Memorial Day

Perhaps This Won't Be Their Year After All

Libertarian Party chair strips naked at national convention.

Eye bleach warning.

Bikers for Trump

In keeping with his very strong support among the military and veteran communities, Donald Trump finds himself the only remaining Presidential candidate welcome at Rolling Thunder.
Mr. Trump was addressing a gathering at the 29th annual Rolling Thunder motorcycle run, a vast event over Memorial Day weekend that is dedicated to accounting for military members taken as prisoners of war or listed as missing in action. Bikers assembled at the Pentagon before riding en masse into the nation’s capital, with many dressed in leather vests covered in patches, their bikes rumbling throughout the afternoon....

Nancy Regg, a spokeswoman for Rolling Thunder, said the group had invited Mr. Trump to appear. The group did not extend an invitation to Hillary Clinton or Senator Bernie Sanders, she said.

Richard McFadden, 58, an annual Rolling Thunder attendee from North Carolina, said Mrs. Clinton would not have been welcome.

“Just like asking Jane Fonda to show up, it’d be a very, very bad thing,” said Mr. McFadden, who works in computer support and wore a button that read, “Hillary for Prison 2016.”

Mr. Trump’s supporters include a group called “Bikers for Trump,” which has more than 46,000 “likes” on Facebook. Speaking on Sunday, Mr. Trump told the crowd of seeing large numbers of bikers at his campaign events.

“I said, ‘What are they all doing here?’ and my people would say, ‘They’re here to protect you, Mr. Trump,’” he said. “It’s an amazing thing. And I want to tell you, some of these people are tough.”

But when he shakes their hands, “there is love, and it’s an incredible feeling, and that’s why I wanted to be with you today,” he said.
The article notes how odd it is that Trump is so welcome there given his remarks about Senator McCain's days as a POW. Even when reminded of the comments, people at the rally shrugged them off.

Possibly this is because Trump -- in spite of his many flaws -- shows evidence of a patriotism that looks like what Chesterton called a "primal loyalty." Chesterton wanted you to be a patriot of the world, in the sense of being loyal to and loving of the Creation made by God. There is a general point about what it is to really be loyal to something, though, whether God or Country or family. Chesterton asks if this should be a natural or a supernatural loyalty, which he suggests is equivalent to asking if it should be a reasonable or an unreasonable loyalty.

This same paradox may be at work with Trump, and the love he draws from people who are united by this kind of supernatural loyalty to America. To America, I say, rather than to the Federal Government of the United States: to the Constitution, but the Constitution as they understand the Constitution rather than as the Supreme Court interprets it. That's the kind of patriotism I feel deep in my heart, and it may be that Trump feels it in his own weird way also. That recognition allows these veterans to forgive him all his other flaws, all his very many flaws, because they see that he shares in this primal loyalty.

I won't follow him for very many reasons -- for reasons, to return to Chesterton's commentary. Maybe he's right that an unreasonable loyalty is stronger than a reasonable one. Certainly it seems to explain why Trump is running so strong with veterans in spite of things like his remarks about John McCain.

The Issue is Ossification

Lawrence Summers has a straightforward account of why people don't trust government. What he would like is a similarly straightforward account of how to fix it.
...what should have been a routine maintenance project on the Anderson Memorial Bridge over the Charles River next to my office in Cambridge. Though the bridge took only 11 months to build in 1912, it will take close to five years to repair today at a huge cost in dollars and mass delays.

Investigating the reasons behind the bridge blunders have helped to illuminate an aspect of American sclerosis — a gaggle of regulators and veto players, each with the power to block or to delay, and each with their own parochial concerns. All the actors — the historical commission, the contractor, the environmental agencies, the advocacy groups, the state transportation department — are reasonable in their own terms, but the final result is wildly unreasonable.

...

More than questions of personality or even those of high policy, the question of how to escape this trap should be a central issue in this election year.
The person who can help you answer this question is Joseph Schumpeter. His insights on economics are relevant to government, too.
Our institutions are so large and so intricate in their approval chains that [our enemies have] a huge advantage in terms of how fast a decision can be made and acted upon for streamlined organizations. Putin just issues orders, after all. ISIS isn't very big. USEUCOM or USCENTCOM has to socialize a plan among all their staff sections, who reach down to subordinate commands for input and then hash out a plan among themselves before they present it to their general. Most likely, he will need to push that plan up to the Pentagon if it represents a radical change to existing strategy. They have their own process before an answer comes back down, and the easiest answer is to push the suspense for the decision to the right while we ask a few more people. If the change requires a change from an interagency partner, their bureaucracies have to get involved too.

Even if the President were replaced with someone with new-blood ideas and the will to enact them, the bureaucracy would still have to go through at least a basic staffing process to ensure that it carried out the decisions in an orderly fashion. Because the bureaucrats are part of the existing order, there will be many who drag their feet or otherwise resist firm leadership (remember the CIA's campaign of leaks to the press about Bush's programs?).
That's just what Summers is describing. Each process is fine on its own: the problem is that there are dozens of them. These dozens of bureaucracies are each interest groups, which makes them hard to eliminate. There are whole buildings, and large buildings, full of people whose living depends on things not being streamlined.

Ultimately, in economics, what happens when a corporation becomes this ossified is that new, smaller, leaner competitors eat it alive. They may not be able to do everything that the big monopoly does, and they lack its economies of scale, but they still outperform the giants because they can make decisions and act upon them quickly and cheaply. The giants may not die -- IBM's $8 billion loss from the 1990s didn't kill it, and it's still a major world corporation though it has shed a lot of the functions it performed in the 1980s. Still, IBM and similar tech giants now don't even try to compete with startups -- they just find the ones they want and fund them.

There is no similar governmental process. You aren't allowed to compete with the EPA, nor take over parts of its functions if you do a better job for less. That isn't to say that the private sector doesn't try: Delta just invented a better way of doing airport security because its business is being harmed by TSA incompetence. However, all Delta can do is try to help streamline the steps before the TSA bottleneck. They can't replace the TSA. They can't even compete with it, or offer an alternative to it.

In economics, the ossified bureaucracy full of rent-seekers is self-correcting because of competition. In government, the problem is much harder. We have to find the political will to disband much of the government in spite of entrenched interests with their hands on the levers of power. If we can't do that, government will just get more and more incompetent the older and more ossified it becomes.

Ballad of Ricky Washington

I have a certain fondness for this new RangerUp shirt.

'Shut Up, Kristof'

Conservatives have been talking about the lack of ideological diversity on campus for years -- maybe decades, at this point -- but the riotous shutting down of right-leaning voices has grown loud enough to have reached the ears of a major writer from the New York Times. Nicholas Kristof wrote about it, and now has penned a second column about the response to his first column.
In a column a few weeks ago, I offered “a confession of liberal intolerance,” criticizing my fellow progressives for promoting all kinds of diversity on campuses — except ideological. I argued that universities risk becoming liberal echo chambers and hostile environments for conservatives, and especially for evangelical Christians.

As I see it, we are hypocritical: We welcome people who don’t look like us, as long as they think like us.

It’s rare for a column to inspire widespread agreement, but that one led to a consensus: Almost every liberal agreed that I was dead wrong.

“You don’t diversify with idiots,” asserted the reader comment on The Times’s website that was most recommended by readers (1,099 of them). Another: Conservatives “are narrow-minded and are sure they have the right answers.”

Finally, this one recommended by readers: “I am grossly disappointed in you for this essay, Mr. Kristof. You have spent so much time in troubled places seemingly calling out misogyny and bigotry. And yet here you are, scolding and shaming progressives for not mindlessly accepting patriarchy, misogyny, complementarianism, and hateful, hateful bigotry against the LGBTQ community into the academy.”
The price paid by liberals for this is that they are indeed blind to many things. Maybe twenty years ago, I was involved in a debate about the right response to gun violence. Now gun violence was very much worse twenty years ago, about twice as bad as it is now -- which is to say that it has been halved since then, during a period when the legal right to carry arms has vastly expanded and the number of firearms in private hands has increased sharply.

Listening to liberals talk about gun violence today, however, I can see that they're totally blind to the correlation. Indeed, mostly they're blind to the tremendous success we've had in reducing gun violence. About two-thirds of gun deaths now are suicides, and a right to suicide is generally supported by liberals as long as it's "doctor assisted." Almost all of those facts are opaque to liberals, on campus or in politics, who are discussing the issue today. Hillary Clinton talks as if there were an epidemic of gun violence in immediate need of addressing, for example, and none of these academics seem to correct her assumptions.

So in this debate twenty years ago, I was arguing the position that a plausible way to cut down on gun deaths was to educate people about how to use guns safely and accurately. We could have courses in riflemanship in the public schools, teaching along the way the overlapping, mutually-reinforcing "four rules" of gun safety. At least in that way we could plausibly eliminate most of the accidental deaths, and enable people who wanted to be part of the solution to crime by carrying guns to do so in a better way.

"No, no," the moderator said. "We're not even going to consider that."

A liberal friend of mine jumped in, though, and pointed out that the argument I was raising was exactly similar to the liberal argument for sex education in schools. Yes, it's risky to teach kids about sex. Yes, it violates a number of commonly-held sexual taboos (more so in those days -- American society has abandoned most of its sexual taboos since then). But it's also risky not to teach kids about a danger they are very likely to encounter. Empowering them with knowledge about how to protect themselves while engaging in the dangerous practice would cut down on negative results. Further, an empowered citizenry such as our form of government imagines ought to be educated, not 'kept away' from dangerous knowledge.

It was an insightful moment, but the moderator still shut down the discussion. He did acknowledge the parallel, however uncomfortably, but still ruled that guns were a bridge too far for education. It's an idea that simply could not be considered, not even though the parallel argument was a major platform piece for liberals in those days.

New Texts by Yahya ibn Adi Discovered

Yahya ibn Adi was, in his day, among the foremost philosophers in Medieval Baghdad. He was particularly renowned in Aristotelian circles. He wrote in Arabic.

Nevertheless, he was a Christian. At this period, which was the intellectual height of Islamic civilization, having a leading thinker in the heart of the Islamic world who was not Muslim was in no way threatening to the rulers. Ibn Adi engaged in an extended philosophical defense of the Trinity, and engaged both prominent Muslim and Jewish thinkers on philosophical and theological topics. No one thought to cut off his head. Rather, he both studied under and was allowed to teach Muslims as well as Christians.

Medieval Baghdad wasn't perfect, but it was better than Modern Baghdad. Oh, it didn't have electricity or access to the many scientific advances we have today. Yet it was a better place to live, to think, and to be a part of the community.

Start Even



Never dabbled in 'high society,'
Don't reckon I would if I could.
I'm a little too good for the bad folks,
And way too bad for the good.


Sing it, Tex.

'Child Care' is Bad for Your Children

Well, according to this study, at least.
We first confirm earlier findings showing reduced contemporaneous non-cognitive development following the program introduction in Quebec, with little impact on cognitive test scores,” reads the abstract for the study.

“We then show these non-cognitive deficits persisted to school ages, and also that cohorts with increased child care access subsequently had worse health, lower life satisfaction, and higher crime rates later in life. The impacts on criminal activity are concentrated in boys.”
I can remember discussing this at the phase in my life when questions of child care were relevant. We thought, in those days, that it was good to send a child to child care for at least a few hours a week. The idea was that it would give them a chance to socialize, to get used to not being the most important person in the world and to taking turns with other children.

That's all quite intuitive, but maybe it's wrong. Intuitions often are. Maybe it's really good to your development to have that time of your life spent in safety and assurance. Maybe that's the ground for developing the kind of personality that can then learn to extend kindness to others -- not because you're made to do so, but because you're confident enough to do so freely.

Another View on the Hiroshima Speech

Richard Fernandez analyzes the speech in a different way from others, but one that I think is insightful.
In his view war is old. It was the Atomic Bomb which was new and therefore destabilizing. Those who brought this unregulated thing into the world thus assumed a huge responsibility. It's an interesting formulation, for at a stroke the great moral issues of World War 2 are reduced to a narrative in which everyone -- including militaristic Japan, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Soviet Russia -- were alike victims of age old human passions enabled by revolutionary weaponry. No one is guilty. We are all just victims. But facts have to be faced Obama argued that since a "moral revolution" cannot be effected the great religions which falsely promise a pathway to love while offering only a license to kill then man is irredeemable without government.
Every great religion promises a pathway to love and peace and righteousness, and yet no religion has been spared from believers who have claimed their faith as a license to kill. ... But those same stories have so often been used to oppress and dehumanize those who are different.

Science allows us to communicate across the seas and fly above the clouds, to cure disease and understand the cosmos, but those same discoveries can be turned into ever more efficient killing machines.

The wars of the modern age teach us this truth. Hiroshima teaches this truth. Technological progress without an equivalent progress in human institutions can doom us. The scientific revolution that led to the splitting of an atom requires a moral revolution as well.
So more government we will have up to any extent necessary to make safety mandatory. The moral drama of WW2 vanishes, leaving the Hiroshima speech as an unvarnished plea for an arms-control bureaucracy; the demand for a global safe space; a call for gun control on a planet-wide scale.
It's worth reading in full.

DB: Army Disastrously Tries To Copy "Fleet Week"

An Army attempt to copy the success of the Navy’s Fleet Week has resulted in seven casualties, $82 million in lost business revenue, and a near war with Canada, sources report. The senior service’s first attempt to demonstrate the finest land warfare traditions through patriotic demonstrations such as foot patrols, L-shaped ambushes and artillery barrages, created riots, widespread panic and a short-lived gang coalition.
That reminds me of the time that Irish-American veterans of the US Army invaded Canada.

Someday I May Ask You For A Favor

A small favor, such as good friends might ask of each other. Like maybe millions of dollars.
“A few weeks after Hillary Clinton was sworn in as secretary of state in early 2009, she was summoned to Geneva by her Swiss counterpart to discuss an urgent matter. The Internal Revenue Service was suing UBS AG to get the identities of Americans with secret accounts,” the newspaper reports. “If the case proceeded, Switzerland’s largest bank would face an impossible choice: Violate Swiss secrecy laws by handing over the names, or refuse and face criminal charges in U.S. federal court. Within months, Mrs. Clinton announced a tentative legal settlement—an unusual intervention by the top U.S. diplomat. UBS ultimately turned over information on 4,450 accounts, a fraction of the 52,000 sought by the IRS.” ...

Total donations by UBS to the Clinton Foundation grew from less than $60,000 through 2008 to a cumulative total of about $600,000 by the end of 2014, according to the foundation and the bank,” they report. “The bank also joined the Clinton Foundation to launch entrepreneurship and inner-city loan programs, through which it lent $32 million. And it paid former president Bill Clinton $1.5 million to participate in a series of question-and-answer sessions with UBS Wealth Management Chief Executive Bob McCann, making UBS his biggest single corporate source of speech income disclosed since he left the White House.”

NPR Talks Range 15

You know you want to hear it.

Friday Night AMV

World turned upside down.


Gamblers Fallacy

If you'd asked me last summer, I'd have said that it was at least even money that Trump was a stalking horse for Clinton. Clearly that gamble would not have paid out:
What, Mr. Green asked, would the party look like in five years? “Love the question,” Mr. Trump replied. “Five, 10 years from now—different party. You’re going to have a worker’s party. A party of people that haven’t had a real wage increase in 18 years.”

My impression on reading this was that Mr. Trump is seeing it as a party of regular people, as the Democratic Party was when I was a child and the Republican Party when I was a young woman.

This is the first thing I’ve seen that suggests Mr. Trump is ideologically conscious of what he’s doing. It’s not just ego and orange hair, he suggests, it’s politically intentional.

Voices in the Echo Chamber Are Particularly Loud...

...when you mute all of your opponents.

Obama Apologizes for Hiroshima

Apologizing for the bomb this close to Memorial Day is roughly equivalent to talking about the Queen again on Independence Day.

Bill Whittle reminds you that we'd have a whole lot more people to remember this Memorial Day if we hadn't used them. Maybe a million more. A lot more Japanese would have died in the event of a conquest of the mainland, too.

Also, that they were warned five days before the bombing. He has the text from the leaflets we dropped warning people to flee, and promising peace if they would remove the military government and pursue peaceful relationship with us.



It takes some gall for a President with as much blood on his hands as this one, through his acts of omission in Iraq and Syria and his acts of commission in Libya, to shame a President who saved as many lives as Truman.

UPDATE: See the comments for a link to the text of a speech, as well as a debate about whether or not this speech constitutes an apology. Our own MikeD rules that it was not, in his opinion.

"The Future of Men is Women"

Well, maybe, if you mean that for most men their future will be most flourishing and excellent if they find a good wife and have a family -- which might include daughters. In that case, yes, a man's future is going to be built around the women in his life. And that's good. It's good for him, and it's good for them, and it's the way things usually ought to be.

But that isn't what you mean at all, is it? Because then we'd have to say that there was something special about marriage -- "traditional" marriage, as opposed to "gay marriage" -- as an ideal for most. And while you mention men becoming better husbands and boyfriends for women, it's sort of by the way.
As a society we need to be more supportive of paternity leave, stay-at-home dads, and men entering traditionally “feminine” careers, such as nursing or teaching. Just as we encourage girls to be strong and confident, to enter STEM careers, and to be anything they want to be, we need to similarly encourage our sons to embrace female-dominated HEAL careers (health, education, administrative, literacy).
Oh, I see. The future of men is becoming women.

Somehow I suspect that this backlash you find so mystifying might be -- just might be -- driven by this very agenda you're promoting. It's as if there were something inside the young men rebelling against these role-models you're trying to set up for them. It's as if they had a nature, in other words, an internal principle of growth and motion that is driving them to be a particular thing and not anything else.

By the way, isn't literacy just a subset of education? You just stuck that in there to come up with a clever acronym, didn't you? Maybe you should have considered a more "masculine" career, like the military. You'd have fit in just fine at the Pentagon doing procurement.

The Stagirite at Rest

Archaeologists say that they are certain they have discovered the tomb of Aristotle.

The Slandering of Sanders Supporters Continues

Look, there's plenty to complain about that is valid.  A lot of these guys (and gals) are Marxists.  That's ample ground right there for conflict.  But the Democratic Party apparently doesn't criticize Marxism anymore, so instead we keep hearing that they are violent and sexist and, now, racist.

I am unpersuaded.  But let's review the evidence.
The Washington Post noted that at one point #MississippiBerning became a hashtag used by Sanders supporters on social media—a witty and clever turn of phrase unless of course you are a black American who hears the words “Mississippi burning” and immediately thinks of church bombings and lynchings....

Black writers and activists who have had the temerity to challenge Sanders’s record have been targeted by his supporters in ways that go against not just civility but even decency.
Follow that link and you will read an article by a writer who asserts that they have received unpleasant language in emails. "We could print the emails. But those of you who sent them know who you are and the horrendous things said."

The rest of the article is about the "MississippiBerning" hashtag. Put in context, it's clearly in very poor taste. But -- and I'm a generation older than most of these Bernie supporters -- I didn't know about the 1988 movie either. I'd only heard the phrase, and wouldn't have known the film had a racial context. I suppose one could say that, given the history, one should always assume that violence in Mississippi has some sort of racial component. But that assumption strikes me as just as much a prejudice as any other.

Let's face it: 1988 was before many of these Bernie supporters were even born. They're a bunch of kids. Marxist kids, but at their age that's the fault of their teachers.

The playbook has to play, I suppose. Opponents of whomever the leading Democrat is have to be motivated by racism, sexism, and hatred for the poor. Well, you can't stick Bernie with that last one, so you just have to double down on the first two.

By the way, as to the alleged violence and sexism that was raised as a charge in Nevada, a photograph of Sen Barbara Boxer 'fleeing in fear of the crowd.'  I'll put it below the fold so that no one is shocked by what they see.

World's Largest Extant Viking Ship Visits Rekjavik

Looks like a good time, although I imagine it's usually easy to find a good time in Iceland.

Always Remember that "Epi-" Is A Handwave

When someone tells you that a phenomenon is "epigenetic" -- or "epi-" anything else -- bear in mind just what "epi-" means.
The prefix epi, or ep if followed by a vowel or the letter "h", is derived from the Greek preposition ἐπί meaning: above, on, over, nearby, upon; outer; besides, in addition to; among; attached to; or toward.
Thus, when someone describes some phenomenon as being caused by "epi-*," it generally means "I am sure the cause is around * somewhere."

When someone tells you that something is "epigenetic," what they mean is, "I'm sure it's something to do with the genes, and while it isn't the genes themselves (or I'd say it was genetic, and be expected to prove I was right about that), I'm sure that the cause has got to be around the genetics somewhere."

 Very often this is a completely unproven assumption. It strikes people as plausible because (a) we don't fully understand how genes work, but (b) we do know that various factors seem to 'turn on' or 'turn off' their functionalities. The implication is meant to be that some factor -- we don't know what or how -- is acting on the genes somehow. But in fact, we often can't really say that the genes have anything to do with it.

With all that said, read this article.

Savchenko Released by Russia

Ukrainian pilot Nadia Savchenko has been released by Russia in a prisoner exchange, though she had been sentenced to 22 years. We talked about her case last in March of this year.

Nice Bit from McSweeny's

A set of statements that are made by both the most and least privileged people in the world.

Speaking of voting, which they do in passing, Georgia had its non-Presidential primary yesterday. For reasons I have yet to see discussed anywhere, but that I imagine have something to do with a desire to keep turnout low, Georgia held its primary for everything except the Presidential election approximately three months after the Super Tuesday primary. Since many of the elections in Georgia are merely endorsements of the Republican candidate, in many ways yesterday was the most important election day of the year. Incumbents had a very good day, for whatever that's worth in measuring the mood of the extremely small part of the electorate that participated.

I myself even voted for two incumbents, although I otherwise voted only for insurgent candidates. In the Mighty 9th Congressional District, I voted to keep Doug Collins as our representative. Paul Broun's district was combined with the 9th, which meant that he was also running in this district this year. Broun is the 'evolution is a lie from the pit of hell' guy.



Georgia will not be returning him to Congress next year. Doug Collins, who was endorsed by Zell Miller in spite of being a Republican, will be our Congressman instead.

I also voted to retain our current sheriff, who pleases me consistently by not patrolling the Western end of the county where I live. I go months without seeing anyone trying to give me a speeding ticket or otherwise interfere with my day. That election resulted in a runoff, so I shall have to arrange to vote again in July.

DB: Obama Ends Vietnam Tour With Ceremonial Rooftop Helicopter Evacuation

According to Obama, the evacuation ends what had become his 48 hour-long “national nightmare,” although some Vietnamese officials have privately said Obama was politely asked to leave after he and Secretary of State John Kerry had proceeded to raze their hotel room in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan.
"Jenjis Khan," even.

The Weekly Standard on Vince Foster

I'm not sure I agree with their analysis that Trump's play here is inferior to what a "a more responsible opponent" could do. A more responsible opponent could raise the question the Standard wants to discuss, which is whether or not the Clintons behaved improperly in the wake of the death of a friend. There is a classic Clinton two-step dance around such a question: (1) That's a private matter, and (2) "Politics of personal destruction." By election day all anyone would remember is that the responsible opponent made a boorish attack. Trump, on the other hand, will have people remembering that they thought they heard Hillary had somebody killed, but if they think to check the record they'll find that Trump technically said that while it was fishy, it wasn't fair game and he wouldn't raise it as an issue.

All the same, the Standard does bring up an interesting fact I did not know:
As if that wasn't bad enough, in 1995 the New York Times reported an aide, Sylvia Matthews, was dispatched to go through Vince Foster's trash:
The committee also focused today on Mr. Foster's office trash. Members questioned Sylvia Mathews, a former White House aide, in laborious detail about what she had found in Mr. Foster's garbage on the night he died. Other than a few routine documents, the garbage contained nothing that shed light on Mr. Foster's thinking, said Ms. Mathews, who is now chief of staff at the Treasury Department.
Miss Matthews is now Mrs. Burwell. That's right: Sylvia Burwell, the current Secretary of Health and Human Services who is now busy sorting out Obamacare's refuse, is the same aide that went through Foster's trash the day he died. Loyalty to the Clintons has a generous rewards program, as the quasi nationalization of health care means that Burwell is now pulling the strings on a sixth of the national economy. And whatever lobbying gig is sure to follow will no doubt be extremely lucrative.
Makes that $75,000 in Justice Department investments seem like a wise use of one's money, if one was a ranking government bureaucrat.

And that's really the point: it's why Washington loves her and why Wall Street loves her. She makes the money flow, from the People to the people. From the taxpayer people, that is, to the loyal people. The ones who belong to the club.

The ones who do what they're told.

Putting Down a Marker

Here's an opportunity to apply a partial test to the idea -- very common on both Right and Left -- that corporations and big banks own the political system. A new poll by the Financial Times shows that these firms have a very clear favorite to win the Presidency: Hillary Clinton.

Now, if she gets elected, that doesn't prove that the banks and corporations own the political system.

If she loses, however, with these figures? We'll have to put aside the notion that banks and corporations are all that influential. 71% of these corporations prefer her on immigration, compared with zero percent preferring Donald Trump. 63% prefer her on trade, compared with zero percent on Trump. And 25% of them prefer her on taxes, the only category she (narrowly) loses to Trump.

She is clearly the candidate of the corporate establishment, as she is the candidate of the political establishment. If she loses, we'll have to accept that Americans are still in charge of our own destiny.

This Seems To Be A Worthy Experiment

An ordinary day in a suit of armor.

Oops!

What a coincidence that this kind of thing keeps happening whenever there's an investigation.
The CIA's inspector general is claiming it inadvertently destroyed its only copy of a classified, three-volume Senate report on torture, prompting a leading senator to ask for reassurance that it was in fact ‘an accident.’”

...[T]he CIA’s “accident” was only the latest in a long rash of “accidental” losses of incriminating information in this administration. The IRS — whose Tea Party-targeting scandal is now over 1,100 days old without anyone being charged or sent to jail — seems to have a habit of ”accidentally” destroying hard drives containing potentially incriminating evidence. It has done so in spite of court orders, in spite of Congressional inquiries and in spite of pretty much everyone’s belief that these “accidents” were actually the deliberate, illegal destruction of incriminating evidence to protect the guilty.

Then there’s Hillary’s email scandal, in which emails kept on a private unsecure server — presumably to avoid Freedom of Information Act disclosures — were deleted. Now emails from Hillary’s IT guy, who is believed to have set up the server, have gone poof.
Really, just an amazing series of coincidences. Here's a song from back when it was just the IRS drives:

DB: Sec. Mabus “Just Hates the Navy.”

“Women on submarines?” he asked. “Check. Politically correct renaming of the ranks, check. The USS Carl Levin? Carl is a buddy of mine and I forgot to get him a birthday present. Boom. Name on a ship. And it didn’t cost me a dime.”

The Secretary went on to describe how his favorite activity was throwing a dart at a large board filled with uniform ideas every three months, then forcing the service to add that item to the sea-bag.

“If that’s not bad enough, I actually made them wear water-colored uniforms... Now if someone falls overboard it will actually be harder to find them. And the boot-licking admirals were so eager to please me that they approved it...”

Mabus ended the conference by saying he’s considering making consumption of alcohol at any time a UCMJ offense, and adding “a purple top hat with 13 solid-gold buttons to the uniform list.”

A Good Piece on Anti-Racism

So, we all hate racism. At some point, the efforts to quash racism became racist. I mean this in the sense that they force you to focus on belonging to a race, confronting the fact that you are a member of that race, and then accounting for whatever privileges or violations attach to you because of your membership in that race. This is at best counterproductive because it preserves the idea that "race" is something important. In fact "race" is a fiction dreamed up in the early Renaissance to justify the re-introduction of slavery to Europe. We should be striving to eliminate the concept, not further ingraining it into students.

Here's a piece by David Marcus that takes on the idea that everyone should be made to accept their race and confess their privileges. It's a very solid article on why this approach is backwards, and is actually making racism worse.

It's similar to the way in which the Democratic Party's electoral strategy of focusing on advancing the interests of minorities paved the way for Trump's electoral strategy of consolidating the white vote as a bloc. Indeed, many of the things Marcus warns against are much further along than he himself seems to believe.

It's Because She Is Spectacularly Corrupt

"Why do people hate Hillary so much?" asks a writer at the Sacramento Bee. He answers: gotta be misogyny.

I wrote about sexism and Clinton back during the 2008 primary, when she was facing some pretty nasty coded attacks from the Obama campaign. At the time, I was trying to be very careful to criticize her policy positions without saying things that would be generally offensive to women.

Yet when I think about why Clinton herself is so particularly offensive, it is a fact about her that the author of this latest piece seems simply to ignore: her and her husband's spectacular corruption. They have vastly enriched themselves through a set of "speaking fees" given by corporations, banks, and governments who either had business before Secretary Clinton or expect to have business before President Clinton. When I say "vastly enriched," I mean that the amount of money is truly incredible.
Mandatory financial disclosures released this month show that, in just the two years from April 2013 to March 2015, the former first lady, senator and secretary of state collected $21,667,000 in “speaking fees,” not to mention the cool $5 mil she corralled as an advance for her 2014 flop book, “Hard Choices.”

Throw in the additional $26,630,000 her ex-president husband hoovered up in personal-appearance “honoraria"...
Bill Clinton's totals since leaving office, just for speaking fees, are over a hundred million dollars according to the first of the two sources I just cited. Much of that money, as much as three-quarters of a million dollars for a speech, came from foreign governments and corporations while his wife was Secretary of State.

She is a corrupting influence, too. Her presidential ambitions stand on the concept that the Department of Justice won't accept an FBI recommendation that it indict her for her numerous and manifest violations of the law. And, indeed, it seems likely that they won't -- top Justice Department officials have invested $75,000 in her career by donating to her political campaign this year. What do you suppose those officials expect to receive if President Clinton is elected? High public postings, obviously, from which they will more than recoup their donations. They'll have earned it, not so much for the cash donation as for the 'payment in kind' they will have provided if they succeed in blocking her indictment.

Is there some lurking sexism in the depths of my subconscious that allows me to look on the Clintons with horror while ignoring similar transgressions from others? I don't know -- is there anyone else in government who has personally profited to this degree off the sale of their use of the American office with which they were entrusted? How can we compare such peerless individuals as these two?

UPDATE: David Brooks says it's because she works too darn hard. Maybe she needs better creases on her pants, too.

Clarence Thomas Is The Only One Thinking Clearly

In a seven-to-one ruling, the US Supreme Court threw out a Georgia State Supreme Court ruling and granted a new trial to a black man convicted by a jury that prosecutors had carefully constructed as all-white. The sole dissenting voice was Clarence Thomas.

You can imagine the hateful rhetoric that is being poured on his head this afternoon. However, if you follow the link above you can read his dissent. The media reports I read before I found a link to the actual ruling suggested that Thomas sets a ridiculously high bar before he will accept that race has anything to do with a conviction. The argument actually goes something like this:

1) Our laws say that Federal courts should only overturn state courts where there is a clear Federal law issue.

2) The argument being forwarded by the majority is that the racial bias in jury selection is a Federal issue that gives the Supreme Court jurisdiction.

3) That is only true if there is some reason to think Georgia's courts didn't adequately address the issues of bias in their own consideration of this case.

4) Georgia's State Supreme Court ruled that this jury construction didn't plausibly affect the outcome of this case.

5) They're almost certainly right about that, because the murderer confessed to the murder, as well as to sexually violating his victim before killing her.

Thomas may be the only one thinking clearly about the issues of race in this case. Everyone else is blinded by the fear that America's original sin, racism, may have been a factor in the prosecution's conduct. Thomas is calmly pointing out that there's little doubt that nearly any jury would have convicted him and sentenced him to death.

More to the point, he's right that -- given the facts of the case -- death is the correct penalty for this murderer. The Court is merely delaying the application of justice. They are doing so, as he says, without adequately grappling with the question of whether or not they have any legitimate authority to interfere.

Ten Bikers Suing Waco in Federal Court

I'd expect a lot more of them to file suit if these cases work out, but these do sound like plausible test cases.
The suit, filed by Dallas attorney Don Tittle, alleges unlawful arrest and due process violations and alleges the plaintiffs were arrested with no evidence that they committed any crimes or had any ties to warring biker groups the Bandidos or the Cossacks.

Matcek and Smith are identified in the lawsuit as members of the Line Riders Motorcycle Club, which the suit says has no affiliation with either the Bandidos or Cossacks. Matcek, according to the lawsuit, was running late and was not even at Twin Peaks at the eruption of the firefight, which left nine bikers dead and more than 20 wounded.

Once he arrived, Waco police allowed Matcek, Terwilliger and Smith to take one of their wounded friends to the hospital, the suit says....

The violence resulted in the arrests of 192 bikers — including 15 who later were named in sealed indictments because they were injured and not arrested May 17, 2015 — and the indictments of 154, all on identical first-degree felony engaging in organized criminal activity charges.
Matcek is apparently also a member of BACA, which is a noble organization.



I have a feeling Waco is going to end up paying through the nose for its handling of this matter.

A Third Possibility

Vox considers two options for why Donald Trump is now ahead in the polls:

1) It's just a blip because he's locked up his contest and she's still fighting Bernie.

2) It heralds a "nail-bitingly close" election.

Here's a third possibility you haven't considered: maybe she'll perform exactly the way she's performed against every other opponent, and lose ground in the polls more the longer the contest goes on. Clinton was way ahead of Sanders... but has lost ground steadily against him. She was way ahead of Obama in 2008... but lost ground steadily against him. Now that people are thinking in terms of Trump and Clinton, she's fading against him like she fades against everyone.

He's just now starting to turn his guns on her. By November, this may not be close at all.

How is this a paradox?

I saw this today in an article talking about difficult paradoxes.  But I cannot see how this is difficult to grasp.


This statement is, by definition, false.  Either he has told a truth at some point in the past, or he is telling the truth now.  That does not make this statement a lie, merely false (and provably so).  Lies may be true (if I say I have a million dollars when I believe I do not, but upon checking my bank account find that I have won the lottery at some point prior to making the statement unbeknownst to me, then the lie I believed I was telling was in fact a true statement; it does not change the fact that I was lying at the time I spoke it), and truthful statements may be false (again, if I say I have a million dollars, but find out later that at the time I spoke that my wife had spent it all prior to my making the statement, then it is a false statement, but one I did not lie about).  I suppose the problem comes from language not being a logical construct where lies must always be false and truthful statements must always be true.

Um, Pope Francis...

Wasn't I just saying something about feel-good Hippie nonsense in the Catholic Church?
– The fear of accepting migrants is partly based on a fear of Islam. In your view, is the fear that this religion sparks in Europe justified?

Pope Francis: Today, I don’t think that there is a fear of Islam as such but of ISIS and its war of conquest, which is partly drawn from Islam. It is true that the idea of conquest is inherent in the soul of Islam. However, it is also possible to interpret the objective in Matthew’s Gospel, where Jesus sends his disciples to all nations, in terms of the same idea of conquest.

In the face of Islamic terrorism, it would therefore be better to question ourselves about the way in an overly Western model of democracy has been exported to countries such as Iraq, where a strong government previously existed. Or in Libya, where a tribal structure exists. We cannot advance without taking these cultures into account. As a Libyan said recently, “We used to have one Gaddafi, now we have fifty.”
Saddam's was "a strong government"? I suppose, if the mark of a strong government is widespread torture, murder, ethnic cleansing, and the terror of the mukhabarat. East Germany was a strong government by these standards.

Perhaps we should be grateful to hear a Western leader say "It is true that conquest is inherent in the soul of Islam." Also, I understand that the Pope is making nice with Islam because he's trying to forestall the murder of Christians in the Middle East. Still, if it's strange to be unable to distinguish between "a strong government" and a murderous tyranny, it's far stranger to hear the leader of the Catholic Church elide jihad and Jesus. This is "the same idea of conquest"? The very same idea? Are we sure it's even a very similar idea?

Christianity and Islam both have a universal mission. That seems to me to be the end of the similarity of their ideas about conquest.

"The Miscarriage of Justice Department"

A Federal judge grows irritated. Sadly, this is not an isolated issue, but the standard practice of the Obama-era Justice Department. Indeed, it's of a piece with the conduct of many other Obama-era departments.

Valheim Hof


A new temple to Odin has been opened in Denmark, for the first time in nearly a thousand years.

I was talking to a friend of mine who is a Greek neopagan about a festival she attended recently. They apparently elected to "reimagine" the blood sacrifice, instead buying snacks from a local grocery. I found that vastly amusing, as the whole point of the particular ritual they were trying to revive was the blood magic. Apparently the danger of the basic tenets of the faith being overwhelmed by feel-good Hippie sentimentalism is not limited to the Catholic Church.

To the credit of these Odhinnic pagans, they did not omit the blood.

R.I.P. Logic Tobola II (FAIA)

I got to walk around in our new church building this week, the concrete having been poured and made it easier to approach without making the workers too nervous.  Every space, every transition between spaces, made me happy.  I felt I was in the hands of a talented designer.  What I didn't realize is that the architect, Logic Tobola, had just died, or was just dying, of cancer.  I can't find his obit up on the net yet, but here is a link to an article about a mobile church he designed for the Episcopal Church in Texas, and here are updated snapshots of our new church.  We'll be moving in sometime in July; for the first time I feel it will be an improvement over the charming existing building.

I'm sorry Mr. Tobola won't get to see the finished church, but he did get to tour the construction site a month or so, already in a wheelchair.  He loved his work and his church.

A Distinct Honor

There's a piece in Vox today about the firing of a Bernie Sanders supporter for using harsh language. That's to one side. What I want to draw your attention to is how the author describes the affair.
On one level, this Bruenighazi is exactly what it seems to be, a matter of considerable importance to one family's finances but essentially a tempest in a teapot — a series of personal spats boiling over out of control.
Bruenighazi.

Every President since Nixon has had their scandals reported as 'something-gate,' because the Watergate scandal set the standard for Presidential scandals. Clinton has had her share of those these 25 years: Travelgate, Filegate, Emaigate, etc. No more. Now all the scandals attached to her can be called "something-ghazi."

What that means is that Hillary Clinton would be the first President since Nixon to inspire her own scandal-naming convention.

Before even taking office.

That's a real accomplishment.