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AvatarComments by DavidTC in reply to George Turner*

On “Churches In the Hands of an Angry God

Most stuff churches do is actually aimed at the members, it's just not technically _restricted_ to the members.

I.e., the church summer barbeque (To steal an event from above) would be _technically_ open to everyone. Anyone who shows up can get a plate. In reality...it's attended by church members. It's not even advertised anywhere else. (It's worth pointing out most of those things are actually not entirely free, you have to pay $5 or whatever, but...they're using church resources still.)

Same with services. Logically, the premise behind a pastor is that they help people learn religiousy stuff. They are 'educational' or whatever you want to call it. But a large portion of the people they interact with are church members. Which means...church members are paying someone to educate themselves. Paying someone to educate yourself, or even pooling resources to hire a teacher, _is not charity_. Paying someone to educate _others_ is charity.

So, yes, church are indeed sorta slipping through cracks by in theory producing things for everyone that in practice only their own members use. 501(c)(3) non-profits aren't supposed to be social clubs. There are other non-profits classifications for social clubs.

Now, all non-profits seem do this to some extent, but not really. Like, the non-profit theatre I volunteer at will sometimes purchase a dozen pizzas for the cast and crew on long Saturday rehearsals...except that's not 'membership' getting those benefits, but current volunteers, and we consider people being _in_ the shows itself to be educational. I.e., the membership is feeding the 'students', not itself.

We actually get a little paranoid about providing _membership_ benefits, because if we provide some sort of specific tangible benefit to the membership that has a real dollar value, suddenly that part of member dues _aren't tax deductible_. We've thought about offering a discount on season tickets, for example, but rejected it...instead we let them get the tickets slightly earlier, which just means 'hypothetically better seats'.

But churches get away with it a lot easier, both because the government doesn't want to look at them, and because basically the entire premise is basically a social club to start with...there's no some distinct 'donors and members' group vs. 'people who come to church to learn' group...it's sorta assumed those two groups are identical.

Whereas any other non-profit that had the membership and leadership spend the majority of time and effort with events aimed _at_ the membership would be...a very suspicious one.

"

that the entire congregation was probably on the path to hell.

Don't leave us in suspense, man. Did that entire congregation end up in hell?

On “Pushed Over the Edge

It's all about whether people have other choices. When we think about bullying and harassment, whether or not someone can leave and go elsewhere is a _huge_ distinction.

Like...this place is voluntary. If someone harasses someone here, (and the admin didn't do anything about), we'd think it was absurd to try to sue the harrasser or the site or even have them charged criminally. No one _has_ to be here. If it's not comfortable for them, they can leave. Same with, for example, reddit....you're being harassed? Create a new user account, go find a better subreddit to talk. Or go somewhere else entirely.

Note this assumption assumes that people can actually make new social groups, which means it ignores harms to people who...can't. People have a different amount of social skills, and it might have taken _years_ for people to get comfortable with a certain environment, it could be a huge investment. OTOH...nothing is actually requiring those spaces to continue to exist at all, so there's sorta a problem there to start with.

This is why bullying is such a large problem with kids: Kids almost never allowed to just leave their environment, or not come back.

They can't leave school situations, and even if in a technically 'voluntary' social activity, their parents are generally in control of that, which means even if their parents will let them leave, they have to at minimum explain why they no longer want to be there, which they often are unwilling to do. (Often because harassment is about embarrassing things...which they don't particularly want to tell their parents.)

Meanwhile, where we tend to care about harassment with adults is situations where they 'can't' leave, like work, or situations where they simply can't 'not be somewhere', like walking down the street. Or the example here, where someone can't actually leave their entire town.

And we're really lagging behind in online. We still tend to assume _all_ of online is 'leavable'. But...that's not really true for Facebook. Or other social media stuff...I mean, I'm an old guy, I don't know what kids are using these days, but I'm fairly sure having a social existence _requires_ those things for kids.

On “The Answer, My Friend, is Blowin’ in the Wind? Perhaps.

Guys....just...whatever. I don't have the time or energy to argue this anymore. Here are the facts not in dispute by anyone:

After three days of gun battles with the Jews, the Nazis realized that the resistance was extremely dug in and fighting them was a hassle. So they burned the place to the ground. Three days, that was how long they put up with exchanging gunfire. And then, afterward, instead of engaging in street-level combat with the mostly defeated resistance, they smoked and flooded and blasted them out of the bunkers they'd made.

I repeat: Turns out when the government wants to kill people, it doesn’t matter _what_ weapons the people have. Because the government will just burn your damn house down.

That was my point.

The Jews could have had an automatic rifle and infinite ammo for every single person in the ghetto, and would have lost. Because the Nazis would have just stopped using incendiary devices by hand, and bombed the place via artillary or something.

Oh, and there obviously was a vast vast difference in available weaponry in Leningrad: They had AIR DEFENSES.

"

The defining factor of most mass shootings(1) is what is best described as impotent rage.

Sometimes this rage is against things we would consider unreasonable, like a guy being absurdly upset that some woman rejected him or someone who got laid off from work.

Sometimes this rage is against things that we, as a society, really really should have put a stop to a while back, and not let continue, like someone being bullied for years and not able to get any relief from it.

This is, I suspect, why the vast majority of shooters are men...it's not that men are more violent. Whether or not men are taught to be more violent, or just are due to hormones, or whatever, is an entirely different question that missed the fact that mass shootings aren't really 'someone acting more violent'.

Violence is yelling and threatening people and operating by intimidation and sometimes punching someone, and a lot of men are indeed taught that is how you solve problems. But...making a plan, getting a gun, and shooting everyone is something else entirely. That's technically 'violence', yes, but it's not anything society teaches men to do under the guise of 'macho'. No one is taught to _shoot_ their problems by carefully planning to shoot a bunch of people, nor can that result from too much testosterone.

No, the vast majority of shooters are men because those men haven't been given any way to deal with what they are feeling. They have no one to talk to, they have no way to talk about what they are feeling, they don't have any logical thing to do. Or...rather, they _have_ been given a logical thing to do, by the media, and it's the only way they can see.

I'm not saying we shouldn't solve people's problem when those problems are real things, like bullying, but I rather suspect until we figure out how to get young men to process their emotions somehow, all that will do is mean all the mass shootings are for _unreasonable_ reason to be angry about something, things we can't really solve for people (No, we can't get you a date or get your job back.), and that hardly is helping anything.

1) Barring the straight-up terrorism ones, which...in a way, those are impotent rage also, the entire premise of terrorism is trying to get something via violence that people can't get through the political process...but it's a bit different than this.

"

Uh, literally right after that: Regarding the booty of arms, it must be taken into consideration that the arms themselves could in most cases not be captured, as the bandits and Jews would, before being arrested, throw them into hiding places or holes which could not be ascertained or discovered.

And, of course, those are only _captured_ weapons to start with. Most of the place burned down, and then was razed. A lot of weapons were obviously not captured. There is a much more sizable list on that article, which is the weapons that resistance organizations _formally shipped in_, which includes heavy machines guns. And that's just the formal stuff, and to just one of the two resistance organization. But there was a lot of disorganized gun smuggling also...the Jews had learned about the death camps months earlier, made a stand that sorta paused the trains for a bit, and had been smuggling weapons into the ghetto since then like crazy.

Because, and this is perhaps the most important point: Guns were pretty available in Poland. Even Nazi-occupied Poland, believe it or not. We always assume that a conquering country would go door-to-door seizing guns, but that doesn't really happen, or at least it didn't really happen with the Nazis. And Poland didn't really have much gun control before the Nazis came in...it had started a gun registry a while back, but no one bothered to register their stuff, and again the Nazis didn't do anything about known gun owners!

There were so many guns that the Nazis just...burned the place down instead of dealing with it. Which was rather my point. Actual governments with actual armies will not be deterred by guns, because actual governments with actual armies do not need to individually exchange gunfire with people trying to kill them. Which...the Nazis actually knew. As did the Jews, they knew what they were doing was hopeless. Like, everyone knew this. It was really obvious.

"

I believe El Paso has the largest Latino population in the US. The race of the victims is just statistics.

Until you learn the shooter drove 600 miles to get there. At which point, you realize 'Oh, the large Latino population in El Paso was the _point_. He wanted to be somewhere he'd statistically kill Latinos.'

"

Law enforcement in my own zip code (and his) with our combined murder rate of ZERO will make this their top priority because gangs in Chicago need to be stopped.

You've hit upon a real problem there: Law enforcement in places where there is no gun violence will, because they don't care about guns, uh...completely ignore the guns they are...recovering from all the criminals with guns...um...huh. Not really sure what you're talking about there.

Or do you think local law enforcement would, for some insane reason, be doing the paperwork? Well, to clarify something that should have been very obvious: I am proposing a _national_ system, and violations of it would be _Federal_ crimes, presumably under the direction of the ATF.

My collector friend with his hundreds of pieces in storage will get them all out every few weeks to fill out paperwork.

I specifically said 'Every six months', not 'every few weeks', so a smart person would just run inventory twice a year, and I also said specifically that existing guns wouldn't be labeled until resold, so this really wouldn't matter to him, anyway.

And, uh, someone with a large collection of guns probably _should_ have to do an inventory twice a year and make sure no one's stolen any of them!!! Or they could just...put them where they can see them, so it's pretty easy to sign a piece of paper asserting that have, in fact, seen a specific one.

Or they could, you know, not have huge collection of guns to start with. There are a _lot_ of collectible things that are hard to maintain, maybe they should pick an easier one if they don't want to spend the time required on guns. Which...actually isn't that much.

I have to _physically put a sticker_ on my car each year, I think to require people to sign a form saying 'Yup, I've see the _thing that people could steal and use to kill others_ that I own' twice a year is not a particularly onerous requirement.

There will be no bad actors who already have international supply routes.

How do guns get to the criminals under what I proposed?

Let's say that Mexican drug cartels start shipping guns north along with drugs. Seems like a reasonable premise. But where is that drug cartel buying guns?

Every gun in the world in a criminal's hand was manufactured somewhere legally, usually the US, and then sold somewhere legally, which is even more likely to be the US. Guns are grey market, not black market. Drug cartels are not growing guns in fields in Mexico, or in someone's back room, or mixing them together in some shitty lab in a mobile home. And they sure as hell aren't buying them in the _only_ gun store allowed to operate in Mexico, which has incredibly tight rules about who can buy guns legally.

Right now, criminals buying guns through straw purchasers or criminal gun dealers in the US, and smuggling them south. We can stop that, or at least stop them from sending them _back_ into the US. (And Mexico would probably happily inform the US government of the serial numbers of any gun it finds there, so we could still get the US person who purchased it.)

If we punish the people that put guns in criminal hands, which we _can_ do quite successfully under what I said, they will no longer end up in criminal hands.

Everyone will act like sheep and turn in their existing stocks to be registered. Even the criminal element.

Who cares about existing guns? Like I said, no one will have to legally register anything until they transfer it. And the turnover on illegal guns is _huge_, and criminals would pretty rapidly run out. And also start having to use them more sparingly so they're less likely to lose them, which can't help but reduce gun violence. A criminal with a $100 gun he can ditch or afford to lose if the cops grab him is not the same as the same criminal with the same gun that cost him $1000.

3D printers won’t be used to make untraceable weapons even though it will be cheap and effective.

I thought we already did this nonsense. 3D printers are not even vaguely a viable source for the sheer number of guns that criminals currently have. Even metal shop guns, a much _more_ reasonable 'amateur gun' producer, are not viable.

And this is something that is really easy to show, as countries that have outlaw guns do not have homemade guns showing up to replace them. The law time we discussed this absurd premise, I managed to find a _single_ metal shop that had started making illegal guns in Australia and managed to make a few hundred before it got shut down. That, plus like a dozen or so derringers-like objects that probably would just take someone's hand off, are the entire extent of homemade guns in the modern history of gun control.

Even scaling that up, hypothetical worst-case scenario, a few thousand amateur guns made a year is not even vaguely close to the several million professionally-made guns a year that make it to criminal hands.

"

So, there's basically two kinds of mass shooters: Personal and impersonal. (And there are other kinds too, but let's just talk about those.)

The El Paso shooter shot up a Walmart, and pretty clearly had no personal motive. (In fact, he had driven 600 miles away from home, presumably to get to a more Hispanic area.) His murders were completely impersonal, motivated by some external thing. In this case, a political ideology.

The Dayton shooter appears to have a personal motive. People don't _incidentally_ kill their own sister during a mass shooting. Maybe in some completely absurd coincidence that could happen, but it's not what happened here.

Now, it is worth mentioning that _both sides_ sometimes misrepresent personal shooters as impersonal ones whenever it fits their narrative. And it's reasonable to call them out on that.

But we also need to notice that, despite how much the right-wing doesn't want to admit it, far-right ideology is getting pretty common at terrorism. This isn't even the first this year.

Whereas the far-left...isn't doing that. And hasn't been for decades. Pointing at the Dayton shooting's political position isn't going to magically make 'Murdering his sister' a political thing. For the most obvious thing: Who the hell was he attempting to kill? Random people on the street? Were those random people his 'political enemies'?

What is also getting common is the notable 'batshit crazy ideology', like the motives of the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooter which was just 'read a bunch of random crap from the far-right and far-left and weird conspiracy places and set your mind to puree'.

"

Well, I guess I can't argue with 'The cops are lazy jackasses so we shouldn't have laws against theft.' logic?

But I would suggest the solution is, in fact, 'Get rid of all the cops and replace them with better ones' (Which incidentally is my solution to a bunch of _other_ problems). Maybe that's just me.

It honestly seems a bit inconsistent as an argument from the right, though. Not only the police thing, but often complaints about gun control is that the police have too much authority and are abusing their power, so 'They'd just never bother to enforce the law' seems a bit silly, especially, as I pointed out, parts of these are basically self-enforcing....all they have to do is sit quietly for a few months after recovering a gun, and wait for the illegal gun seller to file a false renewal statement.

"

Is it once again time for me to point out that the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising _had_ weapons? They had _plenty_ of weapons.

There were between 300,000-400,000 Jews, and around 2000 Nazis.

The Jews and the resistance managed to kill 160 Nazis.
The Nazis managed to kill 13,000 Jews.

Turns out when the government wants to kill people, it doesn't matter _what_ weapons the people have. Because the government will just burn your damn house down.

And dictatorships _don't cover things up_.

"

Some new studies have come out showing that universal background checks don’t do much to reduce gun crime. Can we stop talking about them?

End of undocumented private sales. Period.

Universal background checks do nothing _now_ because almost all criminals purchase grey market guns, aka, guns that were legally purchased from a gun store, and then sold (Often illegal) to the criminals. Even if the law requires

If you ban undocumented private gun sales, you would presumably already _have_ universal background checks on private gun sales. Like, if it has to be put in a database anyway, there's no reason not to have that database reject people.

Aggressive pursuit of gun trafficking with life sentences for anyone found guilty.

Yeah, and to do that we have to do most important thing: Tracking each and every gun from the moment is manufactured to the moment it is destroyed. Put a serial number on each new one, and require a serial number be etched on any existing one before it is transferred, which the government will do for free. And if a gun is recovered from someone who it is not registered to, whoever is the last owner of record is punished.

And someone is about to say 'What if people claim their guns are stolen?', there are a few obvious ways to close that loophole. The easiest is simply: You have to renew your license, every six months, which the government will send to you with every gun you own on it. And you have to swearing on the application that you have personally seen X gun on Y date, etc, when Y is within the last week or whatever.

Which...is going to be very interesting if you do that, but the police just recovered your gun somewhere else two months ago and sat there and waited for you to lie on the renewal. Whoops, that was prima facia evidence of an illegal gun sale.

And they don't even have to do that half the time, because they often find bullets from crimes long before the gun itself. If they have a bullet fired at someone a year ago, and match it to a gun they just pulled off a criminal, they check back through the file, discover the owner signed a statement four months ago saying they still have possession of the gun, well...no need to wait around until the owner lies again.

Oh, and if they have evidence someone is actually selling guns (And filing the serial numbers off or something.), they can get a court order demanding the owner actually produce said guns to check the serial numbers of.

On “Kamala Harris

My second reason for eschewing policy-matching for POTUS candidates is more values-centered. Simply put, I don’t think it is the job of the executive branch to be dictating things that are spelled out to be the legislature’s domain. If I were hiring an executive for my company, an exhaustive list of how they stood on every controversial Culture War issue wouldn’t scratch my Top 10 Skills Needed list. (And if you suggested in all seriousness that I not hire someone because they ate arugula, I just might fire you.)

Yes and no. While the legislature should be doing a hell of a lot more, two points: First, wishing that something worked differently than it does does not change how it actually works.

More importantly, there is a very important thing that some policy proposals demonstrate: That the candidates have actually _thought_ about issues.

But not via the general 'I will come up with an X to solve problem Y that is basically the same as everyone else's' policies that every candidate comes up with. There's a whole list of things that Democratic candidates have to come up with a position on, and those positions will be mostly the same-ish, and it's utterly silly to worry about differences between those two.

The important thing is when someone steps forward with a detailed policy about _something no one has tried to fix_. Who has identified a problem no one else has, and has stepped forward with a solution. Heck, even if it's not 'their' solution, if they just found some obscure wonk talking about it and had them come up with it. That shows they actually...listed to people with problems, actually operate in the real universe of 'maybe we should try to fix things'.

This is basically why I like Warren. And I think, if people understand that what you should care about with presidents _isn't_ 'policy-match', also means if they have some problem with a random policy of Warren's, they should understand: Most of that won't really get done. It can't.

But right now the problem in politics is politicians literally just ignoring problems, so someone who says 'Hey, we should solve this actual problem that's hurting a lot of people, and here's a dumb solution' and everyone says 'No' is much better than people who just ignore it, because now that problem has shown up within politics and other people can come up with solutions.

Which also is happening in the election, so while I support Warren right now, I honestly won't be that bummed if she drops out after Harris steals all her ideas.

On “RetConning the Tea Party

If Booker could see that kind of improvement and even Chicago can see a reduction in crime by implementing good ideas at the city level, then why are you so interested in laying the blame for lack of progress elsewhere at the feet of Republicans?

Uh....Illinois is an utterly nonsensical counter to my point that 'Democratic cities often want to implement things (like for a very specific example, gun control) that Republican states block'.

If Illinois had had a Republican leadership, not only would Booker not been able to do what he did, but the state wouldn't already have some of the harshest gun control laws in the country. Like, he didn't even have to _create_ gun control, anything more than what Illinois started with risks court challenges.

But, hey, you have a point! Instead of saying that states with high crime rates should elect Democrats to change things, I've changed my mind! Those states instead should elect people who want guns as illegal as possible and crack down on them as much as possible, they should elect people who create at-risk youth programs, they should elect people who set up pro bono legal service for ex-offender, and youth centers!

Hmmmmmmmmmm....

"

Well, the trouble with that idea is that the Republican areas are better off due to the much lower cost of living. Median home prices in red states are about half as much per square foot, and a house is most people’s greatest expense.

My point was that Republican states tended to have more crime than Democratic states. I figure this is because they were poorer, but if you want to argue they aren't poorer, whatever. Honestly, that just makes Republican state leadership look worse at running their state, they have a higher crime rate _without_ the state being poorer!

It’s not necessarily poverty driving crime, it’s criminal culture, which tends to perpetuate in poor urban areas, but can also take root elsewhere based on circumstance (rural pills mills and meth labs, or rampant smuggling in the boonies).

No. Cultures do not 'take root'. Cultures are just what we call 'things everyone does in one place that are different from other places'. Cultures are not outside forces. They cannot be 'changed'.

They are, to put it how others here would put it, the finger, not the moon. The word 'culture' is merely a way to talk about the behaviors of a group of people. We anthropomorphize these to 'do things', but they do not actually. There is no way to change 'the culture' besides changing what people there generally do in that place, because that is literally what culture means.

What drives crime is hopelessness and a perceived lack of alternative in life direction. What's really absurd is we have managed to come close to this concept at least twice:

First, with tough on crime nonsense that tried to show just how bad the criminal lifestyle was, but forgot to actually ask, "Hey, wait, what's the _other_ side look like?" Getting locked up for years looks pretty bad from a rich lawmaker perspective, it's not really that bad when it's a social norm.

Second, with nonsense like 'programs to life people of poverty', but the problem is those programs are all designed to lift 'smart and deserving' people out. Instead of just _finding the median population a moderately okay job_.

I've actually ranted about similar things before, how we make sure 'Kids who do good in schools can get scholarships to good college'...like, how about making sure that somewhat average kids can afford a bad college or a trade school, instead! The problem isn't the lack of opportunities for really smart people. They'll probably figure something out. The problem is everyone else, the average guy, or even the below average guy, who needs a steady job making $12 an hour at Target.

"

Well, yeah, I don't actually think replacing the leadership of anything is going to fix the crime rate.

I was just pointing out Dwyer's silliness about how 'cities run by Democrats have high crime rates', which is actually just density attracts crime and also makes people vote more Democratic, by pointing out that Republican leadership of _states_ has exactly the same problem.

Both of which is just because what sort of places tend to elect what sort of people, and it's not _caused_ by the people elected.

And, honestly, if it was, the obvious conclusions are: Democrats are causing density (Thus increasing crime), and Republicans are causing poverty (Thus increasing crime.). Seriously, if you actually sit down and look at who runs what, that seems to be the division. Dense areas are Democratic, poor areas are Republican. Places that are _both_ are a bit of a toss up, as are places that are neither, but if it's just one or the other, that's who will end up in charge.

Which is...probably not the conclusion that Dwyers wants us to reach, although it does lead to the funny idea we should put Republicans in charge of cities to undense them and Democrats in charge of states to make them wealthier. Alright, everyone, flip around! (Of course, making places less dense leads to other problems, like horrific traffic, and Democrats can't magically produce economic growth.)

"

Uh, no. States are bigger than cities. While, hypothetically, replacing them with Republican city leadership might make the _cities_ better, those cities still be in extremely poor _states_ and clearly changing who runs a major city won't fix that.

Basically, here's bow it works on crime rates:
Democratic state/Democratic city=Low/Medium
Republican state/Democratic city=Medium/High
Republican state/Republican city=Medium/High
Democratic state/Republican city=Don't really have enough info to tell.

The problem is not who is running the city. The problems, very clearly, is who is running the state, which not only affects the state in general, but that then obviously further lowers the city crime rate.

I mean, pretending that's how the causality works. Like I said, it's _actually_ poverty and density that causes a difference in crime rates, but if you want to pretend otherwise, then be aware the blatantly obvious conclusion that everyone will come to is 'Republicans should not be in charge of states.'.

"

In addition to what Jesse pointed out, it's worth pointing out that Democrats _in_ those cities are often not allowed to fix problems because their _state_ is run by Republicans, which you'd think would be an obvious thing to consider when adding something unrelated to my post, but no.

For example, the most violent city is St. Louis. Care to guess what sort of gun control laws the Democratically-operated St. Louis is allowed to pass by the Republican-operated state of Missouri? Or how much money the state gives them?

I live in Georgia, which has, over the past fifty years, had all the white people flee Atlanta, refused to expand mass transit out of Atlanta for racist reasons, build a bunch of businesses out in the suburbs, and then mostly ignored Atlanta except a few specific areas and a bunch of highways. No shit it's not doing that well.

Democratic cities in Republican states have way more crime, on average, than Democratic cities in Democratic states. Because Republicans simply don't care about Democratic cities.

Likewise, at a state-level, Republican states are much worse off. The most violent state is New Mexico, then Louisiana, then Mississippi, then Arkansas, then Alabama, then South Carolina, then Tennesse, then North Carolina, then Oklahoma, then Missouri, and then _finally_ we get an arguable swing-state with Florida...and back to Republican states

Part of this is because Democratic states are nowhere near as poor as Republican states. Now, it's possible this isn't the Republican's fault, they''ve merely randomly been put in charge of the poorest states and didn't cause it...but then you can hardly turn around and blame Democrats for operating the poorest and densest cities.

Edit: And it is also worth mentioning that states are, in theory, _soveriegn_ in some sense, so what sort of results elected politicians get from them is logically more telling than cities, which literally are an invention of states and subject to whatever rules they want. States have rights, cities do not.

On “The DCEU That Could Have Been

The part of the MCU that I have trouble with is the MCU; that there are all these superheroes and Earth threatening cataclysms going on all the time, that all the heroes know each other, and that our entire planet reads stories about them every day.

That's not actually how things work in the MCU. You are correct this is a pretty serious problem in actual comic books, where they constantly try to make the world look like ours, despite how extremely silly that is, but the MCU doesn't do that. The MCU sorta has 'phases', and in addition to them being a easy way to tell the movies apart, the phases basically deliminate how much the MCU has diverged from reality.

Phase 1 (2008-2012) is no divergence. It has Captain America back in the 1940s, which is just one super soldier, it has Iron Man 1 and 2, which is basically 'rich genius sometimes flying around in a metal suit (Edit: dealing with basically his own problems, not saving the world)', and it has The Incredible Hulk and Thor, both of which were mostly successfully covered up by SHIELD.

And then...The Avengers happen, and an alien army invades New York through a sky portal. Hard to ignore that.

Phase 2 (2013-2015) starts sliding away from reality. Iron Man 3 has an attempted coup of the US, Thor 2 has _another_ alien invasion (Well, an alien 'attempted destruction of the universe', but it looked like an invasion.), Captain America 2 reveals that the Marvel CIA-knockoff is full of Nazis who are trying to take over the world, and Avengers 2 has an AI try to destroy the planet and who does manage to destroy a largish city. And in the TV shows, a bunch of people with superpowers start popping up and a lot become street-level super-heroes.

By the start of Phrase 3 (2016-2019), the world doesn't look like ours, with a lot of people freaking out about what's happened in the last four years with aliens and superheros and world-ending threats and stuff, and the very first movie is Captain America 3, where the UN tries to do something about this utterly insane situation, and makes things worse. And...at that point movies basically stop being set in the 'real world' after that, except the two Spider-Mans (Spiders-Man?) and Ant-Man 2. The movies wander off to show us fictional African nations or space or the secret mystic realm that deals with its own stuff. And Captain Marvel was set in 1995, retroactively inserting another Phase 1 movie, something the public never knew about because SHIELD covered it up.

And then came Avengers 3 and 4, which irrevocably changed the MCU and it doesn't even slightly look like our world anymore. Any more than that would be spoilers for Endgame, but there is no way in hell to ignore things. And the only announced Phrase 4 film set in the 'real world' is basically the Black Widow movie, which seems to be set back during phrase 3. Otherwise, it's all mystical and cosmic stuff scheduled there.

tl;dr - Superheroes first showed up in public in the MCU in 2012, and by 2016 the world had gone utterly insane, and by 2018 the world _broke_. The MCU isn't playing along with the comics premise where for some reason everything is completely identical to reality despite all this crazy stuff going on for decades.

"

The Flash has sometimes gotten really dark, too. For no real reason, because it's honestly not that good at it, and often won't follow through. Arrow will actually kill main characters, the Flash generally won't...or at least, the few times they do, it's not part of darkness, the tone already isn't there, and it's not permanent.

SPOILERS for the Flash and Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow:

Like, at the end of this season, Flash 'killed' a pretty fun and likable character, Nora West-Allen, the time-traveling daughter of Barry and Iris. Except...she 'died', or rather was erased from existence, solely because Barry accidentally altered the future event he is to die in from 2024, to 2019, to before she was born instead of after. Except...we know Barry is going to survive that (Kinda stupid show if he doesn't.), and thus, logically, we all know she'll be back, slightly different.

The last main character before that they killed was H.R. Wells, after promising they were going to kill Iris the entire season, and he's...well, technically, that character's not coming back, but that was already the fourth character that actor had played, and, sure enough, he was back the next season with another character. They've even inexplicably not killed characters before. Like Julian. Why leave him alive, just to have him wander off the show? Why not, no pun intended, Fridge him for Killer Frost's character development?

This is opposed to Arrow, which has lost...Tommy, Moira, Quentin, Laurel, (Yeah, the actress came back as someone else about a year later, but the death was treated pretty serious, and honestly it seems like the producers only brought her back due to fan outcry. As opposed to the obvious revolving door of the Wellses.) etc. Which...I mean, maybe it's just they have more of a rotating cast over there, but it actually feels like important people can die.

The only way the Flash knows how to do 'dark' is to make the villain seem super-gritty and dangerous, but that just makes the villain seem incompetent at not killing anyone important! Especially when they know who Team Flash is, which basically every single one of them has known.

Meanwhile, Legends of Tomorrow somehow has extremely dangerous villains, and actually has killed more of their main cast than the Flash, but, tonally, doesn't care one bit, and they will get turned into cats and puppets...and parodic sociopathic killers...while telling a story about Constantine having to deal with his inability to change the fact he previously had to kill his boyfriend in cold blood to stop a demon. Sara struggles with extremely dark urges due to both her past and her resurrection, and her regrets at not saving her sister, and she runs around making jokes. Ava is still dealing with discovering she's a clone, which sounds lighthearted but...is not. And yet, the entire thing is completely silly.

The Flash is a light-hearted show that wants to be dark and fails horribly at it, LoT is often a pretty serious show in concept that will deal with those serious issues via musical numbers and circuses.

I mean, LoT just erased a main character from existence at the end of its season, exactly like the Flash did. (Well, she presumably still exists, but in a very different form, and now it's retroactively been her brother on the team for the last season and a half.) in the last few seconds of their season, and it almost read as a _punchline_. I mean, in both examples, I'm sure the character be back, but just the treatment is so different. And I know I sound like I don't like how LoT did it, but actually, it worked really well, a lot better than on the Flash, because the Flash is only faux-dark and we all know they're coming back and everyone will be happy. Whereas on LoT, I'm sure they will actually deal with the fact that everyone's _personal history_ just got changed out from under them without them knowing, a fairly serious thing...in an utterly goofy manner.

On “RetConning the Tea Party

I've always wondered if it's weirdly even better in single-party counties. I live in a place where elected Republicans can't actually complain about elected Democrats. Because there aren't any. Not at the local level, not at the state level. At least not enough to have actually _done_ anything.

And no matter how gullible voters can be, they aren't quite gullible enough to let politicians blame bad roads and schools on Democrats in Washington. We're even far enough from Atlanta that they can't really blame any problems on the Democratically-tilted City of Atlanta government.

No. Anything that is wrong is the Republican's fault, and everyone knows that. And, thus, they can't run around pointing fingers at Democrats. There's no _excuses_ when things fail to work.

Addition: I mean, would I want to have, say, a Democratic governor? Or legislature? Yeah. That's how I vote, and think it could even happen. Hell, it probably should have happened this time with Stacey Abrams. But...it's just nice for no one to be able to point fingers. I know the second we get Democrats anywhere near the government, everything will magically be their fault.

On “Sans Starship

Having heard a few more things about this, I've heard some speculation that this is about some sort of vague Borg threat or new kind of Borg, possibly one made by the Romulans stealing stuff from that Borg cube. And looking at it, part of it do look more dismantled than destroyed. There's chunks cleanly missing.

Annoyingly none of the people speculating don't seem to know what happened in the EU, because where my mind instantly goes to is the obvious idea of the Romulans attempting to recreate the Borg.

Of course, this idea is amazingly moronic, especially in the EU where everyone (literally everyone) just had a war with the Borg that made the war with the Dominion look like a bar fight...but Romulans did have their planet destroyed, so...maybe a few of them are crazy.

Another divergence in the EU from what seems to be happening in the preview: Data is already back. IIRC, he actually came back in B4, and then ended up in a body made that was for his father via events I can't even remember. And also there's a secret group of AIs that have been running around the Star Trek universe a really long time. Also, he figured out how to fix his daughter Lal. (Who some are speculating that young woman is. The one that Picard is like 'If she is who I think she is'.)

OTOH, that plot is basically just like three or four books, and is actually a secret in-universe (For no real reason that I can remember.) so has had no real impact on anything. So they could void that part of the EU while keeping the whole Borg war thing.

On the third hand, it's possible all this canon, and the clips we see of Picard talking about Data being dead are him playing along with the secret. Although it's long past time for him to be suffering for that dementia he had in All Good Things, so maybe he can't really remember he's lying.

The fact that I seem to be the only person who's come to these possible conclusions is...weird. Like, I've heard literally no one mention the EU in regard to Picard at all. Maybe people think it automatically will be discarded, but I remind everyone Star Trek Nemesis canonized the Titan books, and the reboot canonized Uhura's first name.

And Discovery canonized the previous Section 31 books, including introducing Control, which was awesome. As Control is sorta the creepiest...villain? Hero? Anti-hero? ...in Star Trek, it was nice to see it canonized.

I honestly find it somewhat amazing they did that story, which had apparently all non-book readers thinking had something to do with the Borg, and I'm like 'Uh, guys? Control is an existing AI that is around all the way in the 'present' of the EU. It's regained control of Section 31 by then, if it ever truly lost it, and then discarded that after it wasn't useful anymore. It's not what makes the Borg. Also, we _know_ what makes the Borg!'

"

So, is there any word if they're going with the EU? Because, in the expanded universe, the Borg invaded in 2381 and killed billions. (Thanks, Janeway!) And fundamentally realigned everything. And then the Borg got...uh...ascended back into the god-like species they sorta accidentally started from, the Caeliar.

And we see a _destroyed_ Borg cube, so I'm wondering...is that going to be made canon?

Arguments for that point:
Having Picard's mortal enemy cause that much harm, and then just literally vanish one day is interesting historic character development. I can see how it would affect him. And, just like in the EU, it opens up all sorts of possibilities of having to deal with stuff the Borg were sitting on or blocking access to.

It also explains what the heck Seven of Nine is doing there, because she had some...very mixed feelings about being left behind when the Borg ascended, considering Caeliar were basically the perfection that the Borg were always unknowingly aiming at. Her and Picard have some interesting interactions in the EU, with how they feel about the Borg, and it would be fun to see them in canon. Honestly, Jeri Ryan is such a good actress, and the character is so interesting and will only have gotten more interesting as time passed, I'm halfway hoping this is actually the Picard and Seven show.

It also allows a rejiggering of the social stuff, because post-Borg, the Star Trek universe sorta slide into a more Cold War setup, with basically everyone aligning themselves with one side or another (Except for the Romulans, which split in half for a bit.) The Khitomer Accords expand to include the Cardassians and the Ferengi, and a lot of the other governments aligned themselves under the 'Typhon Pact'.

So it allows some interesting stories, mixing things up. I mean, they could mix things up _anyway_, it's been long enough, but even if they don't want exactly _that_ situation, well, it's been a while since that was true, so they could include the EU in their evolution of how they got to where they are.

Arguments against that point:
Seven of Nine technically shouldn't still have her implants. They disappeared when the Borg did. I'm sure they can handwave that somehow, though...or maybe that was a misleading promo or something, and she doesn't actually have them in the show.

Picard married Doctor Crusher, and they have a son, Rene. But I think Rene would be old enough to be gone at this point, and perhaps something happened to Beverly in this time? Or maybe their deaths are part of what Picard is carrying around?

On “Bigot.

So we outlawed communism, without a single vote of Democrat opposition in either house, and over the opposition of J Edgar Hoover.

I love how you say 'without a single vote of Democrat opposition in either house', which again is literally my original point: witchhunts do not happen because of who is elected. Moronic anti-communist things were being done by both parties.

Also: That didn't outlaw communism.

Now, there _was_ a law that arguably outlawed communism at one time, or at least people were prosecuted under it. The Smith Act. The Courts made it much narrower in 1957 and voided a bunch of convictions.

Contrary to what you may have been told, it is still US law, starting at 50 U.S.C. §841 to §844, under chapter 23, Internal Security, part IV, Communist Control.

Ah, yes. The Communism Control Act, 50 U.S.C. §841 to §844, which 'outlaws communism'. It didn't anyway (It just required them to register), but...but it's also not in effect anymore. Despite what Wikipedia tries to imply.

§843 might still technically be on the books, but all that does is just add to a list defined in 50 U.S.C. §781. Hey, look, that law doesn't exist anymore! Because that law was the McCarran Internal Security Act I mentioned above, and the part it amended was, indeed, found unconstitutional and repealed. Thus rendering both §843 and §844 (Which carefully explains how to determine if someone is a member of the communist party as defined by §843) utterly pointless.

The only reason that's §843 and §844 are still US law is someone forgot to repeal them when they repealed the law they modified. They do literally nothing.

But, wait, there is also §842. The...uh...law no one understands. The law that denies the Communist Party of the United States 'the rights, privileges, and immunities of a legal body', which no one has any idea what it means. That entity still _appears_ to exist as a legal body, it has membership and voting and leadership. Some states tried to keep it off the ballot, and that worked...once. And not again. In 1961, the Supreme Court ruled it could participate in an unemployment insurance system, which is...really weird for a non-existent entity to be able to do. The reason _that_ part of the law hasn't been struck down is because it appeared to do nothing whatsoever. Like, no one knows what's supposed to be doing.

So...yeah, the Commmunist Control Act _functionally_ is not in effect anymore. Part of it amends a part of a law that was struck down by the courts and repealed (Even if it itself has stupidly never been repealed.), and part of it is...too weird to understand so it's literally never done anything.

Oh, wait. There's the first part, where they call the communist party a bunch of names, I guess that's...still in 'effect'?

The Supreme Court didn’t strike down bans on communist party membership as unconstitutional, they merely said the laws were too broadly defined and that a person had to share the illegal intent of the communist party before they could be tossed out of their jobs.

Yes. Exactly what I said.

The US government cannot fire members of the communist party simply because they are members of the communist party. It can fire them if it proves they share the illegal intent of the communist party, specifically, the intent to overthrow of the United States government.

It still can't arrest them for that, though. Wanting to overthrow the government, and even advocating for that, is protected by the first amendment. The Courts have just said that 'People who actively wish to overthrow the government should not be allowed to work for it' meets whatever constitutional threshold is required to slightly restrict those rights.

"

There are communists in government who work to undermine our country and they needed to be rooted out.

It's no longer constitutional to remove people from the government based on their political views. That's how McCarthyism ended, not with a bang, but with a whimper of declining public support sending it to backrooms, and then court cases seriously limiting it.

Well, in the public realm. In the private blacklist realm, private individuals started suing the people providing private blacklists and were easily winning the case. Turns out if you call someone a communist and put them on a list to tell people not to hire them, you actually need some proof or it's libel and there are some pretty serious damages for deliberately destroying someone's career.

John Brennan, Obama’s CIA director, was somehow was put in charge of the CIA despite voting for the Communist Party’s candidate, which he admitted in his CIA interview.

It's not constitutional to not hire or fire someone from the government because of how they voted, period. It's not even constitutional if they were literally a member of the Communist Party.

I’m pretty sure that in WW-II the OSS wouldn’t retain agents who said they supported the Nazi party, they’d start a big file on them and have the FBI tap their telephone.

The US was at war with Nazi Germany. The US was not at war with the Soviet Union.

It's legal to remove government employees for working with a foreign power, and/or to plot the overthrow of the US government, but it's not legal for the government to fire, or even refuse to hire, someone because they are a communist, or vote for communists, or hold communist views, or anything of the sort.

Which I'd think conservatives would know, considering how often they attempt to cry about discrimination for their political beliefs in public education.

Incidentally, it's worth mentioning that, _even in times of war with Germany_, people who had previously spoken up in favor of the actual literal Nazi regime that we'd entered a war with were not subject to any sort fo witchhunt or even systematic removal from government employment.

Whereas people who were communists in the political sense but nothing to do with Soviet Russia _were_. Just someone who liked Marx totally divorced from any national thing.

Why? Because Hoover and various right-wing government people had been spewing anti-communism for years, as a way to fight civil rights and unions.

I recommend reading the whole thing (If you can dodge the paywall), because it also discusses all the sweeping cultural and political shifts that occurred as a result of botching the classified NSA identification of Soviet agents in the US, which of course couldn’t be revealed at the time.

That article is...confused in places. The NSA did not have 'a top-secret program called Venona' in the 1940s, as the NSA literally did not exist in the 1940s. Signal intelligence in the 1940s would have been from the SIS and...*goes to check Wikipedia*...yup, they were who was running Venona. (It is at this point I admit I have been writing MCU fanfic set in the early days of SHIELD, which is why half of all this, and McCarthyism, and all sorts of random 1950 political strife, is all in my head already.)

And....does anyone really think the conclusion we should take from Verona is that McCarthyism is good? McCarthyism was _really stupid_. It completely failed to find the Soviet spies that actually did exist!

This is because the entire thing was a moronic witchhunt basically promoted by Hoover. Huge amount of people lost their jobs for random political beliefs, and let's not forget sexual orientation, and meanwhile the damn Soviets ran rings around the government.

The amount of people actually arrested by the FBI during all that was less than 400, and it appears that most of the charges were for lying to the FBI. Basically, the FBI would find some connection to communism, and if the person lied, they were arrested, and if they admitted it, they were pressured into resigning, and if they didn't resign, pressure was put on the agency to let them go. (Some of those agencies said 'No, this is stupid' and refused.) Records are a bit sketchy, but it seems clear that the FBI crowed about Soviet spies, so if they'd caught any more, we know about it. No, they were just catching people with 'vaguely possibly communist political beliefs', and often not even that.

Meanwhile, all the actual working-for-the-Soviets presumably weren't, uh, openly members of the communist party whatever.

McCarthyism is almost a textbook example of how a witchhunt not only is harmful, but it literally doesn't accomplish its goals, because the actual point of a whichhunt is to for the people conducting it to justify their own existence and gain power, not 'find the thing they are looking for'.

Saying 'McCarthyism isn't bad, because there were really Soviet spies' is like saying 'We need the Fire Department...yes, they decided to flood the mall for no reason and caused millions in property damage and risked countless lives, but look at all the buildings that burned down across town while they were doing that!'

Maybe they shouldn’t have shouldered a paranoid alcoholic with the role of being the heavy hand of government.

American history would be a lot less stupid without J. Edgar Hoover and his little fiefdom, and no one will ever convince me there weren't huge amount of blackmail keeping presidents from removing him.

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