Column real soon now. Must you have and show Identity documents whenever demanded by police? Isis Strategy. An SF AI story.



View 843 Monday, September 15, 2014

“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”

President Barack Obama, January 31, 2009


I am hard at work on the new Chaos Manor Review column. Friends and advisors say it is coming along nicely, but it does take up time. I intend to have – I will have – it done by the end of the week, and immediately start on the next one.

Meanwhile the world goes on. The Russians continue to outmaneuver the West regarding the Ukraine but in a way that’s to be expected. The Ukraine is a major if not vital interest to Russia, while to the West it’s just part of the old balance of power game, and to the United States it is a territorial dispute in Europe whose outcome is more of interest to oligarchs East and West than to the American people. More on that another time.

I do note that despite the tough talk from the President last week there is still no shock and awe, no massive air attacks – just more warning to the Caliphate to dig in.  I believe the Israelis could tall us that is not a winning strategy.

We have our own idiotic scandal in Studio City.

The partner of Daniele Watts says he suspects the LAPD thought she was a prostitute

Django Unchained actress Danièle Watts says she was detained and handcuffed by police officers near Studio City, Calif., after “showing affection, fully clothed, in a public place,” according to a Thursday Facebook post she wrote the day the incident took place.

Watts, who has also appeared in Showtime’s Weeds and FX sitcom Partners, had been kissing her partner, Brian James Lucas, when two officers approached them and asked for identification. Lucas offered his ID when asked, according to his own Facebook post about the exchange, but Watts, who was on the phone with her father and believed she had done nothing wrong, refused and was consequently handcuffed and detained in the back of a police car.

Apparently Watts and partner were snogging in a Mercedes with an open door in a Studio City parking lot about a quarter mile from my house when a citizen called 911 to report indecent exposure in a public place. It is not known whether the police know the identity of the caller. No other complaint was made, and by the time the police arrived – one suspects they hurried to answer the call— just as the Ontario Regional Police hurried to send a 12 man squad to investigate reports of a wild party when a mundane called to say SF Fans at a convention there were doing obscene things with a pillow called the penisaurus – but they were too late. The couple were out of the car and she was using her cell phone when they arrived. The story doesn’t say if they used red lights and sirens.

Watts wouldn’t identify herself unless they were going to charge her. California law is a bit peculiar on this matter. Had she been Hispanic they certainly would have had no right to demand documentation absent a criminal report, and it’s not entirely clear that police do have a right to demand identification absent a crime or a charge. Many homeless don’t have any. They handcuffed her, roughly according to her husband, and in his words “flung her into the back seat” of a cop car.

An LAPD public information officer said there was no record of the incident as Watts wasn’t arrested or brought into the station for questioning.


Black Actress Daniele Watts Handcuffed, Detained in Studio City for Kissing her Husband in Public [UPDATE: With Links to Audio!]

Brian Doherty


[UPDATE: To vicariously live through and hear exactly why Watts, and other Americans, get so aggravated with police, it’s worth listening to some audio of the incident released by celeb gossip website TMZ, in which a Sgt. Parker tells Watts with maddening supercilious arrogance that "I do have more power than you. Yes it’s true. I have more power than you" and "I don’t work for you" and "When I tell you to do something you have to do it, ma’am. That’s the law….We actually have no charges now" when stressing she was not arrested but merely being detained. TMZ also found eyewitnesses who claim that Watts and her husband were having intercourse in the parked car, though nothing in the audio they released corroborates that as the complaint.]

For the "why relations between the American people and their law officers can be strained" department, even in the hallowed halls of Tinseltown (adjacent) and involving stars of the silver screen, such as Daniele Watts of Django Unchained and the TV show Partners fame, cops are still officious asses, as reported by

-American actress Danièle Watts claims she was "handcuffed and detained" by police officers from the Studio City Police Department in Los Angeles on Thursday after allegedly being mistaken for a prostitute.

According to accounts by Watts and her husband Brian James Lucas, two police officers mistook the couple for a prostitute and client when they were seen showing affection in public. Watts refused to show her ID to the cops when questioned and was subsequently handcuffed and placed in the back of their car while police attempted to ascertain her identity. The two officers released Watts shortly afterwards.


It’s also an odd story. This is Studio City, and the incident took place about a block from the CBS Studio. Both Watts and her husband are fairly well known on TV. The car is an expensive Mercedes. There was no victim and no allegation of a victim. What did the police think they were accomplishing? Establishing their status as Masters rather than public servants? Why handcuffs? Watts’ husband showed his identity cards although he didn’t actually have to. Was there any possibility of a good arrest for an actual crime here, so the ‘perp’ had to be restrained lest she walk away?

No arrests were made, no crime was alleged – how could there be when no one seems to have come forward as a witness to any crime – and the police were hoping it would all quietly go away, but of course it won’t. I suspect that this incident will cost the city about a million dollars to settle before it is over. I suspect that a two day rif for the cops involved would save the city a lot of money by making the police aware that they really do work for the public, and most of us are damned grateful that they do, but they have not become our masters.

1500 Monday:



I’m now listening on KFI to Sergeant Jim Parker, the first officer on the scene, who was responding to the dispatcher who had taken a 911 call about people having intercourse in public. He has a recording of the entire incident, which he is apparently going public with.  That should be interesting.

Sergeant Parker is protesting that it was all done in accordance with law and order.  The officer is insisting that they have every right to handcuff anyone who walks away from them.  That’s “totally what we do.” I wonder if that’s not grounds for a lawsuit right there.  If there has been no crime committed, and you are not under arrest, why must you be handcuffed for walking away from the police? 

Ah. She was halfway down the block and was handcuffed by newly arriving police on orders from Sergeant Parker because she was walking away from him, although she was not under arrest.  I thought the very notion of arrest was that you were restrained from leaving the scene: if you’re not under arrest why can’t you leave?  And if you are handcuffed and stuffed into a police car on orders of a sergeant who says he’s too smart to touch a 90 pound female who isn’t under arrest—  I would think that being handcuffed and put into a police car is the essence of being arrested.  Yet that has been no crime other than refusing to join in the police fiction that there is grounds for – well, not arresting but restraining you.  Only how is being physically restrained different from being arrested?

It was 1500 and the temperature was 97 F in Studio City last Thursday when this happened.


The police sergeant is now insisting that all she had to do was show an ID – which it turns out she didn’t have with her, that being in the car – then there would have been nothing else to say.  In which case why did he need her ID?  She was handcuffed after the sergeant ordered the other officers to stop her and bring her back to him.   But what I am hearing is that Sergeant Parker believes that the citizens must defer to the police at all times even though there has been no crime observed. I presume that means any time, anywhere, under any circumstances.  You can be having dinner in a restaurant and a police sergeant can demand your ID.  At that point you cannot leave, even though you are not under arrest.  I am sure his defense would be that he would never do that unless there were serious reasons to do so.  Apparently a report of indecent exposure in Mercedes with a door open is a serious reason to demand the ID of people standing next to the now empty Mercedes. 

And the male chap with her is a boy friend not husband.  Partner. 

It all sounds more and more like Hollywood to me.

And I will still bet money that before this is over the city of LA will pay a million dollars to settle it. 


There remains the question: if you are not under arrest, why is it a crime to walk away from a policeman?  When I was growing up the notion that you would not cooperate with the police never came up: it was assumed that you would.  If it is a crime to walk away from the police, must they arrest you to stop you? That is, if they are going to use physical force to stop you, and place you in handcuffs and put you in a police car under guard, and that is not an arrest, then is it not an assault?  Surely the police don’t have the right to walk up, decide you aren’t cooperating, and pound on you – although the young lad in Fullerton who was crushed to death calling for his father might disagree.  Apparently the police to have the right to shoot you for pointing a garden hose nozzle at a policemen even though the police have not identified themselves nor made you aware of their presence – and the Long Beach Chief of Police who ruled that a righteous shooting is now the leading candidate for elected sheriff in Los Angeles.  And Martha Stewart, who clearly should have refused to talk to the authorities, got sent to prison for denying that she did something that was not a crime whether she did it or not.  It is clear that cooperating with police is not a winning proposition.

Obviously the lesson is to show your identification on demand.  The policeman wants to see if you are wanted for anything else.  He wants you identified then run through their data base. Since there has been no crime, he can’t arrest you, but perhaps you are wanted for not paying parking tickets. In the tape Sergeant Parker is insisting that all Watts had to do was show ID and it would have been five minutes.  Now they’re apparently talking about considering a psych evaluation.

It’s all amusing, but the question remains: can the police stop you and demand that you give them identification and wait for them to see if you are wanted for anything, even though there has been no crime observed by the police or officially reported? Is a 911 call of “obscene acts in public” sufficient to allow the police to insist on you identifying yourself and waiting for them to check their computers for wants and warrants?  And suppose you are an undocumented illegal alien and have no valid ID?  LA police are under orders NOT to do that.  I don’t agree with that police order but it has been held by the courts to be legal.

I think the relations between police and public are deteriorating – if you assume this is a republic.  They’re pretty good if you assume this is a imperial government in the making, and the  police really believe, as Sergeant Parker apparently says to Ms. Watts, “We do not work for you.”  Precisely whom they do work for is not so clear, but it is not for the public; or so this long time LAPD veteran believes.  And that may be the most disturbing thing about this otherwise mostly amusing incident.


1730: I’ve heard the tape.  Sergeant Jim Parker ought to be ashamed of himself.  He seems to have been insulted by Ms. Watts – and certainly was – and decided to get his own back.  He talks down to her, uses sarcasm, and a condescending tone of voice.  He has no doubt that he has all the authority he needs because he was sent there – he says he has “probable cause” – even though he has seen no crime nor any evidence of a crime. All he has is that the dispatcher says they have a report of indecent exposure.  He’s not seen any indecent exposure, nor has he spoken to anyone who has seen any indecent exposure. He tells her he will get her ID, but he says it in a taunting manner.  This is his tape so he believes it exonerates him but I think her lawyers will make much of it when comes the inevitable million dollar lawsuit.

That tape does not make me feel better about the Police/Public relationship. She assumes it’s us vs. them when it comes to the public and the police.  We can hope that’s not a really popular attitude although it’s getting clear that hope may not be justified.  But Sergeant Jim Parker seems to assume it too, and it’s job to get in his own licks. “Someone called and that gives me the right to be here and gives me the right to identify you,” he says.  Which means that if someone called and said she was armed and dangerous, would that justify him acting that way?  She’s hysterical; but he’s acting like a he-man.  “Keep yelling, that really helps.  That really helps.”  And this is his tape.

Larry Elder, a black conservative talk show host in LA, says she ought to be ashamed.  Yes, of course.  But so should Sergeant Parker.

Another police officer calls in.  Of course Parker has probable cause, says the officer calling in. We had a complaint.  So if I call in a complaint – which may be anonymous for all the responding officer knows – that gives the police probable cause.  I note they are not saying what actions they have probable cause to perform.  This gets a bit more frightening as we go on.

Sergeant Parker knew this:  he was in Studio City next to the CBS Studio; the car was a Mercedes; everyone was fully clothed; no one had tried to run away; no one threatened him; no one was coming forward to accuse either of them of anything.  And there was no evidence of any crime having been committed. The girl is upset, and resentful of the police presence. And it’s Studio City.

One would expect a veteran patrol sergeant in the North Hollywood Division to have a better grasp on reality than he showed.  It’s clear he became angry at her, and he was going to give as good as he gets. Had a candidate patrol officer under his command acted like that I suspect he would have known exactly what to do.  When it came to it being him, how dare she?


1500 Tuesday: the talk shows are still talking. It’s Hollywood.


Arrest a publicity stunt?

Call me cynical, but the Daniele Watts "almost" arrest really looks like a publicity stunt to me… parking near an office building and making out, and then "setting up" a situation where she would be detained, just seems to me to be a way to get free publicity (and, as you say, a possible payout by the city to make her stop talking)

They have homes (a shared home?) so why in the world would they drive and park next to an office building to get all kissy in the car?


You would find many to agree with you.



Subject: this is the way the world ends…..


Strong Artificial Intelligence. Will AI be our Last Invention?


Disraeli and democratic suicide

Dear Mr. Pournelle:

I believe Winston Churchill’s remarks are pertinent:

"Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."

Assume, for the moment, that Disraeli is correct. (Though I wonder if he’d have been any more complimentary about republics?) That’s still only half the question. Democracy has dangers. Of course. We’ve involved humans. We will not find a system of government we can’t mess up. What would need to be proved by evidence is that some other system is less subject to perversion.

As I follow the discussion, I am unpersuaded that a contrast between democracy (which we don’t have anyway) and a representative republic is anywhere near the core of our problems. More to the point, I think, are your observations concerning assimilation and diversity. It would seem that a "res publica" does indeed require a *public* that’s willing to be involved in a common endeavor. Beyond that, I suspect that the Founders’ insistence on checks and balances is a more practical corrective to the dangers of democracy than fiddling with the franchise.


Allan E. Johnson

Diversity has historically always led to Empire, and often to officially declaring the Emperor a god; it gives something for the army to be loyal to. The Hittites had a diverse empire, but over time assimilated; that practice came to Rome (according to legend by refugees from Troy who would have been familiar with empires of diverse people). Roman founding legends included the Rape of the Sabine Women, amalgamating two entirely different people, and Roman patricians acknowledged their descent from outlaws and refugees; but they still insisted on Roman virtues until the Empire found they couldn’t do that any longer.

Leaving matters of diversity to the states, while insisting on a certain degree of assimilation on a Federal level – universal conscription helped. Many Americans learned what other Americans were like in boot camp. But of course some like Robert Heinlein insisted that a republic that had to resort to conscription didn’t deserve to exist.

It is a complex problem. The American experiment of mass immigration worked but it was at a time when assimilation – the Melting Pot – was the goal. Mass immigration while insisting on diversity is a new experiment for republics. Venice, whose example was well known to the Framers in 1787, accepted immigrants, but insisted on assimilation. That worked well: the Venetian Republic lasted longer than any other Republic in history, being ended only when Napoleon brought them Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, mass looting, rapine and pillage and handed the city, stripped of its territories, over to Austria.


Biden, Hell, and AAC

Dr. Pournelle,

You wrote " One does wonder what Vice President Biden would do if put in charge. " I refuse to consider it: IMO the only thing worse than the Veep as CINC would be the SecState in that same position. Narrowly, better the fool you know….

Having written the statement above, it is perhaps bitterly ironic to remember that the Cinc received a Nobel prize for an undemonstrated "reduction in nuclear proliferation" and was elected on a platform of ending middle east involvement. In the last 90 days he has threatened an Eastern European redeployment of nukes (reversing the progress toward non-proliferation by at least three of his predecessors) and upped the ante in Syria and Iraq.

I think we’re agreed on the need for better air support for ground forces, and I’ll accept your proposal on an AAC as a means to that end. However, the last 13 years of GWOT and the more knee-jerk portions of the Patriot act have totally ruined much of what was little remained useful the DOD and intelligence services acquisition systems. We are spending many times more in resources than what is necessary to obtain functional weapon systems and technical intelligence resources, and perhaps for the fifth time in my lifetime are in need of drastic acquisition reform. Any force structure, including the present one, yours, or the one the country thought it was getting in 1948, will fail under the burden of the corrupt and unwieldy system we have now, regardless of who is in charge. My king-for-a-day move would be a pretty drastic cut of many current programs and (dare I say laser-like) reduced, and more focused scope for much of the remainder.


I assure you I was not serious about Biden, who remains an enormous deterrent to any thought of impeaching the President. I agree that the “consolidation” of the intelligence services has been a disaster. And I remind you of Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy.



For one thought about the implications of 3D printing, see the short-short story by Mary Lowd at


The ISIS Strategy

We now have a clear strategy to deal with ISIS and that involves:

(1) Community organizing — of the international variety

(2) Air strikes to support ineffective, expensive Iraqi forces

(3) Training indigenous forces to take the fight to ISIS

Community organizing remains problematic as nobody can step into the Middle East without bringing baggage. Iran has a complicated history with others in the region. Turkey also has a complicated history.

The Western nations aren’t seen as working and playing well with others either. Other regional players would, largely, act under the shadow of suspicion about their motives as well.

Airstrikes, alone, would — likely — accomplish little without boots on the ground and it does not seem that suitable ground forces will flow from a community organizing campaign or a series of press conferences.

Training indigenous forces may offer a solution. Covert programs involving training of indigenous forces from the region to combat ISIS continue from some time in the past. But, now we have this:


Obama’s non-Iranian options look particularly bleak after yesterday’s shocking assassination of one of Syria’s top anti-ISIS rebel commanders and dozens of his lieutenants. The commander, Hassan Abboud, was killed in an explosion during an underground meeting. So many members of his group, Ahrar al-Sham, were killed in the explosion that it’s now unclear whether it will continue to exist and provide a key counterweight to ISIS. Ahrar al-Sham was one of the best organized Syrian opposition factions aside from ISIS.


◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ◊

Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

Percussa Resurgo

Is the mission Imperial and do we really want that?






Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




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