The Rittenhouse Trial

Because I started my blogging “career” as a gun blogger, the fact that I haven’t posted about the Rittenhouse case may have surprised a few longtime readers. However, I chose to refrain from commenting about it because I wanted to have access to all of the evidence before making an ass out of myself (better to be an ass who analyzed the evidence than an ass who didn’t).

Fortunately, the entire trial was livestreamed. Rather than listen to my usual assortment of podcasts while I worked, I opted to listen to the livestream of the trial. This gave me the opportunity to hear both the prosecution’s and defense’s cases. Based on the cases put forth I agree with the jury’s decision to find Rittenhouse not guilty on all charges.

A quick browsing of Twitter shows that a lot of people disagree with the jury’s verdict. It also shows me that many of the people expressing the strongest opinions, as is the tradition of online debates, didn’t watch the trial and misunderstand how the justice system in the United States is supposed to work (which is different than how it often works).

Let’s start with what I consider to be one of the most important characteristics of a functional justice system: presumption of innocence. When the state brings charges against an individual, the individual is assumed to be innocent. This means that the burden is placed on the state to prove the individual is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If you watched the trial, you saw how weak the prosecution’s case was. By the end of the trial the prosecution was leaning almost exclusively on video captured from a drone. The prosecution claimed that the video showed Rittenhouse aiming his rifle at people. This according to the prosecution proved that Rittenhouse instigated the situation and therefore lost the right to claim self-defense. Setting aside the minutia of self-defense law (what qualifies as instigation, when you lose the right to claim self-defense, when you regain the right to claim self-defense, etc.) the drone footage didn’t conclusively show Rittenhouse aiming his gun at people, which means the evidence didn’t prove the prosecution’s argument beyond a reasonable doubt.

I’m highlighting the drone footage because it allows me to segue into another point: trials have rules. A lot of rules. One rule is that the defense must be given access to the prosecution’s evidence. The prosecution provided the defense with a compressed copy of the drone footage. The defense brought this up in trial. A lot of online publications tried to make this sounds like the defense was desperate, but it was raising legitimate concerns about artifacts that are introduced when video files are compressed. Miraculously the prosecution produced a higher resolution version of the video footage and asked to show it to the jury… without first give the defense reasonable time to analyze it. This lead to the defense filing a motion for mistrial. Again online publications tried to make the motion sound like a desperate last ditch effort by a losing defense, but in actuality the motion was filed because the prosecution broke the rules.

This segues into a third point. Judges are basically referees. They ensure both the defense and prosecution (as well as everybody else in the courtroom) play by the rules. A lot of people accused the judge of (amongst other things) being biased in favor of the defense. Having watched the trial I can’t agree with those accusations. The judge came off to me as being pretty fair. Some of his actions did favor the defense, but some of his actions also favored the prosecution. The most obvious action he took that favored the prosecution was not declaring a mistrial (I believe the motion for a mistrial had merit and the judge would have been well within his rights to declare a mistrial).

These are just a few highlights that I chose to explain some of the important features of a trial. In truth the prosecution made a pitiful showing. Not only did it bring a weak case, but it violated some major rules (bringing up the fact Rittenhouse choice to exercise is Fifth Amendment right, which is a big no-no for a prosecutor, being one of the more egregious violations).

So, despite what many Twitter users seem to believe, a criminal trial is not meant to be a mere formality that enacts the desires of the loudest majority. It’s meant to be a strictly defined process to determine whether a person is guilty of a crime. While you’ll find no shortage of criticisms of the United States justice system coming from me, in this case I believe that the trial was executed more or less appropriately and the verdict was correct based on the arguments made by the defense and prosecution.

What annoys me most about this case is that even though the video footage of the entire trial is readily available on sites like YouTube, people will continue to spout falsehoods about it and the events that lead up to it. I still see a lot of tweets claiming that Rittenhouse illegally crossed state lines with his rifle or was illegally in possession of the rifle because he was a minor (those who watched the trial know that neither statement is correct). I also see a lot of tweets accusing the judge of being biased or a white supremacist (which mostly derive from a joke he made about Asian food that was actually, and pretty obviously in context, a joke about the current supply chain issues). Nothing the judge said during the trial leads me to believe he’s a white supremacist (and considering all three of the individuals Rittenhouse shot were white, I’m not sure why this is something people are wasting so much bandwidth arguing) and, as I wrote previously, his actions didn’t indicate any obvious bias.

Preparing for Bad Times

It’s obvious that inflation and shortages are long term trends, not short term “transitory” states as claimed by the current rulers and their mouthpieces in the mainstream media. If history is any indicator, we’re moving towards bad times. However, the effects of bad times can be mitigated with a bit of planning and preparation.

I’m guessing a large percentage of people reading this have been preparing for bad times for a while. If you have been, good on you. You were smart. If you haven’t, don’t worry. There’s still time. Although most goods are harder to come by than they were two years ago, necessities can still be readily had in most places (although you may have to go to several stores to get everything on a list).

If you haven’t been, this post is a primer for you. It’s not all encompassing. It’s a bullet point list meant to get your started.

Creating a Plan

During the first wave of lock downs people snapped up toilet paper and frozen pizzas like they were gold. They did this because they realized that they needed to “do something” but didn’t bother to develop a plan.

When preparing for bad times, you want to allocate resources where they will do the most good. Having a stockpile of toilet paper is good, but all the toilet paper in the world is worthless if you don’t have any food. The first step of developing a plan is identifying what you need. The most immediate needs of a person are water, food, and protection from the elements (shelter and clothing). If you want to avoid disease, you will also need a hygienic environment and medical supplies. I suggest starting with these categories.


Water availability will differ from region to region. If you live in a desert, you will need more stored water than somebody who lives near plentiful fresh surface water (in which case filtration can be an alternative to storage). Unless the water coming out of your tap is poisonous (in other words what I’m writing doesn’t apply if you live in Flint, Michigan), I’d suggest storing tap water over buying bottled water from a store. Do keep in mind that filling random containers with water isn’t sufficient. You need to store your water properly if you want it to last.


Judging by availability immediately after the lock downs, a lot of people believe they can eat frozen pizzas forever. Setting aside the dubious nutritional value of frozen pizzas, putting all of your eggs in one freezer isn’t a smart long term plan. Freezers require electricity and can breakdown. If electricity is unavailable for an extended period of time or your freezer suffers a mechanical failure, everything stored in it will thaw and spoil. You can mitigate the risk of power loss with a generator (so long as fuel is available), but you can’t mitigate the effects of a breakdown unless you have a backup freezer (two is one, one is none). I don’t want to discourage you from making frozen food part of your plan, just don’t make it your entire plan. Having a backup plan for your backup plan is never a dumb idea (again, two is one…).

The good news for your preparedness plan is that there are options in addition to frozen food. Canned goods are the most obvious. Canned goods in good condition can last for a very long time if properly stored. Dry goods are also worth adding to your plan. Dried beans, rice, pasta, etc. store well without the need for refrigeration. Specially prepared foods such as pemmican and hard tack also store well without refrigeration and can serve as alternative ways to store otherwise perishable foods like meat if a freezer isn’t available.

Before you run to the store and buy every can of Spam on the shelf, consider your current diet. If you don’t like Spam, buying pallets of it is foolish. Survival is the primary purpose of preparing for bad times, but there’s no reason you have to suffer to survive. Focus on buying foods you actually like to eat. This will make your life more pleasant in bad times and allow you to cycle through your stockpile during good times (more on that in a bit). Moreover, buy a variety of foods you like to eat. That will allow you to mitigate appetite fatigue (the point where you become so sick of eating the same thing that you can no longer choke it down even in a survival situation).

Protection from the Elements

I’m not going to spend much time on this. You need appropriate living arrangements to both protect yourself from the elements and to store your necessities. Proper clothing for where you live is also necessary (for example, if you live in an area with harsh winters, make sure you have clothing that will protect you from those conditions).

A bug out destination can be included in this category. Depending on the type of bad time you’re experiencing, your home may not be safe.

A Hygienic Environment

Medical care may be limited or unavailable during bad times. That makes getting sick more dangerous. The best way to avoid sickness is to maintain a hygienic environment. You want to have sufficient cleaning supplies to keep your home clean. That means supplies to sanitize where you prepare your food, supplies to prevent mold from growing in your bathroom, and supplies to keep your clothing and body clean.

This seems to be the most often overlooked part of a preparedness plan. Most people remember food and water, but often forget soap, laundry detergent, bleach, etc. Don’t be one of those individuals or all the water and food you painstakingly stocked will be wasted.

Medical Supplies

Speaking of illness, make sure you have stocks of basic medical supplies. Bandages, gauze, medical tape, tourniquets, disinfectant, etc. are all good things to have and usually store for a long time. Again, medical care may be limited so you may have to fend for yourself if you are injured. Moreover, try to stockpile any medications you need (this can be hard because the state artificially restricts access to prescription medications).


Do you have pets? Do you want them to survive bad times? If so, makes sure you stock supplies for your pets as well. How easy this is will depend on the kind of pets you have.

Cycling Stock

Instead of building a stockpile and forgetting about it until bad times hit, you should use and replace items from your stockpile during good times. For example, if you have a recipe calling for green beans, pull a can of green beans from your stockpile and replace that can with a new one. This serves two purposes. First, it guards against spoilage by limiting the amount of time any good is stored. Second, it increases your chances of discovering spoiled stock when it can be readily replaced. A can of rancid meat is less of a problem when you can go to the store and buy a replacement than it is when canned meat is unavailable.

Allocating Resources

So you put together a plan, crunched the numbers, and realized that this is going to cost a lot of money. Don’t be disparaged. You don’t have to buy everything immediately.

Your plan should be prioritized. This can be done by asking some simple questions. What items do you need immediately? What items can be acquired cheaply? What items will require saving money to acquire? What items are more readily available?

Obviously items you need immediately should be prioritized. If, for example, you were one of those individuals who stockpiled toilet paper during the beginning of the lock downs and still have several months worth in stock, toilet paper should have a low priority. You may want to prioritize items that you need and are already in short supply. For example, many of the recipes my wife cooks require coconut milk. We live in the Midwest where coconut milk is usually relegated to the “Asian section” of the grocery store, which usually has limited stock in the best of times. So coconut milk is prioritized higher on my list.

Items that can be acquired cheaply are good add-ons to your normal grocery list. For example, many canned vegetables can still be found for under a dollar a can (this is being written on November of 2021, if you’re reading this months after I wrote it, inflation may have made this claim look absurd). Adding a few cans of vegetables to your grocery list probably won’t break the bank. Over time a few cans here and there will result in a very comfortable stockpile. Keep an eye out for sales. If your grocery store is having a sale on an item on your preparedness plan, use the opportunity to stock up for less.

What about expensive items like generators and hiring and electrician to wire your house so you can connect your generator to your home? Budget for them. Save some money each month for the purpose of acquiring more expensive items.

Don’t Panic

Preparing for bad times is, in my opinion, a continuous process. If you do a little bit every week or month, you will be in a solid position surprisingly quickly. It’s easy to convince yourself that everything could fall to pieces tomorrow and panic. Remember that things seldom fall to pieces overnight. When you wake up tomorrow, there will likely still be food on store shelves and the money in your wallet will likely still be able to buy it.