It is also unclear what legal authority Trump used to order the strikes in Syria. News reports Thursday said Trump had told some congressional lawmakers he was considering a military option in Syria, but none had been sought. The U.S. strikes against ISIS, for instance, are arguably covered by the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), but the AUMF doesn’t cover strikes against the Assad regime. Still, Trump might receive retroactive congressional approval for the strikes in Syria, just as Obama did in 2011 in the ultimately ill-advised operation in Libya.  

Trump won’t be the first president to campaign against war and yet wage it, as David noted: Both Woodrow Wilson, who took the U.S. into World War I exactly a century ago this week, and George W. Bush, whose interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq are being felt even today, did just that. Whether the U.S. action in Syria will be confined to Friday’s action was unclear—even to the president. Speaking Thursday to reporters aboard Air Force One, Trump said of Assad: “He’s there, and I guess he’s running things, so I guess something should happen.”

The U.S. Strikes in Syria (The Atlantic)

I think it’s understandable (if wrong) that Trump took military action in Syria, but the way he did is once again ill-advised and reckless. I also can’t get over the fact that a billionaire just ordered military escalation in a complex, international conflict from a golf club in Florida.  

Fun Times with the First Amendment

Baggy, sagging pants might not be protected by the constitution, while Klans robes and Nazi uniforms are. That’s at least what white, at least middle-class, not-young Danny Cevallos thinks in a piece for CNN. 

I get the “sagging pants don’t have a clear message” argument (however, I hope people wearing their pants low in actual solidarity with prison inmates can continue wearing them low then) but my main question is: Why does (can) the State govern regular clothes at all? How can this be, ACLU? Besides the fact that kids in the neighborhood usually don’t have the legal funds racist groups or conservatives have.

The Dunn Verdict Angers and Confuses Me.

Aside: This got a bit long, and is an outpouring of my angry, confused thoughts after waking up to the Dunn verdict this morning. There is this great comment by Ta-Nehisi Coates.  I can recommend Elon James White’s twitter account as a starting point to read more commentary by people more affected by the verdict than myself. But this had to get out, too.

The jury could not agree whether Mr. Dunn shooting 10x into a SUV filled with 4 Black teenage boys and killing one of them, Jordan Davis, was murder, but agreed that he was guilty on 3 accounts of attempted 2nd degree murder (for the 3 other kids.)

I am  thoroughly saddened, angered, and confused by this.

As a white German middle-class man I’m of course in a completely different social position than Jordan Davis, his friends in the car, his family, or other African-Americans. I do feel genuine empathy. How horrible it must be to not only lose a loved one to violence, but to have to feel like the the system you live in is still rigged against you, is still violent against you, and is still failing you.  

That said, here are a few things about the case that confuse and also anger me:

I have no in-depth knowledge of US/Florida law, so/but the verdict confuses me. The Floridian Stand Your Ground principle in general confuses me, I’m also baffled how it can be seen as so apparently normal that civilians ride around with concealed handguns in their glove compartments. The verdict itself also logically confuses me: How can they decide that shooting at 3 kids without harming them is attempted murder (which I agree it is) but can’t decide that shooting and actually killing the 4th kid in the same act is 2nd degree murder. I can maybe see how it’s not 1st degree, but not even 2nd degree murder? If Mr. Dunn shot in self-defense because Jordan pulled a shotgun on him, wouldn’t the other 3 teenagers just be in the line of fire of his self-defense? Maybe it’s my lack of knowledge of the law, but that doesn’t seem logical to me.

I understand that the defense was just doing their job. However, the argument that the teens had plenty of time to hide the alleged shotgun after escaping from Dunn’s bullets, and that the police was at fault for not immediately searching for the gun? What, besides racial stereotypes, should’ve prompted the police department to immediately start a search for a hidden gun after finding a car riddled with the bullets of an adult’s gun, with a dying young man inside? Maybe if Dunn had waited in the area, at least called the police explaining: “Hey, some guy just pulled a gun on me, had to defend myself, shot at the SUV, SUV moved away, I’m at suchandsuch motel.” But he didn’t.

I think that is a crucial point. I’m sure his partner was hysteric, after all her man just shot at a bunch of kids in a random parking lot. But didn’t he feel terrible, too? He used deadly fucking force. In the first season of ER, a regular comes to the emergency room numerous times because his store gets robbed so often. Towards the end of the episode, a young Black man is brought to the ER, fatally wounded. The store owner shot him, fed up with being robbed, and basically in self-defense. The store owner is in the er, too, he feels terrible.  If I just possibly killed a person in self-defense, I’d be hysteric, too. I’d probably need an EMT myself. And not just a good night’s sleep and a couple of hours drive home.

Even if you have nerves of steel, or especially then: Wouldn’t you want to at least check in with the authorities, even if you just want to make sure that your side is immediately heard, that the police understand that they were thugs and you were protecting your life? Wouldn’t you feel terrible after shooting at fellow humans?

The only real way to answer that with the action Dunn took is if you don’t consider Jordan Davis and his friends to be fellow human beings. They had to be just “thugs”* not worthy of human reaction in his eyes. That’s the only real way you can explain Dunn’s actions. He had to be so sure that it would be obvious to the police that the 4 teenagers were just unworthy thugs, that he didn’t need to explain to the police what happened, that you don’t have to give your bullets’ targets another thought.

That is truly maddening.



*Concerning the word thug in this case, remember what the greatest DB in the game, Richard Sherman, said: Thug is the acceptable way of calling somebody the nword.

Van Poyck’s execution signals that the number of inmates being executed in Florida is rising . There are 405 people on death row in the state. After a period of one or two executions per year, or none at all , Florida Gov. Rick Scott has signed 11 death warrants since coming into office in January 2011, six of them in the last few months.

That’s not enough for the Florida legislature. It recently became the first in the country to pass a bill requiring the pace of executions to speed up. It’s called the Timely Justice Act , and it sets a deadline of 30 days for the governor to sign a death warrant once an inmate’s appeals become final—that is, after at least one round of state and federal appeals, and after a review by the governor for clemency. And once the governor signs the warrant, the Timely Justice Act says the execution must occur within 180 days. Scott signed the bill into law late Friday.

This is a particularly troubling plan given the circumstances in Florida. Since the mid-1970s, the state has executed 77 people. Florida has also exonerated 24 people who’ve been sentenced to die—the most of any state . In other words, for every three inmates executed, one is set free.

Timely Justice Act: Florida’s horrifying plan to make it quicker and easier to execute its death row inmates. – Slate Magazine

 Once more, bad news from Florida. I think the death penalty is wrong and horrible on principle, but this is especially terrifying.