappear into. On the other hand, not actively pulling in refugees from Syria or other majority-Islamic countries is probably good short-term policy, and there are other good reasons (like the child-rape rates in Rotherham and Malmo) to cut that flow as much as we can.

* Encryption back doors and Patriot-Act-style mass surveillance of content. There are are hot disputes about this. My own judgment is that they are a bad trade-off, or at least that if they are effective the pro-surveillance advocates have dismally failed to produce evidence of same. On the other hand, there are imaginable good reasons for the evidence itself to be suppressed.

I don’t have any neat conclusion to wrap this up with. Or, wait, maybe I do. There’s one other common, major mistake: treating terrorism and rampage killings as crime problems. Neither of them really is.

Rampage killings are a public health problem – police may be the first responders to an incident, but the effective interventions to prevent them them are mainly medical, not criminological.

On the other hand, what terror soldiers do is best thought of as a kind of distributed irregular warfare, intended like all warfare to break the enemy’s will to resist. Criminal enforcement can typically do little or nothing about their networks. Instead, the normal counter to irregular warfare applies; you want to bait them into concentrating so they can be confronted and destroyed by regular forces.

In that respect, ISIS presents an easier target than al-Qaeda did. By proclaiming a caliphate and holding ground, they’ve fixed themselves. It remains to be seen if the West has the political will to actually confront them.

303 thoughts on “A short course in counter-terror theory

  1. >intended like all warfare to break the enemy’s will to resist

    Is there any evidence that terrorism against the west is an effective way of doing this? All I have seen in the wake of attacks is a renewed will to destroy the terrorists.

  2. When you say the hard right in America is “heavily infiltrated”, what do you mean? That there are undercover LEOs and informants within them, mitigating their threat to various extents?

  3. What, precisely, makes “terror soldiers” who don’t have material support from a network more dangerous than “lone wackos”? How exactly can you do more about them (If you destroy the network, won’t they still show up but be more like Roof?)

  4. >When you say the hard right in America is “heavily infiltrated”, what do you mean? That there are undercover LEOs and informants within them, mitigating their threat to various extents?

    That is correct. Because the U.S. hard right is so small it’s possible to blanket-cover them with a relatively small number of agents.

  5. 4. Conventional-force expeditions to recapture or destroy the home grounds of organizations like ISIS and Boko Haram.

    I’m not clear on how or why this would work. Though ISIS, et al, deserve to be bombed into the stone age, will this have any real effect? One thing that makes terror networks like this so difficult is that they’re so diffuse. So-called “blowback” aside, won’t this merely scatter them? Since they can still network easily online, as they have been from all over the world, what are the potential gains here? Fear clearly wouldn’t be a motivator, as the soldiers clearly aren’t afraid to die.

  6. One thing I’ve said repeatedly to distinguish between terrorists and lone wackos seems consistent with the OP:

    If I tell terrorists I will do only X in response to terrorism, then terrorists will plan to escalate accordingly.

    If I tell lone wackos I will do only X in response to mass shooting, then lone wackos will do no such planning*.

    I think the point comes across even better in previous forms I used, where “lone wackos” is replaced with “lightning strikes” or other such rare occurrences. I’ve mainly said it in response to people who argue that our response to terrorism should be in proportion to our response to things like lightning strikes – namely, extremely low. (If lightning strikes were caused by a coordinated organization, you better believe we’d spend a lot of time and effort taking that organization down.)

    *Lone wackos, being human, would do a little planning. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t acquire guns and selectively attack gun-free zones; they’d just froth and punch at everything in reach. So this dulls my phrasing a little. But they still wouldn’t plan anywhere near as much as an ISIS or Tamil Tigers.

  7. > There may be be good political or ethical reasons for not doing some of them (I’m rather wary of reinstitutionalization, myself), but we must acknowledge that such high-minded restraint will have a cost measured in lost lives.

    I’m reminded of something someone said in the last article’s comment thread (which has currently devolved to another gun control debate): “There is a rather sickening undertone in the all-too-common view of old-worlders (like Winter) that places people in the role of livestock, and that ‘government’ is responsible for managing said herd and holding losses to a statistically acceptable level.”

    Winter contends that the prevalence and easy availability of guns in the US, no matter how high-minded the political or ethical reasons behind either that or a specific individual’s choice to keep a gun, has a cost measured in lost lives.

  8. I quoted @Dan’s post in particular since he seems “sickened” by the idea of abstract things like “costs measured in lost lives”.

  9. > *Lone wackos, being human, would do a little planning. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t acquire guns and selectively attack gun-free zones;

    Is there any evidence that they’re selectively attacking gun-free zones?

  10. On involuntary psychiatric institutionalization: let’s run some numbers.

    Suppose one in a million people are actually going to make a lone wacko attack in the next year (roughly one attack per day in the US). Handwave that about one in a thousand will attract suspicion. Take hold of supreme optimism and figure our excellent psychiatrists have a 1% false positive rate when diagnosing who’s dangerous.

    This means 90% of the people who will be imprisoned under this policy pose no actual threat.

    And those numbers were picked to get the result as low as possible. My actual best guesses are about an order of magnitude on each, for 99.99% wrongful.

    And this is before some idiot makes policy that a psychiatrist who says “he’s safe” about an eventual killer gets sued, but one who says “he’s a risk” faces no downside. Which is more-or-less inevitable.

  11. > So-called “blowback” aside, won’t this merely scatter them?

    It gets significantly more difficult even for a network as diffuse as ISIS to operate when they don’t have a sanctuary zone or hinterland they can retreat to.

    >Fear clearly wouldn’t be a motivator, as the soldiers clearly aren’t afraid to die.

    But ISIS is brittle in a related way.. Their mythology holds that their war for the Caliphate is a build-up to a climactic conventional battle with the infidels at a particular place in northern Syria, which they will win by the grace of Allah. If they were defeated there, instead, there is good reason to suspect that the movement would shatter.

    Besides, the West needs to set a precedent that the re-establishment of things like the slave markets in Raqqa will not be tolerated – and any future attempt to re-establish a caliphate will be ruthlessly smashed. Otherwise, when the next lot gets its hands on nukes…

  12. >Winter contends that the prevalence and easy availability of guns in the US, no matter how high-minded the political or ethical reasons behind either that or a specific individual’s choice to keep a gun, has a cost measured in lost lives.

    Yes, but he’s wrong. It’s being disarmed that costs lives.

    And I’m now declaring gun control off topic for this thread, so it doesn’t rathole.

  13. intended like all warfare to break the enemy’s will to resist

    Is there any evidence that terrorism against the west is an effective way of doing this? All I have seen in the wake of attacks is a renewed will to destroy the terrorists.

    Example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004_Madrid_train_bombings

    (I wonder whether the Swedish Foreign Ministry’s recent displays of cranio-rectal inversion are also examples of such surrender to the low-level terror that county is facing, or merely illustrations of James Burnham’s principle.)

  14. >Is there any evidence that they’re selectively attacking gun-free zones?

    Yes. Interviews with the ones that weren’t gunned down. In some cases – the Aurora shooter being one – we have the deader’s own planning records.

  15. Reading accounts of domestic terrorist prosecutions, and the “folk wisdom” around same; it’s pretty clear that the almost all domestic terror support support orgs of all stripes are heavily infiltrated (to the point that many of them could be called “false fronts for the FBI” with only a couple degrees of hyperbole), not just the Right-Wing. The FBI et al actively run “domestic terrorist group” stings that are just this side of entrapment (or just over, depending on your mindset; but the courts have not held such). This “folk wisdom” part of this is that whenever you see a popular press account of a terror conviction, someone always pops up with the hoary old chestnut about how to spot the FBI informant, he’s the guy who wants to blow stuff up. Hence one reason why the successful Domestic Terror Soldiers rarely have ties to these groups.

    This brings up a point I’m conflicted over. The FBI, by running these stings, are skirting entrapment; but, if they didn’t get the radicals, would someone else? Because the FBI has heavily infiltrated the support groups, the chances are the radicalizable would not get their support domestically, but if the FBI didn’t do this, then what? My pragmatism and my politics are fighting this one out, because it’s a fine line between giving someone the opportunity to show what evil lurks in their hearts, and encouraging them to grow evil in their hearts.

  16. I think there is one more piece of necessary background, and that is the fact that terrorist killings, by any party, are a microscopic minority of all U.S. deaths. We lose around 2,500,000 people a year here in the U.S. By the most liberal application of “who’s a terrorist” we get about 40 terror deaths this year – about 0.0016 percent of our total death rate or one death out of 62,500. (Note that I’m not counting the 347,000,000 U.S. residents who didn’t die this year.)

    Note that in playing “who’s a terrorist” I’m including Dylan Roof, San Bernardino shooters, the nut/terrorist who shot up the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado, etc., and assuming that there are half-a-dozen minor incidents I’ve forgotten about, or which were mis-categorized. If I recall correctly, we’ve had 19 deaths that were caused by Islamic terror this year. The “highly effective” ISIS leaders have killed 1/17-millionth of our population this year.

    If you want an average, over the last 20 years we’ve seen more like 140 deaths/year due to Islamic terror. On the other hand we frequently have years when nobody is killed by Islamic militants in the U.S.

    In contrast, we lose around 450,000 people each year due to heart attacks, another 450,000 annually due to cancer, etc. We lose 70-90,000 people each year due to diseases they caught while at a hospital being treated for another problem, and we lose 7,500 people annually every year due to overdose or allergy involving over-the-counter pain relievers… On the day of the San Bernardino shootings we lost approximately 109 people in car accidents, something which also happened every day this year.

    This is not to say that ISIS is not a problem – anyone from another country who will happily kill Americans for ideological reasons is a real, true problem – but I think it’s essential to define the size and shape of the problem before going further, because that gives us an understanding of how long we have to study the problem, how large our reaction needs to be, how forceful our reaction needs to be, what are the appropriate tactics, etc.

  17. …I quoted @Dan’s post in particular since he seems “sickened” by the idea of abstract things like “costs measured in lost lives”…

    I’m not certain, but I think you may have severely misunderstood my point.

    I’m not sickened by abstract costs measured in lives, but by those people that think that there is an acceptable threshold for that cost, beneath which they can high-five each other over the super doubleplus awesome job they’ve done at reducing such stats. It is that sociopathic mentality that sickens me. They don’t see and value individual lives, they see beans to be counted in columns, livestock to be managed.

  18. @Dan When you advocate for “valuing individual lives” it really seems like you are advocating considering the particular individual lives your preferred policy might save to be more valuable than the (as Winter argues, larger number of, so I suppose they’re not individual enough for you) lives that your preferred policy would kill.

  19. @esr And I’m now declaring gun control off topic for this thread, so it doesn’t rathole.

    The particular argument in the other thread was on gun control, but the point I was making was that not everyone agrees that “costs measured in lives” should be minimized vs other factors. (I must admit, though, that I’m a bit baffled that you declared it off-topic here, the thread where you explicitly advocated against gun control, but not there, the thread about a police shooting.(

  20. > the nut/terrorist who shot up the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado, etc.

    This one is tough to call. The motive Dear reported says terrorism, but his speech pattern and appearance says “nutcase” really really loudly. And there’s no network behind him.

    My gut is this guy is undiagnosed mental illness aggravated by drug use, and no terrorist organization would touch him.

  21. Troutwaxer writes: I think there is one more piece of necessary background, and that is the fact that terrorist killings, by any party, are a microscopic minority of all U.S. deaths. […] By the most liberal application of “who’s a terrorist” we get about 40 terror deaths this year[…] In contrast, we lose around 450,000 people each year due to heart attacks, another 450,000 annually due to cancer, etc.

    This is the precise argument my comment above is aimed at.

  22. I’m about as pro-gun as a person can be, but even I have to raise my eyebrows when I read words casually suggesting that more armed civilians are an effective counter for terror soldiers.

    I’m not disagreeing – deadly force needs to be applied ASAFP – but the kind of fight you’re going to get into is going to be radically different from the lone wacko.

    Lone wackos *tend* to just want to inflict as much damage as they can, typically in a GFZ for max effect, and often suicide when met with armed resistance.

    The terror soldier also is similarly selective about targets, but is on a quasi-martial mission to kill. The armed civilian that engages them is much more likely to get killed. It will be a real gunfight, and since most armed civilians only have a handgun for protection, unless you train to consistently nail index card headshots – under pressure – at 25 yards, the odds are that the time it will take to incapacitate the terror soldier will result in you getting hit. If the terror soldier is as committed to the assault as the San Bernadino couple, this means you’re getting shot with a rifle. Throw in multiple terror soldiers, and you’re looking at a meat grinder scenario.

  23. Another thing I noticed about the OP is that it implies that if we were to crush Da’esh, Al Qaeda, Tamil Tigers, etc., one of the things we would end up with is a bunch of Dylann Roofs – terrorist-wannabes with no network to find. This strikes me as preferable, but not greatly so. Plenty would be left to do.

  24. >The armed civilian that [terror soldiers] them is much more likely to get killed.

    This and everything related you say is true. Nevertheless, the Israelis have decades of experience with the effect of pervasive street concealed carry on terrorism, and they’re sold on it. I think we would both be wise to defer to that experience.

  25. I think we would both be wise to defer to that experience.

    Oh, I couldn’t agree more…I wasn’t disputing the importance of armed resistance, only highlighting the very different challenges you face between the two types of assault.

    When a terror soldier attacks in Israel, there is a far greater probability they are going to face multiple armed people. We need to similarly raise that probability in the US, rather than only having one or two armed civilians around.

  26. Dan writes: When a terror soldier attacks in Israel, there is a far greater probability they are going to face multiple armed people. We need to similarly raise that probability in the US, rather than only having one or two armed civilians around.

    I could tell you exactly what the concern would be with this on the left, but not without going down a specific side passage of The Rathole…

  27. @Paul – heh, yes I think I know where you would go with that :)

    I always find it bizarre that the ‘antis’ throw objections to armed civilian resistance based on some weird mental model of what goes down during such a shooting.

    They seem to be visualizing some kind of mindless human brownian motion on the part of the bystanders, through whom I would be shooting to get to the attacker, thereby inevitably striking innocents.

    In reality, it’s a lot closer to the effect of a drop of detergent on a film of oil on water, making it very obvious where to deliver fire. Harder in corridors, admittedly…especially since you really want to stay off the walls.

  28. @esr
    >Dylann Roof, a natural hard-right-wing terrorist soldier if there ever was one,

    I am bothered by this statement. From what I have read of Roof his views were simply white-supremacist, really basically a hatred of black people, and a belief in the superiority of the “Aryan” race. I see no other political agenda, and certainly not one that could be characterized as “right wing”. Right wing typically means “favoring small government in fiscal and services, and large government in social controls.”

    Nazis are often characterized as “right wing” but any objective analysis of their beliefs would put them far more on the left wing in the traditional spectrum. However, Roof’s views don’t seem sophisticated enough even for that characterization. He was just a drug addled, messed up loser who found made up justification for his failures by blaming “the other”. It is extremely unfair to characterize that as some form of extreme version of Republican doctrine.

    The connection seems to be in the ultra nationalism of White Supremacists. But that seems fail in two very obvious ways — the concession that somehow America means White America, and secondly the concession that the left is less patriotic than the right, something that I am sure would enrage many leftie politicians.

    Of course this is all the fault of the extremely limited nature of the left-right political spectrum.

  29. >Is there any evidence that terrorism against the west is an effective way of doing this? All I have seen in the wake of attacks is a renewed will to destroy the terrorists.

    Spain. The 2004 train bombings helped tilt national elections, and directly led to the country withdrawing from the US-led coalition in Iraq.

  30. >The terror soldier also is similarly selective about targets, but is on a quasi-martial mission to kill. The armed civilian that engages them is much more likely to get killed. It will be a real gunfight, and since most armed civilians only have a handgun for protection, unless you train to consistently nail index card headshots – under pressure – at 25 yards, the odds are that the time it will take to incapacitate the terror soldier will result in you getting hit. If the terror soldier is as committed to the assault as the San Bernadino couple, this means you’re getting shot with a rifle. Throw in multiple terror soldiers, and you’re looking at a meat grinder scenario.

    And what’s the expected result when you *don’t* try to shoot back?

  31. > Because the U.S. hard right is so small it’s possible to blanket-cover them with a relatively small number of agents.

    One of the funny things that keeps popping up when the Feds investigate all of the KKK/Nazi groups is that it looks like there’s a lot of them when you add up membership rolls – but when you compare rosters, you find that they tend to be the same people.

    You’ll see the same twenty or so guys in the listings in most of the Nazi clubs in a given state, for example – and most won’t have more than thirty listed members per club…

  32. @Greg

    And what’s the expected result when you *don’t* try to shoot back?

    I’m not suggesting that course of [in]action at all.

  33. >I am bothered by this statement. From what I have read of Roof his views were simply white-supremacist, really basically a hatred of black people, and a belief in the superiority of the “Aryan” race.

    The perils of writing for a general audience. For this post, I was accepting the notion of “right” held by people who erroneously think the U.S. has a major right-wing terror problem – and to them it is all about the racism.

    >Nazis are often characterized as “right wing” but any objective analysis of their beliefs would put them far more on the left wing in the traditional spectrum

    You are of course correct. But see above…

  34. I’ve heard a rather persuasive argument that one of the most effective ways to fight ISIS is to steal the people it’s oppressing. Currently one of the biggest worries that ISIS has is financial troubles due to a mass exodus of taxpayers from ISIS controlled regions. It seems like one of the most effective ways to continue to put the hurt on them is to bring in as many refugees as we possibly can from Syria and other regions. If word gets out that refugees are welcomed with open arms the exodus will only increase and ISIS will suffer even more. Their terror networks will have less and less tax dollars with which to support terror soldiers.

    Of course, some might object that ISIS might try to counter this strategy by sneaking in terror soldiers along with the refugees; in the hope that such threats will motivate us to close our borders. That’s probably one reason they’re conducting their current attacks, they want our borders shut before even more of their victims can escape. But if I’ve learned one thing from game theory, it’s that responding to threats just makes people threaten you even more in the future. Sure, we might have greater risk of terror attacks in the short run, but in the long run we’ll have less.

    I’m rather astounded that people don’t see that closing our borders to refugees is exactly what ISIS wants. They might as well be wiring money directly to ISIS accounts.

  35. @Ghatanathoah – no idea what you’re talking about. ISIS is never going to ‘control’ the US to an extent that they can extract taxes. Keeping out people that have a higher probability of supporting their networks within our borders is a good thing. Hunting down and expelling yet more would be even better.

  36. >>And what’s the expected result when you *don’t* try to shoot back?

    >I’m not suggesting that course of [in]action at all.

    Of course not, but it’s worth remembering.

    I don’t recall seeing anyone putting ‘armed civilian population’ forward as a perfect, silver bullet (pardon the pun) solution. As you say, armed civilians are likely to be a very good fit for dealing with lone crazies, as those tend to fold (and frequently suicide) at the first sign of resistance. Less of a good fit against terror soldiers, again as you say.

    But still worth bearing in mind as better than the status quo. A small chance to actively save your own life (and the lives of others) is better than no chance to save anything.

  37. I agree with the analysis of types and how to combat them — until you get to the point of saying that neither type should be treated as a crime problem. Why not?

    In the case of terror soldiers, yes, it makes sense to treat them as a war threat even if their network is not a nation nor trying to become one. But Daniel Speyer hits the nail on the head about applying preventive strategy to lone wackos (plus, of course, the more aggressively the government tries to lock up or disarm “dangerous” mental cases, the more people with mental problems are deterred from seeking psychiatric help, even much earlier when it would do more good).

    So the best thing we can do about lone wackos is to deter them by treating them as criminals and threatening either life-without-parole, or the death penalty, or death at the scene. (With lesser sentences possible only because we may need “marginal deterrence” to get the bad guy to release hostages or let us disarm bombs.)

    I have only one more idea, and that is to deny both kinds of terrorists the media coverage they seek. Make it illegal for news media to reveal the name (or nom-de-guerre), demands, or motivation of any person or group committing terrorism until after they are captured or killed. This will take away their reward for doing it.

  38. >I’m rather astounded that people don’t see that closing our borders to refugees is exactly what ISIS wants.

    If only I had a nickel for every idiotic statement of the form “Not enacting my preferred policy is exactly what ISIS wants.”…

    We don’t have to take in Syrian refugees to get them out of ISISland, just lean on the neighboring countries presently refusing to take them. Which would be better places for them to settle anyway; no language barrier and many fewer cultural ones.

  39. >I’m not clear on how or why this would work. Though ISIS, et al, deserve to be bombed into the stone age, will this have any real effect? One thing that makes terror networks like this so difficult is that they’re so diffuse. So-called “blowback” aside, won’t this merely scatter them? Since they can still network easily online, as they have been from all over the world, what are the potential gains here? Fear clearly wouldn’t be a motivator, as the soldiers clearly aren’t afraid to die.

    If they have tangible physical assets, removing those assets can’t be *good* for their cause.

    Dead men don’t do anything- they don’t spend time on social media grooming recruits, they don’t behead anyone, they don’t smuggle oil into Turkey to fund, well, everything….

    Having a sanctuary where they can operate openly *always* makes a terrorist/guerrilla/asymmetrical threat/whatever network more powerful and dangerous.

  40. @Dan

    I’m not talking about ISIS controlling the US. I’m talking about the territory they control in Syria. They are making large amounts of money in those areas extracting taxes from the population. If all those taxpayers moved to the USA, all that money would be gone. A good portion of them want to move anyway, living under ISIS domination is pretty unpleasant.

    That’s why I say that closing borders is equivalent to giving ISIS money. Instead of having those refugees here, where their tax dollars would be going to a government opposed to ISIS, we are instead trapping them in Syria, where all their money is going directly to support ISIS’ terrorist activities. It’s a little more roundabout than giving money directly to ISIS, but the end result is the same. In fact, it might even be a little worse, because if ISIS has a captive population of civilian victims to govern it makes their claims to being a caliphate more legitimate to the rest of the Islamic world.

  41. @jdgalt

    This will take away their reward for doing it.

    I had a similar concern about changing their incentive calculus. Currently, we splash their name and photo all over the media, giving them the notoriety it is theorized they desire. For those that die at the scene, how about only showing their fully naked, postmortem y-incision, corpse?

  42. >That’s why I say that closing borders is equivalent to giving ISIS money.

    And that’s still idiotic. The U.S. is not the only possible destination in the world.

    There are good reasons not to close the U.S.’s borders. This isn’t one of them.

  43. Eric, there is a big picture element that is missing from this discussion, and it is revealed quite clearly in the modeling.

    All large societies function as a collective organism and the general health of the population matters with respect to fending off injury or infection. During the past half century here in the US, we have been transitioning away from our pioneer heritage of robust self-reliance and martial strength in the face of adversity. Decades of affluence, entitlement addiction, and lack of real hardship have softened a large fraction of our society and caused systemic weakness. Even our military has recently noted that there is a significant deficit of warrior spirit among the officer ranks.

    We cannot hope to mount an effective community response to these types of problems until we recognize that our group health is trending in the wrong direction, e.g. obesity, passivity, dependence, and hive mentality. It is not enough to purchase a firearm, train, and carry. We need to reconstitute the ethos of “live free or die.”

  44. @ESR

    I’d be fine with pressuring or paying the nearer countries to take in refugees too. I don’t care where the refugees go, as long as they aren’t in Syria paying tax money to ISIS (and you know, aren’t dead or suffering horribly). My preferred policies, in order are:

    Best: Nearby countries that have similar language/culture take in Syrian refugees
    Second Best: Farther away countries with different language/culture take in Syrian refugees.
    Worst: Refugees are trapped in ISISland, where their tax dollars are used to fund terror soldiers.

    And yeah, I know that “We’re doing what the bad guy wants” is an overused phrase. But I think in this case it’s supported by the evidence. ISIS has large propaganda organs devoted specifically to persuading people to move to their territory, and the magazine it’s published has expressed anger at all the people trying to leave their territory. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that taking any action that results in people staying in ISIS territory is doing what they want.

  45. >We cannot hope to mount an effective community response to these types of problems until we recognize that our group health is trending in the wrong direction, e.g. obesity, passivity, dependence, and hive mentality. It is not enough to purchase a firearm, train, and carry. We need to reconstitute the ethos of “live free or die.”

    I agree about the larger point concerning the general state of our population.

    But I’ll point out that, while it’s not enough by itself to purchase a firearm, train and carry, it’s one hell of a step up, and is likely to be the beginning (for many) of a virtuous cycle. Achieve a bit of strength and independence and you may find you have a taste for it.

    Don’t sell short the effect of small steps in the direction of what you want. (The other side certainly doesn’t.)

  46. Ghatanathoah writes: But if I’ve learned one thing from game theory, it’s that responding to threats just makes people threaten you even more in the future.

    If I were at home, I could likely pick out the passage from my book on game theory that refutes this, within five minutes.

    More accurately, response to a threat that produces a net positive payoff to the threatener can be expected to increase the likelihood of the threatener choosing the same strategy. Conversely, a net negative payoff (invading your base of operations) discourages the threat strategy, and sometimes even makes it physically impossible.

    This is consistent with past terrorist incidents, from Khobar Towers to Twin Towers.

  47. Is there any point in ordinary American citizens lobbying the Iranian government to take in more refugees fleeing ISIS? Won’t they just laugh at us?

  48. Two other things:

    1. My understanding wrt the Syrian refugees currently seeking US entry is that if they’re turned away, then they just end up in whatever other countries they’re currently in, most of which are not Syria, and most of which are providing fairly decent conditions. This weakens the argument I’ve seen in various places that denial of US entry is effectively passive condemnation of these refugees.

    2. The process for admitting refugees is typically long – 1.5-2 years. Plenty of checking happens. Perhaps less when there’s a surge like this one. And FBI Director Comey notes that the data we’d check is full of holes (vice refugees from other places??). So our vetting process has vulnerabilities.

    However, the process remains long, while the process for US entry via other methods is often shorter. So if Da’esh really wants to get people in, there’s a good chance they wouldn’t go the refugee route anyway. Perhaps they could hide in a brick of cocaine…

  49. >What, precisely, makes “terror soldiers” who don’t have material support from a network more dangerous than “lone wackos”?

    As I keep pointing out, crazy people are brittle. They crumple under stress. They don’t plan well. They’re easily distracted. These are not helpful traits when you’re trying to perform an atrocity. Advantage to the terror soldier.

    >How exactly can you do more about them (If you destroy the network, won’t they still show up but be more like Roof?)

    Possibly, but: No network multiplier effects. Lower odds of bombs or multiple-person actions. Soldiers want, and need, command direction and a sense of identification with something larger than themselves to function; thus Tashfeen Malik pledging allegiance to Isis.

  50. Dan writes: In reality, it’s a lot closer to the effect of a drop of detergent on a film of oil on water, making it very obvious where to deliver fire. Harder in corridors, admittedly…especially since you really want to stay off the walls.

    This is good imagery. If I steelman their argument, though, your caveats are noted – they make the problem less trivial. It’s safe to say that I wouldn’t feel perfectly safe in a building full of armed civilians against someone crazy enough to try attacking them. I’d feel safer there than in a building full of unarmed civilians; but I wouldn’t be on Condition White, either.

    My personal concern would be that if the first crazy shot went off, I’d mostly likely wonder what the hell just happened – terrorist, wacko, don’t know. Suppose everyone’s CC-licensed and trained, and the first shooter does end up as a drop of oil, and one of the CCers takes a pop at him. Now I’ve heard two shots (assuming I haven’t hit the deck so hard that I’m no longer paying attention), from two directions, and now it’s either wacko vs. resistance or Team Wacko or Team Terrorist, and I probably still don’t know.

    Then again, if Wacko is a drop of oil, then CCer is probably one of the people within 10 feet who just dispersed (everyone else is probably diving for cover like me), so CCer probably knows well enough what’s happening, and furthermore, I’d hear both shots from roughly the same direction, and it’s even possible that it’s over before I can assess.

    OTOH, even dispersal is in all directions, and CCer may still see fellow CCers behind Wacko. So maybe either shot #2 doesn’t happen because CCer’s looking for a clear shot, or it does and CCers behind him are at risk. Circular firing squad scenario. OTOOH, a crazy’s probably not likely to surround himself with CCers before taking shot #1; he’ll start from the crowd’s edge, so the shots are clear. Not sure, really.

    But overall, FWIW, this is the way my threat assessment starts out. And it has several branches, some of which I haven’t even gotten into. Not trivial. I wonder how much training for civilians speaks to this.

  51. >But overall, FWIW, this is the way my threat assessment starts out. And it has several branches, some of which I haven’t even gotten into. Not trivial. I wonder how much training for civilians speaks to this.

    Suspect you are vastly overthinking this.

    When you played tag as a child, how much trouble did you have figuring out who was ‘it’?

  52. Was the SPLC ever a legitimate civil rights organization? It was founded in 1871 by former direct-mail marketing maven Morris Dees who realised that by exedurating the threat of the KKK (already more-or-less destroyed by then) and racist organisations he could extract large amounts of donations from Northern-state liberals.

  53. >I wonder how much training for civilians speaks to this.

    Not much. But the SpecOps guy who taught me basic counter-terror…I know what he’d say about this. He’d look for tells. Like: do I see a AR-15 firing indoors anywhere outside a gun range? Odds very high that’s your bad guy. Do I see a balaclava or body armor without cop gear? Bad guy. Do I see one of those Islamic checkered-scarf things on someone with a gun? Bad guy.

    On the other hand, the overweight middle-aged white dude in the polo shirt and Old Navy shorts? Probably not the bad guy, unless you see him pop his .45 at a bystander – probably a CCW first responder like you. Polo shirts and Old Navy aren’t dramatic enough for a lone wacko or a terror soldier. Badassifying their gear is part of their psychological prep.

    Another thing to look for is fire discipline. Islamics have terrible fire discipline and a strong tendency to spray’n’pray – comes of being “If Allah wills it” fatalists. Somebody you see picking their shots carefully is more likely to be a good guy.

  54. “Islamics have terrible fire discipline and a strong tendency to spray’n’pray – comes of being “If Allah wills it” fatalists.”

    One of the first panels I ever saw Mad Mike give at a con left a vivid image in my memory: It’s not just spray and pray. Picture, if you will, Mad Mike holding both hands up, one in front of the other, a bit above his head, and rotating them as though he’s waving an AK in a corkscrew motion.

    “Allah will guide my bullets.”

  55. >Make it illegal for news media to reveal the name (or nom-de-guerre), demands…

    No, no, a thousand times no. Not “illegal.” We’ve done enough damage to other amendments in the name of security (and even to the First).

    I agree that the names, demands, and/or manifestos ought not be publicized, but I cannot agree that this should be the law of the land. If I could think of a way to eliminate the “if it bleeds it leads” mentality without coercion of law, I would; but that statement is a fact of human nature. And the 1A trumps my desire to coerce by law.

  56. >“Allah will guide my bullets.”

    They really think that way. Just hope you don’t run into an Afghani or a Kurd or a Chechen or any of the other only partly-Arabized mountain-asskicker cultures from around the Islamic periphery; some of those guys are mean shots.

  57. Does the “Insh-Allah” attitude pervade the non-Arab Islamic world? I had been more or less under the impression it was primarily limited to the Arabian Peninsula, the Levant and North Africa, and Afghani tribals (all of whom appear to have held similar beliefs prior to the emergence of Islam). In particular, I hadn’t heard of it being a Persian trait, and not particularly evident in India (read Pakistan in modern times) either.
    I can be convinced otherwise, but this is one of the conflations of Arab and Islamic that bugs me. Arabic culture strongly informs Islamic culture (particularly since the Wahhabi movement started trying to take over all Islam), but this particular expression seems more Arabic than Islamic, to me.

  58. Greg writes: Suspect you are vastly overthinking this. When you played tag as a child, how much trouble did you have figuring out who was ‘it’?

    Well, for starters, I knew the game was tag going in; if I didn’t know tag was imminent, then I did not know who was “it”. Also: whoever was “it” wasn’t spraying deadly fire at me.

    Eric’s points about tells rings true. Other tells include position. Consider a theater; the bad guy’s almost certainly near an exit; anyone in one of the seats is never going to be the adversary.

    At that point, the interesting question to me is whether I could force myself to peek from behind cover to look.

    Alternately, if the first shot I hear is in a corridor outside whatever room I’m in – say, a school – it’ll be harder. I’m not confident I could tell a mass shooter from a shabbily dressed CCW first responder, with less than acceptable error rate, within enough time to shoot first if it is the former, in addition to checking for friendlies behind the target.

    Honestly, the training to do this, while interesting to me, feels more expensive than the estimated risk, due to the extreme rarity of mass shootings. I expect the majority of the risk reduction in carrying concealed would come from the deterrent factor.

  59. My point is that you should be able to identify friend of foe pretty easily without much conscious thought simply by obvious behavioral tells. Even children can do it, easily.

  60. The systems engineering perspective on this problem.

    Terrorist and wacko attacks are extremely rare and the probability that any specific individual will have an encounter with one is therefore very remote. Unless we choose to go full Big Brother and have LEOs attempt to spy on everyone 24/7, these incidents will continue to occur in the presence of ordinary citizens and not highly trained professionals. Consequently, we have more to gain by improving the quality of our ordinary citizens than by refining our counter-terrorism tools. For example, if gun safety were taught repetitively in schools, within a few decades, fear of guns were decline sharply, gun ownership would become routine, and concealed carry would become habitual. In addition, concealed carry typically improves situational awareness and motivates a more serious attitude toward responsible citizenship.

  61. Another approach, is that the only thing certain to be at the scene of a terrorist attack or spree killing is victims. Best if we can turn victims into first responders, no?

  62. > On the other hand, the overweight middle-aged white dude in the polo shirt and Old Navy shorts? … Do I see one of those Islamic checkered-scarf things on someone with a gun? Bad guy.

    Well, there’s, at best, no profile for “wacko”, which as you said is far, far more more common than the terrorism that you’re trying to build a profile for with this.

  63. And anyway, the first time a non-white (or even Muslim) “CCW first responder” gets shot… well, better hope the left paints it as simple racism rather than as a fatal flaw of the “good guy with a gun” narrative to which your only rebuttal is “see, if he’d been white…”

  64. I would guess wackoes would dress overly-dramatically. They are planning to die, which I guess would leave a clue or two.

  65. >Does the “Insh-Allah” attitude pervade the non-Arab Islamic world? I had been more or less under the impression it was primarily limited to the Arabian Peninsula, the Levant and North Africa, and Afghani tribals

    Extends from there east into what is now Iraq. Come to think of it, I don’t actually know whether it’s a cultural feature in Iran, so you might be right about it being a specifically Arab thing. And the Afghanis are special case; they may talk fatalism, but they breed good snipers, which is something fatalist cultures in general (and Arabs in particular) have trouble doing.

    (This is a thing where the U.S. actually is #1, though the deadliest individual sniper in history was a Finn. The really good ones tend to come from here, Canada, Great Britain, Scandinavia, Germany, and Russia; after that it’s a long way down to the second tier.)

  66. >Well, there’s, at best, no profile for “wacko”,

    There’s an identifiable subset. Any time I see someone in shabby camo with wild hair and a dead stare I’m going to Condition Orange right then and there. Find an image of Robert Lewis Dear, Jr., the Planned Parenthood shooter – that’s exactly what I’m talking about. I’ve encountered the type face to face maybe twice and you better believe I was in high Orange with a hand near my weapon until I was well out of LOS.

  67. > but we must acknowledge that such high-minded restraint will have a cost measured in lost lives.

    There’s a distinction to be made here between net lost lives, and “lost lives” analogous to the “lost jobs” in the broken-windows fallacy, caused by a high-minded restraint against a policy of breaking windows.

    An example of the former might be the classic “better to let 10 murderers walk free than to wrongly convict one innocent.” An example of the latter might be ending the obnoxious TSA airport screenings that push people into driving rather than flying.

  68. Re: tactics and telling friend from foe:

    1. There are good courses available for not much money. Anyone who is going to pack should check out usconcealedcarry.com, an organization that offers legal insurance “just in case” to its members. They also have a channel on YouTube and it’s all tactics stuff.

    2. If I’m in a hallway of a building and hear a shot go off (and I’m NOT carrying), I’m hitting the deck and putting my hands over my head, so any good guys present will have a clearer field of fire.

  69. @Deep Lurker – well, I’m not sure that, if they do push people into driving rather than flying, the TSA screenings don’t cost net lives. Flying supposedly being safer per passenger-mile than driving and all that.

    Putting that aside, I’m really not sure I understand the analogy you’re making. The whole reason that the broken windows fallacy is a fallacy is that, the people who it puts to work fixing windows, are having their time wasted which could otherwise have produced real value had the windows not been broken. That doesn’t really map well to either one of your examples, or to anything else I can think of.

  70. >And anyway, the first time a non-white (or even Muslim) “CCW first responder” gets shot…

    Word to my black sheepdog brothers out there, I do not want to blue-on-blue you, so for fuck’s sake if you CCW and have to throw down do not do it in gangbanger clothing! Enough said. :-)

    (Actually I’m not worried about this. The black gunfolks I’ve met are mostly solid older men with an intense aura of respectability, often take-no-shit veterans. That type wouldn’t be caught dead in colors or anything that looked street.)

  71. @Random832: I think we’re in violent agreement wrt the TSA here. The point I garbled was that TSA screening hassles do cost net lives, and that abolishing those screenings would save more lives (from reduced traffic fatalities) than it would cost (from increased airliner terrorism).

  72. >”Extends from there east into what is now Iraq.”

    Current Iraq is a mostly Arab culture (again, from my understanding) even if they aren’t genetically Arab, no? In contrast, the Persians (Iran) manage to maintain their domestic oil extraction industry, keep a small fleet of F-14s operational, and run a reasonably effective nuclear program, all with domestic resources in the face of international sanctions. I doubt very seriously that an Insh-allah society could do any of that. They’re certainly willing to use proxies who do partake of the Insh-allah attitude, but you could unkindly say the same of the US support of Kuwait and the House of Saud.

    As regards Afghanis, I forgot my Kipling – of course they turn out snipers (Arithmetic on the Frontier, among others). As you noted, though, this seems to be in spite of “Insh-Allah” in other aspects of their culture. But the Afghanis have managed what few other tribal societies have managed; to stand off multiple attempts by empires to conquer them in the era of gunpowder. (Helped by terrain, of course).

  73. @ ESR – “shabby camo with wild hair and a dead stare”

    That description fits about a third of the winos that live in shanties along the Platte River here in Denver. Most of them seem harmless (they feed the squirrels so much that they have become tame), but you never know if one of them is on the verge of losing it.

    Any large population will always have a few mental health outliers. The danger is in believing that society can be micromanaged to eliminate all risk in life. We evolved in an environment of competition and existential threat. We are built to overcome risk, not stick our head in the sand and wish it away.

  74. “……Besides, the West needs to set a precedent that the re-establishment of things like the slave markets in Raqqa will not be tolerated ….”

    It ought to be hard to argue in favor of slave markets in Raqqa – or the equivalent on-line. Just the same arguments in favor of a market economy have issues drawing lines.

    Notice that, as Tom Kratman seems to be unique among high profile commentators in pointing out, the United States was directly and deliberately responsible for establishing and sustaining an open market sale of human beings in Bosnia. See e.g. the academic study LESSONS FROM BOSNIA’S ARIZONA MARKET: HARM TO WOMEN IN A NEOLIBERALIZED POSTCONFLICT RECONSTRUCTION PROCESS. As Dr. Pournelle persists in pointing out unrestrained free markets will sell human flesh on and off the hoof.

    Slave marketing is an issue to be discussed at another time. Mostly the action item here for me is red dot sights and suppressors for good guys.

  75. >LESSONS FROM BOSNIA’S ARIZONA MARKET: HARM TO WOMEN IN A NEOLIBERALIZED POSTCONFLICT RECONSTRUCTION PROCESS

    Critical Legal Studies bullshit. I wouldn’t trust the author to tell the truth about which side of the sky the sun rises in, let alone anything involving U.S. foreign policy.

    Your first clue should have been the world “neoliberalized” – a term only used by doctrinaire Marxists.

  76. Clark E Meyers,

    Additionally, I would hesitate to call it a “free” market if the merchandise is being held in shackles at gunpoint.

  77. I was under the impression that ISIS was funding its operations mainly through the sale of oil and the usual kidnapping/ransom scheme. Do they really have any significant taxation apparatus in place?

  78. For a source I think most would agree to be non-Marxist see Tom Kratman in the comments to his own writings The Rest of the Political Optical Illusions. February 9 EveryJoe.com. “Indeed not; largest open air female sex slave market in the world was Arizona Market, in Bosnia.” Kratman has more to say about the female sex slave market for those who follow his writings including of course his fictionalized Caliphate.

    As I specifically noted Kratman is almost unique in discussing the Arizona Market as an “open air female sex slave market” among prominent – for some values of prominent – American commentators.

    My first clue was that when Tom Kratman and as you say “doctrinaire Marxists” agree on the facts. Further the article cited in a respectable law review with footnotes and written by a primary source in that the author was there is a useful introduction in one place for those who may never have heard of the Arizona Market. I would not defend any single source as the last word on the subject but I will defend. though not here, the article cited as a good first word. My intent was more of a footnote to a digression than an attempt to change the flow of the discussion.

    There is a wide selection of sources for information on the female sex slave market in general and the Arizona market in specific. Googling briefly I’d guess “UN Promotes Child Sex Slave Market for Pedophiles” at http://politicalvelcraft.org/2010/12/02/un-promotes-child-sex-slave-market-for-pedophiles/ to be from a more right wing perspective though right wing and left wing are more noise than message pending universal adoption of Pournelle Axes. Again if the information must not be tainted by a leftish source there are ample rightish sources saying much the same thing.

    Feel free to engage in ad hominum attacks on me or others on your own site as you please but please do note that ad hominum attacks on the author do little to change the nature of the facts asserted.

    Notice also that people being sold as sex slaves at the Arizona Market and elsewhere are today seldom shackled and though the threat of death is there it’s mostly not at gun point. Still invites the question of whether say hog-rings are part of a free market in hogs?

  79. @esr:


    The San Bernardino shooters were terror soldiers, not lone wackos. There was more confusion about this than there should have been until Tashfeen Malik’s declaration of allegiance to ISIS was discovered.

    Declaration of allegiance means very little in the context. It is more like a declaration of support. I could not find a text of her exact declaration that she posted, but youtube for example is full of such declarations in Arabic under videos related to ISIS. The most common such pledge of allegiance/support is along the lines of “Here to Stay and Expanding” meaning that the Islamic State is here to stay and expand


    Some people are still confused by the fact that ISIS didn’t provide them material support. But this is exactly what makes ISIS novel and dangerous – it has built a doctrine and toolkit for running soldiers with ideological and tactical direction only, purely through its propaganda arm.

    There is nothing special about ISIS religious doctrine, compared to other terror organizations like Alqaeda. They all derive from one brand of Islam (Wahhabism), a puritanical cult nurtured by a british agent John Filby (also known as Abdullah Filby) a 100 years ago in Arabia for political reasons of supporting the house of Saud to wrestle control of Arabia from rivaling houses and from the Ottomans. John Filby is father of the famous spy Kim Filby who spied for the soviets. Much of Arabia subscribed to mainstream Sunni Islam at the time with the insignificant Wahabbi cult limited to supporters of the Saud family. The founder of Wahabbism (Muhammad bin Abdul-Wahab) was even considered a charlatan by by some of his closest family members (e.g. his father and his brother) who were mainstream sunni scholars.

    What is special about ISIS is their fanaticism and brutality which is unique even by Wahabbi standards, and which was ironically even condemned by Alqaeda. Also, their leader (Baghdadi) is an imbecile, and lacks the eloquence of Osama bin Ladin whose oratory skills and calm demeanor were unique and inspirational to his followers. OBL also was a poet, who infused his speeches with verse and prose, and who could even improvise poetry on the spot in the middle of his ordinary talk. All of that had profound impact on his followers who were almost all native Arabic speakers. ISIS on the other hand attracts mainly foreign fighters who are dedicated to the idea of the caliphate and who do not speak good enough Arabic to discern that their leader is an imbecile.

  80. ESR writes: (Actually I’m not worried about this. The black gunfolks I’ve met are mostly solid older men with an intense aura of respectability, often take-no-shit veterans. That type wouldn’t be caught dead in colors or anything that looked street.)

    Case in point: one such fellow actually called you out a few weeks ago.

  81. ISIS funding – Don’t know, I’m not there and I no longer have access to inside information. That said the consensus seems to be that running a country as the Caliphate must to be considered legitimate can’t be done on kidnapping and truckloads of oil discounted to Turkey. FREX this from Strategy Page q.v.

    …… While the army continues to slowly gain ground in Anbar and move closer to Mosul the most decisive move against ISIL (al Qaeda in Iraq and the Levant) this year was the decision in July to stop paying government employees in areas under ISIL control. This made it impossible for ISIL to get a viable economy going in areas they controlled. Unlike the Iraqi government, which has regular and considerable oil income to keep it, and much of the population, going ISIL has much less revenue per capita. ….

  82. >My first clue was that when Tom Kratman and as you say “doctrinaire Marxists” agree on the facts.

    I’ve looked into the matter since my last reply. I read your first link, and checked for updates on some of my previous sources on sex trafficking. I too agree on many of the facts.

    What is vicious is how a CLS political hack, or any other kind of Marxist, interprets and contextualizes those facts. The title, “UN Promotes Child Sex Slave Market for Pedophiles”, is a lie and a hatchet-job in itself (and I say this as one who is none too fond of the UN). The UN founded the Arizona market well before before it degenerated into a bazaar for the flesh trade and, by the author’s own admission, has been trying to rescue girls out of the place and shut down the parts they can reach. Yet the title makes it sound as though the UN masterminded the whole thing out of some perverse pro-pedophilia.

    But this is as nothing compared to the mendaciousness of the CLS paper, which unblushingly describes as a “free” market a hellhole of slavery in which coercion is practiced at a level most people could not even imagine. That lie – the pretension that the slaves’ condition is the natural outcome of uncoerced exchanges – is, there is no other word for it, evil. Not as evil as what is being done to the children themselves, but the most appallingly cynical and vicious propaganda I have seen since the Soviet Union folded up shop. Reading it felt like a swan dive into sewage.

  83. > the pretension that the slaves’ condition is the natural outcome of uncoerced exchanges

    I think you are imagining this, or, worse, pretending to think that this is what they are saying. You may not agree with the extension of the term “free market” to the entire gamut of human behavior in the absence of pressure “from above” to do or not do certain things, (vs. its restriction to only the actions of idealized actors who scrupulously avoid all forms of coercion, and who are all, at the start, close enough to equal or at least far enough from desperate with that normal trades don’t take on an overtone of coercion) but I very much doubt you’ve failed to notice it.

  84. http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=6943&cpage=1#comment-1669596
    > Spain. The 2004 train bombings helped tilt national elections, and directly led to the country withdrawing from the US-led coalition in Iraq.

    Greg, that is true. But according to Kratman’s series of articles below, Spain is the ONLY such example! An outlier, in other words.

    http://www.everyjoe.com/2014/10/06/politics/defining-terrorism-random-acts-terror/
    http://www.everyjoe.com/2014/10/13/politics/random-terrorism-useless-why-some-groups-keep-trying-it/

    So it seems that random terrorism is typically very ineffective at “breaking the enemy’s will to resist”. What it appears such terrorism CAN accomplish, is to fan the flames of our own divisive internal disputes and encourage us to make stupid decisions.

  85. Or, in other words: No-one is believing or claiming that this is the outcome of uncoerced exchanges. They are claiming, rather, that coerced exchanges are an outcome (maybe an inevitable one) of a “free market” (as they define it but you do not, i.e. a market free of outside pressure to prevent such things.)

  86. >I think you are imagining this, or, worse, pretending to think that this is what they are saying.

    Not the first time your imagination has run away with you. Nor, probably, the last.

  87. I simply do not believe that they accept your definition of “free market” as a synonym to “natural outcome of uncoerced exchanges”, for which you have provided no evidence. I am also unconvinced that you believe that they accept that definition or intended to use it.

  88. Insisting that your opponents must have been using your definitions of words is a cheap rhetorical trick, one which I generally associate with SJWs. The instant anything happens in a market that you don’t like, it becomes “not a free market”, and therefore nothing terrible can ever happen in a free market.

  89. >Or, in other words: No-one is believing or claiming that this is the outcome of uncoerced exchanges. They are claiming, rather, that coerced exchanges are an outcome (maybe an inevitable one) of a “free market” (as they define it but you do not, i.e. a market free of outside pressure to prevent such things.)

    If a free market cannot arrive at set of homeostatic rules that enforces non-coercion through uncoerced exchanges among the agents then coercion in te market itself is inevitable.

    Thus, the distinction between your two propositions is an illusion of short-term thinking.

  90. >If a free market cannot arrive at set of homeostatic rules that enforces non-coercion through uncoerced exchanges among the agents then coercion in te market itself is inevitable.

    I don’t know how this sentence is supposed to provide any meaning to anything. For one, what if it can, but does not? For another, who are the agents? And if coercion is inevitable, and you’ve defined a free market as one free of coercion, does that then mean there is no such thing as a free market? Or that there are some places/cultures/etc where it is impossible for a free market to exist?

  91. And none of this is relevant if they define “free market”, as many people do, as “free of government interference” rather than “free of coercion by any agent within the market”

  92. > I am also unconvinced that you believe that they accept that definition or intended to use it.

    It’s the only definition of “free market” that leads to theories that are even internally consistent and accord with natural-language-based intuitions about “free” and “market”. If they’re not using it, the best case is that they are idiots and the likely case is that they are totalitarian thugs. Given the level of Marxist cant in the paper I’m going to go with “totalitarian thugs”.

  93. >I don’t know how this sentence is supposed to provide any meaning to anything. For one, what if it can, but does not?

    The sense is unchanged if you substitute “does not”.

    >And if coercion is inevitable, and you’ve defined a free market as one free of coercion, does that then mean there is no such thing as a free market?

    You are confused. Go read The Machinery of Freedom; it’s available on line.

  94. This one is tough to call. The motive Dear reported says terrorism, but his speech pattern and appearance says “nutcase” really really loudly. And there’s no network behind him.

    The San Bernardino shooters were terror soldiers, not lone wackos. There was more confusion about this than there should have been until Tashfeen Malik’s declaration of allegiance to ISIS was discovered.

    I think these are both possible examples of Stochastic Terrorism, which is “the use of mass communications to incite random actors to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable. In short, remote-control murder by lone wolf.”

    http://stochasticterrorism.blogspot.com

    The extent to which anyone is a “lone nut” is variable of course. The Planned Parenthood shooter is clearly a major whack-job. The San Bernardino shooters were, I think, very devout, fundamentalist Muslims who didn’t need much pushing to get them “over the top.” (They were also new parents of a six-month-old baby, which probably means they were sleep-deprived to the point of near-psychosis.) I’m not sure I buy the idea of Stochastic Terrorism completely, but IMHO it is worth considering.

    >> Troutwaxer writes: I think there is one more piece of necessary background, and that is the fact that terrorist killings, by any party, are a microscopic minority of all U.S. deaths. […] By the most liberal application of “who’s a terrorist” we get about 40 terror deaths this year[…] In contrast, we lose around 450,000 people each year due to heart attacks, another 450,000 annually due to cancer, etc.

    >This is the precise argument my comment above is aimed at.

    I’m trying not to take your comment personally, and of course I do understand that individual human beings are dying in these attacks. Individual humans also die in heart attacks, and the victims and families of BOTH heart attacks AND Muslim terror attacks undergo considerable pain and suffering. My aim in this particular case is not to minimize the individual pain and suffering of victims or their families, but to look at the problem in a way which allows us to assign a realistic priority to anti-Terror efforts (as opposed to anti-heart attack efforts, for example, or whatever else we might want to do as a nation.) Intelligent uses of the information I provided above include evaluating politicians who bloviate that “Muslim Terror is the worst menace America faces” (we are voting next year) or to evaluate what’s really happening as opposed to what we see on it-bleeds-it-leads box.

    The idea is not to smirkingly point at some statistic as evidence that we are ‘doing just great in the wonderful war on terror.’ The idea is to let the statistics inform our thinking about this and similar problems so we don’t rush off and do something stupid. We have time to understand the problem, educate ourselves, try out multiple different scenarios on whatever simulation software the government might be running, develop good anti-ISIS propaganda messages, coordinate with our allies, or maybe do nothing at all if we decide we have different priorities. (The idea of letting someone else be the bad guy in the Muddled East for a generation or two has considerable appeal, and the Turks and Russians seem to be happily crapping all over the place.)

    My point is that understanding the real statistics of terror should amplify our humanity, not diminish it.

  95. So it seems that random terrorism is typically very ineffective at “breaking the enemy’s will to resist”. What it appears such terrorism CAN accomplish, is to fan the flames of our own divisive internal disputes and encourage us to make stupid decisions.

    Exactly. The most effective response to terrorism is to refuse to be terrorized! Letting the terrorists push you into poorly thought out actions gives them victory.

  96. > If lightning strikes were caused by a coordinated organization, you better believe we’d spend a lot of time and effort taking that organization down.

    Believing we would is easy. Believing we should is, at this point in the argument, begging the question. Are lives that can be saved by destroying evil people worth more than lives that can be saved by spending resources elsewhere? (You could try to spend it on both, but eventually you run out of other people’s money.)

  97. I lied when I promised to drop the digression but I’ll try to keep it brief.

    My first comment was a casual footnote to an earlier comment that itself was already, by invitation, verging off topic. I might more explicitly have satisfied myself with observing that it’s hard to set a precedent that we will control ourselves in the future, as we have failed to do in the past, go thou and do as we say not as we do.

    I’d say that our own shit does stink and they also serve who only rake muck; quite agree there is ample muck here to the point of verging on another variety of thinking the unthinkable.

    It’s been asserted with some truth – not arguing for truth values here – that in the recent unpleasantness in S.E. Asia the United States handicapped itself by trying to bring a sort of neolithic civilization into the 20th century while the opposition facilitated its task by settling for the 19th. I can’t advocate for what I’d call a similar over reach in S.W. Asia.

    Leaving the specifics behind and moving to a generality that I think worthy of consideration – at some other time and place – for my money Jerry Pournelle as a source or authority figure is not tainted by his own early left wing views? what say you?

    “We have not yet seen full decivilization, but this approaches it. Unregulated laissez faire leads to human flesh in the market place. Unrestrained government leads to the Nomenklatura and the ossified communist state. We have run that experiment; how many repetitions do we need?” J.E. Pournelle Ph.D. I conclude that it’s hard. And I repeat that the action item I take from the original post and others is go with a red dot – with iron sights I can do fine for elevation but windage is literally fuzzy. Anybody in meatspace who wants to try a 9mm Tavor suppressed with a T2 as my vote for the ultimate current PDW is invited to shoot mine.

  98. It seems like the “right wing terrorism” was more prevalent in the 90s? At least, I think Eric Rudolph and James Kopp probably belong in that group? Is that before (and perhaps why?) those groups were penetrated?

  99. ian- right wing racists in America are mostly in or from jail. If you are white, and you want to be a racist, go to jail. Every overt racist I ever met was fresh from the joint. The Mexican, Asian, and Black gangs will not allow you to join. Peckerwoods will. The Aryan Brotherhood is a prison gang. Prison gangs are already in prison, so there are lots of ways to penetrate them. Felons narc on each other all the time. Cops looking for info on prison gangs are spoiled for choice.

  100. Paul Brinkley on 2015-12-16 at 12:41:37 said:
    When you say the hard right in America is “heavily infiltrated”, what do you mean? That there are undercover LEOs and informants within them, mitigating their threat to various extents?

    Yes. There are so many Agents and paid/captured informants in any recognizable White xxxxx Organization/Club that a case could be made that the boogieman of violent White racists would fail to exist (or at least fail to be organized) without Federal support. Violent White racialists who are currently not Agents or informants are being groomed to be set-up as patsies at a politically-convenient time due to their generally limited life-options.

    This is not to say that there is no threat from these groups. I see the threat as one of a False Flag nature, since the attack would fail (or fail to be organized at all) without the urging/motivation/material-support of the Agents. All for want of another 12-pack….

  101. > In that respect, ISIS presents an easier target than al-Qaeda did. By proclaiming a caliphate and holding ground, they’ve fixed themselves. It remains to be seen if the West has the political will to actually confront them.

    Putin does have the political will to actually confront them. Seems to be working for him, though it is early days yet. The proof of the pudding will be a stable Russian aligned Syria that tolerates minorities and he is a fair way from that as yet.

    I predict he will succeed, but success will require killing a lot of people and flattening a lot of cities. We shall see.

  102. @JAD:


    >> Putin does have the political will to actually confront them.

    Putin is not fighting ISIS. He is mainly fighting a number of groups in north western Syria (primarily the region of Idlib adjacent to Latakia).

    Putin will not succeed in Syria in preserving Assad’s rule. His success will be limited to preserving the Russian base. He has not succeeded in Ukraine either. Crimea, and the small regions the rebels control in east around Donetsk are not a good prize for losing the rest of the ukraine permanently to NATO/EU.

    The sunni syrian people themselves are tolerant of one other (minorities) and always lived in mixed communities. During the Armenian genocide, the turkish nationalist army drove Armenian Christians to the syrian desert and many of them were saved by bedouins of the syrian desert (sunni muslims of tribal arab background) and transported all over the arab cities in the mid-east especially areas where christians live in good numbers (e.g. Lebanon).

    Armenians still live today all over the arab mid east in big numbers and are fully integrated into mainstream Arab society.

  103. The thing the “free market” is free of is coercion. The whole point is that prices are reached by agreement between the persons involved in each transaction, not set unilaterally by one side with violence or threat of violence. If there is violence involved in the transfer of the ownership of the goods, it’s not a free market.

    So, if you’re going to tell me that free markets can result in the slave trade, then you’re going to have to show me by what means the slaves are non-coercively acquired. If they were converted from the ownership of one person to another without a free-market transaction, then you’re not talking about the free market, any more than fencing stolen cars is part of the free market.

  104. > We don’t have to take in Syrian refugees to get them out of ISISland, just lean on the neighboring countries presently refusing to take them

    Or they could simply move to those parts of Syria controlled by the official legitimate Syrian government which the US has been trying to overthrow – a regime which, whatever its faults, has never persecuted anyone for race or religion, and which violently and bloodily repressed efforts to persecute people on the basis of religion.

    Near as I can figure, the only thing the Syrian government persecutes people for is plotting the overthrow of the Syrian government, or trying to persecute minorities.

    If the US had not been trying to overthrow the Syrian government we would not have the problem of Syrian refugees, nor the problem of Sunnis in Syria paying taxes to Islamic State.

  105. >Exactly. The most effective response to terrorism is to refuse to be terrorized!

    I think the most effective response to terrorism is to go to their home ground and kill them a lot.

    But then, I’m notorious for valuing results over virtue signaling,

  106. uma on 2015-12-17 at 05:04:45 said:
    >Putin is not fighting ISIS. He is mainly fighting a number of groups in north western Syria (primarily the region of Idlib adjacent to Latakia).

    That is commie and Sunni propaganda (Obama being simultaneously a commie and a Sunni, having no difficulty holding mutually contradictory beliefs simultaneously)

    Islamic State used to control the eastern parts of Aleppo, and everything to the east of Aleppo. Now the Syrian government and its Russian advisers control the eastern parts of Aleppo, and the land for a long way east of Aleppo.

    They are also bombing the crap out of the Islamic State Capital Raqqua,

    And, unlike the US, they are bombing Islamic State’s oil trucks.

    Isis used to control

  107. >It seems like the “right wing terrorism” was more prevalent in the 90s? At least, I think Eric Rudolph and James Kopp probably belong in that group? Is that before (and perhaps why?) those groups were penetrated?

    Yes, those two and Timothy McVeigh were almost certainly among the major motivations. I’m not sure about the timing.

    Eric Rudolph is pretty much the poster child for the left-wing myths about pervasive right-wing Christian terror, bubbling up out of the Christian Identity movement and white-nationalist circles. If you’re the sort of bicoastal left-liberal who runs our mass media, this is what you believe every second gun owner in flyover country is.

  108. >The thing the “free market” is free of is coercion. The whole point is that prices are reached by agreement between the persons involved in each transaction, not set unilaterally by one side with violence or threat of violence.

    Well that makes perfect sense.

    > If there is violence involved in the transfer of the ownership of the goods, it’s not a free market.

    Where did that come from? If there is no violence or coercion between buyer and seller, what is the justification for this?

    This is a separate and additional claim that you are piggybacking on – that ‘it’s not a free market if you’ve applied violence or coercion toward the goods’. Be up front about it.

  109. @ESR

    >Nevertheless, the Israelis have decades of experience with the effect of pervasive street concealed carry on terrorism, and they’re sold on it. I think we would both be wise to defer to that experience.

    But, due to mandatory military service, they are also well-trained. You know well enough that carry without training does not worth much, you trained yourself but most people will not do that on a voluntary basis, and the obvious solution is conscription in order to produce a large number of trained ex-military civilians. The problem is, concealed carry is in line with libertarian principles, conscription isn’t so I think that may be why you downplay that aspect.

    But at least admit honestly that everywhere where armed civilians played a role – Israel, Chechnya, Romanian Revolution – it was largely because they were well trained due to them being conscripted ex-soldiers.

    I mean, it is not really fair to emphasize the aspect that pertains to liberty and to hide the aspect that came from coercion. Reality is reality.

    (There are ways to solve this without hurting your principles too much. For example voluntary sheepdog-training could mean a tax break or extra credit at college admissions. (I would especially like the second – it would change the universities ideological make-up quite a bit. That’s why it will never happen.))

  110. > Steven

    Once again, the instant anything bad happens it is no longer a free market and never was, therefore nothing bad can ever be blamed on a free market. Maybe if someone had coerced them to refrain from taking slaves in the first place…

  111. Lambert left a comment concerning the use of terror attacks to influence Western foreign policy.

    “Is there any evidence that terrorism against the west is an effective way of doing this?”

    http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=6943&cpage=1#comment-1669523

    Answer: The evidence that it works is legion.

    Terror attacks were one of the major reasons (but hardly the only reason) why France abandoned Algeria as a colony, and allowed the country to become independent.

    The US pulled out of Vietnam due to continued terror attacks by the North Vietnamese, even though the United States won every single major battle in that war. (And almost all of the smaller battles, to boot.)

    The 1983 bombing of US and French military barracks in Beirut directly led to the decision to evacuate all of the Western powers’ forces.

    A terror attack on the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, Iraq caused the United Nations to withdraw virtually their entire staff from that country within weeks, and had a profound effect on all future UN security operations.

    The 2004 coordinated series of train bombings in Madrid not only effected popular opinion so much that not only did the Socialist Party take control of the government, but it also led to Spain refusing to support operations in Iraq. All military units from Spain were withdrawn in less than three months after the bombings.

    To close let me point out that any reasonable observer would conclude that terror attacks might have an effect every so often, but they are extreme outliers in a mass of foiled attacks and hardened resolve. Terrorists are human, evil though they might be, so they only pay attention to success while ignoring the incredible number of failures.

  112. Maybe if someone had coerced them to refrain from taking slaves in the first place…

    Ah, good old category error, turning peoples heads into Anything In, Garbage Out since ???? B.C.

  113. >But at least admit honestly that everywhere where armed civilians played a role – Israel, Chechnya, Romanian Revolution – it was largely because they were well trained due to them being conscripted ex-soldiers.

    I’m not sure this is actually true. I mean, you’re certainly correct that in those insurrections draft veterans played a big role. There was even a direct analog in the U.S., the Battle of Athens in 1946, in which a corrupt county government in Georgia was toppled by returning WWII vets.

    The reason I’m not sure you’re right (though I concede you might be) is that “well trained” is a much easier mark to hit with modern weapons than most people understand. This wasn’t always true; in 1776 a militiamen had to memorize a very complex sequence of clean-and-reload movements, and be able to do them rapidly under battlefield pressure (hence the “well-regulated” clause in 2A).

    But in 2015 I can teach weapons safety and basic self-defense tactics to most people in three hours. It takes longer to cover the legal exposure from local and state laws than anything else. Enough skill to function as an irregular soldier is not really that much more difficult; remember that modern militaries can compress boot camp into two weeks when they have to, and a lot of that is not needed for training irregulars. (Most of boot camp is really about re-socializing the recruit.)

    The one thing you can’t do in a handful of hours is stress inoculation. But even militaries are spotty about training for that. Outside the U.S., Israel, and a handful of other militaries with exceptionally high training standards, you’re not going to get systematic stress inoculation at all unless you’re training for an elite unit (rangers/cazadors/jaegers).

  114. But then, I’m notorious for valuing results over virtue signaling,

    It’s about more than virtue signaling. It’s about (in a democracy) who you vote for in the wake of a terror attack and what strategies a government adopts to combat the problem. It’s important to remember that terrorism is a tactic which serves a gigantic host of different causes. This hints at the need for multiple strategies.

    Answer: The evidence that it works is legion.

    Terror attacks were one of the major reasons (but hardly the only reason) why France abandoned Algeria as a colony, and allowed the country to become independent.

    It also works on a more subtle level too. Note the panic over Syrian refugees, most of whom are probably fleeing ISIS/war-in-general.* Also note that ISIS has, as one of its strategic ideals, the separation of Muslims from all other peoples. When we’re so scared we don’t even bother to learn what the enemy wants – true for both ISIS and Al Quaeda – we’re probably not going to develop good strategies ourselves.

    If you’re not in an active combat situation or something close to it the best response to terrorism is probably to calm down and learn everything you can about the enemy. For example, the Syrian Civil War started because of a combination of bad agricultural decisions and drought. This points at some useful strategies, (or at least it would have pointed at useful strategies 3-4 years ago. How nice it would be if we weren’t ruled by corrupt idiots!)

    * I’m not saying that we should accept every Syrian refugee, just that we shouldn’t make our decisions out of panic.

  115. “If you’re not in an active combat situation or something close to it the best response to terrorism is probably to calm down and learn everything you can about the enemy.”

    The only thing we need to know about ISIS is how to bomb them back into the Stone Age they so desperately seek.

  116. >>”But in 2015 I can teach weapons safety and basic self-defense tactics to most people in three hours. It takes longer to cover the legal exposure from local and state laws than anything else. Enough skill to function as an irregular soldier is not really that much more difficult; remember that modern militaries can compress boot camp into two weeks when they have to, and a lot of that is not needed for training irregulars. (Most of boot camp is really about re-socializing the recruit.)”

    This really can’t be overstated. I’ve seen people go from never having fired a pistol to expert level with 200 rounds over the course of four days in the Marine Corps. The time actually spent firing each day is less than an hour. That’s not to say that everyone becomes an expert within those parameters, but everyone does walk away with at least a basic proficiency – even civilians with no prior training or military experience who go through the course.

    Basic training for the Marines is the longest and most grueling of the major regular branches and the time spent on rifle marksmanship training the longest. But even then, the training is for distance shooting with open sights at 200-500 yards – a skill that’s just not needed in a domestic terror situation. Most Marines don’t even qualify on the service pistol. Most service members outside of Spec Ops (and some infantry/security forces) don’t fire a pistol for more than a familiarization course of fire at best; and even that is rare. The level of marksmanship training in the other branches is quite appalling.

    I think most civilians would be shocked to learn how little marksmanship training actually occurs overall in basic training. Basic training is jam-packed with a lot of administration, indoctrination, physical training, academics and – as ESR stated – resocialization; all designed and intended to get the recruit ready to function within a military unit. None of which help in a domestic terror situation.

    TL;DR: Prior military service or conscription into that military (at least in the US) is not necessarily an indicator of future success in a domestic terror situation. There are tons of civilians (not even competition shooters, just regular Joes) with no military/police experience who can shoot the pants off of most people who have ever served in the military. The point is that getting someone to the point of competence with a sidearm is neither difficult, nor time consuming.

  117. If only I had a nickel for every idiotic statement of the form “Not enacting my preferred policy is exactly what ISIS wants.”…

    ISIS is publishing magazines with article titles like “Avoid the Nations of Shirk”. Muslims settling in the USA and being exposed to our decadence en masse is about the last thing ISIS wants.

    Unlike Al-Qaeda, I don’t think terror strikes against the USA are a priority for ISIS — at least not at this time. What they’re trying to do is actually build the caliphate that Islamists have long yearned for, and then engage the West in open warfare, ostensibly converting us by the sword once they emerge victorious. That means enticing or threatening as many Muslims as they can to their cause, which means their primary struggle is against the more secular or democratic states in the Middle East.

    It’s actually a more sound strategy than lobbing terror strikes against powerful Western nations, hoping we’ll quake in our boots and submit to Allah. “If you was a moron, you could almost admire it.”

    Under this theory, the San Bernardino shootings were carried out by Americans (well, one was American, the other was here on a fiancée visa) who were radicalized and then just got sick of our way of life, deciding on their own to take righteous vengeance. That could explain why it was a spree shooting and not, say, a bombing.

    All this doesn’t mean that it’s not important for us the global community to nip this thing in the bud; so far, their recruitment efforts have been wildly successful, and with sufficient size and strength they could actually cause havoc in the Middle East and then look outwards for new lands to conquer in the name of Allah.

    This is just my conjecture; if anyone has information to the contrary that they can share I’m interested in being corrected.

  118. >>Yes, those two and Timothy McVeigh were almost certainly among the major motivations. I’m not sure about the timing.

    >The FBI was infiltrating the KKK a very long time before that.

    Just on the off chance that people automatically assume ‘white racism == right-wing’, well that is very far from being necessarily so. There is a very long, rich history in the US of what we would consider left-wing being associated with white racism. Woodrow Wilson is a prime example, who’s popped up in the news recently for various reasons. (He was no outlier, the entire history of the Progressive movement is full of virulent racism.)

    A person I think deserves to be better known is George Fitzhugh. He was a leading intellectual apologist for slavery, and the antebellum Southern social order in general. He was also an enthusiastic socialist. Even better, his defense of slavery is on socialist grounds.

  119. >But in 2015 I can teach weapons safety and basic self-defense tactics to most people in three hours. It takes longer to cover the legal exposure from local and state laws than anything else. Enough skill to function as an irregular soldier is not really that much more difficult; remember that modern militaries can compress boot camp into two weeks when they have to, and a lot of that is not needed for training irregulars. (Most of boot camp is really about re-socializing the recruit.)

    It’s even more telling when you compare to *police* standards of training and marksmanship. That total newbie that you train for 3 hours is already better trained, and almost certainly more proficient wrt firearms than the average NYPD officer.

  120. >It’s actually a more sound strategy than lobbing terror strikes against powerful Western nations, hoping we’ll quake in our boots and submit to Allah.

    That’s not what they’re doing. I think the Paris and San Bernardino strikes were theater aimed at other Muslims, including French and American Muslims.

    The message was: “We can strike anywhere we choose. The kafirs of the dar-al-Harb are too weak and flaccid to oppose us. Join the strong side, the true side, the jihad side.”

  121. ESR, haven’t you omitted a third major category, namely disputes between various criminal organizations? Examples abound, but the shooting in Memphis before Thanksgiving (16 shot) is the most recent.

  122. >ESR, haven’t you omitted a third major category, namely disputes between various criminal organizations? Examples abound, but the shooting in Memphis before Thanksgiving (16 shot) is the most recent.

    Yes, I did omit them. LEOs generally don’t class those as rampage killings or terrorism, and they don’t show up on counterterror’s radar, so they were outside the intended scope of my essay.

  123. The bit about a cost in lost lives is a point too many people neglect. *Every* government policy has a cost in lives, even stupid little ones – to pick an easy example, public healthcare slows medical innovation and results in longer wait times, which kill people, but private healthcare means some people can’t get expensive treatment they need. Invade a country, lose soldiers and collateral damage to civilians, but don’t and the baddies there will do more to you. A lot of people treat “Someone will die!” as a veto, not an expectation, but government is too big, intrusive, and clumsy to avoid it happening all over the place.

  124. JFK’s inaugural speech in 1961 included the famous quotation “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

    Sadly, this spirit is no longer welcome in current politics. Every problem is viewed as an opportunity to grow government larger, and is then justified by the observation that our citizenry is evermore dependent and needy. This vicious cycle is a societal cancer.

    Growing our weakness is not a strength. And this problem is getting worse, not better.

  125. > If only I had a nickel for every idiotic statement of the form “Not enacting my preferred policy is exactly what ISIS wants.”…

    That’s a thought-terminating cliche. Obviously there are some policies which enacting would benefit them, and some which would hurt them, and some which they do want us to enact, and some which they do not want us to enact.

    Arguments of the form ” is something which would hurt ISIS and/or which they do not want us to enact” or ” is something which would help ISIS and/or which they do want us to enact” should not be dismissed out of hand simply for taking that form, disregarding any evidence supplied for the claim.

    (The level of distinction between the two subclauses “would help them” vs “they want”, incidentally, depends on how competent the speaker believes ISIS is at strategic planning, rather than how competent they actually are.)

  126. I had [my preferred policy] and [policy I dislike] in angle brackets as placeholders in the above post, before each “is something”. IMO it turns out they weren’t necessary to get my meaning across, but just in case anyone’s confused by the odd punctuation

  127. Troutwaxer writes: I’m trying not to take your comment personally, and of course I do understand that individual human beings are dying in these attacks. Individual humans also die in heart attacks, and the victims and families of BOTH heart attacks AND Muslim terror attacks undergo considerable pain and suffering. […]

    I’m not concerned with your taking a statistical approach to deaths. I think maybe you looked at the wrong one of my comments. Let me try again.

    You wrote: I think there is one more piece of necessary background, and that is the fact that terrorist killings, by any party, are a microscopic minority of all U.S. deaths. […] By the most liberal application of “who’s a terrorist” we get about 40 terror deaths this year[…] In contrast, we lose around 450,000 people each year due to heart attacks, another 450,000 annually due to cancer, etc.

    The comment I was referring to was:

    If I tell terrorists I will do only X in response to terrorism, then terrorists will plan to escalate accordingly.

    If I tell lone wackos I will do only X in response to mass shooting, then lone wackos will do no such planning.

    To spell it out: I think you’re actually correct in treating individual deaths statistically when you’re forced to look at it at a nationwide level. However, even there, the thing you and other people overlook is the effect your response to these deaths has when the cause of death is aware of your response.

    See what I’m saying?

  128. I wrote: If lightning strikes were caused by a coordinated organization, you better believe we’d spend a lot of time and effort taking that organization down.

    Random832 wrote: Believing we would is easy. Believing we should is, at this point in the argument, begging the question. Are lives that can be saved by destroying evil people worth more than lives that can be saved by spending resources elsewhere? (You could try to spend it on both, but eventually you run out of other people’s money.)

    If you want to make an argument that defense should be privatized, we can play it that way, but then you have to recognize its basis – the argument that everything should be privatized. Until now, I’d been speaking under the apparently accepted assumption of the OP that we have a government with constitutionally recognized monopoly on the authority to deal with external threats. We vote on who goes into that government, and abide their decisions on what defense gets what money, after we done all the writing to congress critters with our opinions, etc.

    Which way do you want to play it?

  129. @Paul Brinkley – that’s already implied in any analysis that depends on determining how many more people would die from terrorism, and how many people fewer from heart attacks* if we were to divert X dollars from anti-terrorism to anti-heart-attack [etc]. It still remains to be determined whether this factor in fact skews the numbers in favor of your preferred anti-terrorism measures as you are suggesting it does.

    *assuming, in general, that the lives of people who die from heart attacks [etc] are worth the same as the lives of people who die from terrorism.

  130. > If you want to make an argument that defense should be privatized

    I suppose “other people’s money” was a bit uncalled for since I didn’t mean to make that argument. But the fact that there’s a finite amount of resources to be spent on various ways to save people’s lives doesn’t change from whether it’s the government or the free market doing that spending – we can’t arbitrarily decide the pie is doubled because there are two things we would like to spend it on.

  131. In any case, I should be fair and acknowledge that the other side is being a bit disingenuous too. The important number isn’t how many people die (40 vs 450,000 sounds very dramatic), but how many people can be saved for a given amount of spending. If you take a billion dollars out of anti-terrorism and put a billion dollars in healthcare, then there are two numbers to be compared: How many more people will die to terrorism, and how many fewer people will die to heart attacks [etc]. And there’s no reason to think that those numbers are as wildly different as 40 and 450,000 are.

  132. An end to over-prescription of SSRIs and other medications that screw with neurotransmitter balance.

    I’ve heard the theory that SSRIs often make people, for the lack of a better phrase, “emotionally brittle”. Based on my very limited knowledge of psychology, it sounds plause that over prescribing anti-depressents might be a cause of higher rates of mass-shootings, but I haven’t seen any good studies to this effect. Do you have any good data on this you could link me to?

  133. >That’s not what they’re doing. I think the Paris and San Bernardino strikes were theater aimed at other Muslims, including French and American Muslims.

    How well do they know us? How aware of our divisions and internal politics are they?

    Because this is enough of a poke to give our local appeasers time to roll over, while not a big enough poke to get public opinion *really* fired up, I.e. not so big that the appeasers can’t spin it as ‘workplace violence’ or some such.

    It also provides a crisis that the various Rahm Emmanuel types never like to waste, prompting yet more internal division (and a pretense for the appeaser types to attempt to grab more power).

    >The message was: “We can strike anywhere we choose. The kafirs of the dar-al-Harb are too weak and flaccid to oppose us. Join the strong side, the true side, the jihad side.”

    Well that’s pretty obvious, yes.

  134. Steven wrote: The thing the “free market” is free of is coercion. The whole point is that prices are reached by agreement between the persons involved in each transaction, not set unilaterally by one side with violence or threat of violence. If there is violence involved in the transfer of the ownership of the goods, it’s not a free market.

    I agree with this, but I think Eric was making a subtler point in response to Random832. Eric’s quote, again: If a free market cannot arrive at set of homeostatic rules that enforces non-coercion through uncoerced exchanges among the agents then coercion in the market itself is inevitable.

    My rephrasing:

    Any incentive that causes a free market to become physically coercive and therefore unfree also exists in a non-free market, to an equal or greater extent.

    If you have a free market and everyone’s enjoying voluntary exchanges, and then someone decides he’s going to capture people and sell them as slaves, it’s not the case that some classic free market force such as competition will kick in and make slavery impossible without anyone having to resort to physical violence to stop it. Free markets do not make mugging in a back alley impossible; they just make it nonprofitable in the long run.

    Which sounds like a great argument against free markets, in favor of other systems that will offer to prevent short-term slavery and back alley muggings… until you notice that any incentive to capture people and sell them as slaves, or mug them in a back alley, will also exist in any other market system. Or, those incentives are neutralized by an even more fearsome incentive, such as formation of even larger bodies of concentrated physical force. (Get a cat to fix your rat problem… then get a dog to fix your cat problem…) And in some of those systems, the “nonprofitable in the long run” feature doesn’t exist, which means you might be able to enslave indefinitely.*

    *I personally think this is not quite true, but my belief is based on a longer argument that I don’t want to get into in this comment, and doesn’t invalidate the point anyway.

  135. I would not have limited the discussion to just the two categories of killers, because a third type—urban gang member—provides the fodder for gun-control advocates’ statistics. However, it makes sense in that the the typical reader can identify with the suburban white victim, and is more concerned with what could actually affect him. I would then point out that the “rational strategy for addressing mass killings in the U.S.” should include elements addressing the root causes: blowback from interventionist foreign policy, and angry alienation from massive, factory-like public schools. In both cases, Americans appear completely unaware.

  136. Random 832 wrote: [Anticipation of terrorists’ response to ours is] already implied in any analysis that depends on determining how many more people would die from terrorism, and how many people fewer from heart attacks* if we were to divert X dollars from anti-terrorism to anti-heart-attack [etc]. It still remains to be determined whether this factor in fact skews the numbers in favor of your preferred anti-terrorism measures as you are suggesting it does.

    Then it sounds like our main disagreement on this specific point so far, is how thorough that analysis is. What sort of analysis do you expect is done? Who does that work? What are their starting assumptions?

    A broad sketch of my concerns would include three major categories. One is an examination of the incentives of terrorists, and to a lesser extent, of their victims. The second is of their historical response to our responses to past terrorist acts. The third is an estimation of the total cost of their more effective acts, not just in lives lost, but also in economic activity that would have happened otherwise.

    Example of the third category: Michael Totten recently wrote an article about a fellow who walked into one of Tunisia’s most popular restaurants and set off a suicide bomb. That one act is expected to completely obliterate that one city’s entire tourism industry, easily millions of dollars. I suspect terrorism analysis does not adequately account for this.

  137. > Then it sounds like our main disagreement on this specific point so far, is how thorough that analysis is. What sort of analysis do you expect is done? Who does that work? What are their starting assumptions?

    No idea. I’m just pointing out that right now we don’t have any analysis, we just have your opinion and Troutwaxer’s opinion.

  138. >However, it makes sense in that the the typical reader can identify with the suburban white victim

    That wasn’t my reason. The post title was “A short course in counter-terror theory” and I was concerned with killings tthat show up on a counter-terror analyst’s desk.

  139. “while not a big enough poke to get public opinion *really* fired up, I.e. not so big that the appeasers can’t spin it as ‘workplace violence’ or some such.”

    Except that their attempt to do that will probably get them President Trump.

  140. >Do you have any good data on this you could link me to?

    Alas, no. Studies on adverse long-term mental health effects of SSRIs seem to be nonexistent.

    And I’ve looked, because I began to develop some very dark suspicions after I noticed how often rampage killers were on SSRIs or related medications. I can tell you this, though – every single psychiatrist and clinician I’ve raised the subject with has the same suspicions I do. “Emotionally brittle” is a good phrase for it; another way to put it is that long-term users seem to have increasing problems maintaining a normal neurotransmitter balance without the drug. Going off the drug or changing medications makes them likely to wig out.

    I’ve even had one psychiatrist tell me that when he went looking for a colleague who didn’t harbor serious doubts about iatrogenic effects from long-term antidepressant/antipsychotic use, he couldn’t find one

    I think this is a huge ticking bomb which nobody in the psychiatric field wants to jostle for fear they’ll be the one to set it off. Because if it turns out these drugs actually make patients crazy, what are we going to do with the patients instead?

  141. @Random832

    “That’s a thought-terminating cliche.”

    More accurately, it’s an appropriate response to the thought-terminating cliche of “That’s what the terrorists want.” Much like the appropriate response to the thought-terminating cliche of “[Your policy preference] is [xenophobic, racist, etc].” is GFY.

  142. The topic of SSRI corollary effects is discussed pretty frequently over at StateStarCodex, and Scott Alexander is an active psychiatric practitioner, prescriber, analyst, and blogger. These drugs are primarily used to treat the symptoms of mental illness and render patients into a manageable state. Millions of people are receiving these drugs each year, and given human biogenic diversity, there will always be outliers. In other words, we should always assume that there may be a few wackos lose in neighborhood and consequently assume some responsibility for our own well-being should we encounter one.

  143. Neal Knox was the first I heard in the gun debate to assert that there was causation buried in the correlation of prescription meds and shooting strangers (or friends and family sometimes).

    My own belief is that there is enough colinearity in patient aging and long term drug usage to prevent disentangling the two causes and their effects.

    That is adult onset paranoid-schiz gets worse as time passes with or without long term prescription drugs or self-medication. At the same time the changes associated with going on prescription medication for the first time are equally associated with an increased risk for suicide at least. Rousing the patient to action has its own risks.

    I am neither a pharmacist nor an M.D. and my observation of the effects of medication on the paranoid-schiz is to dampen outbursts but leave delusional behavior intact. Sadly even a dampened outburst may have a high enough peak to be a tragedy. It seems logical that a drug that dampened outbursts would lead to higher peaks in the absence of the drug but whether those peaks are higher than they would have been if the drug had never been used I don’t know. I couldn’t even devise a test protocol.

    There are ample studies relating prescription drug use and suicide which I suggest might be an indicator for blue-suicide.

    For my money it comes down to a Catch-22. I’d suspect that nobody will ever do a serious long term study to answer the questions of drug use and violence as posed here. There are obvious advantages to wilful ignorance over knowing liability.

    Clayton Cramer may have more to day on the subject from a gun friendly perspective.

  144. Islamic State is

    1. Islamic

    2 A state.

    It has territory, it has taxes, all the usual. Which gives us hostages. Seems to me we really should be able to cut a deal wherein we merely threaten to blow up all their stuff and kill all their people, and do not actually have blow up all their stuff and kill all their people.

    Yes, I know that they are looking for the final battle of Armageddon, but they don’t they have to conquer all the neighboring Islamic states first? We should be able to make a deal whereby people in the Middle East kill each other as usual and leave us alone.

    And, supposing we cannot cut a deal, then if we throw out all the Muslims, then we can hit them, and they cannot hit us.

  145. Jessica Boxer on 2015-12-16 at 14:31:36 said: Right wing typically means “favoring small government in fiscal and services, and large government in social controls.”

    That definition is a “meta” definition; it looks at the favored means, not the favored ends.

    If “right-wing” == “conservative”, then it means traditionalist, opposed to social change or to change generally. In recent decades that has been diluted to mean “skeptical about the merits of change”, and generally wanting to preserve what exists, but not opposed to change, i.e. the “Progressive Conservative” (!) Party of Canada (name adopted in 1942, old organization dissolved in 2003). This should be compared to the left-wing ethos summed up by Rebecca West:

    “The foundation of their creed was the assumption that there was nothing in the existing structure of society which did not deserve to be razed to the ground, and that all would be well if it were replaced by something as different as possible. They were to do it quietly, of course; but the replacement was to be absolute. To them the past was of value only in so far as it gave indications of how to annul the present and create a future which had no relation to it.”

    When state power was held by “conservatives”, they favored a strong state role to uphold traditional values, and still do to the extent that the state defends traditional values. But the state apparatus has largely been captured by leftists, who are using state power to overturn traditional values for “something as different as possible” (e.g. the imposition of same-sex marriage).

    Thus conservativism has developed a libertarian component: “Leave us alone to reject clever-dick social engineering!”

    The economic order is part of the social order; conservatives respect existing property holdings, while progressives and radicals seek varying degrees of redistribution; Communists in particular practiced total confiscation.

    Racial and ethnic identity is a part of tradition, and often part of the social hierarchy. Racial and ethnic mixing dissolves tradition, and annoys many conservatives. “Right-wing” “conservatives” often defend racial distinctions, even becoming obsessed with them. For instance, William F. Buckley’s National Review defended Southern segregationists in the 1950s. (Buckley and NR later repudiated this position.) Thus Nazi Germany was more “right-wing” than “left-wing” (though as a conservative I don’t like to admit it). Meanwhile – to give credit where due – the left has attacked and often abolished race and ethnic prejudice and discrimination. The current emphasis on race identity is relatively new.

    Thus Roof really is a “right-wing” terrorist.

  146. >It seems like the “right wing terrorism” was more prevalent in the 90s? At least, I think Eric Rudolph and James Kopp probably belong in that group? Is that before (and perhaps why?) those groups were penetrated?

    It was also prevalent in the 80s. As it happened one of my teen buddies became a honcho in the White Patriot Party which started out as a KKK group and became a paramilitary group which was eventually, like most of the KKK, sued and prosecuted out of existence. My friend served ten years in prison — not without reason from what I can tell. And yes, their group was penetrated and it was hard to tell who was snitching on who.

    The leader of the White Patriot Party was Glenn Miller. He was the pathetic monster who killed three Christians, while trying to kill Jews, a few years ago and got the death penalty.

    http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/crime/article44100303.html

    For liberals who don’t get the threat posed by Islam, I recommend they consider Islam to be like the KKK — a violent supremacist group not to be compromised with nor placated.

    Not all Muslims participate in terrorism any more than all KKK members participated in lynchings, but the violence is predicated by the virulent belief system and the non-violent members will rarely speak out against it.

  147. “the left has attacked and often abolished race and ethnic prejudice and discrimination.”

    I stand by my previous comment, expanding that (except by prior agreement and understanding among friends) left and right are so much noise absent the addition of the Pournelle axes or equivalent at greater length. By my lights Nazi Germany was more left wing than right all things considered on a left-right axis and see Fred Pohl on directions from policy until the Reich moved east.

    Individually certainly. Yossel Mashel Slovo was certainly of the left ( and see Has Socialism Failed) and attacked certainly – abolished not so much. A popular target though, even Sick Puppies have atacked race and ethnic preudice and discrimination sometimes with violence.

    Where? Where has the left, and by what actors, had the power to abolish race and ethnic prejudice and discrimination and done so? Are there offsetting examples where the left had the power and did not do so?

  148. James Donald on 2015-12-17 at 06:29:18 said: ….Obama being simultaneously a commie and a Sunni…

    If Obama is a Sunni Moslem, why is he so compliant towards Iran? Sunni Moslems generally are disgusted with his policy there. Saudi Arabia definitely is.

  149. > More accurately, it’s an appropriate response to the thought-terminating cliche of “That’s what the terrorists want.” Much like the appropriate response to the thought-terminating cliche of “[Your policy preference] is [xenophobic, racist, etc].” is GFY.

    Some policy preferences are racist. Those that “uma” has expressed in a recent thread here, for instance.

    The proposition that some particular proposed policy is racist, or aids terrorists, or whatever other bad thing about it, should be considered objectively irrespective of the existence of similar arguments against other policies for which it is not true.

  150. ‘If it turns out that these drugs actually make people crazy, what are we going to do with these patients instead?

    Don’t blame the drugs, blame the placebo effect of doctors telling impressionable people who want to get high that they are nuts. I think most people who apply for ‘medical marijuana’ know they are are telling a stretcher to get some weed, but God knows it varies. If I could only get Coors Light or Jameson’s by telling an authority figure I actually respected that I was nuts, oh well. Telling that huge chunk of the population that wants to declare a Dionysus every Friday night that they are crazy is incredibly bad public policy. Tell them they are party animals. Tell them to party like Larry Niven’s astronauts on drunk pills. America told young Dylan he was dangerously insane because he wanted drugs. He believed.

  151. @ESR, @gmmay, @Greg

    Okay, I am convinced, especially by the argument that it is more of a police thing than military thing to do, and police training is not exactly commando stuff indeed. Let’s just assume for the sake of argument that anyone going through the cost of acquiring a gun will also invest that amount time into it.

    Now, especially after the Paris event, how could it be arranged in the more statist and haplophobic Western countries (or regions, states, cities, whatev) ? I think in them it could be the other way around. First recruit a lot of people into some kind of a volunteer police program, something like the UK’s Special Constabulary, but without uniforms and without regular time investment required, the idea being you are off duty all the time except when you happen to see a crime happening. The whole thing not being different from a citizen’s arrest, just there is a short training and you have a title and badge you can boast about or something. Sweeten it with college admission credits or tax breaks. But no regular time investment after that. Then, after this is accepted, start pushing concealed carry rights for this group of people. Would this potentially work?

  152. @ESR @Paul Brinkley

    On free market and incentives to coerce: one of the most insightful short sentences I’ve ever read was Hoppe saying that if competition in the production of goods is good, then competition in the production of bads cannot be good. If we have to have bads at all, they should be inefficient, i.e. monopolistic, not competitive. Everybody who is producing bads, no goods, should work like a unionized worker. This makes sense? (And now remember Terry Pratchett’s Thieves Guild of Ankh-Morporkh :-) )

    Now, from this angle, it is not 100% clear what you mean. If e.g. it means competition in the production of slavery, that cannot be a good thing, that will only make slave-gathering ever more efficient and you don’t want that. If there must be slavers at all, they should be lazy, stupid and inefficient, hopefully spending more time demanding a minimum wage for slavers than actually catching slaves. I think the logic of it is clear enough? It is simply the reverse side of the usual logic of economics, which is about producing goods, not bads.

    But if it means something else, then you can still be right. Do free markets have a way of routing around these dark spots and not increase competition inside them, locking them into a monopolistic, lazy pocket? How?

  153. A terror wacko is a zero day attack. A terror soldier is an advanced persistent threat.

  154. >>“Some policy preferences are racist. Those that “uma” has expressed in a recent thread here, for instance.”

    I don’t disagree that some are. I was referring to the mindless and all-too-common response of “Xenophobe!” (or anything ending in “phobe” really) or “That’s what the terrorists want!” to a stated policy position. As for uma’s comment, I’m sure I missed it.

    >>“The proposition that some particular proposed policy is racist, or aids terrorists, or whatever other bad thing about it, should be considered objectively irrespective of the existence of similar arguments against other policies for which it is not true.”

    When used tendentiously, it most certainly should not be considered. For a relevant example, please look up thread to the exchange which sparked this. For a distilled version of the national level, it goes something like this:

    “We do have credible evidence from the FBI that ISIS is using the Syrian refugees to infiltrate Western countries. Maybe we should halt Syrian immigration until we get a better handle on the situation. “

    “No, because That’s Not Who We Are.” (the transposed version of That’s What The Terrorists Want™) “Instead, to address the root of the terrorism problem, we must redistribute tens of billions of dollars to third world countries to fight climate change.”

    That’s a pseudo-profound cliche used as a veto in place of an intelligent response, followed by a pivot to a preferred policy preference. At its core, it’s just emotionally-manipulative bullshit and deserves treatment accordingly.

  155. @TheDividualist on 2015-12-18 at 08:39:14 said:

    I’m not sure how that would play in Europe, given their preferences for centralizing authority and force. My first reaction to reading your suggestion was “Seems a little Brownshirty”, and as I think about it, I’m not sure that wouldn’t be a likely outcome. Political bodies granting power to an unpaid force of volunteers? Seems like an authoritarian dream when they control the entrance criteria to this force.

    But maybe that plays well into the European mindset. I’m not sure. Given that we have sitting representatives in the US willing to call opposition party members and law-abiding citizens “terrorists”, I don’t think a volunteer auxiliary works well for counter-terror ops, even in the more restrictive jurisdictions.

  156. >Now, especially after the Paris event, how could it be arranged in the more statist and haplophobic Western countries (or regions, states, cities, whatev) ? I think in them it could be the other way around. First recruit a lot of people into some kind of a volunteer police program, something like the UK’s Special Constabulary, but without uniforms and without regular time investment required, the idea being you are off duty all the time except when you happen to see a crime happening. The whole thing not being different from a citizen’s arrest, just there is a short training and you have a title and badge you can boast about or something. Sweeten it with college admission credits or tax breaks. But no regular time investment after that. Then, after this is accepted, start pushing concealed carry rights for this group of people. Would this potentially work?

    Better than nothing, I suppose. Should be completely redundant in a nation that recognizes Peel’s Principles (ironic you mentioned the UK), with a special emphasis on this one:

    7. To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

    Unfortunately it will never happen because the ruling elites in those countries will never willingly surrender that much power and control (self-defense is already a crime to be prosecuted in the UK).

  157. @ TheDividualist – “how could it be arranged”

    You are viewing the problem too narrowly. The culture is rotten and that is where the fix must occur. Politicians are proactively transforming citizens into obedient sheep and weakening the society as a whole. That is what must change.

    Firearms training and familiarity must begin early in life and be reinforced both in terms of frequency of exposure and via broad support and affirmation with in the community. Ideally, every child should have an opportunity to learning hunting and go on at least one hunting trip. This should become a normal and common right of passage for all males in a healthy society.

    Later, during teenage years, training for self defense should occur and be validated as obligation in defense of liberty as well as personal protection.

    This must be pursued in order to fix the culture, and not limited to the terrorism issue.

  158. >If Obama is a Sunni Moslem, why is he so compliant towards Iran? Sunni Moslems generally are disgusted with his policy there. Saudi Arabia definitely is.

    Which is fair evidence for Obama being a ‘cultural Muslim’ as opposed to a practicing one. He seems to have an idealized conception of Islam from his childhood, without being too aware of the reality of Islam as it exists. Thus his wishful-thinking pandering to both Turkey *and* Iran, among other things.

  159. >Okay, I am convinced, especially by the argument that it is more of a police thing than military thing to do, and police training is not exactly commando stuff indeed.

    True. That said, anyone lucky enough to find someone who can teach them even the basics of SpecOps doctrine and mindset should absolutely go for it. Even the relatively few and low-intensity hours of that kind of training that I have gathered were amazingly valuable and I think will greatly improve my survival odds in a clutch situation.

    I described one of those hours in Operator rules. I also have very fond memories of the day we were taught how to do a silent sentry takedown with a knife. Good times…

    The SpecOps style of training as I have experienced it isn’t just, or even mainly, a collection of techniques. It teaches a particularly deadly combat mindset, almost a philosophy. One of my trainer’s favorite sayings is “The mind is the first weapon.”

    Sadly, you couldn’t teach it to cops as a routine thing. SpecOps is selective about who it will take and the training requires a higher IQ than you can expect a goodly fraction of police recruits to have. And it’s not clear you’d want to, anyway; police should probably not be combat monsters, not in a civil society.

    For me, though, it worked. Damn did it work. The mindset fit my brain; it was like finding a part of myself that had always been there, but latent. You start to get to a place where you’re dangerous with any weapon to hand or stark naked, because your whole perceptual universe is aligned around fight. It’s like single-point meditation.

  160. >Which is fair evidence for Obama being a ‘cultural Muslim’ as opposed to a practicing one. He seems to have an idealized conception of Islam from his childhood, without being too aware of the reality of Islam as it exists.

    This. Combined with standard issue American-liberal guilt/contempt/hatred for one’s own culture and polity as it actually exists. It’s what a severe Gramscian-damage case looks like.

  161. I just thought of something. Do the Islamists even have a long term strategy for what these suicide attacks in the West are supposed to accomplish? Or is this just the strategic equivalent of “spray and pray”?

  162. > As for uma’s comment, I’m sure I missed it.

    I was talking about his stuff about sending whites back to Europe or whatever it was.

  163. > Which is fair evidence for Obama being a ‘cultural Muslim’ as opposed to a practicing one.

    Perhaps if there were any evidence at all – which you have not provided here – for him being any kind of Muslim, then the item you are discussing might be evidence for that specific variation. Alone, it’s not evidence for anything.

    To date, nothing I’ve seen associated with this claim has been accompanied with any evidence at all outside of blatant lies (e.g. that the yellow curtains in the East Room are a “Muslim Prayer Curtain”)

  164. >> Somebody you see picking their shots carefully is more likely to be a good guy.

    An exception that might be worth considering.

    The columbine shooters displayed techniques that usually only show up in trained military or law enforcement professionals that proved quite lethal. For instance, when faced with four people down the hall, the shooter shot each of them once before firing a second shot into one that was still standing. It is much more common for an untrained shooter to continue shooting at the the first person until he/she drops before taking aim at the next one. I heard this on a radio interview of a forensic analyst who attributed this training to shooter video games.

  165. @bsouther – Their training, or the behavior of untrained shooters, was attributed to video games? I can’t think of any video games (certainly not that were around in 1999) in which this was a useful tactic.

  166. Meanwhile, “they got it from video games”, whether it’s a credible analysis or not, fits right in to the moral panic that was going on at around the same time.

  167. >To date, nothing I’ve seen associated with this claim has been accompanied with any evidence at all

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/06/opinion/06kristof.html?_r=0

    Quote: Mr. Obama recalled the opening lines of the Arabic call to prayer, reciting them with a first-rate accent. In a remark that seemed delightfully uncalculated (it’ll give Alabama voters heart attacks), Mr. Obama described the call to prayer as “one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset.”

    It’s pretty clear that Obama feels a strong nostalgia for his Islamic-world childhood, at the very least.

  168. TheDividualist wrote: [I]f competition in the production of goods is good, then competition in the production of bads cannot be good. If we have to have bads at all, they should be inefficient, i.e. monopolistic, not competitive.

    On the surface, I agree with this. A problem, however, arises when you attempt to declare slavery production to be a “bad”. That problem then carries over into the rest of your argument and makes for a flawed conclusion.

    A “bad” in the way you introduce slavery is not an absolute bad. If it were, then no one would do it, and we’d never have to worry about it. We have to worry about it precisely because it’s good in certain ways – namely, it provides certain slave buyers with cheaper labor. It so happens that slave buyers have a peculiar characteristic – they don’t see slave labor as the property of said slaves. This misfeature is all you need to argue that it is against libertarian ethics. However, that argument won’t work on slave buyers, because they aren’t libertarians. For them, you need a more consequentialist argument – you need to convince slave buyers that they would prefer the outcome of not buying slaves to that of buying them.

    This is slightly harder than a libertarian argument, since you’ll share fewer values with a slave buyer. The next premise you might both share in this case, is preferring the option that offers the best difference between production output and cost input. That is, if I’m an entrepreneur considering slaves, I won’t like them if their production requires so much effort on my part in terms of slavedriving (whether I contract that out or do it myself). If I believe I can get more out of them by offering them a wage and dispensing with the overhead of slavedriving (not to mention the risk of revolts, etc.), then I’ll do that. If all entrepreneurs come to this conclusion as well, then demand for slaves would drop to the point that slave sellers could not sustain themselves, and would be forced to seek other professions.

    The one other thing I think you might worry about is if I derive utility from having slaves, for other reasons. For example, I might just enjoy intimidating people. Or, I might believe the slaves I buy are the type of people I consider essentially inferior, and I derive enjoyment from controlling them. That might close the gap in production, making slavery more sustainable. In that case, however, the principle of symmetry implies that since I’ve opened the door to physical intimidation of other people to get what I want, then you, as someone who prefers abolition to slavery, are as ethically permitted to intimidate me into not buying or keeping slaves. You’re not restricted to simply refusing to buy whatever I produce with slave labor; you could pursue physical methods. That would then mean I have to spend additional resources to defend myself if I want to continue slavery.

    You have additional leverage, in that it is no doubt the case that the slaves I keep share your preference for abolition. All you have to do is convince them to turn on me in various ways. That would raise my costs even higher.

    Overall, abolition probably has enough leverage slavery to reduce slavery in any society over time, and the more it’s reduced, the faster it goes. The biggest limiting principle I can see is the tribalism tendency I suspect is biologically ingrained; removing tribalism is itself not always a good thing.

    (David Friedman’s The Machinery of Freedom doesn’t analyze slavery IIRC, but it does analyze crime in the same spirit – namely, accept that there exist people who do not recognize property rights, and see how the economy develops. And again, it’s free online (second edition, anyway; the third’s for sale on Amazon).)

  169. > Their training, or the behavior of untrained shooters, was attributed to video games? I can’t think of any video games (certainly not that were around in 1999) in which this was a useful tactic.

    I don’t play video games so I’m not equipped to debate with you on this one but a couple google searches tell me that the shooters were heavy users of the game Doom (which started in 1993)
    and even had a custom map that resembled the school’s floor plan.
    http://extras.denverpost.com/news/shot0504f.htm

    > Meanwhile, “they got it from video games”, whether it’s a credible analysis or not, fits right in to the moral panic that was going on at around the same time.

    I don’t doubt that the anti-video game crowd used this to their full advantage but that in itself doesn’t mean that it (the ability for the shooters to hone their skills using video games) isn’t true.

  170. >Do the Islamists even have a long term strategy for what these suicide attacks in the West are supposed to accomplish?

    It’s not necessarily a strategy at all, but the working out of a religious imperative.

    In the Islamic world-view the world is divided into the Dar-al-Islam and the Dar-al-Harb – the house of Islam and the House of War. Making war against infidels is religiously virtuous of itself, whether or not there’s a strategic plan to it.

  171. >An exception that might be worth considering.

    Some of this is national culture, not videogames per se. Arab fatalism produces lousy shots with poor fire discipline; by contrast, if you tried to design a cultural psychology to produce good shooters (valuing individual excellence, strong belief in skill proceeding from practice and concentration, willingness to work at skill development, considering it virtuous to work at skill development) you couldn’t do much better than the US’s.

    So, this doesn’t mean Americans are automatically good shooters, but it does mean we’re psychologically well pre-positioned to benefit from shooter training. The cognitive toolkit and preconceptions you bring matter. We get better faster, and our best are the best, with most of the competition coming from other Anglosphere cultures and the few non-Anglosphere cultures that share these traits almost as strongly.

  172. I’ve only actually seen the “Death Blossom” tactic (as spray ‘n’ pray is called by American forces) used once in a video game: Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. And it was coded in as a random AI behavior specifically to give you a fighting chance against enemies, who would otherwise sit behind cover — indefinitely if you were out of grenades — and shoot you if you poked your head out. With the enemies — who were depicted as pirates and other assorted thugs and thus not too smart anyway — coded to occasionally leap out and spray the area with gunfire, you had a chance to take an easy shot.

    When I heard the reports by U.S. military personnel about the Death Blossom being used by Iraqi insurgents, I couldn’t believe it at first, as it sounded too much like a behavior of stupid enemy game AI and not something actual humans who were interested in winning a war would resort to.

  173. @ esr

    It makes sense that our ancestral forebears that evolved in northern Euroasian climates (with highly variable seasonality, dense forests, and dispersed game) would have developed skill at tracking and killing at long range.

  174. I don’t play video games so I’m not equipped to debate with you on this one but a couple google searches tell me that the shooters were heavy users of the game Doom (which started in 1993)
    and even had a custom map that resembled the school’s floor plan.

    Virtually every American teenage male at that time might qualify as a “heavy user of Doom“. The founder of Valve, Gabe Newell, is an ex-Microsoftie who realized he was in the wrong line of work when he did market research for Microsoft in the mid-90s and found that while Windows 3.x was installed on most PCs, Doom was installed on even more.

    It’s pretty clear that Obama feels a strong nostalgia for his Islamic-world childhood, at the very least.

    In fairness to Mr. Obama, that chant is actually quite beautiful, as is almost any competent Arabic chanting. There are sounds associated with Christianity — churchbells, Gregorian chants, the singing of certain hymns such as “Silent Night” — that fill me with warmth and nostalgia despite my break from Christianity being resolute and complete. And I think I can still manage the Latin pronunciation.

  175. “When I heard the reports by U.S. military personnel about the Death Blossom being used by Iraqi insurgents, I couldn’t believe it at first, as it sounded too much like a behavior of stupid enemy game AI and not something actual humans who were interested in winning a war would resort to.”

    Youtube is packed with videos of Arab fire discipline. A quick search turned up this:

    http://tinyurl.com/hvdzg7v

    That ISIS idiot’s weapons handling alone was enough to let you know his future was short. Tactically, he was a prime example of spray and pray…among a couple of other glaring errors which he paid for in short order.

    This is so common among Islamic insurgents and terrorists, that it shows why a disciplined shooter with a semi-automatic handgun has a reasonable chance of stopping or at least slowing down a fanatic with a fully automatic weapon. The idiot in the video was taken down by carefully aimed shots. Even if it was from light automatic weapons, which I doubt, they were controlled, aimed bursts from a more protected position while under a continuous stream of uncontrolled fire from a medium machine gun fired by an imbecile standing in the open.

  176. >Even if it was from light automatic weapons

    From the sound and the circumstances, I’m betting on a three-shot burst from a select-fire assault rifle.

  177. Quote: Mr. Obama recalled the opening lines of the Arabic call to prayer, reciting them with a first-rate accent. In a remark that seemed delightfully uncalculated (it’ll give Alabama voters heart attacks), Mr. Obama described the call to prayer as “one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset.”

    I’m currently well-past forty and I traveled in Indonesia thirty years ago for a total of four months. One hears the call the prayer at least five times a day, usually through a very good, very loud set of speakers. (You don’t generally hear it on Bali, however.) Anyone who can’t imitate the call to prayer perfectly after being there a month is a complete waste of oxygen – it is loud and constant, and I could certainly get the first couple phrases out even today, complete with the nasal sound of the chanter.

    After years in Indonesia, Obama’s ability to imitate the call to prayer merely proves is that he is not dead.

  178. What kind of dumbkopf sits in the middle of the street in a shootout? I think we can state with some certainty that he did not “waste time” playing video games.

  179. > lone wacko… likely to have been a former mental patient, or…
    > previously undiagnosed mental illness

    Or, for debatable but large percentage of “terrorists” and serial killers, it’s very likely they’re a “Star Trek” fan.

    None of the published data gave the split between real Trek, Nerd Generation, and spinoff series, though.

  180. > some of those guys are mean shots.

    The Soviet Army found that out to their dismay 35 years ago. Their new 5.45×39 AK-74s looked great on paper, but they kept losing people to guys with antique .303-caliber bolt-action rifles. The Afghans didn’t even bother to hide; they just set up outside the effective range of the 5.45 and started plinking. When a Russian “designated marksman” showed up with a Mosin or SVD, the Afghans faded back and looks for some more soft targets for their old SMLEs.

  181. >After years in Indonesia, Obama’s ability to imitate the call to prayer merely proves is that he is not dead.

    Er, no, it actually shows something else. Arabic phonemes are quite difficult to accurately reproduce for a monoglot English speaker. Either Obama was pretty well exposed to Arabic during his language-imprint period as a child or he has the same sort of Frodo-like “ear for foreign sounds” that I do, and probably for the same reason (organ of Broca organized by childhood bilingualism).

    Back in the 1990s there was a “Magic: The Gathering” expansion with Middle Eastern feel to a lot of the cards, one in particular being named the “Suq’Ata Lancer”. As a result I once spent ten or twenty minutes trying to teach a bunch of interested MtG players how to pronounce that Arabic guttural usually transcribed in English with a ‘q’. It was kind of a train wreck. Entertaining. IIRC one out of six of them sort of got it.

  182. >The Afghans didn’t even bother to hide; they just set up outside the effective range of the 5.45 and started plinking.

    Plus ca change…they’d used the same tactics more than a century earlier against British troops armed with “Brown Bess” muskets, during the First Afghan War

  183. @esr:
    >Quote: Mr. Obama recalled the opening lines of the Arabic call to prayer, reciting them with a first-rate accent. In a remark that seemed delightfully uncalculated (it’ll give Alabama voters heart attacks), Mr. Obama described the call to prayer as “one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset.”

    >It’s pretty clear that Obama feels a strong nostalgia for his Islamic-world childhood, at the very least.

    Nostalgia, certainly, but I wouldn’t say he’s a Muslim any more than I’d say he’s a Christian. He’s an American Postmodernist. For him, everything and nothing is true, and diversity of cultural experience is the highest of virtues. You could probably get the “one of the prettiest sounds” comment from any Literary Criticism or Sociology professor that has ever taken a summer vacation to somewhere in the Islamic world.

  184. I should note, in terms of Obama’s nostalgia for Indonesia, that it is a wonderful place to travel. Very friendly people who display an extraordinary level of hospitality, cheap lodgings and meals, extraordinary green landscapes, multiple amazing artistic traditions, magnificent cuisine, fantastic beaches and amazing tropical sunsets… I’d go back there in an instant!

    I should also note (and this is a generalization, of course) that Islam as practiced in Indonesia is heavily leavened with Hinduism and local cultural practices, such that it is not unusual to see a group of Muslim shadow-puppeteers and a Muslim gamelan orchestra put on a performance of the Ramayana. In short, they are Islamic, but not remotely Arabic and generally tolerant of other people and cultures. Things may have changed since I visited in 1985 – Saudi soft power in the form of religious “charities” is doubtless at work there – but I doubt things have changed much.

    I should also note that Indonesia is not officially “Islamic.” Christianity, Confucianism, Buddhism and Hinduism are all legally practiced in Indonesia, and if your family practices some for of local shamanism, your neighbors will most likely call you “Hindu” and look the other way. Most of the people I met were extraordinarily tolerant of other religions.

    I dislike Obama for any number of reasons, but the nostalgia he evinces for Indonesia is completely understandable to me, and not a reason for condemning the man.

  185. On the topic of SSRIs: I happen to be addicted to Zoloft.
    Fortunately for all, I only get really crabby after two days off it, and then back to normal (except increased libido and more propensity to get mad about things on the Web) after at most a week. Also I’m terrified of guns. (Suicidal impulses.)

  186. The problem I have with the “blaming” of SSRIs and other psycho-active drugs is this:

    There’s tens of millions of women also on these drugs, and yet there don’t seem to be any female spree killers.

    I suspect that the problem is actually the fact that damaged or troubled boys (most often gammas with paternal neglect or abandonment issues) are put on these drugs to control the depression, but nothing addresses the underlying rage and the fact that they had no credible male influence in their lives to teach them how to handle the devil’s hormone.

    Testosterone is a hell of a drug.

  187. On the subject of SSRIs, note that the crime rate has been falling for a couple decades now, and we are simultaneously giving people who used to be in mental hospitals over to “care in the community,” plus the last 20-30 years have seen major improvements in psych medications, plus the fact that the really crazy people frequently refuse to take their medications. In other words, it’s a pretty chaotic situation with multiple variables. I’m not a statistician, but I’d guess that forcing that chaos to yield information which can actually tell us something is damn-near impossible.

  188. “I’m not a statistician, but I’d guess that forcing that chaos to yield information which can actually tell us something is damn-near impossible.”

    You must be new here :)

  189. “Ideally, every child should have an opportunity to learning hunting and go on at least one hunting trip. This should become a normal and common right of passage for all males in a healthy society.”

    I’d like it to be a normal rite of passage for boys and girls. Shooting is an activity we can all enjoy regardless of our chromosomes.

  190. I’m not so sure McVeigh was an exception. There have been many reports that he and Nichols were part of a larger organization, which may have included an undercover LEO agent provacateur and/or a foreign agitator, depending on the story. I don’t know how credible any of the reports are, but given the extent to which LEOs have infiltrated “right wing” groups, they are at least worth examining to determine the extent to which McVeigh at least thought he was part of a larger group.

  191. >even the extent to which LEOs have infiltrated “right wing” groups, they are at least worth examining to determine the extent to which McVeigh at least thought he was part of a larger group.

    There’s no such evidence. And McVeigh never claimed to be part of a network, which is significant because convicted terror soldiers usually talk up their connections rather than talking them down – goes with the “joiner” psychology they have and the need to “make a statement”.

  192. “larger organization, which may have included an undercover LEO agent provacateur”
    This is the Conventional Wisdom for radical organizations, which I alluded to upthread – that the guy who talks about going violent is the FBI plant. This is the basis of a few prosecutions, too

  193. http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=6943&cpage=1#comment-1669836
    > But, due to mandatory military service, they are also well-trained.

    Oh, so presumably you support federal or state funding for firearms and tactics training for the unorganized citizen militia? That is an interesting view, although I predict it will be politically contentious.

    Tell me, just what exactly IS the handgun and tactics training for those “well-trained” Israeli reservists? I am not sure, and mildly curious. I’m also fairly confident that I and many, many other Americans have undertaken much more extensive training than that, on our own nickel. (Probably the Kenyan Westgate mall IDPA responders too.)

    Btw, for the serious citizen counter-terrorist, the luxury-grade tool these days is a Trijicon RMR red dot low-mounted on a custom machined slide of a Glock or other mid-size fighting pistol, with tall (“suppressor”) iron sights for backup and help in indexing. I haven’t used one yet myself, but it should be MUCH better than irons for precise long range shots. Of course you’re astronomically unlikely to ever have a chance to use it on actual terrorists.

  194. http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=6943&cpage=1#comment-1670288
    > Their new 5.45×39 AK-74s looked great on paper, but they kept losing people to guys with antique .303-caliber bolt-action rifles.

    I doubt it, although it does depend on just what ranges you’re talking about. (And Afghans are known for sometimes taking shots from extreme range.) What you are talking about was probably due to the different trigger-pullers, not the cartridges.

    What the AK-74, Lee-Enfield Mk III (not Mk IV), and Mosin-Nagant all have in common is lousy iron sights. The EFFECTIVE combat range of the 5.45×39 cartridge (IMHO quite well-designed by the Russians, btw) is already much greater than the typical shooter can achieve with those poor sights. But in the field, an AK-74 is much more likely to have a half-decent optic mounted. You need a better shooter and optics before the range advantage of a full power rifle round really matters much.

    Of course, the short-range power advantage, and weight and controllability disadvantage, of full vs. intermediate power round always matter. In shoulder-fired firearms (vs. belt-fed MGs), that tends to be much more significant than range per se.

    The real-world importance of the effective range of infantry shoulder arms is often misunderstood, even (especially?) by some ordnance officers. E.g., see the insightful comment by “W. Fleetwood” below on the (excellent) weaponsman.com blog. His units with .308 FALs consistently outranged their opponents armed with 7.62×39 AKs… By 100 vs. 40 meters! That “overmatch” in effective range was about training, enormously, and somewhat about the sights. Not about the ballistic potential of the cartridges at all.

    http://weaponsman.com/?p=24057#comment-145458

    Note that his observation roughly match US reports from Vietnam, that US forces advancing against the enemy would start taking casualties at around 150 yards from semi-automatic fire, but not until 50 yards from AKs on full-auto. The NVA had the same equipment but better marksmanship training than Fleetwood’s enemies.

  195. Ghatanathoah on 2015-12-16 at 14:51:52 said:
    > I’ve heard a rather persuasive argument that one of the most effective ways to fight ISIS is
    > to steal the people it’s oppressing. Currently one of the biggest worries that ISIS has is
    > financial troubles due to a mass exodus of taxpayers from ISIS controlled regions.

    No, they aren’t.

    ISIS is making money by shipping oil into Turkey–where Erogan’s son in law is profiting off it.

    Well, if you can believe the Russians. On one hand Russia lies more often than Hilliary Clinton. OTOH, Arabs tend to be about as honest as the Clintons and we *know* how thoroughly Saddam had corrupted the Oil for Food program, so there is some precedent there.

  196. Ghatanathoah
    > But if I’ve learned one thing from game theory, it’s that responding to threats just
    > makes people threaten you even more in the future.

    If I respond to your threat by giving you my wallet, maybe.

    If I respond to your threat by beating your ass so bad your mother doesn’t recognize you, you’re either going to be a LOT pickier about who you threaten in the future, or you’re going to stop.

    And if I just shoot you in the fookin face, then what you going to do?

  197. Dan:
    > In reality, it’s a lot closer to the effect of a drop of detergent on a film of oil on water,
    > making it very obvious where to deliver fire. Harder in corridors, admittedly…especially
    > since you really want to stay off the walls.

    Spent much time in shoot houses?

    I’ve done a *little* active shooter training, and when you put a bunch of guys in civies inside little maze, designate 2 guys as “bad guys” and start stirring things up, it’s *not* that obvious.

    Well, yeah, it’s obvious who the shooters are, but not which side they’re on. There’s usually a bit of “blue on blue”.

    I’ve been doing similar research to Eric, except that at least one of my friends helped write the CT manuals, and some of the firearms instructors I’ve worked with have been on the front lines of that.

    The thing is that if you’ve got one or two people engaged in a mass shooting it doesn’t matter *which* type they are, you shoot them to the ground, move to cover and wait for the police. If you are uncertain of your ability to do this at 25 or 50 yards this is America, there are gun ranges EVERYWHERE where you can, for a fairly small amount of coin, spend an hour honing your shooting skills. And this is the sort of country were folks like John Farnam, Gabe Suarez and others will sell you all the training you wish to pay for.

    If you’re going to be carrying a gun in public you *need* to give them some of your money.

    And it’s the sort of country where you can “train” under stress by participating in things like IDPA, IPSC (USPSC), 3 gun matches and a bunch of other stuff.

    I FIRMLY believe in the right to arm yourself for defense of self and others, but NO right comes without a concomitant duty to educate and train yourself to use that right responsibly.

    Out in the mall or the office building it will be easier–at least with the “terror soldiers”. They’ll be the ones with rifles and facemasks. Probably. With the prevalence of “AR Pistols” and the Sig brace it’s now practical to go walkabout with a short barreled firearm that can be fired like a rifle.

    Remember, head shots aren’t just because of body armor. They’re also because of bomb vests. It would suck to shoot them to the ground only to have them detonate themselves and keep on killing.

    If you have a

  198. Encryption back doors and Patriot-Act-style mass surveillance of content. There are are hot disputes about this. My own judgment is that they are a bad trade-off, or at least that if they are effective the pro-surveillance advocates have dismally failed to produce evidence of same. On the other hand, there are imaginable good reasons for the evidence itself to be suppressed.

    The “hot disputes” are between EFF-donating neckbeards on the one hand and the actual decision makers on the other. Most of the presidential candidates on both sides agree that end-to-end encryption without law-enforcement backdoors is too dangerous to allow to continue, this in spite of — or perhaps because of — the fact that the law-enforcement apparatus both here and abroad can’t find its own asshole with both hands and a map when it comes to looking for signs of possible terror attacks, allowing the San Bernardino shooters visas despite serious discrepancies, and permitting the Paris attackers to coordinate with plain old text messages.

    The upshot of this in realpolitik terms is that America is (even more) finished as a free country, as within the next few years there will be effectively no private telecommunications. If encryption strong enough to resist cracking attempts by the U.S. government is still extant, mere possession of it would be sufficient grounds to convict you of conspiracy to commit terrorism or similar, just as merely possessing a set of lockpicks is enough in some states to establish intent to commit theft. And these developments will not only not help the terror problem, they’ll get innocent people locked up or worse, as the feds find a “terrorist” when they scratch any cypherpunk while ISIS coordinates further successful attacks with smoke signals or whatever.

  199. TRX on 2015-12-18 at 18:20:51 said:
    > > some of those guys are mean shots.
    > The Soviet Army found that out to their dismay 35 years ago. Their new 5.45×39
    > AK-74s looked great on paper, but they kept losing people to guys with antique
    >.303-caliber bolt-action rifles. The Afghans didn’t even bother to hide; they just set
    > up outside the effective range of the 5.45 and started plinking.

    Remember the phrase “We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us?”. That applied to folks in Izhevsk Machinebuilding Plant where the AK-74 was assembled, and to the troops using it. All of them were conscripts, poorly paid and supplied, living at the ass end of nowhere. Their biggest incentive was to stay alive long enough to rotate home, and they weren’t trained to adapt, improvise and overcome–they were largely trained to follow the checklist. (This doesn’t apply to all soviet troops, but *most* of them).

    I have a friend (the one that writes CT manuals) who has an AK-74 rebuilt by an American machinist who was getting *solid* hits at something like 500 yards (using a scope). Yeah, this wasn’t Afghanistan in 1980, but it wasn’t the *rifle*, it was the shooter.

    > Arab fatalism produces lousy shots with poor fire discipline;

    That same friend of mine spent a year in Iraq doing security contractor work (this is how he got the CT manual writing gig). One of his contracts was working with the Iraq Police (federal).

    It’s even worse than you indicated. First they were afraid of rifle and wanted to fire it at arms length–keep the bang as far away as possible. Once he got them to snug it up against the shoulder, using the sights was the next hurdled, because as you note “Allah puts the bullet where he wants it.” Allah helps those who help him was the notion my buddy tried to introduce to them.

    And finally–and this is critical to Arab Muslim thinking, but not GENERALLY true–he had a hard time getting them to make center-mass shots because they did not want to start a blood feud with their targets family.

    So there’s lots of reasons that Arab Mohammedans behave a certain way that do not apply to others.

    > by contrast, if you tried to design a cultural psychology to produce good shooters
    > (valuing individual excellence, strong belief in skill proceeding from practice and
    > concentration, willingness to work at skill development, considering it virtuous to
    > work at skill development) you couldn’t do much better than the US’s.

    Most Anglosphere/European militaries produce reasonable to good shooters. What the US *tends* (this is painting with a REALLY REALLY broad brush, and what applies to European militaries certainly does not apply to the Kiwis and Aussies. Israelis are utterly different etc.) to do better than most, at least historically, is that smaller units feel more free to adapt to local conditions, and…”modify” instructions to suit unexpected contingencies. This comes from being an all volunteer military and because of our culture.

    That and a celebration of martial excellence. A friend of mine took a LEO/Military level class once where one of his classmates was a *very* good Canadian solider–infantry man. The Canadian told his son that he was a *baker* on base because he didn’t want his kid growing up thinking of his dad as a soldier. Now I don’t have enough experience with the Canadian culture to know how common this sort of attitude is, but here in the US even the lefty nuck-futz PRETEND that they respect soldiers. At least to our faces.

    So, this doesn’t mean Americans are automatically good shooters, but it does mean we’re psychologically well pre-positioned to benefit from shooter training. The cognitive toolkit and preconceptions you bring matter. We get better faster, and our best are the best, with most of the competition coming from other Anglosphere cultures and the few non-Anglosphere cultures that share these traits almost as strongly.

  200. Read:
    > the fact that the law-enforcement apparatus both here and abroad can’t find its own
    > asshole with both hands and a map when it comes to looking for signs of possible
    > terror attacks

    It’s especially hard when the upper levels cut you off and tell you NOT to look at certain organizations because “profiling”.

  201. > Well, if you can believe the Russians.

    As far as I know, that ISIS is making money from oil is undisputed; the main thing that the sides disagree on is who (i.e. the enemies of whoever is speaking) is buying it and profiting from it, with Turkey claiming that it’s Assad or in an occasional flight of fancy the Russians, whereas the Russians claim it’s Turkey.

  202. > Now I don’t have enough experience with the Canadian culture to know how common this sort of attitude is, but here in the US even the lefty nuck-futz PRETEND that they respect soldiers. At least to our faces.

    AFAIK this is a relatively recent development – one of the problems faced by Vietnam veterans was discrimination due to having been soldiers in an unpopular war, and veterans (along with disabled veteran status, separately from veteran status and disability considered separately) are a protected class in federal discrimination law.

  203. I’m sorry that I didn’t have time to read the entire thread, so this might have come up – if so, just point me at the point made and I’ll shut up.

    I suspect that the failure of Dylan Roof to find a terror network is a sign that (a) there was a terroristic ideology motivating him, which is why he was looking for a network, and that (b) the policing and other penetration of such organisations is effective, which is why he couldn’t find one. Another example of a terror soldier who lacked a network was Anders Behring Breivik.

    My argument – and I’m not committed to this; I certainly don’t have the evidence necessary to positively confirm it – is that there are people motivated to be terror soldiers for a “right-wing” terrorist movement, but that policing and surveillance has meant that no such effective movement has been set up. If there were no such attacks, then that would be an argument that the concern was overblown, but that there are attacks from people that can’t find a network shows the need to maintain vigilance against one being set up. That doesn’t mean excessive vigilance – and what constitutes appropriate vigilance is a perfectly reasonable political debate, but winding up the entire surveillance operation on the “far-right” seems like a risk.

    The lack of a home-base for terrorists of this kind, and the effective penetration of undercover networks in Western countries does rather suggest a model for addressing Islamist terrorism. The challenge is to find a way to get rid of the home-bases permanently. The short term answer of killing lots of people works in the short term, but you need to find a way to have a government that people won’t hate, or else they’ll just overthrow it sooner or later (see Egypt, Tunisia, Iran) and most revolutions end in the most brutal revolutionaries in power (ie the Islamists) or in a counter-revolution and a more brutal version of the regime falling in a nastier revolution later. The American Revolution is not a good model for how revolutions tend to go.

    The other really good way to do this is a political solution (as in Northern Ireland) where the terrorist network itself stops the terror soldiers because they’ve achieved sufficient of their political goals. I don’t see that happening with Islamism, because their goals are so abhorrent, but when dealing with a general theory of terrorism we should bear in mind that the tactic can sometimes be adopted by people with goals that aren’t abhorrent – in which case, a negotiated solution may make sense. I note that Israel has tried this several times and it came relatively close to working with the Oslo accords before Rabin was assassinated and the rise of Hamas made compromise impossible.

    Of course, we would still need to accept that there’s going to be the occasional person motivated by Islamist ideology who becomes a terror soldier without a network, but if that’s single individuals on a five-to-ten year basis, then the correct response is the same as the one to “right-wing” terror soldiers: accept that’s the baseline level while that ideology still has adherents, and maintain the surveillance and penetration of the networks.

  204. >permitting the Paris attackers to coordinate with plain old text messages.

    I need help here.

    It’s imperative to cripple encryption because law enforcement is so inept that bad guys were able to plan and coordinate without using encryption?

    Wait, what?

  205. I need help here.

    It’s imperative to cripple encryption because law enforcement is so inept that bad guys were able to plan and coordinate without using encryption?

    Wait, what?

    If the terrists were able to slip one past LEOs without using encryption, think of what they might be capable of with encryption! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!

    No one said that the politicians’ reasoning had to make any sense. But all the major players support mandatory weak encryption, so that’s what’s likely going to happen.

  206. Jeff Read said:

    If the terrists were able to slip one past LEOs without using encryption, think of what they might be capable of with encryption! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!

    No one said that the politicians’ reasoning had to make any sense. But all the major players support mandatory weak encryption, so that’s what’s likely going to happen.

    Look, Jeff and I don’t agree on much.

    So when we do it’s either trivial (raining/not raining) or you *damn* well better listen.

    This is one area where, near as I can tell we’re pretty close in agreement. Watering down/backdooring crypto is UTTERLY FUCKING STUPID.

    We went through this shit in the 90s, and what Matt Blaze proved should have put this shit to bed *PERMANENTLY*.

    That it didn’t means we really need to hang some f*king bureaucrats from some lamp posts.

    Although to maintain some disagreement here (otherwise the riding of the four horsemen etc.) it’s NOT the politicians pushing this, they aren’t well informed enough to know better.

    For them what don’t get it, there are mathematical algorithms that can be expressed in code such that messages can be encrypted that it is impossible for government agencies to read. This REALLY bothers certain government agencies to the point where they have FAILED IN THEIR JOBS to protect the national electronic infrastructure in order to backdoor/weaken certain algorythms.

    They want to make it illegal for folks like me and you to have unbreakable crypto, to be able to exchange messages they can’t read.

    They *claim* that this is For Our Own Good(tm) because if The Bad Guys can get unbreakable crypto[1] then we can’t spy on them.

    As Mr. Read notes, we CAN’T FUCKING SPY ON THEM without crypto. Our police and intelligence agencies are too fucking inept, are being deliberately held back, or are doing something else that sucks up resources such that htey have nothing left over for their primary mission. Or all three.

    What Mr. Read doesn’t note up-thread, nor does Mr. Raymond is that Congress CANNOT CHANGE THE LAWS OF MATHEMATICS.

    The code that Phil Z. wrote and the GNU Cru redid will *always* work. It might not *always* be strong enough to keep the NSA from breaking it (especially when they’ve backdoored the RNGs or whatever they (or The Chinese or whoever it was that fuxored ScreenOS) did), but it will *always* slow down or stop the FBI, the CIA and especially your local PD.

    And because it’s *math* expressed in code the guys who have money will always be able to get the good stuff. Just like they can always get hash and heroin, just like they can get “good” fake passports.

    Just like they can get the sort of fully automatic weapons that I can’t seem to find in my local gun store

    They’re *bad guys* and you can’t stop them by passing a law.

    But what you can do is gather lots of information on good guys with bad habits, or borderline guys who can be pressured, made fearful, or exposed when handy.

    [1] By “unbreakable crypto” I mean crypto that generates messages that cannot be de-crypted in a timespan short enough to be useful)

  207. @esr
    “And I’m now declaring gun control off topic for this thread, so it doesn’t rathole.”
    I’ll offer Apologies for my part in that, then.

  208. Would more available training of lawfully armed citizens in specific ways to respond when confronted by a mass shooter be helpful?

  209. >Would more available training of lawfully armed citizens in specific ways to respond when confronted by a mass shooter be helpful?

    A reasonable question. I’m not sure there are any specific responses to a mass shooter that aren’t also good tactics against ordinary criminals, though.

  210. I actually took a short course in this a few weeks ago. In the spirit of government compliance courses, it wasn’t so much informative as it was a way for the government to declare it had done something about the problem, but a few tips actually stood out. Not sure how useful they were, especially given the rarity of such events. It generally assumed you were unarmed.

    * Be mindful of what the shooter looks like – clothing, size / build, what he’s wielding, and how many there are. If you get to safety, response teams will ask about all this.
    * Crouch rather than lie flat, if the shooter is using guns only – ricocheting rounds tend to stay close to the floor. (This one seemed kinda hokey based on geometry, but maybe there’s something about ricochet physics I don’t know.)
    * Lie flat with lower body towards the shooter if they’re using grenades – shrapnel tends to rise.
    * Attack the shooter only as a last resort – opt for cover or evacing if possible.
    * Don’t try to assist incoming rescue teams – just follow their instructions and stay out of their way.

    If you’re armed and cornered, things are different, but the course didn’t cover that. (Welcome to Maryland…) The prep for that likely involves taking an actual self-defense course, and putting some time into it.

  211. “more available training ” More available meaning subsidized? There is ample such training available at the current cost of time, money and most importantly practice.

    In the natural course of events IDPA stages say follow current interests. The last World’s had a nice subway stage with a mock working power door. Books, videos and the internet are moving toward head and face shots with full size carry guns at longer ranges instead of backing off a close range mugging.

    It’s not quite an Overton Window but to say ordinary criminals implies a community of discourse? I’m not clear on one man’s ordinary criminal is to another man’s what?.

    Gabe Suarez has been posting valuable thoughts on adjusting to a mass shooter environment. Time was a Fitz Special in a baggy pleated front trouser might have been the answer to urban street crime. Now a larger firearm with more cartridges and optical sight of some sort (I have an RMR and a T2 among others each IMHO as good as it gets for a given role) is suggested.

    I wouldn’t suggest my wife carry a shoulder stocked, suppressed Glock with an extended magazine to stroll through New Years; I’d start with a couple of small knives, spray, a big knife a cane or umbrella and finally a gun. Societies that condone or at least permit frottage and more might inspire more hatpins before more facial shootings.

    On the topic of richochet the general rule of small arms is don’t hug a hard surface in a fight. Don’t hug the floor, most emphatically don’t hug the wall, – it’s not reflection like fiber optics it’s the classic cry of black powder artillery: grazing shots.

  212. One thing different about a mass shooting is how to engage the shooter without the other people, other armed citizens or the police, mistaking you for one of the bad guys. One needs to have a strategy for that.

  213. Clark E. Myers “more available training ” More available meaning subsidized?

    No, not subsidized. Excellent training is hard work for the trainer and they deserve to be paid. Students take training they pay for more seriously as well.

  214. Crouch rather than lie flat, if the shooter is using guns only – ricocheting rounds tend to stay close to the floor. (This one seemed kinda hokey based on geometry, but maybe there’s something about ricochet physics I don’t know.)

    Neither floors nor bullets are perfectly inelastic – in particular, the bullet deforms quite a bit in a ricochet, and its aerodynamics change. Also, crouching rather than going prone means your body is better positioned to move; you don’t have to get up off the ground.

  215. As long as we’re into the tactical do’s and don’ts, here’s a don’t. Don’t draw your firearm until you are ready to immediately use it. Never move with your firearm exposed or in your hand because people will think you are the shooter. Cop sees you he/she will shoot you. Armed citizen might also.

    This highlight’s the number one skill to be mastered by everyone who lawfully carries a concealed firearm — the ability to safely, quickly, and professionally draw from concealment and deliver aimed fire.

    This is how you survive and effectively neutralize a felonious threat. Don’t expect this skill to be easy to obtain without some serious work.

  216. >Never move with your firearm exposed or in your hand because people will think you are the shooter. Cop sees you he/she will shoot you. Armed citizen might also.

    This is a real problem, because drawing from concealment and firing rapidly is hard, especially if you have to prep a single-action like my .45. At least some tactical instructors suggest a compromise if you can’t prep and fire from concealment: draw and prepare, but then hold the weapon against your body at your leg or hip as you move.

    People aren’t very observant, especially under stress, and will often not process that the thing you’re holding is a gun if it’s not a position that says “gun”. For a little extra help, carry a black gun and wear black clothes; I do, and I’ve noticed that people often fail to register even open carry with that combination. Their eyes see but don’t process.

    The thing you absolutely do not want to do is look like an immediate threat to a police sniper. If you have the weapon held at your hip, or even in a tactical low hold pointed at the floor, the sniper (or the armed citizen) may get the message that you’re a good guy precisely because you’re not instantly ready to blaze away at a random target. Especially if you’re white and/or look like you might just be an off-duty or retired LEO, two things I have going for me.

    It’s risky, but any situation where you have to draw against a shooter is risky. You knew the job was dangerous when you took it.

  217. Pingback: DYSPEPSIA GENERATION » Blog Archive » A Short Course in Counter-Terror Theory

  218. Eric wrote: If you have the weapon held at your hip, or even in a tactical low hold pointed at the floor, the sniper (or the armed citizen) may get the message that you’re a good guy precisely because you’re not instantly ready to blaze away at a random target.

    It’s risky, as you say. It would help a lot to get confirmation from anyone in LE that this is any typical police sniper’s Schelling point for evaluation.

    Eric wrote: Especially if you’re white and/or look like you might just be an off-duty or retired LEO, two things I have going for me.

    …ugh. Ugh ugh ugh. White? I know this isn’t your fault, but damn, is this worth fighting over. I do not want to have some poor guy / gal ganked for trying to save lives just because he / she was too dark in the dermis…

    That aside, how does one go about looking like an off-duty / retired LEO? Grow a mustache?

  219. >This is a real problem, because drawing from concealment and firing rapidly is hard, especially if you have to prep a single-action like my .45.

    This is the biggest argument against Israeli carry (chamber empty), I think. When you need your gun you need your gun and you may not have time to draw the thing and *then* chamber a round. With a SA like your 1911, pretty sure it’s recommended as standard that you should practice always thumbing off the safety as you draw so it’s instinctive and does not slow you down in any way.

    >At least some tactical instructors suggest a compromise if you can’t prep and fire from concealment: draw and prepare, but then hold the weapon against your body at your leg or hip as you move.

    I believe everyone who doesn’t want to be noticed as pointing a gun suggests that, good guys and bad.

  220. >That aside, how does one go about looking like an off-duty / retired LEO? Grow a mustache?

    Build to a certain extent, but that’s tricky. Body language, in a major way. Also to a certain extent, simply the way you handle your gun – proper stance, no ‘sideways’, etc (though that isn’t specific to being a former LEO, it also covers being a ‘responsible citizen’ as opposed to a certain type of criminal).

  221. >White? I know this isn’t your fault, but damn, is this worth fighting over. I do not want to have some poor guy / gal ganked for trying to save lives just because he / she was too dark in the dermis…

    Neither do I. I was just noting that this filter exists, not approving of it.

    The hell of it is, given differential crime rates by race it’s almost justified. But that “almost” has a lot of room for error and tragedy in it.

  222. >Build to a certain extent, but that’s tricky. Body language, in a major way. Also to a certain extent, simply the way you handle your gun

    That’s right. This is connected with the fact that military and ex-military types not infrequently ask me if I’m a veteran on first acquaintance. There’s a sort of common sheepdog body language that crosses over among cops, veterans, and older gun-culture civilians. I’ve noted before on this blog how this smoothes my interactions with police.

    Gun handling things they’ll look for? A big one is trigger finger outside the guard when not actually lining up for a shot. That says “This person practices with a weapon and has been trained by competent instructors, he’s not just some mook who thinks his gun is a penis extension.”

    Another is signs of strong 360 situational awareness – criminals and wackos tend to over-focus on what’s in front of them, so this is a pretty reliable tell except in the rare case that your wacko has had elite military training or (like me) has picked up some SpecOps doctrine from a civilian ex-SpecOps type.

    A related cue, though less definite, is tactical movement skills and tempo. Slow and steady rather than jerky and hyperadrenalized is a potential-good-guy sign. Someone you see properly pie-slicing a corner and staying off walls is far more likely to be a veteran, ex-cop, or CCW first responder with tactical training.

    There is something about build, too, but that’s harder to define. Muscularity without looking like a gym rat is close.

  223. Another thing that just now struck me as probably a good idea, that any civic-minded concealed carrier could employ: when indoors and in sight of a window through which you can see ground or rooftop outside (or nothing, because it’s dark): wave at the window. An (insane) active shooter would have no reason to do this. If you’re within sight of the shooter, of course, you’ll be too busy, but if not, hopefully it’s easy to do this without attracting the perp’s attention.

  224. The ACLU letter to the police-on-police shootings task force of the NYPD is not very helpful because it does what liberals always do which is to look for a racist explanation for every untoward thing that happens anywhere in America. People desperate to find racism always find it and as such they contribute nothing to any understanding of the stated problem.

    NYPD has long had a problem with blue-on-blue shootings. They used to employ a color of the day strategy where off duty cops were supposed to call in daily to find out what the color was and then wear that color. It failed miserably and they gave it up. They’d have better shooting experiences in general if they gave up the idiotic “New York trigger” (12-pound pull) they install in their officers’ guns.

    The thing that gets off-duty cops shot by other cops are the normal physiological effects of stress. Tunnel vision, audio exclusion, tachypsychia, sudden event amnesia, etc. makes them fail to understand and respond to commands from uniformed officers who don’t know they are cops. This gets lawfully armed citizens shot as well. NYPD has 40,000 cops which adds to the problem.

  225. There is real irony here in that lawfully armed citizens seem to get shot by cops a lot less than do off duty cops. Are the citizens better at anticipating the problem? I think so. Cops are used to handling their guns around other cops, citizens aren’t. Off duty cops easily forget that the other cops don’t know they’re cops. Citizens have a natural aversion to holding a gun in the presence of cops.

  226. >NYPD has long had a problem with blue-on-blue shootings. They used to employ a color of the day strategy where off duty cops were supposed to call in daily to find out what the color was and then wear that color. It failed miserably and they gave it up. They’d have better shooting experiences in general if they gave up the idiotic “New York trigger” (12-pound pull) they install in their officers’ guns.

    The NYPD trigger is a hardware solution to a training problem. It causes them to have terrible accuracy in shootings (well, I should say ‘even more terrible’) but helps cut down on the number of accidental/negligent discharges.

    The NYPD is terribly trained and generally not competent w.r.t. firearms. The leadership of the department is powerfully anti-gun, the officers are often also anti-gun, and in any case are invariably undertrained. They’re known for terrible habits like bad trigger discipline – i.e. resting your finger on the trigger before you’re ready to shoot. You do that, and something mildly unexpected happens, and “Damn it just went off, by itself!”. The REALLY heavy trigger is to make it more difficult for officers with bad trigger discipline to accidentally shoot someone.

  227. >And by all the evidence to date, that policy has failed horribly.

    It’s even more frightening when you think how well it’s succeeded. (NYPD really is dangerous when you let them have guns, and the trigger can only have actually helped.)

  228. Full disclosure- I don’t rag on the NYPD for no reason, or arbitrarily. There are a number of extremely fine human beings who have served in that organization, and I’ve known (and am related to) some of them.

    But for political reasons, the organization has an anti-gun bias from top to bottom, and that politically driven stance does not serve either officers or NYC citizens well. I know of at least one officer who was killed in the line of duty, at least partly due to the fact that he was (apparently) under-trained in matters of gun handling. He was, in fact, a family friend.

  229. According to Sibel Edmonds and Webster Tarpley and many other commentators, ALL terrorism around the world is done by subsidiaries of NATO and the US military.

    US foreign policy only makes sense if you look at it as Israeli’s desire to Balkanize the entire ME combined with Bryzhynski and other’s obsession with killing the USSR.

    Every terrorist event, including San Bernadino, has had signatures of gov involvement, e.g. simultaneously drills.
    9/11 was a false flag, very well documented by Architects and Engineers and the other 3 major organizations, pilots, military, scholars for 9/11 Truth.

  230. >According to Sibel Edmonds and Webster Tarpley and many other commentators, ALL terrorism around the world is done by subsidiaries of NATO and the US military.

    Aaand the gibbering loons come out of the woodwork.

  231. So I am a gibbering loon? New one.
    One of the significant things that happened starting about 5 years ago is that all of the people who don’t want to understand 9/11 FF stopped disputing facts and merely call us names.

    I thought you assumed that external reality was primary in your decisions and understanding?

    Please account for the nano-thermite in the WTC dust. When you can do that, I will accept the label of gibbering loon.

  232. Another thing : there is no possibility of legitimate doubt in any mind adequate to comprehend the evidence. So in 2016 you can only be ignorant, intentionally or otherwise.

    I have a standard bet with anyone I think honest and of adequate mind : I write them a check in an amount they are willing to lose and give it to them with the understanding that they watch 5 videos I give them. They can do any other things they need to do to evaluate them.

    Then they decide on the reality, no need to justify anything, and either cash my check or send me their check for that amount and mine. That is not a bet it is possible to lose.

    I would require you to write an essay on why in case you decide you win, otherwise, say $1K? 10 hours of videos for $100/ hour isn’t your usual rate, but think of the easy win over a gibbering loon !

  233. Thinking about it, I find that a rather elegant argument : A reality trap, the opposite of a Kafka trap.
    I can make it easier for you, and provide the list of videos ahead of time. Watch and then decide to bet.

    I could promise to never discuss receiving your check, otherwise your essay would trumpet your superior understanding of reality.

    Of course, if you were to display inferior logic and wisdom, it would harm your standing in the world of OSS. As against having to change your entire world-view, your understanding of the basic enemy.

  234. lew: I’ll (anonymously) bite on part of this troll-bait, if esr permits this to be posted.

    Define “nano-thermite”. I’ve seen the term before, but never any good explanation of what it supposedly is and how it differs from plain thermite. I want a description in text, as words in a comment on this very blog post.

    Thank you.

  235. Sure. Stephen Jones is the current scientific authority, or at least the man who found it in the WTC dust samples, 4 of 4, I believe, from different sources.
    Thermite is Feric Oxide and aluminium powder. Thermate mixes in sulfur, barium is added to increase the solubility of steel, from memory here.
    Nano-thermite / thermate is all of that, but milled or otherwise very find powders. That increases the rate of release of energy to explosive status.
    Jones and a couple of other people reported in an international journal, refereed by his peers, that all of the samples contained the expected from such charges, microspheres of iorn and individual flakes of the nanothermite which could be exploded under the microscope. Convincing evidence, I thought.
    The topic is covered extensively in all of the architects and engineers for 9/11 Truth videos, I believe.
    This case is far blacker and whiter than gun control, and same as gun control, the question has an answer. You only have to have mind and look. There is no excuse for not looking.

    Do get serious. 9/11 FF is the question of the age, our Dreyfus Case, except there are no Zolas yet on the scene. Indeed, hard to get your mind around, but the evidence is beyond clear.

  236. I did not provide any links on purpose. It is easy to find reputable sources via searches to support all of what I said there. Indeed, there are some crazies and ‘conspiracy theorists’, but if you start with architects and engineers, pilots, military officers and academics for 9/11 truth, those are solid organizations and you can sort from there.
    You will not possibly mistake those people for anything but what they are, fellow professionals in worlds of reality. Doing our jobs and being aware.

  237. OK, focusing on the finely powdered thermite.

    Since thermite is ferric oxide and aluminum, both of which were almost certainly present in the towers prior to the collapse, how do you rule out the collapse itself producing the fine powder when so much other material was also ground to dust?

  238. “Indeed, there are some crazies and ‘conspiracy theorists’, but if you start with architects and engineers, pilots, military officers and academics for 9/11 truth”

    There is nothing that prevents architects, engineers, pilots, military officers, and academics from being crazies and conspiracy theorists.

  239. Stop arguing with me and look at the evidence. Why are you not looking at the evidence?

    No kidding, people of every profession can be crazy. The exact question is “Are the people presenting the evidence crazy?” The interviews go on for long enough with enough people you can tell, seems to me.

    There is evidence of a scientific nature that will leave no question in your mind as to whether the buildings were blown down. They were. We know the names of the people who set the explosives. We know the names of the people who organized and ran the operation. We know where the planes were landed. You only need look.

    Irrefutable smoking guns with laboratory-grade evidence published in scientific journals. You only need look.

  240. I was in Manhattan on 9/11.
    I watched one of the planes strike the tower on TV.
    I have better things to do with my time than check out “evidence” from fevered conspiracy theorists who have explanations for everything but how such a conspiracy could be kept secret in the first place. Like flossing the trees in my front yard.

  241. What does it prove to have seen a plan strike a tower? We all saw that.
    The problem with your position is that it protects you from all possible gradations of views. Surely you aren’t right about everything?

    And if you are wrong, it is a catastrophy for our country, one that continues. An hour of your time on the Architect and Engineer’s video surely isn’t too large an investment to prevent that, is it?

    Group think. It is very important to protect yourself from groupthink. You have to look for disconfirming evidence to do that. You won’t find disconfirming evidence in the writings of the Status Quo who benefit from your current beliefs, will you?

    I am an engineer, advanced degree, no insanity in my family, and my smartest engineering friends KNOW as I do that 9/11 was an inside job. The evidence does not allow us to understand anything else, it is not refutable without invoking a large change in the laws of physics that day in Manhattan. To us, it seems FF is a better answer, especially given all of the supporting links and chains of people and companies and interests.

    I don’t ask you to believe anything. I ask you to spend that first hour looking for the disconfirming evidence. That is all it will take, and I am not the first to tell you all this.

    Anyone still in doubt is intentionally ignorant. The evidence is there to see.

  242. Conspiracy theories never explain how the conspiracy was kept secret, and that is why they are never plausible. Nobody’s even attempted to do that from the 9/11 truther community. That’s because there is no such explanation that will hold up.

  243. Why is it you keep arguing with me rather than spending the same amount of time perusing the finest evidence?
    There are two kinds of people in the world : those who study the evidence and can be wrong and those who do not study the evidence and have no clue about reality.

    There is an answer to the question “Was 9/11 an inside job”. It is unequivocably ‘yes’, as is well known to anyone who bothers to go watch the first hour of ae911Truth.

    Nobody argues facts now, they only do these drive-by doubts, questions that can’t be answered without the investigation we keep telling you we need.

    Stop arguing idiot arguments and look at the quite objective evidence.

  244. lew,

    My earlier question remains unanswered. How do you rule out the thermite being produced as the towers fell?

  245. Do I have to teach basic physics? Thermodynamics pretty much rules out flakes of nano-particles with the composition of Ferric Oxide, aluminimum, etc coming together in the midst of the spontaneous dissolution of all of that concrete. That composition was found by 3 different teams in independent samples of the dust, btw. Results published in international, referred journals. Rather distinctive, patents, etc. A long trail of history and connections to the people who used it to blow down the towers.

    As I say, don’t try to refute me, go look at the evidence. Everyone wants to avoid that, but nobody who does has any doubts. You guys can’t make the arguments you do and have spent an hour looking at the evidence.

    The only questions anyone can have is “why has no one noticed?” That is the hard one. Was living in Stalinist Russia like this, with topics nobody polite could acknowledge? Indeed, there is a division of us, but we realists know where we stand, and you live in a fantasy world. This last big will now be used to refute me decisively as a completely over-the-top conspiracy theorist, and then you can all go back to sleep.

    But remember the bet? It isn’t one I can lose. Reality wins, and nobody who looks at the evidence has any doubts.

    Which is why they don’t, of course. It is an amazing job of media control, of the same type that kept Dennis Hastert in office 2 years after he had been exposed as a pedophile and serial abuser of children around he world AND a receiver of drug monies via Turkish mafia connections.

    You probably don’t hear much about that either. MSM does its job.

  246. “The only questions anyone can have is “why has no one noticed?””

    No, and you still haven’t answered the basic one: “how can a conspiracy that pulled this off remain secret?” Conspiracies never remain secret. Someone always blabs.

    I’m not interested in looking at “evidence” for your 9/11 truther story any more than I’m interested in looking at “evidence” for a Christian God. To me, they’re both fantasies, differing only in age.

  247. You are one long argument on behalf of ignorance.

    You give me idiot arguments about why one should NOT look at the evidence. As against serious engineers and science who have done actual research in scientific mode and manner and reported it in public fora for the critique of their peers. You do your very best to distract from the existence of that evidence.

    So many reasons not to bother, all arguments for continuing your ignorance. Certainly we have not been able to stop many of you. But ever person who takes the time to look at the evidence knows what it says, and knows that all of us know.

    Pitiful, the left and right both, on this issue. Failure of intellectual fortitude. Anyway, you are a complete waste of time, except as a continuing example of the stupidity of your position.

    And again, I remind all of the bet on reality.

  248. “You give me idiot arguments about why one should NOT look at the evidence.”

    And you argue like a fanatical fundamentalist Christian evangelist arguing that there is hard evidence that proves the existence of God.

    No. I don’t deal with evangelism in any manner.

  249. All your arguments are arguments for ignorance and vague analogies. Call me an evangelist, incidentally the title once proudly adopted by this blog’s owner, and then use it as an excuse to ignore me, to go on ignoring the evidence.

    Never any attempt to deal with any fact, keep the conversation over here, ignore the evidence.
    All of the sort-of-independent members of the 9/11 commission repudiate the report, say that bot the FBI and the CIA lied to them.

    You don’t even know, so can’t deal with the fact that NOTHING was found intact in the rubble of the WTCs, that the body pieces found on the roof of one of the adjacent buildings were 120 very small fragments. Nothing, not phones, computers, keyboards, … was intact.

    And people have been whistleblowers, contrary to your hypothesis. Drake is one, Binney and Sibel Edmonds and … all have pieces of the story they testify to. Washington’s blog runs the updated list of acknowledged False Flag attacks used to begin wars, I think it was up to 46 modern examples.

    The difference between any evangalism I might display is that my argument depends on your judgment of the evidence, it has no independent power. Judgment which you refuse to deploy, being afraid of the evidence.

    Someone might diss you if you understand. Intellectual creampuffs, destroyed by the threat of looming evidence.

  250. lew,

    You allege an absolutely monstrous crime. At the very least, there would be thousands of counts of murder. Such an allegation requires evidence and requires that innocent explanations, no matter how far-fetched they may seem, are ruled out.

    You say the nano-thermite was in flakes. Were there no impurities in those flakes at all? Could those flakes have been produced by a mixing of dusts as the towers fell? It is certain that both ferric oxide and aluminum were present in the towers before the collapse. It is even possible that someone may have had samples of nano-thermite in an office somewhere in the towers. The seriousness of the allegation requires that all innocent explanations of the evidence be considered.

    That nothing was intact after the collapse is not a surprise. What was the gravitational potential energy of the towers prior to collapse? All of that and more was released.

    The unique design of those towers proved to be very bad. The towers were built under a variance from the NYC fire code that permitted the emergency stairways to have thinner walls than the code required. This allowed jet fuel to get into the central columns. The central columns then made excellent blast furnaces, drawing air from the subway below and cutting off escape for those above the impact points.

  251. Again you choose to debate me rather than deal with evidence. There are 3 papers on the nanothermite, Jones and a Dane whose name I forget are lead authors on the first, easy to find. As they were able to explode the nanothermite flakes under the microscope, contamination did not seem to be an issue.

    You seem to think that the few points I mention are the entire constellation of facts that make up the argument, but Building 7, the 100s of people testifying to the explosions, including eye-witness to the first explosions happening before the plane hit the tower, and many others. You realize the leading book on the investigation is 550 pages? You are completely ignorant about everything and think you have some grasp of the issues.

    Your arguments are of the same type that all losing, rear-guard defenses are, e.g. against evolution. Particularist, looking for the excuses.

    A long plea for continuing ignorance rather than dealing with data.

    This replicates my standard experience : dismissal as a loon followed by the many loony reasons one should not have to deal with evidence, it would be so irrational to not believe as does every right thinker. Works fine until the Emperor actually has no clothes.

    You have not tried to deal with my assertion that no one watches the hour of ae911Truth and remains unconvinced. Why don’t you do that experiment? You won’t have to confess your doubts, most don’t.

  252. lew,

    You initially threw out a challenge to “account for the nano-thermite in the WTC dust”. I’m asking you to explain how innocent explanations for that can be ruled out. Thermite is relatively insensitive to contamination. Were the flakes actually analyzed or merely exploded under a microscope? Were there any offices in the towers that could have had samples of nano-thermite?

    Finding nano-thermite in the rubble does not by itself prove that nano-thermite charges brought the building down. Other hypotheses, like “formed during the collapse” and “samples in a file cabinet” must be ruled out.

    Thermite has civilian uses. It’s the standard way to weld railroad tracks and could have been used to perform structural repairs on the towers. Guilt must be proven, never assumed.

  253. Such enormous resistance to any possibility of evidence, even the hint of contagion by evidence.
    RTFM. This is open-source intelligence, you don’t need a priest to guide you.
    You keep focusing on refuting me, instead of dealing with evidence. Relentlessly ignorant.

  254. Anonymous, give it up. lew is a fanatic: he can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject. He simply will refuse to address any criticisms or arguments that aren’t answered in his narrowly-defined bit of “evidence”, and if you were to actually waste your time on looking at his “evidence”, you would see holes big enough to drive a semi through that he will never see.

    He’s got the fervor of the true religious convert. There’s no convincing him.

  255. Excellent, proof I am a fanatic, I insist on the evidence as the primary reality, not some anonymous idiot debating me.

    The fervor of the true religious convert ! He insists on referring to the primary source of the information instead trying to answer the detail himself, to allow himself to be made the authority.

    Hasbara, nicely done. But do note, you have done nothing to the evidence, and anyone reading this long plea for maximum ignorance is not convinced. Reality still rules, and the evidence still exists, and nobody views those primary truths and believes the ignorance of 9/11, the government story of massive terrorism by those evil Moslems. Didn’t happen, and 9/11 is all smoking guns of science lab-quality evidence.

    And you guys can’t deal with it, thus this long plea for ignorance. Don’t allow yourself to look at the evidence, you may not believe those 19 Moslem patsies IDed by the FBI did the dirty deed, including the 7 or so still alive to the mystification of the FBI and CIA and 9/11 commission, which didn’t deal with the issue

    But don’t pay attention toe the fanatic who keeps bring up evidence, no, that would be a big waste of your time.

  256. Jay,

    I’m not trying to convince him. I’m trying to get him to support his own arguments instead of spewing baseless assertions.

    lew,

    You yourself said “Please account for the nano-thermite in the WTC dust. When you can do that, I will accept the label of gibbering loon.”

    I offered innocent explanations that would account for the nano-thermite and asked how you can be sure that the thermite did not come from any of those innocent causes. I deliberately left them unsupported and you still did not even attempt to knock them down.

    I’m giving you one last chance before I move on to other parts of the Web. I’ve given at least three innocent explanations for thermite in the WTC dust. Refute any one of them convincingly without resorting to ad hominem attacks.

  257. One more chance before you declare victory and go home.

    You did not account for nano-thermite, you waved your hands and claimed an account to be possible and expected me to refute that. That isn’t science, test your own hypotheses. You make the claim you provide the support, isn’t that the way it is supposed to work?

    Nano-thermite is a highly-engineered substance, it doesn’t happen by accident the way you claim. Your grasp of elementary physics and chemistry seems that of a liberal arts major : wave your hands and make things up.

    I did support my arguments : Nano-thermite is in the dust and it is thermodynamically very unlikely to be there by accident, not in the amounts that produced running streams of molten steel in the basement areas, testified to by the firefighters, in addition to the many explosions they testify to. Explosions which killed some of them.

    Nano-thermite is consistent with, an explanation for explosions. Consilience is important in science, don’t you think?

    Your logic, your obvious attempts to direct attention away from the hard evidence rather than deal with any of it, leave your side of this debate in the losing position, you realize?

  258. lew,

    Good, an actual argument. I can stay a bit longer.

    How do you know that the substance in the dust is engineered nano-thermite? Were the flakes actually analyzed or simply exploded under a microscope? Any thermite, whether engineered nano-thermite or crap piled together as a building came down, will explode if separated into microscopic flakes and ignited. Engineered nano-thermite would have very few impurities, if any, while crap piled together would be, well, crap piled together that happens to contain enough aluminum and enough ferric oxide to react.

    Running streams of molten steel, prior to the collapse, would be very suspicious indeed. While a jet fuel fired blast furnace could certainly melt steel, the steel nearest the heat was also the main building supports. In other words, where did that molten steel come from? If it was the main supports, why was the tower still standing when the firefighters saw the molten steel? If it was something else, how did it get hot enough to melt?

    Lots of things are consistent explanations for explosions. Nano-thermite is one of them, but so are less exotic explosives like C4 or dynamite. Heat applied to stored liquids or gases can also cause explosions. This is a known hazard in firefighting and still kills firefighters even in nonsuspicious fires.

    You seem to act as if we are on different sides. I know there was something crooked about the WTC collapse. I don’t know if it was the attack or if the buildings were built to substandard designs at the start. I want an airtight case and that requires irrefutable answers to even the most seemingly absurd innocent explanations. Nothing less will stick. I want justice for the people who should have lived to see another day.

  259. You keep making stupid assertions and treat them as evidence. No, jet fuel does not melt steel.

    Indeed, many things are explosive, one of the reasons most crime scenes preserve the evidence for forensic analysis, unlike the 9/11 crime scene, and a violation of federal law about that kind of thing. But you make no suggestions based upon no evidence, just wave your hands and suppose some thing might explain it.

    I do urge you to go look at hte 9/11 analysis that was done by real engineers rather than the government hacks at NIST. You keep avoiding anything that might expose you to evidence.

    You want an airtight irrefutable case done by someone else who you will trust to tell you the truth. Pitiful intellect, you deserve to be lied to.

    Indeed, we are on different sides. I am on the side of science and facts and knowledge and reason. You want to believe in fairy tales, and do.

    Go away child.

    ESR: I not your ignoring this. You will regret not taking my offer, my bet. It allows you a clean and blame-free exit from your untenable position wrt 9/11 and the false flag fag. You are going to have a lot of explaining to do : 14 years pushing a false hypothesis in easily-checked reality, and you haen’t checked. Some intellect, some contrarian.

  260. jet fuel does not melt steel.

    This is a thought-terminating cliche, and a mind-numbingly stupid one at that. Anyone who believes that fires burn at a fixed temperature according to the type of fuel doesn’t know enough science to be qualified to argue about this, full stop. Let alone that steel retains its whole structural strength right up to the point that it enters a liquid state.

    Both of these beliefs are wrong. Together, they mean “jet fuel does not melt steel” is so awfully misbegotten an idea that it’s not even wrong.

  261. You make many assertions that reveal ignorance, not knowledge.

    You support none of them. And you can support nothing the government claims, which is why you don’t even try.

    You are the caliber of mind that still argues the gov case : nobody intelligent continues that futile effort, and you are unable to even realize the inadequacy of your arguments.

    ESR: You are very wrong about 9/11, something that is very easy to check at a factual level, many intelligent people have investigated that case. You do your society no favors assisting them in believing falsehood.

    Take the bet : you need the excuse.

  262. lew,

    In open air, no, jet fuel does not burn hot enough to melt steel. In a blast furnace, it very well can burn hot enough to melt steel. And the fire need only weaken the steel enough for it to begin to bend, not melt it entirely.

    Have you ever done any kind of metalworking with steel? I have cut threads on thin rod. Easy, right? Work quickly enough and the threads you just cut are hot enough to burn you. If the fire weakens the steel just enough for it to start to bend, the movement will further heat the steel, weakening it further, causing it to move more, heating it further, etc. in positive feedback until the building falls down.

    I’ve already pointed out a bit of evidence that contradicts the simple innocent explanation. Nearly all of the support for each tower was concentrated in the central column, which is also the only place where jet fuel could burn hot enough to melt steel. But the steel in the central column held up the building and would have been the first steel to melt, because it was closest to the fire. Rivers of molten steel would be expected after the collapse, not before. But the firefighters reported them before the collapse. That is highly suspicious and an important weak point. Push at that point and you can prove that the government claims are lies.

    This is your baby. I will not push for you.

  263. No. The maximum burn temperature of jet fuel is well known, and no blast furnace can affect that. Blast furnaces produce more heat, but not higher temperature, a distinction you seem to miss in the above discussion.

    If you had looked at the evidence, you would have found the test of this that was done by subjecting beams just like WTC’s to 24 hours of heat under jet fuel’s burn, and at 2x the rated load. The beams did not bend. Go ahead, challenge my assertion.

    The amount of jet fuel on the plane was not sufficient to melt rivers of steel even if it had been charcoal. You can challenge that one also.

    Or, you could just go and look at the evidence, the way all other intelligent people have understood what happened.

    I don’t need to push anything, the case has been well-proven. I have been demonstrating to you that you don’t know anything and that quite rational people understand that 9/11 was a false flag operation.

  264. > Blast furnaces produce more heat, but not higher temperature, a distinction you seem to miss in the above discussion.

    *stage whisper* that’s because it’s not true.

  265. So explain it to me, provide a link to the correct understanding.

    All I get from you are assertions. Where is the link to iron melting with fuel oil heat?

    Evidence, there is evidence on this and all points and you don’t know of it.

  266. >Where is the link to iron melting with fuel oil heat?

    Putting aside that you’re also wrong about temperatures, It doesn’t have to have melted for the building to collapse. Where do you even see “rivers of steel”?

  267. Also, even if there was molten metal… think about these:

    – What temperature does aluminum (such as in aircraft bodies) melt at?
    – Can you tell at a glance the difference between molten steel and molten aluminum?
    – Can the people quoted in whatever reports you are using to assert that it was steel?

  268. The fireman testified to ‘rivers of steel. ‘Like you are in a foundry’. It is in that evidence you are so anxious to ignore. I think all the major videos have that cut, 3 or 4 fireman nodding along with the guy talking. Pretty convincing as to the existence of the molten steel, I thought.

    Correlated evidence is the melted steel and concrete all fused together, and the aerial temperature measurements made with infrared that showed melted steel heat for 3 months after the events, even though there had been a lot of water put on the pile by that time.

    Also, one of the early videos just after the first plane, I think, had a stream of molten iron spraying out of the building. Not melted by the jet fuel, for sure.

  269. You keep telling me I am wrong about things, I am the one supplying all of the facts. You make claims.

    Every time in these exchanges it becomes clear you intend to waste my time, you were not arguing to understand anything, you were doing your best to make debater’s points. I assume for your hasbara boss, although it is possible you are so deluded as to think you make a positive impression even on people who want to believe people like me are crazy.

    ESR : you can’t do any better. There is no case to be supported on the government’s story.

    Lots of political careers are hanging out in thin air, the ground is being pulled out from under them.

    When the US finally gets around to dealing with this, a whole bunch of Israeli-Neocon treasonous criminals are going to hang.

    I am done. I proved what I wanted to prove.

  270. Also, even if there was molten metal… think about these:

    – What temperature does aluminum (such as in aircraft bodies) melt at?
    – Can you tell at a glance the difference between molten steel and molten aluminum?
    – Can the people quoted in whatever reports you are using to assert that it was steel?
    ——————————–
    Everyone who has looked at the evidence knows those answers. Why don’t you?

    Because you can’t allow yourself to look at the evidence, and want to discourage everyone from doing so.

    I am training someone’s chatterbot.

  271. “When the US finally gets around to dealing with this, a whole bunch of Israeli-Neocon treasonous criminals are going to hang.”

    Ah, a new blood libel against the Jews.

    Somehow, I’m not the tiniest bit surprised by this.

    Which flag is tacked up in your garage, Nazi or ISIS?

  272. Someone Jewish at a party once accused me of being Anti-Semitic, to which I replied “I have had more Jewish girlfriends than you”, to which my Jewish wife replied “See!”. Good sense of humor, same as our Jewish son.

    I have a Ron Paul bumpersticker from 2008. Perhaps that is extreme enough for you?

    I could add the fact that Sandy Hook was entirely hoax, would that help?

    But for all of it, note that it is outside researchers debunking the government’s stories, not the government debunking the outside researcher’s research. We ordinary citizens have far more credibility with each other than our government and elites do, because enough of us are honest to sort things out. Which is why our huge govs around the world are doomed.

  273. lew,

    People have built oil-fired forges for casting iron. Search for “oil-fired forge” to find examples. Also, fuel oil and jet fuel are different substances.

    After the collapse, melted steel is expected. Almost the entire gravitational potential energy of the towers was released in the collapse. To find that, integrate mass along height and multiply by acceleration due to gravity. Subtract the remaining potential energy of the rubble pile. The result is the energy released by the collapse of the towers. The heat afterwards only proves that the buildings fell down. It says nothing about why the buildings fell down.

  274. But do recall from earlier in the discussion, we know why the buildings fell down. They were explosively decomposed. Recall the bit about the thermite? The termite accounts for the molten steel, it is quite an inevitable result of thermite combusting.

    You keep trying to ignore the evidence. The evidence is that it was a false flag operation. We know the names of the Mossad agents that delivered the explosives, and set them. Remember the ‘dancing mossad agents’ that were arrested in vans that had explosive residues in them? Another van was stopped and Israelis arrested which was full of explosives, George Washington bridge, I believe. Chertoff let them go after 71 days over the objections of the agents involved. They never explained the explosives.

    You don’t keep track, do you? One could believe you aren’t a fellow engineer conjecturing to understand, rather some hasbara somewhere in the world paid by Israel or AIPAC or …
    and doing their best to impress their boss with idiocy like yours. Hard to grasp your motives, but they certainly are not understanding. After all, if you wanted to understand, you would look at the evidence and other people’s analyses.

    What are your motives?

  275. @lew the presence of thermite is in dispute. The existence of molten steel (which is also in dispute) is the evidence for thermite in the first place. You can’t use thermite to prove there was molten steel, since your claim that there was thermite (apart from easily faked claims about forensic evidence) relies on molten steel.

  276. Yet another assertion with no support “The presence of thermite is in dispute”. No, the presence of nano-thermite is published in an international, peer-reviewed journal by full professors.

    The dust is fully consistent with thermite in large amounts having been combusted-exploded.

    If you wish to dispute the presence of thermite in the wtc 9/11 dust, you must dispute with 3 of those analyses by independent groups. But of course, that would require you to deal with evidence, reality, instead of living in the fantasy world of 9/11 as the government wishes us all to believe it.

    Is ‘debunking molten steel’ a peer-reviewed publication? Serious scientists use that as a measure of what is worth their time. Your job is obviously to waste time, so I shall apply the same.

    Again, what are your motives here? Not understanding reality, obviously.

    ESR : you can’t do better than this mental feeb. There is no case to be made on 9/11 other than FF.

  277. >ESR : you can’t do better than this mental feeb. There is no case to be made on 9/11 other than FF.

    So this blog is actually a hive, and all commenters are mere extensions of (queen) ESR’s will. That’s kind of funny.

  278. lew,

    I want an airtight case. I’m accustomed to mathematical proofs. I’m playing Devil’s Advocate. I want every loophole sewn up, every i dotted, every t crossed, every possible weasel-way out closed. I want justice for those killed that day, here on Earth. I guess I even want those who committed this evil, whether by simple corruption or outright murder, to have a chance to repent. They may escape justice in the here and now, but they too will face the Last Judgment.

  279. I’m not sure why my post was eaten by the blog software when everyone else’s is going through…

    lew, your opinions on what a peer-reviewed paper you have not identified means is not itself a peer-reviewed paper. Neither is the commercial site that your “maximum burn temperature of jet fuel” comes from. You’re willing to accept claims from anywhere and everywhere when they’re convenient to you, but when they contradict their views no amount of rigor is enough.

  280. lew is probably referring to the Harrit, Jones, et al. paper from 2009 published in The Open Chemical Physics Journal.

    As it turns out, having a sciency name does not make you a “peer-reviewed journal”. TOCPJ is a journal, but whether it is peer-reviewed, and if such review meets the standards of the scientific community, is an open question.

    Now, back to the Harrit-Jones paper. It also turns out that the publisher of the journal, Bentham Science Publishers, ran the paper without the permission or knowledge of TOCPJ’s editor, who resigned in protest after that paper was published.

    As to the paint chips analyzed, while the authors state that the composition of the material “reminds them” of nano-thermite developed at Lawrence Livermore, they do not actually compare the sample to one of any such material, and they do not present any data which rules out, for instance, paint with kaolinite clay which has high iron-oxide content.

    Perhaps TOCPJ’s dubious editorial standards are enough to meet the needs of concerned citizens like lew. That doesn’t make them rigorous science.

    I would say that the Jones paper is entirely consistent with a scientist entertaining kooky views (which they can and do; look up Linus Pauling), and doing anything he can to get those views aired in a respectable-seeming fashion. Well, more consistent than the 9/11 residue is with nano-thermite anyway. The “science” supposedly establishing that Isagenix works has more rigor behind it.

  281. So Stephen Jones and Harrit’s paper shows that the flakes of nano-thermite under a microscope explode. You seem to have missed that small bit of information. There are two other publications replicating that. You should go look at evidence. Microspheres of iron are another give-away, along with the streams of molten iron so often mentioned.

    ‘Consilience’, it is a word you should look up, but of course bitter-end arguments like this and against evolution can’t allow such things, their ‘explanation’s can’t account for more than one fact in isolation at a time.

    I am intentionally not providing links. People need to do their research. I am not the proof, I am only proof that rational people think others should look at the evidence, not parrot MSM and government propaganda.

    And again I say, as a rational person looking at evidence, nobody died at Sandy Hook, that was entirely a propaganda event brought to you by your federal government and a bunch of shyster gun control nuts.

  282. In response to the need for an airtight case. Excellent thought, we do need a new investigation run by someone other than the Israeli-Neocons who brought us 9/11 False Flag attack on the American public for political control.

    We know the names of the Mossad agents who placed the explosives, and the people and company who transported them. I think the FBI could make rapid progress if they were allowed to do so.

  283. And I say, as a rational person looking at evidence, that lew is a full goose loony conspiracy theorist kook who only looks at evidence backing up his outlandish theories and proclaims himself vindicated even in the presence of contrary arguments that his evidence does not address, let alone discount.

  284. You can say that, but when people follow our claims looking at evidence they agree with me, not you.

    I have never lost the bet : look at the evidence, decide on your own, and you will pay me.

    At least if you have a mind that cares about evidence, consilience, events in full context.

  285. I avoid discussion of Sandy Hook because I know nothing about the various kooky conspiracy theories surrounding it…but since you ask, I went and read the Snopes article on the subject. I’m not the tiniest bit surprised they labeled the hoax theory false.

    As I am not the tiniest bit surprised that you would raise it. After all, once one is seduced by the conspiracy theory siren, one is likely to believe it’s all a big conspiracy…

  286. I notice that again, you cite no actual evidence, only another 2nd-hand opinion at Snopes. The facebook ‘Sandy Hook Hoax’ page comes up higher in the listing I get from Google.

    That Snopes answer does not handle little things like the FBI’s crime listings not having anyone killed in Newton that year. Nobody has been able to produce death certificates, nor any real evidence that any of the supposedly-killed people ever existed. The Lanzas don’t, and never did, exist.

    OTOH, some of the donation web sites went up the day before the event, and the supposed-relatives, all actors hired by Homeland Security, of the non-dead because never existed people ‘killed in the Sandy Hook massacre’ collected north of $1M each.

    Lovely reality, strange no one pursues it in MSM. Until you realize Anderson Cooper is part of the propaganda’s creation.

    There are a lot of really good citizens invetigating this, the case is, again, well documented, and the official answers are stone-walling and coverup, not refutations.

    That is a related point on 9/11 : where are the refutations from official sources. They don’t even try, they ignore. Many high-level people have called for an honest investigation, all ignored.

    But the internet won’t let them, the evidence is available if you look.

  287. 9/11 truth is like climate science denial: people ignore it not because they can’t refute it with sound reasoning, but because it would be a waste of breath to even try. Wrestling with pigs as it were.

    That silence you hear is not you gobsmacking the opposition with your stunning revelations. It’s you getting plonked.

  288. You make, as do all of the supporters of the governmen’ts conspiracy stories, a lot of assertions to bolster your case that it would be a waste of time. You could even be correct, if this was a time where our public institutions were functional.

    As I claim it is not such a time, your search algorithm will not discover the truth if I am correct.

    I am correct, and the last poll our government allowed on the subject said a l not so many people here or around the world agree with our government’s story. People do pay attention to evidence, some of us.

    I think any rational minds will be able to look back over these exchanges and tell who was the pig in the match.

  289. Something I forgot to mention about Sandy Hook : one of the researcher’s FOIA produced the FEMA manual for the practice run on the 13th and the ‘go live’ event on the 14th. There were a lot of mixups based on that, documents dated wrong and the donation sites going up the day before.

    The party telling you to look at the evidence and judge for yourself is not the one trying to cripple your thinking.

  290. Nearly half of Americans also believe that a divine being created the universe and all within it in 144 hours, about six thousand years ago. They can’t wait to show you their “evidence” and “proof”, and they can’t be bothered with evidence to the contrary.

    I once knew a troofer who asserted that a missile struck the Pentagon. She insisted — in a shrill voice — that there was no plane that struck the pentagon. Even showing her the photos of the wreckage, including a jet engine, a bit of landing gear, and a large chunk of tail section, would not convince her that there was a plane.

    But even without wreckage you can’t rule out that a plane struck the building. I once saw footage of a 1970s test of nuclear-plant wall reinforcement that involved accelerating an F-4 Phantom towards the wall. The plane dissolved into a cloud of dust. If a jet liner did strike the Pentagon’s reinforced wall, not much of it would be left. So a rational person, combining this with eyewitness testimony and the pieces of wreckage that were recovered, would assign more weight to the “plane” theory than the “missile” theory.

    That didn’t slow down my troofer acquaintance. Though it did prompt her to hurriedly take down some of her screeds to avoid embarrassment among her friends, some of whom reported seeing the Pentagon plane on 9/11.

  291. In fact, no airplane hit the pentagon, obvious to Generals such as Singlaub, I believe was his name. Head of the image analysis intelligence section.

    If someone saw the plane, they should have gotten a picture, it would be worth some real $. None of the 88 cameras facing that side of the petagon was able to capture any such image, or at least the FBI has never released them if they in fact did. So I doubt you friend saw an airplane, nobody else did.

    I don’t think the problem is ruling out the airplane, it is supporting the government’s story. 2 wrecks, one in PA and one at the pentagon, and no trace of airplanes or bodies. Huge jet engines just disappeared. First time that has ever happened, and on the same day 3 building supposedly fell due to airplanes and fires, also the first time that has ever happened.

    Oh yes, and first time a building has disingegrated into dust : no bodies, no phones, no computers, just small bits. Fragments of bone found on top of a building 400 feet away. Hard to explain that without explosives, I think, but of course Jone’s paper shows there were explosives, and also the arrests of the Dancing Mossad agents with their vans with explosives (one van) and traces (the other van). You never mention them.

    Look at the evidence people, no question what the answer is, and hasbara like this are trying to prevent you from doing that. Why would someone not want you to look at the evidence?

  292. Do you ever overclock a computer, alter memory timings or adjust the system bus speed? Even if not you surely agree these alterations, even when they violate the design intent of the system makers, can be very helpful. Overclocking and higher voltages can gain more speed when you have better cooling equipment than the designers expected and less aggressive memory timings can provide stability despite mediocre memory. With computers anytime we run them in unanticipated situations we find that even very rough tweaks can better achiever our ends.

    Given that the environment humans now live in is extremely far removed from the EAA shouldn’t the same be true of us. Even the very rough changes we can make using modern pharmaceuticals are going to yield better results in some of these situations even if they are crudely interfering with finely adjusted balances….but finely adjusted for another time and environment and good quality hardware.

    If anything we are way too conservative. Why isn’t everyone being dosed with a custom cocktail of brain affecting drugs the same way every overclocking enthusiast has a bevy of custom bios settings? Sure it creates risks of harm and death but so to does rock climbing or any of the other silly extreme sports we accept but lack the potential benefits to society of coders fed CNS stimulants.

  293. Just a few brief critiques:

    It’s all well and good for you to make this distinction between terror-soldiers and lone-wackos and it is likely a useful one but that doesn’t mean that other English speakers are using the word terrorist to mean the same thing you mean by terror-soldiers.

    Thus when people call various right-wing wackos terrorists they aren’t falsely alleging membership in some right-wing terror network. Rather, they are simply alleging that someone committed violence for ideological reasons against soft targets who were not the subject of any personal ire. That is undoubtedly true of the cases you mentioned so why accuse them of misleading information?

    Also you are vacillating on your definition of a terror-soldier. Is it merely someone who acts in accordance with the stated aims and goals of some terror network? Plenty of wackos read the bible and talk to extremists pastors but that’s not enough to demonstrate they are terror soldiers. Wanting to be an ISIS terror soldier doesn’t make it true.

    The attraction of mass-murders to gun free zones merely demonstrates that the places we feel are most important to protect against gun violence are the ones mass-murders want to target. Whether or not gun free zones are a good idea their supporters take themselves to be offering protection against shootings, i.e., places which feel like they are full of vulnerable targets

    I’m living in Israel right now and what has been effective is the presence of armed soldiers. It is actually much harder to get a carry permit for a private firearm here than in the states (unsurprisingly).

    Monitoring social media posts may identify the (ignorable) threat posed by the wackos but any terror network worth the time will be able to train operatives to maintain a normal seeming profile. Any monitoring will ultimately be captured by SJW types who will demand to know why no one took action against obviously dangerous murder-rape-machine Bob before he committed his crimes…after all his anti-woman, pro-violence posts should have been red flags.

    Conventional expeditions will just encourage recruitment while the networks melt away. It is more targeted strikes, covert operatives and strike teams that can help.

    But ultimately you’re life expectancy is effected in such an insignificant way by mass shootings any changes in public policy as a result would be stupid. You would do more with more tweaks to car safety regulations. If you admit the wackos aren’t much of a threat why do any of your suggestions?

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