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Culture War Roundup for the week of January 16, 2023

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Some complaints about Netflix's new adaptation of All Quiet on the Western Front.

Im Westen nichts Neues is one of my most beloved books, and it had a profound effect on me reading it as a teen. Moreover, the First World War is a period of history that has always fascinated me. Consequently, I have Strong Opinions on Netflix's adaptation. In general, I try to avoid watching adaptations of my favourite books, and I haven't seen either the 1930 film or the 1979 TV series. Yet bored in a hotel room, I decided to watch this one (warning - spoilers ahead).

In short, while the movie was a visual feast and was highly evocative (and Daniel Brühl is a consistently fine actor), it also spectacularly missed the point of the novel. To wit...

(1) The title of the novel literally means "nothing new on the Western front", reflecting a central theme of the novel concerning the ubiquity and mediocrity of human suffering in this period - Paul's death isn't even a footnote in dispatches. By shifting the action of the story to the final day of the conflict, you lose the sense of mediocrity and genericity - the dispatches from November 11 1918 most certainly did NOT read "Im Westen nichts Neues". Consequently, the adaptation misses one of the central themes of the novel.

(2) Additionally, by making the denouement of the movie a senseless attack ordered by a deranged general, the hamartiology of the movie is fundamentally undermined. A big part of the novel is that if there was evil in the trenches, it was deeper, systemic, engrained in our species and society rather than locatable within a particular malevolent actor. But we all know exactly who to blame for the final, utterly pointless assault at the end of the movie - the cartoonishly nationalistic and stupid General Friedrichs.

(3) Arguably the most powerful part of the book - aside from the eternally haunting crater scene (which I'll grant the movie did well) - is when Paul returns home to the village of his birth, and finds himself utterly alienated from his former community. This is something we feel powerfully as a reader, too - after the torrent of horror and futility we've been reading, there is a tonal whiplash returning to a civilian setting that emphasises the naivety and lack of understanding of Paul's former mentors. The idea that warfare fundamentally damages and dislocates combatants from their pre-war communities is one that's now firmly in our cultural DNA thanks to the flood of post-Vietnam movies exploring alienation and PTSD, but Im Westen nichts Neues was one of the earliest works to explore it. Yet this whole scene is utterly absent from this adaptation, again because of the foolish decision to shift the focus to an incredibly compressed time window at the end of the war.

(4) As an amateur military historian, I found lots of things that made me grind my teeth (in contrast to Sam Mendes' relatively punctilious 1917). I won't list them all, you'll be glad to know, but just to highlight one, the movie depicts an array of threats and modern horrors, from planes to tanks to flamethrowers, in an unrealistically condensed and spectacular fashion. This would be understandable if we were being shown an edited "highlights reel" of several months of fighting, but we're expected to think this all happened in a single day! In fact, the majority of deaths in WW1 were due to artillery, not machine guns as the mythology would have it. Moreover, most of these deaths happened not in mass 'over the top' assaults but while soldiers huddled in dugouts. The First World War was largely a miserable boring conflict in which death could come at any time due to a shell landing in the trench next to you.

(5) The decision to explore the armistice negotiations was an interesting one, and Matthias Erzberger is a fascinating figure. But if this was what Director Edward Berger wanted to explore, he should have made a different film. As it was, these scenes were utterly underdeveloped, and we didn't get much insight into why Germany was forced to negotiate, or the various factions involved on the German side. The growing effects of the British blockade, the abdication of the Kaiser, the failure of the U-boat campaign, the horrific losses and disappointment from the 1918 German Spring Offensive, the Russian revolution, fears of the nascent threat of Communism, the collapse of the Danube front - all of these themes are important and interesting if one wants to tell a story about why the war ended. As it was, the Armistice scenes detracted from the film's ability to tell Paul's story at the frontline, while failing to deliver a particularly rich or historically-informed narrative about the politics.

I will resist the opportunity to go on a further rant about public misperceptions of World War 1, but I will say that while I love Blackadder Goes Forth with a passion, it has - in combination with the "lions led by donkeys" trope - helped cement many misunderstandings about the war, especially in the British mindset, and this film perpetuates many of these myths.

For example, the First World War's causes were not some terrible accident or obscure diplomatic nonsense involving an ostrich. It had been brewing for decades as the balance of power in Europe shifted, Germany and Russia sought to flex their muscles, the Ottoman Empire declined, and France sought to undo the losses of the Franco-Prussian War. It very nearly happened several years earlier during the various Morocco crises, for example. All of the players had very good (political) reasons to fight. The involvement of the UK in particular was triggered by the German invasion of Belgium, a neutral country whose defense we were explicitly committed to. The death-toll and misery and human suffering of the war was obviously colossal, and from a moral perspective of course the war was a species-level mistake. But it was a disaster arising from deep systemic factors, and without radically revising the world order as it was in 1914, it's not clear how it could or should have been avoided.

Relatedly, there were no 'easy fixes' for the stalemate of trench warfare. As everyone knows, the balance of military technology at the time made sustained offensives very costly and unlikely to result in breakouts. However, defense was also very costly; in the majority of German offensives, for example, the Allies suffered more casualties as defenders than the Germans did as attackers. Ultimately, when you have large industrialised countries with huge populations that are engaged in what they see as a war for national survival, they will send millions of soldiers to fight and die; these nations can "take a punch", as Dan Carlin memorably put it, and there's no "One Weird Trick To Fix The Trench Warfare Stalemate". When various powers did try alternative approaches - for example, the Gallipoli landings or the Ostend Raids - it generally backfired. While the likes of John French and Douglas Haig were mediocre commanders, even the best and most innovative officers of the war (such as John Monash) sustained eye-watering casualties.

Despite all the above complaints, I do think the film is worth watching; it is a visual feast, as I say, and some scenes are spectacularly well done: the famous crater scene, as well as the 'uniform scenes' added at the start that KulakRevolt discussed here. However, as an adaptation of the book or as a rumination on the nature of evil in warfare, it is distinctly lacking.

For example, the First World War's causes were not some terrible accident or obscure diplomatic nonsense involving an ostrich. It had been brewing for decades as the balance of power in Europe shifted, Germany and Russia sought to flex their muscles

I've heard that, despite the comic-book primary plot, The King's Man ends up having one of the most accurate cinematic portrayals of this tension condensed into a digestible format (especially because of the way they use Tom Hollander to highlight the connections between England, Germany, and Russia). Something like 10% unusually accurate history and 90% rollicking ridiculousness.

I'm not sure I'd go that far, just like I'm skeptical of people that suggest Rick Riordan gets kids to truly appreciate Greek/Roman/Norse mythology, but I would be interested in your take on it if you're familiar.

I will resist the opportunity to go on a further rant about public misperceptions of World War 1

Next time you're in the mood I'm sure we'll all appreciate it.

The involvement of the UK in particular was triggered by the German invasion of Belgium, a neutral country whose defense we were explicitly committed to.

That is the official reason, because the UK government knew it would be hard to convince the British public that Serbia was worth fighting over, but they were keen to get involved from the very start.

Indeed, Britain's involvement is what really set it off as a "World War", whereas if they had stayed out it would've probably been a larger repeat of something like the Franco Prussian war. I've felt for a while that their decision to join the war was ultimately the most disastrous foreign policy decision the UK ever made.

There should be laws that if you deviate too far from the source material you have to call it something else. This kind of thing drives me nuts. Not sure if that’s even possible but it would be nice.

I had a hard time enjoying the "Haunting of Hill House" series because of this. I know I should go back and watch it on its own terms, but why on earth did they have to give it that title?

I don't know that much about WWI but I got the sense that it was a very theatrical and "hollywood-ized" depiction of the war. I watched the 1930 years ago in college and I especially remembered the scene where their kindly postman becomes a tyrannical bully once he's in uniform. I was disappointed not to see that in this movie.

I'm in 100%, total agreement with you, as a big fan of the book and someone very interested in the world wars. I've mentioned before here that the depiction of the Germans as over-eager in the final days of the war isn't just a baffling reversal of the book's finish, but also likely to give the average viewer the completely wrong impression about what the German morale and position was like come November 1918.

Over time I've become less and less tolerant for movies that take historical liberties. I don't really care about names or places or specific dates, or getting all the period details of dress and costume and dialogue correct. But the average person should be able to get, emotionally and intellectually, a roughly accurate impression of the era depicted. The average person knows fuck all about history EXCEPT for what they get from pop culture, and so in that respect I do feel that film/tv/video game creatives have some responsibility to get the broad stuff right. In an age of decreased literacy they do shoulder more of the burden (extremely sadly) for explaining history. And I think it's much more important that the larger public have a decent sense of our shared history than most people would reckon.

I will resist the opportunity to go on a further rant about public misperceptions of World War 1, but I will say that while I love Blackadder Goes Forth with a passion, it has - in combination with the "lions led by donkeys" trope - helped cement many misunderstandings about the war, especially in the British mindset, and this film perpetuates many of these myths.

YES. I remember watching a few of the episodes in high school history class and it was one of the first time that I realised how, with just a little bit of obsessiveness about history in my spare time, I already knew more than a lot of well-educated adults.

However, to paraphrase what has been said about Neville Chamberlain, World War I British have about as much chance of being remembered as competent decision-makers in a new and difficult environment as Pontius Pilate has of being remembered as a competent Roman official.

Does Trump sue just to fundraise?

Throughout the early history of the American legal system, if you wanted to sue anyone in court you had to follow this arcane and inconsistent labyrinth of common law pleading rules. What we today generically call "lawsuits" were pointlessly split up into "actions at law" or "bills in equity" or whatever, all of which had different pedantic rules depending on the jurisdiction you're in (for a long time, federal courts dealing with state law had to apply procedural rules that were in effect at the time the state joined the Union). When the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure were first created in 1938, the intent was to get rid of the stodgy traditional requirements in favor of something comparatively more informal. As reflected in Rule 8, all you really need to file a lawsuit is a "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief" in your complaint.

This "permissive" paradigm was put to the test in front of the same guy who was responsible for writing those new rules, Judge Charles E. Clark. The 1944 case Dioguardi v. Durning is a fun read, and involves a handwritten lawsuit filed by a guy with a very questionable grasp on the English language complaining about a customs official seizing "tonic" bottles "of great value" imported from Italy. Clark ruled that "however inartistically they may be stated" the guy was clear enough to meet the new pleading standards. For a more modern example from a much more complicated case, see the complaint that was filed in the Tesla Securities lawsuit (I know nothing about this case, just picked it at random for an example). Despite the complex subject matter and the number of people involved, the complaint is only 58 pages and is structured logically enough to make it relatively easy to follow. It establishes why the court should hear the case, some background facts, and then articulates in clear detail who harmed who and why the court should do something about it.

In contrast, compare the lawsuit that Lance Armstrong filed against the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency in 2012. The Judge took one look at the PDF, saw that it was 80 pages long, and promptly dismissed it with a "I ain't reading all that" ruling:

Armstrong's complaint is far from short, spanning eighty pages and containing 261 numbered paragraphs, many of which have multiple subparts. Worse, the bulk of these paragraphs contain "allegations" that are wholly irrelevant to Armstrong's claims and which, the Court must presume, were included solely to increase media coverage of this case, and to incite public opinion against Defendants. See, e.g., Compl. [#1] ¶ 10 ("USADA's kangaroo court proceeding would violate due process even if USADA had jurisdiction to pursue its charges against Mr. Armstrong."). Indeed, vast swaths of the complaint could be removed entirely, and most of the remaining paragraphs substantially reduced, without the loss of any legally relevant information. Nor are Armstrong's claims "plain": although his causes of action are, thankfully, clearly enumerated, the excessive preceding rhetoric makes it difficult to relate them to any particular factual support. This Court is not inclined to indulge Armstrong's desire for publicity, self-aggrandizement, or vilification of Defendants, by sifting through eighty mostly unnecessary pages in search of the few kernels of factual material relevant to his claims.

Since lawsuits are already a vehicle to air grievances, it's understandable when clients/lawyers try to sneak in as many parting shots as possible. Lawsuits are endowed with an aura of gravity and seriousness that a bare press release or op-ed outlining the same grievances would lack. Unless things get *too *egregious, there's not a whole lot a judges can do to stop the practice of trying to disguise a press release under a legitimate lawsuit costume.

Back in March of last year, Trump filed a wide-ranging 108-page lawsuit against Hillary Clinton and several dozen other defendants. You can read the entire lawsuit yourself here but the basic allegation is defamation over claims/insinuations that Trump colluded with Russia during the 2016 election. The complaint was later "amended" in June to include yet more defendants, and ballooned to 193 pages in the process.

The Trump v. Clinton et al lawsuit eventually got dismissed last September. For a full accounting as to why you can read the 65-page opinion but the short summary is the lawsuit was a confusing constellation of disconnected political grievances Trump had smooshed together into a laundry list of allegations that could not conceivably be supported by any existing law. For example, Trump's lawyer Alina Habba alleged malicious prosecution without a prosecution, alleged RICO violations without predicate offenses, alleged obstruction of justice without a judicial proceeding, cited directly to reports that contradicted their claims, and on and on. None of these problems are supposed to be common knowledge, but it is *very *basic stuff any lawyer filing a federal lawsuit should either know or research before they step foot on a rake. But when the defendants in this case pointed out the problems, Habba's response was to just double down instead of correct them. My favorite tidbit was when they justified why one of the 30+ defendants, a New York resident, was being sued in a Florida court (even federal courts need personal jurisdiction established) by claiming that defendant should've known that the false information they were spreading would end up in Florida, and also that they "knew that Florida is a state in the United States which was an important one."

When someone is served with any lawsuit, they have an obligation to respond or risk losing the entire case by default. In very rare circumstances (namely with handwritten complaints from prisoners with nothing better to do), a lawsuit is so patently bogus that a defendant can sit on their laurels doing nothing, confident it will get dismissed without them having to lift a finger. Before Trump's lawsuit was dismissed, a veritable legal machinery from the 30+ individuals/corporations sued whirred into action, ginning up an eye-watering amount of billable hours in the process to investigate and respond to the allegations. The judge in this case was seriously annoyed by all this and on Thursday she imposed sanctions by ordering Habba and Trump to pay everyone's legal bills, totalling almost $938,000. You can read the 46-page opinion here.

I've written before about pretextual excuses, such as when NYC *claimed *their employee vaccine mandate was for public health reasons, but then implemented exceptions that were inconsistent with their lofty claim. I argued it's reasonable to conclude NYC was lying. Similarly, Habba may claim as a lawyer that her lawsuit was to pursue valid legal remedies on behalf of her client, but when her efforts are completely inconsistent with that goal, it's perfectly reasonable to conclude she's lying. If valid legal remedies was the real goal of the suit, even someone like me --- with no experience civil litigation --- can contemplate trivial changes which would have significantly improved its success (most obviously don't wait past the statute of limitations, don't try to sue 31 different entities all at once, don't try to sue in a court that lacks jurisdiction, don't try to sue fictitious entities, etc.). So if that wasn't the real goal, what was?

The judge in this case strongly suspects the real purpose of the (bogus) lawsuit was to use it as a vehicle for fundraising. The vast scope of characters sued matches with this explanation because while a disparate cast of defendants legally frustrated the lawsuit in the courtroom, it does make for a better headline when soliciting donations (Clinton! Adam Schiff! James Comey! Lisa Page! Peter Strzok!). Trump has a pattern of filing frivolous lawsuits (like suing the Pulitzer Prize Board for defamation for awarding NYT and WaPo) and then following up with "breaking news alerts" soliciting donations for his Save America PAC, so the timing matches up. The fundraising efforts appear to be working well, with the PAC having about $70 million on hand as of last fall.

The sanction this judge imposed is the highest by far imposed on any of Trump's attorneys. It's possible this is a coincidence, but the day after the sanctions, Trump voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit he filed in Florida (??) against New York's Attorney General. I'm assuming the judge hopes the $1 million penalty will discourage further waste of time for the courts and other potential defendants, but the fundraising mechanism I described feeds itself. The higher the sanction imposed, the more urgent the breaking news alert begging for money will be.

=edited

It's not like anyone objects (or should object) to shots taken at Biden. I'm starting to feel like this place may have a problem.

Your post was high quality. One can always disagree on substance, but their criticism of the form doesn't hold water. Partisan complaints based on impossibly high standards shouldn't be rewarded with edits, let alone apologies and bans.

Thank you. It's certainly possible that some partisans want to react to arguments they don't like by throwing a tantrum instead of engaging with the argument itself, but given the amount of productive feedback I received in this thread, it's worthwhile to remain receptive to valid criticism and acknowledge it.

I think any issues it had were solved with changing the headline to:

Does Trump sue just to fundraise?

I actually ignored the post from the start, but I can understand someone being frustrated at essentially being Rick-Rolled into reading another "Orange Man Bad!" post. Likewise the "You're about to be triggered" warning was picking a fight. The post as it is now, is perfect.

I actually ignored the post from the start, but I can understand someone being frustrated at essentially being Rick-Rolled into reading another "Orange Man Bad!" post. Likewise the "You're about to be triggered" warning was picking a fight.

I agree with this criticism, and credit to @aqouta for convincing me of the errors of my ways. I feel silly that I did not consider "open question as headline" as an option before.

Seeing ymeskhout and Nybbler duking it out is like seeing mommy and daddy fighting. Stop it, think of the children!

That said, the post was good and informative and Trump should not be above reproach. The attempts to raise the costs for criticising Trump on The Motte reads to me like a cheap attempt to enforce consensus. That is not why we're here.

This is my read of it as well, particularly considering how many are coupling with the thought-terminating cliche phrase "Orange Man Bad". It is highly ironic to me that this phrase, supposed to mock "NPC-like" left-wing behavior, has just become a reflective crutch to be employed by MAGA and MAGA-adjacent folks every time someone criticizes Trump for anything, anywhere, no matter the quality of the criticism.

Trump is the former US president and quite potentially a future US president as well! He should be criticized, and criticized a lot, for his various maneuvers and wheeling and dealing!

Well, I wouldn't use it if the criticism was substantive, but most times it does amount to nothing more than "Orange Man Bad". Trump is supposed to be uniquely awful. Situate him in the context, demonstrate that this is so and that it's not the equivalent of an instance in the past when everyone was shocked and horrified by how uniquely awful and unprecedented such and such was.

We're currently seeing with Biden, for instance, that taking batches of classified documents home with you after leaving office is not a once-off, uniquely Trumpian, case. And indeed Biden did it before Trump, after leaving office as Vice-President for Obama. But somehow this is different. "Oh but Trump opposed and fought, Biden co-operated". Biden had these documents for six years, had no idea he had them, left them lying around in cupboards to be found by people clearing out old offices, and in his garage. Of course he didn't fight, he was all "I have classified documents? Okay, if you say so". Is this supposed to be better?

We're currently seeing with Biden, for instance, that taking batches of classified documents home with you after leaving office is not a once-off, uniquely Trumpian, case. And indeed Biden did it before Trump, after leaving office as Vice-President for Obama. But somehow this is different. "Oh but Trump opposed and fought, Biden co-operated". Biden had these documents for six years, had no idea he had them, left them lying around in cupboards to be found by people clearing out old offices, and in his garage. Of course he didn't fight, he was all "I have classified documents? Okay, if you say so". Is this supposed to be better?

Yes. Being in violation of the rules because of negligence and then cooperating to rectify the mistake is better than openly flaunting the rules, if you believe the rules are just. Which I do in this case, even if its enforcers aren't.

Well, in this case, I find it pretty hard to argue that it's a substantial criticism, in the way that I haven't seen this particular criticism before and it adds to the image of a Trump being a type to ignore the formal rules of the system to pursue personal agendas, surely something one would mostly not want to see in a president. Furthermore, it taught me things about the American legal system I hadn't read about or even considered before. Summarizing this particular post just as "Orange Bad Mad" seems, indeed, nothing more than a reflex, and it's not the first time I've seen this thought-terminating phrase just being used as an automatic dismissive reaction to any and all criticism of Trump.

Yes, yes, heaven forbid that people are informed what the thread is about, so they can scroll by if they're not interested.

Trump is the former US president and quite potentially a future US president as well! He should be criticized, and criticized a lot, for his various maneuvers and wheeling and dealing!

Criticize President Trump? Inconceivable! It has never been done before!*

*) Which is to say: there's nothing wrong with beating a dead horse, but stop acting like criticizing Trump is what people have an issue with.

I haven't seen this particular criticism of Trump before, and I found it interesting to read.

Sure, I'm not saying it shouldn't be posted, just that people miffed because this wasn't what they were signing up for have a right to be miffed.

arguing with Nybbler means you're probably gonna lose

Definitely curious to hear what you think of what folks like Lawfare called the "speaking indictments" of Robert Mueller. They used this term specifically to describe an indictment that is aimed at "telling a broader story" rather than narrowly focusing in on specific crimes. Are you similarly critical of legal actions taken to harm Trump?

Can you point to a link about what you mean about "speaking indictments"? I'm familiar with the term only generally and don't immediately see the relevance.

I have my beliefs but I also like to think I just follow where the evidence takes me. Here's me being critical of the case Liz Cheney was trying to build against Trump regarding his knowledge about the crowd on J6. I'm sure there are other examples.

This link has an example of the phrase:

The document is what prosecutors term a “speaking indictment”; that is, it describes facts about the defendants’ activities beyond what is strictly necessary for the counts it charges. The purpose of a speaking indictment is more than to simply list charges; it is to tell a story...

I don't have much of an opinion of it. What they call speaking indictments looks like it has about the same amount of detail that I see in charging documents I deal with every day in state court. In your link it's clear why the prosecutors assumed a jury trial would never happen, so adding details into an indictment makes sense. Shrug? Sorry, I'm not sure what you're asking.

I'm confused. Do you disagree with their assessment that prosecutors make a distinction along the lines they described? Do you agree that prosecutors make that distinction, but your assessment is that this particular one isn't in that bucket? Or maybe you think that they're right that some prosecutors make that distinction, but you think those prosecutors are just full of bollocks or something?

I don't know enough about federal criminal indictments in general to have an opinion on this. "Speaking indictment" appears to me to be more like a term of art descriptor than an exact distinction.

Would you stipulate that the authors are plugged in with what federal criminal prosecutors think about such indictments in general? Then, under the assumption that they're right enough about the idea that such a thing was what happened here, would you be even remotely as concerned about it?

I think you're overstating the choice of venue issue. In practice it's pretty flexible.

Look at when SDNY when after Bannon et al. None of the defendants were in its jurisdiction. They couldn't find a victim. The case was similar -- residents of SDNY heard about "build the wall" so they had jurisdiction.

For things like libel you're supposed to be able to sue in your home state. If the defendant is politically connected (eg NYT) it'll often get transferred, but that's more of an exception.

There have been a few explanations floated for how the lawsuits proceeded...

Fundraising was undoubtably a goal.

Stating all of the allegations in one place for the historical record was probably a motivation. Multiple separate lawsuits wouldn't have been able to convey Trump's side clearly.

The choice of lawyers was questionable. Trump has a thing for hiring ex-prosecutors. They don't have the right experience for this sort of litigation. I suspect that they are grifting Trump... filing half-assed lawsuits so they can bill him and say they did something. Ex-prosecutors aren't the sort of people who actually want to present a strong case against powerful federal insiders.

Another probable goal was just to get to some level of discovery. Getting the various defendants to admit to various facts not in dispute would have been good for Trump's record. It would have been something historians would have needed to acknowledge.

A more out there explanation I've heard is that the goal of the lawsuit was to create a single intelligence silo. It provided a justification to read in all of the lawyers on information that's still classified. Multiple lawsuits would have meant that lawyers could only be read in on specific information relevant to that specific case.

Filing before the statute of limitations had expired was impossible in this case. He wouldn't have been able to sue as president. Legally he could, but it wasn't practical to. Plus high level bureaucrats have too many ways to slow things down... information came out as a trickle, then he had to wait for official investigations to wrap up.

I think it would be helpful if you pointed to links or sources for your claims. For example, I don't know where you're basing the claim that personal jurisdiction is flexible. The wikipedia page on the topic should be enough to showcase how complicated the analysis is and cases get bounced all the time for failure to establish personal jurisdiction (which typically happens because the plaintiff either wants to sue in their home turf for convenience or is maybe judge shopping). Similarly how does filing a frivolous lawsuit help the "historical record" versus just writing a book or issuing a press release? Etc

Content Warning: This post criticizes Trump

This is obnoxious and unnecessary.

Some people thought that my post was a pretextual excuse where I discuss the US legal system just as a vehicle to criticize Trump. The whole point of the post was to criticize Trump, so I wanted to make that clear to anyone who would read this. How else would you propose I address this concern?

How else would you propose I address this concern?

Don't use something deliberately provocative like "Content Warning". If the point of your post is to criticise Trump first, and the legal arcanities are second, then state that at the outset: "I want to criticise Trump from the standpoint of the lawsuits he takes".

You're perfectly free to say "Orange Man Bad" but why drag us through a history of "bills in equity" to get there? In fact, I think if you did do a post about the history of lawsuits, it would be more informative, more entertaining, and more acceptable as well as more in keeping with the spirit of this place.

Yes, the spirit of this place is about arguments and disputes, but don't be boring while you do it.

reposting, does this provide any insight as to why I included the history?

I do often wonder if I am overexplaining things. Because of my job, I don't think I am well calibrated on how much non-lawyers need/want something explained. I'm a nerd about minutiae like the history of civil procedure and personally find the subject interesting so when I started writing about a "bad" lawsuit, it seemed relevant to include some background on what makes a "good" lawsuit. The point, one which I probably should've been clearer about, is that we used to have this very formal and stodgy standards for how lawsuits are worded but that changed in favor of something less formal. The intent was to encourage people to speak more plainly, and I showcased the Dioguardi case to highlight how low the bar was. The risk with less formal standards is that people might ramble on, and so I thought it was relevant that courts want you to get to the point when you file a lawsuit.

All those things combined (less formality, preference for short and plain statements) showcase the challenge judges have with strictly policing the gratuitous parting shots lawyers/clients include in their lawsuits. So towards that end I highlighted Armstrong's example as a rare case of a lawsuit being dismissed for being too long, as a way to illustrate the limits of what judges are willing to put up with. The point was to set the stage for how Trump's 193-page lawsuit should be evaluated. I think if I just linked you a 200 page PDF and said "this is bad", few people would understand why.

I hadn't read the earlier version or the exchanges of opinion. So I came in to the "Does Trump sue just to fundraise?" version.

It seemed to be leading into an interesting wander through the history of American lawsuits and how that developed, but then that was set aside for "Orange Man Bad".

I don't think I'm a Trump partisan, but I don't much appreciate thinking you're offering me a slice of apple tart and then it turns out to be stewed prunes. I like stewed prunes, but if I'm all set up for apple tart, that doesn't please me.

It would have been better to dump the history of lawsuits if you were just going to go "Trump is a big poopy-head for suing Hillary". Then I could have skipped the entire thing.

Conversely, if you had left out the "Trump is a big poopy-head" stuff and told me about Italians and Lance Armstrong, I'd have read and enjoyed this and possibly upvoted.

As it is, the impression I have of this entire exchange is you sneering about "partisans" not appreciating your legal genius, and the people you're arguing with sniping back at you. I. Don't. Care.

The 'overexplanation' here was great, and I'd have enjoyed reading another eight paragraphs of it.

Same here. Leave out the Trump stuff, give us the legal "did you know?" No I didn't, tell me more!

Thank you, I appreciate that. I'm embarrassed to admit that those few paragraphs took literally hours to write, mostly because I kept getting distracted by research rabbit holes. If there's ever a topic you'd be interested to see me cover lmk

I saw the down thread squabbling and can registering nothing beyond a desire to recoup the precious minutes wasted in reading it. I will be brief for the sake of you and others. Your disagreement would be best resolved by not having happened, the second best solution is to have it be ignored or at least contained to the offending response thread. Editing your post in any way to make this disagreement more visible cannot possibly improve it. If you wish to make someone seem like an unhinged partisan for dismissing valid criticism this is practically the worst way to achieve your goal. You know, I know and everyone reading your post knows that this warning has no purpose other than to sneer.

You make a good point about visibility, and I edited the content warning to a more natural sounding open question. I put [edited] at the bottom. I would have edited more of a note but I'm already at 9991/10000 characters.

Significantly better, thank you.

Adding the other poster's name was gratuitous but I think the content warning was fine as it was. People are mad at you because they don't enjoy reading long posts criticizing Trump and they admit as much. The content warning gives them a chance to minimize it and move on, which is what they should do instead of getting mad and telling you to delete your post.

Partisans here know what they're getting into when they read long form analysis of Trump lawsuits. A content warning is as much of an insult to the reader's intellect as a warning that an aquarium may contain fish. @ymeskhout frequently makes posts of this type that I genuinely find valuable, especially with the aggressively neutral wording emblematic of a good lawyer that lets the facts and framing damn their opposition in a way low effort swipes simply irritate. It's frankly below them.

I don't think partisans do know what to expect.

My own biases are flattered by @ymeshkout's take, but if certain usernames were at the top, I'd go in assuming apologetics. Or at least "Here's why there's a problem Trump wants to combat."

For what it's worth, coming into the version that asks "just to fundraise?" I think it's pretty reasonable. That's a hypothesis, it's made clear from the start, and then the rest defends it. I read it as less stilted than a Content Warning and less of a bait-and-switch than just segueing partway through.

People are mad at you because they don't enjoy reading long posts criticizing Trump and they admit as much.

Some people did have thoughtful feedback downthread which I found persuasive and noted accordingly. For that reason, I'll hold out hope that people are not mad over something as petty and childish as what you're describing.

I've written before about pretextual excuses, such as when NYC *claimed *their employee vaccine mandate was for public health reasons, but then implemented exceptions that were inconsistent with their lofty claim.

Or, for instance, when someone writes a long comment purporting to be about the US legal system, but is really just a vehicle to take a shot at Trump.

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Or for instance, when someone writes a short comment purporting to make a point, but is just trying to dismiss anything that might be critical of Trump.

@Dean believes that I may have misinterpreted your post as if you were accusing me of pretending to write about the US legal system just as a vehicle to criticize Trump. Could you confirm that my interpretation was off-base? As I said before, the whole point of the post was to criticize Trump's behavior. Was that not sufficiently sign-posted?

I apologize for the inclusion of your name in my content warning edit. Could you provide me any suggestions on what I could have done differently to address your criticism above?

The post to me read as just a shot at Trump, not so much criticizing him for engaging in lawfare but gloating over him being sanctioned for it. The whole long introduction on the legal system read as an attempt to add verbiage to make the post acceptable as a Motte top-level post. As for what you should have done, either not posted it or gotten to the point more quickly.

I sincerely appreciate you took the time to respond to my question. Which part do you identify as "gloating"?

Distributed throughout the second half. The whole tone of that half strikes me as just gleeful that Trump's people are being sanctioned.

I don't see what you're referring to. Can you point to any sentence and maybe provide an example of how you would rephrase it?

So what if it is? Have we not regularly criticized specific politicians over the years?

It's less about general criticism, and more that this is ymeskhout's specific hobby horse that has been flayed for years at this point, and regularly comes with standards called for against Trump that were not followed or applied (in general or by ymeskhout personally) on the lawfare against Trump. As with other pet topics, it repeats old themes to the point of evaporative cooling, which then leverage's ymeskhout's bad habit of dismissing/forgetting/claiming prior engagements on points either didn't occur or have been dismissed, for lack of an engaged opposition to engage otherwise.

As far as Trump-related lawfare goes, ymeskhout's a partisan and an old one at this point. At this point I only pay attention when he starts being petty towards people calling him out, like how this time he edited-in a callout- against The_Nybbler and then edited it out after being called out for it.

It's less about general criticism, and more that this is ymeskhout's specific hobby horse that has been flayed for years at this point, and regularly comes with standards called for against Trump that were not followed or applied (in general or by ymeskhout personally) on the lawfare against Trump.

You're not wrong, but if we modded everyone who flays dead horses, we'd have a lot fewer regulars.

(I like his posts because he explains law stuff in a lawyerly way, even if he is a bit cute sometimes when specifically criticizing Trump. But his theory that Trump is engaging in lawfare as a fundraising project does not seem unreasonable to me.)

The collapse button is helpful in this case.

You're not wrong, but if we modded everyone who flays dead horses, we'd have a lot fewer regulars.

I'm not precisely sure what drives 'if we modded this' comes from, because to the best of my knowledge neither myself or the Nybbler have called for mod-hat moderation of it. I cannot speak for @The_Nybbler, but I know I did not report the post.

(I like his posts because he explains law stuff in a lawyerly way, even if he is a bit cute sometimes when specifically criticizing Trump. But his theory that Trump is engaging in lawfare as a fundraising project does not seem unreasonable to me.)

It's certainly an argument... but it also runs into the general point of 'and this is not new or unique to Trump,' which comes back, as many things do, to whether Trump is uniquely bad, or if Trump is getting unique censure for things that go on as a matter of course. Lawfare and fundraising is an incredibly well established practice in a diversity of forms, from non-governmental agencies like the ACLU running literal solicitation campaigns to continue legal activity broadly seen as ideologically partisan now adays to government-entangled ones such as the Obama-era practice of offering corporate settlement offers that resulted in corporations giving money to non-profits or interest groups aligned with the party of government that was taking the corporations to court. There is an entire spectrum, and entire genres of fundraising solicitation emails of '[important thing] is at court- we need YOUR money NOW!'

Which, of course, brings back to the point of distinction of when someone is accused of pretext. 'I know it when I see it' is not a credible standard when highly subjective, and 'this is a Serious Thing' is not a credible claim when contextual examples of lawfare are available that were not held to similar standards. Selective appeals or enforcement of standards are related to the concept of anarcho-tyrrany precisely because the choice to enforce them is generally pretextual. When a general category of action is widespread, the choice to enforce sanction can simultaneously be 'valid' (there is a broken rule) and pretextual (the broken rule is not the reason the sanction is being enforced).

Okay, cool, so is your complaint that he's attacking Trump in an unprincipled fashion, or that he took a poke at nybbler in the process? Because I have some sympathy for the latter complaint (and believe me, it's hard for me to muster any sympathy where nybbler is concerned), but for the former, I have none, because whether or not I agree with your criticisms, this is exactly the kind of argument that is the Motte's bread and butter.

Okay, cool, so is your complaint that he's attacking Trump in an unprincipled fashion, or that he took a poke at nybbler in the process? Because I have some sympathy for the latter complaint (and believe me, it's hard for me to muster any sympathy where nybbler is concerned), but for the former, I have none, because whether or not I agree with your criticisms, this is exactly the kind of argument that is the Motte's bread and butter.

Solely Nybbler and the edit-trolling, and I have made no request or advocacy for mod action against even that.

As mentioned in a different post, I try to no longer engage ymeshkout on top-level post topics due to my judgement of him as a bad-faith actor in iterative engagements. I don't use block lists as a general principle, so the primary instances I respond are when he [insert potentially imprecise but generally negative action] other posters.

Really though the first three meaty paragraphs are wholly unnecessary to the post. I don’t think that should be subject to moderation but should be discouraged. Part of “speaking plainly” is getting to the point.

Really though the first three meaty paragraphs are wholly unnecessary to the post.

I do often wonder if I am overexplaining things. Because of my job, I don't think I am well calibrated on how much non-lawyers need/want something explained. I'm a nerd about minutiae like the history of civil procedure and personally find the subject interesting so when I started writing about a "bad" lawsuit, it seemed relevant to include some background on what makes a "good" lawsuit. The point, one which I probably should've been clearer about, is that we used to have this very formal and stodgy standards for how lawsuits are worded but that changed in favor of something less formal. The intent was to encourage people to speak more plainly, and I showcased the Dioguardi case to highlight how low the bar was. The risk with less formal standards is that people might ramble on, and so I thought it was relevant that courts want you to get to the point when you file a lawsuit.

All those things combined (less formality, preference for short and plain statements) showcase the challenge judges have with strictly policing the gratuitous parting shots lawyers/clients include in their lawsuits. So towards that end I highlighted Armstrong's example as a rare case of a lawsuit being dismissed for being too long, as a way to illustrate the limits of what judges are willing to put up with. The point was to set the stage for how Trump's 193-page lawsuit should be evaluated. I think if I just linked you a 200 page PDF and said "this is bad", few people would understand why.

With all that said, do you still think the intro was totally unnecessary?

I think your post is very good. It flowed well and the order of presentation made sense to me (setting the legal context up first--it could have been shorter but I greatly appreciated the history lesson; it's funny how much understanding you can get from finding out that things used to be done very differently, or are done differently in other places).

FWIW I'm not sure that asking everyone for more explicit feedback is worthwhile. I think there are multiple comments in this thread that are really desperately scrounging for a criticism and aren't engaging in good faith. Asking them what they want is pointless, because what they really want is for their opponents to go away, but they can't really say that.

Thanks, I still think asking for feedback is worthwhile because it gives people the opportunity to rebut the conclusion that they're only upset because I criticized something they like. If they refuse to do so, that's on them. If they provide helpful feedback, then it's a win for both of us.

Yes. Because it wasn’t really about pleading. The issue at hand is lawfare. That is, the rules relating to pleading don’t really implicate why Trump lost and lost “bigly.” The second part is interesting on its own which is you (and seemingly the court) think Trump is using the court for extralegal reasons. But hey, thanks for the free content (I don’t mean that sarcastically — my comments are just my two cents).

On the other hand, I haven’t done Civ Pro since my 1L year (in a transactional practice) so perhaps not the target audience.

Because it wasn’t really about pleading. The issue at hand is lawfare.

We might ultimately disagree on this point but I still would be interested in any thoughts you might have. How the pleading was structured seems core to my argument that it was a pretextual lawsuit from the start. I can't read Trump or Habba's mind, but I can look at the pleading and immediately notice some red flags which are inconsistent with "good faith lawsuit".

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Usually discouragement comes in the form of downvotes and feedback, which he's getting plenty of. Generally I don't think it's the mods' role to discourage prolixity.

Agreed — shouldn’t be a moderation point.

Fair enough, but it's considerably more palatable than the guy who has made his hobby horse denying the existence of gas chambers.

You'd think so, but the drive to go against the grain is ever a strong one in some. Well-written criticism of Donald Trump just isn't edgy enough.

Is there any theme discussed at this point on the Motte for which one could not make the exact same argument as the one you make against @ymeshkout?

People tend to have their opinions, which they change rarely through discussion. And culture war issues are only so many.

If your contention were made into a rule, this site would need to shut down.

This mistakes my contention. The contention is not that a position doesn't change and this should be banned- the contention is that the position is re-raised regularly without regard or even accurate reflection of previous engagements, and with poor conduct towards other in the process.

Ways to avoid this include not misrepresenting people's current positions, not mis-representing previous engagements, and not making one's hobby-horse a top level post with regular slights towards other posters.

This mistakes my contention. The contention is not that a position doesn't change and this should be banned- the contention is that the position is re-raised regularly without regard or even accurate reflection of previous engagements, and with poor conduct towards other in the process.

This also describes many other regular posters on the Motte (and @ymeskhout much less so than many others I could name), and yet strangely receive far less pushback, and even provoke resentful carping when they push it too far and get modded.

Most reports we see are 100% partisan and can be summarized as "A person I don't like said something I don't like."

Both sides(tm) do this, but because of the increasingly skewed nature of the Motte, the majority is directed at people like ymeskhout expressing left-wing viewpoints.

This also describes many other regular posters on the Motte (and @ymeskhout much less so than many others I could name), and yet strangely receive far less pushback, and even provoke resentful carping when they push it too far and get modded.

What's strange about it?

The well established climate currated by the mods here is that not pushing back against many sorts of posters is a survival strategy, as the sorts of posters who would push back strenuously against the Darwins or Julius's of the motte were also the ones more likely to be banned than the Darwins or Julius's of the Motte. When moderates have open commentary on calibrating mod action based on political composition of forum, or accuse censored posters of ban-worthy tresspasses while simultaneously not doing so, it creates a pretty clear climate of what is more or less acceptable, and 'more pushback' is often the less acceptable path for long-term motte posters if they want to remain long-term motte posters. This is an old and well established failure state of the Motte, where bad posters both poison the culture and get the mods to ban better posters reacting against them, but this has been defended in the past an acceptable cost for the target goal of the Motte to not punish what people say, but how they say it.

But it is still a basic punitive incentive structure as enforced by the mod team, and as a consequence pushback that does occur will exist within other contextual boundaries- such as the acceptable areas of criticism such as treatment of other posters, or when it exists within the space allowed by the social dynamics of when a mod is involved. These social dynamics involved when mods don't want to be involved in moderating either other mods (internal group dynamics of people who do/have worked together for common causes, a desire to privately raise concerns out of public view) or when mods don't want to get involved in the personal non-mod disputes of a mod and other conflicts (public optic dynamics of not wanting to present mod solidarity). This creates greater conflict space- an overton window if you prefer- for more pushback to people who act within the ven diagram overlap of 'takes condemnable swipes at other posters' and 'is a mod.'

In so much as this is a problem for the broader motte space, the solution is to reduce the ven diagram overlap.

Most reports we see are 100% partisan and can be summarized as "A person I don't like said something I don't like."

I imagine most non-quality post reports would be summarizable as 'A person I don't like said something I don't like' whether it was partisan or not. Most internet fights seeking higher sanction against another are not between people who like eachother fighting over how much they like eacother.

Both sides(tm) do this, but because of the increasingly skewed nature of the Motte, the majority is directed at people like ymeskhout expressing left-wing viewpoints.

Is ymsekhout being criticized for expressing left-wing viewpoints, or is ymeskhout being criticized for his character in how he responded to a very minor barb about how his own post could be viewed from a non left-wing viewpoint?

The well established climate currated by the mods here is that not pushing back against many sorts of posters is a survival strategy, as the sorts of posters who would push back strenuously against the Darwins or Julius's of the motte were also the ones more likely to be banned than the Darwins or Julius's of the Motte.

"Pushing back" against the Darwins and the Juliuses never got anyone banned. Losing one's emotional equilibrium and going off on them did. I won't deny there is a failure mode here where someone very good at writing provocative posts that fall within the rules can result in some decent posters losing their shit when they can't take it any longer and getting themselves banned. On the other hand, someone who only does that once or twice doesn't get banned for very long, and Darwin and Julius both eventually got booted long-term. We have never had a great solution for getting rid of bad but effortful posters who poison the discourse without breaking the rules, and I have yet to hear proposals that don't amount to "Ban this hobby horse" or "Just admit that this person is terrible and ban them." (The latter we very occasionally do under the egregiously obnoxious wildcard rule, but every time we do it burns some of the membership's goodwill... remember, there are people who got on our case every time we modded Julius, and some of those people were not Julius's alts.)

I also do not think ymeshkout can fairly be compared to Darwin or Julius.

I imagine most non-quality post reports would be summarizable as 'A person I don't like said something I don't like' whether it was partisan or not. Most internet fights seeking higher sanction against another are not between people who like eachother fighting over how much they like eacother.

I am saying a large percentage of reports are "non-quality" as you put it - not people genuinely concerned about the tone and quality of arguments here, but simply seeking to punish their enemies.

Is ymsekhout being criticized for expressing left-wing viewpoints, or is ymeskhout being criticized for his character in how he responded to a very minor barb about how his own post could be viewed from a non left-wing viewpoint?

Both, IMO. He writes long, effortful posts that are hard to take apart on the facts, as you'd expect when debating a lawyer, but he also criticizes Trump a lot, so a lot of people see "Long-winded criticism of Trump" which makes them angry, but they can't really muster a cogent response to explain why the criticism is wrong, but they also notice him taking a few pokes at his interlocutors, which triggers even more rage. No, I seriously do not think he would get this kind of pushback if he were writing similar posts about how corrupt Joe Biden is. (He'd get some, but not like this where you're trying to make him the new Darwin.)

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This is as good of a place as any to say. While I had nothing at all to do with past mod actions giving you and other users warnings for calling me a liar, I've strenuously disagreed with that and have asked the mod team to stop enforcing that rule with me. You are welcome to accuse me of being a liar, although ideally you showcase evidence to prove your point. You can even call me a liar without evidence if you so desire, no matter how silly that might look.

Do you have any examples of other posters who regularly post top level threads about a singular topic without regard or even accurate reflection of previous engagements, and with poor conduct towards other in the process? Particularly examples of posters who do it more than @ymeskhout, but I'll settle for anything really.

I know you think I am an insipid partisan dick, but I would have readily pushed back against anyone repeatedly calling out other users and picking fights in top level posts, regardless of their ideology - but I haven't seen any other top level posts doing that. Did I just not want to see them?

without regard or even accurate reflection of previous engagements

Is this what you believe I do? I'm honestly surprised to hear this accusation coming from you. I specifically praised you in this post as a good example of someone who asked me pointed questions here which prompted productive introspection on my part. Having my beliefs scrutinized is something I genuinely wish happened to me more often. You never responded to that post (and I didn't necessarily expect you to) but I thought my responses to your questions were thorough, and I would be curious to know what your opinion on that effort is. You are also more than welcome to call me out on any other specific examples you have about me either disregarding or inaccurately reflecting on any engagements.

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Do you have any examples of other posters who regularly post top level threads about a singular topic without regard or even accurate reflection of previous engagements

Yes, but I am not going to call them out by name. Also, there are several people who rarely or never post top-level threads but will regularly go off in a subthread about their hobby horse.

and with poor conduct towards other in the process?

Other than being slightly patronizing and snarky at times, I do not think @ymeskhout shows poor conduct. And while we discourage snarkiness and sarcasm, even from mods, it's a flaw most of us fall prey to occasionally, and piling on him for "poor conduct" because he was a little snide in responding to someone who constantly engages in bad faith partisan sniping does not move me to demand an apology.

I know you think I am an insipid partisan dick

People always think they know what I think based on my modding, and they're usually wrong.

but I would have readily pushed back against anyone repeatedly calling out other users and picking fights in top level posts, regardless of their ideology

FWIW (and @ymeskhout can confirm this) I have privately voiced my objection to this kind of "calling out" of people just because you've had an argument with them in the past. But a lot of people seem to interpret "criticizing Trump"/otherwise expressing a partisan viewpoint as "picking fights."

but I haven't seen any other top level posts doing that. Did I just not want to see them?

As a top-level post, it's not that common. As petty sniping in the threads, or in reports - it's constant.

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Both sides(tm) do this, but because of the increasingly skewed nature of the Motte, the majority is directed at people like ymeskhout expressing left-wing viewpoints.

If Janny Duty is any indication, I'd say this is false. Most "reporting for disagreement" posts I've seen where targeted against people expressing right-wing viewpoints. Maybe if we divided each by the number of right/left leaning posters the results would come out different, but I have a hard time estimating the denominator here.

If Janny Duty is any indication, I'd say this is false. Most "reporting for disagreement" posts I've seen where targeted against people expressing right-wing viewpoints.

Are you talking about somewhere else where you are a mod? On a typical reddit sub, I can easily believe that's the case, but I'm talking about here.

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without regard or even accurate reflection of previous engagements

I asked before but I'll try again and hopefully get a more helpful answer: what information, context, link, source, claim, assertion, citation, whatever, etc. do you believe is missing from my post above?

I asked before but I'll try again and hopefully get a more helpful answer: what information, context, link, source, claim, assertion, citation, whatever, etc. do you believe is missing from my post above?

This would be an example of you not accurately reflecting previous engagements, as the previous engagements precede your post above, and so obviously and temporally did not address it, and insinuating they did is the sort of mis-representation you stand accused of conducting on a regular basis.

I'm trying to read and understand what you're writing to the best of my abilities. I'm just asking "what am I missing?" and it's not helpful for you to play a game of riddles. It doesn't make sense why you'd waste so much time and energy evading questions with purportedly trivially obvious answers.

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I honestly don't see where ymeshkout would be representing falsely or correctly any previous discussion in this forum in his top-level post, which appears to me to simply report on recent law- and culture war related news, concerning a person of obvious political and cultural interest.

I believe furthermore that the trigger warning does accomplish the contrary of what ymeshkout states it is aiming at, and that it should go.

Thank you for the thoughtful feedback. What do you think the post above is missing?

It's absence. Not liking Trump is fine. Regularly and consistently making top-level comments about it with poor conduct towards the posters you are a moderator for is not. The dead horse doesn't become less dead if there's more of it to beat, especially when the complaint is about the stench.

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He doesn’t “regularly” make these posts. Going off memory it’s once every 2-4 weeks. The post is high quality in every way I can think of. It’s informative, relevant to the news du jour, written well and gratuitously sourced. I’m saying that as someone who would vote for Trump again (if I thought he had a chance of winning).

The nitpicking that some replies do is so annoying. I don’t see why someone would presume the right to call a consistently good contributor “beating a dead horse”. Trump is a relevant and divisive figure and so criticism of him is expected for purposes of culture war discussion. This particular avenue of criticism is novel and interesting.

It’s informative, relevant to the news du jour, written well and gratuitously sourced.

It's context for the complaints that I see sometimes about egregiously bad solicitations from Trump organizations.

Do you like my writing when I don't criticize Trump?

Not particularly, but it's considerably less one-note and lacking. Your posting is unexceptional, but you intend to insult fewer people and ignore fewer prior discussions than when you fixate on Trump unprompted.

If you meant your writing on a technical level, I find it generally poorly structured and lacking in content, conflating a lot of words with good word choice and links for sufficient sourcing. The arguments are often too reliant on insinuation by word connotation in lieu of supporting arguments, and generally lacking in the ability to anticipate or address counter arguments completely or factor in contextually relevant history while relying on narrative momentum for an emotional climax. It's passable verboseness, and I am certainly a sucker for long-winded arguments, but also leads to basic failures like overly long intros that fail the principles of effective written communication, or speaking around past and still standing counter-arguments.

And I say this as someone who is naturally prone to comma splicing and writing essays on my hobbies, and who writes more the groggier she is.

I didn't notice your edit until now, and so I'll repeat this request:

Hopefully this can help both of us: can you point me to any Trump criticism that you respect and explain what about it I should emulate? This sounds like a win/win for both of us because the worst case scenario is the status quo. Best case scenario is that I adopt the worthy parts and my writing becomes less painful for you to encounter. Of course, if you can't point to any Trump criticism that you respect, that would be an interesting answer on its own...

I have trouble parsing your feedback because it reads as conclusory and is lacking in specifics. If you say poor structure, poor structure how? If you say links to court documents are not sufficient sourcing, then what is? If you say arguments are too often reliant on insinuation by word connotation, what's an example of where I did that? If you say I'm lacking the ability to address or anticipate counter arguments, where did I do that? If I'm speaking around past and still standing counter-arguments, which ones? And so on. I concede that I can be verbose, but that should only make it that much easier to point out the many many flaws you claim to have identified.

Thank you for the thoughtful and actionable feedback, you've given me a lot of useful pointers to think about and implement.

Recently my girlfriend and I took an online BDSM test and it told me that I was only 32% on the sadistic scale while my girlfriend was 76% on the masochism scale. There's a disconnect in that I'm very uncomfortable with inflicting pain on others, even though my girlfriend is actively inviting me to hurt her. I would feel a similar discomfort about someone who does not like my writing yet actively continues to subject themselves to it. I don't want to want to continue hurting you Dean. If Trump criticism upsets you and you dislike my writing so much, you might experience an increase in your quality of life with some blocking tools or word filters. All the best my friend. I love you.

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I only like it when you flatter us endlessly, like in your article about TheMotte.

The post was awesome, informative, and even cited. Why quibble?

Sorry for the misunderstanding, the post was fully intended from the beginning to be about the $1 million sanction Trump and his lawyer received this week. As I started writing it, it made sense to include background info on pleading standards as way to showcase contrasting examples (Armstrong lawsuit vs Tesla lawsuit). Which part do you find pretextual? Would you find it helpful if I included a content warning at the top?

Edit: I apologize if my overly long introduction left you feeling duped about the content of the post. I added a content warning to make it clear what the core subject of the post is. If you have any other suggestions please let me know.

You should get a couple days ban for being so antagonistic. That edit to the original post is a shameful act for someone that's supposed to be a mod.

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@The_Nybbler believes that my post was pretextual, in other words that I was falsely claiming to write a post about the US legal system as a way to conceal my hidden purpose of criticizing Trump. I maintain that my real purpose was always from the beginning to write a post criticizing Trump, but given how long my intro about the US legal system was, I can understand why someone might potentially be mislead. Since I can't add a title to the comment I added a content warning to more explicitly signal what the post was about. What would you alternatively suggest for me to do to address The_Nybbler's concerns?

I'm not saying I agree with Nybbler. Someone behaving poorly does not excuse behaving poorly yourself. That edit's purpose is to be a petty insult, if it wasn't there'd be no reason to mention the person you're insulting. You could have easily just left the name out, but you wanted it to be insulting. I was asked to review the original post before I went into the thread and I thought it needed a warning because of the way it just called out another user seemingly for no reason. But after reading your post in response, the edit of that, and then the edit of the original post. It's just pure insult and pretending to be otherwise. I can understand banter and swipes and barbs to people with whom we disagree. But you go out of your way to humiliate and troll other users and get away with it because they made a mistake and were wrong and you are right. It's an aggressive and uncharitable trend you make a habit of and it disappoints me immensely that you can just get away with it because you do it with a smile and a bunch of links.

That edit's purpose is to be a petty insult, if it wasn't there'd be no reason to mention the person you're insulting. You could have easily just left the name out, but you wanted it to be insulting.

I understand your point about including his name and have edited it out. If you have any suggestions on how I ideally should have responded to The_Nybbler 's claim that my post was a pretext for criticizing Trump I'm all ears. It's weird to be accused of hiding a motivation I'm not hiding, so it seemed logical to respond by double-underlining the core topic of the post with a banner explicitly announcing the topic up top. How else am I supposed to respond to that kind of accusation?

But you go out of your way to humiliate and troll other users and get away with it because they made a mistake and were wrong and you are right. It's an aggressive and uncharitable trend you make a habit of and it disappoints me immensely that you can just get away with it because you do it with a smile and a bunch of links.

I remain open to receiving feedback on what I write and I genuinely don't understand how the first post is an example of trolling. I thought I was transparent when I wrote: "If I'm being fully honest, the scenario I would find the most emotionally satisfying and personally motivated towards pulling off would be where motteposting blunders haplessly into my trap and exposes himself as a complete hypocritical partisan about the standards of credibility he applies. I must admit that I did not get that, and I'll specifically give credit for things he did that were commendable." I'm not sure what is ambiguous about that or what else I'm supposed to say. What do you think is missing?

I similarly don't understand the criticism over the second link. DradisPing refused to admit they made a mistake and as far as I know this remains the case to this day. Do you think it's inappropriate to point out when someone confidently asserts false information and refuses to admit error? Furthermore, I maintain that examining why someone's mistakes happen to fall in the same direction is a topic worth examining. Which part do you disagree with?

Focusing on a single person for no reason to expose them as a bad faith actor is trolling. People are not ants in an antfarm. Not giving a person any time to respond at all before you make a top-level post detailing how wrong they are and pointing them out by name over and over is not the act of a person engaging in a debate. It's rude, tactless and unnecessarily aggressive. But it's clear to me that you are either unable to understand how your actions can affect other people or simply don't care. You wrap it all up in nice-seeming language but it's not. These are things you do to people you see as enemies. We're supposed to be having discussions and arguments with people that we may disagree with but they're still people. You are not treating people who disagree with you as people, you're treating them like they're enemies that need to be dissuaded or dismantled. Charity: from where I'm sitting you give it to no one.

You're losing me on the definition of trolling you're using. I don't see anything wrong with exposing someone's mistake, especially if I am emphatically accommodating rehabilitation ("it's fair to conclude DradisPing was mistaken. If so, I will preemptively praise them for editing their post and admitting their error."). I don't see the problem with this approach because I explicitly invite others to do the same to me. A good example of where I was scrutinized and a situation I wish happened more often is this post by @Fruck where they ask genuinely thoughtful and penetrating questions about why I had the beliefs I had. I walked away grateful for that exchange because it prompted productive introspection on my end.

If someone pointed out a mistake I made and gave me space to either correct it or justify it, I can't think of a reason why I would register that as a hostile act.

@The_Nybbler believes that my post was pretextual, in other words that I was falsely claiming to write a post about the US legal system as a way to conceal my hidden purpose of criticizing Trump.

Strangely, @The_Nybbler did not say that you were falsely claiming to write a post about the US legal citizen as a way to conceal your hidden purpose of criticizing Trump.

We can tell this because on reviewing what @The_Nybbler wrote, which you quoted, which was-

Or, for instance, when someone writes a long comment purporting to be about the US legal system, but is really just a vehicle to take a shot at Trump.

...which does not say you were falsely claiming to write a post about the US legal system, or that you were doing so as a way to conceal a hidden purpose, or that your purpose of critizing Trump was hidden. In fact, key framing words such as 'falsely' and 'hidden' do not appear, which the key word 'vehicle' as a metaphor in the context of a criticism of pretext is removed, thus creating substantive change of position from what Nybbler wrote and what you claim he said.

This would politely be called strawmanning, except that strawmanning is a device when engaging in an argument with someone, but you aren't engaging with Nybbler, you are deliberately re-characterizing what Nybbler said in conveyence to external audience.

Which would politely be called 'lying about what someone said to someone else.' Which is a reoccuring feature of yours.

I maintain that my real purpose was always from the beginning to write a post criticizing Trump, but given how long my intro about the US legal system was, I can understand why someone might potentially be mislead. Since I can't add a title to the comment I added a content warning to more explicitly signal what the post was about. What would you alternatively suggest for me to do to address The_Nybbler's concerns?

Delete the post, apologize for poor writing quality, and apologize to @The_Nybbler for poor conduct.

Edit: And I see he has edited back out the troll he had edited in, but no apology in the post. Typical and meeting expectations, I suppose.

Could you articulate how you interpreted Nybbler's post?

I cannot see any other interpretation beyond that you're denying, so I'd really like to know how you read it.

Not surprised you didn't.

I don't have a dog in this fight having skipped the main post until i saw the back snd forth. But i interpreted theNybblers response in exactly the same way ymeskhout did.

I don't know if that was what he meant, but it is how it read to me.

Same. I felt that Nybbler was being clearly antagonistic and snide, without any sort of provocation.

I thought it was a bit of a joke. The OP started with “standards for clear concise pleading” and then sorta strayed away from that into a discussion about lawfare. Thus, the joke is that OP’s post arguably contradicts the clear concise pleading because the first half is irrelevant to the second half.

I didn't mean it as a joke but admit that I inadvertently got myself owned

Strangely, @The_Nybbler did not say that you were falsely claiming to write a post about the US legal citizen as a way to conceal your hidden purpose of criticizing Trump.

I interpreted his statement to mean that my post was an example of a pretextual excuse, and I don't know how else the statement would make sense given what he was directly responding to ("pretextual excuses, such as when..." flows into "Or, for instance, when someone..."). So if @The_Nybbler wasn't calling my post a pretextual excuse to criticize Trump, something which requires lying, then I will apologize for the misunderstanding. I still would be eager to understand exactly how I managed to misinterpret that sentence.

Delete the post, apologize for poor writing quality, and apologize to @The_Nybbler for poor conduct.

Thank you for the thoughtful feedback. Which part do you believe constitutes bad writing?

The Big Serge has a good overview of the RU-UA war. The TL;DR is that Ukraine has burned through multiple iterations of armaments and is now reduced to begging for active NATO matériel, hence Germany's reticence to send Leopards. One should understand that Europe's and even America's production capacities have atrophied badly over the decades. Losing hundreds of tanks - the number that Ukraine is asking for - isn't something you replenish within a year.

Serge's prediction that Ukraine will lose the war "gradually, then suddenly" seems plausible given Russia's attrition strategy. If we assume that Russia will win this war, then the question needs to be asked.. how much will actually change? Ukraine as a country isn't particularly important and the population is likely to be hostile to Russia, meaning that to integrate it into Russia proper will be difficult if not impossible.

I keep hearing hysterical rhetoric that the West must win this war or... something something bad. It reminds me of the flawed 'domino theory' that was used to justify the Vietnam intervention. While I don't think NATO will ever proceed towards direct intervention á la Vietnam, I can't help but think that too many of the West's elites have trapped themselves rhetorically where Ukraine's importance is overblown for political reasons (so as to overcome domestic opposition towards sending arms) and it has now become established canon in a way that is difficult to dislodge.

Ukraine as a country isn't particularly important

It depends what you mean by that, indeed a russian takeover wouldn't directly change the world but Ukraine and Russia are the largest food exporters in the world IIRC.

Ukraine also has (had?) a monopoly in noble gas.

Ukraine was a key driver of Soviet science, engineering and military tech, see e.g the antonov which would BTW enable cheaply to have a potent successor to Hubble if anyone cared as usual.

However Ukraine has lost all its technological glory since the population will to stay in the USSR has not been respected https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1991_Soviet_Union_referendum

It's pretty important to understand what was being voted for here. Just understanding the context of the original asked question offers clues:

Do you consider it necessary to preserve the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as a renewed federation of equal sovereign republics, in which the rights and freedoms of a person of any nationality will be fully guaranteed?

This is connected to Gorby's drive to salvage the rapidly decaying Soviet Union by reforming it as a decentralized state. In other words, if you're voting "Yes", you're not voting for "old" Soviet Union, you're voting for a new decentralized state, where the autonomy of the individual republics would be greatly expanded.

However, as the site says, there was an [additional question in Ukraine](Do you agree that Ukraine should be part of a Union of Soviet Sovereign States on the basis on the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine?):

Do you agree that Ukraine should be part of a Union of Soviet Sovereign States on the basis on the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine?

Note well: the Union of Soviet Sovereign States. This already presumes the existence of a whole new kind of an entity. Moreover, the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine stated:

The Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine (Ukrainian: Декларація про державний суверенітет України, romanized: Deklaratsiia pro derzhavnyi suvernitet Ukrainy) was adopted on July 16, 1990, by the recently elected parliament of Ukrainian SSR by a vote of 355 for and four against.[1][2]

The document decreed that Ukrainian SSR laws took precedence over the laws of the USSR, and declared that the Ukrainian SSR would maintain its own army and its own national bank with the power to introduce its own currency.[2] The declaration also proclaimed that the republic has intent to become in a future "a permanently neutral state that does not participate in military blocs," and that it would not accept, nor produce, nor procure nuclear weapons.[2]

What exactly was the difference between this and independence? Beats me! This referendum was accepted by 80% of the votes, and as others point out, after the Gorby's reform plans fell through, Ukrainian voters confirmed formal independence with 92 % of votes.

Presenting the 1991 Soviet referendums as some sort of a