Rediscovering Jefferson

It seems like just the other day that they were changing the name of the "Jefferson-Jackson Dinner" because they'd decided that those two Presidents represented everything bad about America.

Now it turns out that Jefferson is a model of what a good President looks like after all.
In the early days of December 1805, a handful of prominent politicians received formal invitations to join President Thomas Jefferson for a White House dinner.... "dinner will be on the table precisely at sun-set - " the invitations read. "The favour of an answer is asked."

The occasion was the presence of a Tunisian envoy to the United States, Sidi Soliman Mellimelli, who had arrived in the country just the week before, in the midst of America's ongoing conflict with what were then known as the Barbary States. And the reason for the dinner's later-than-usual start was Mellimelli's observance of Ramadan, a holy month for Muslims in which observers fast between dawn and dusk. Only after sunset do Muslims break their fast with a meal, referred to as an iftar.

Jefferson's decision to change the time of the meal to accommodate Mellimelli's observance of Ramadan has been seized on by both sides in the 21st-century debate over Islam more than 200 years later. Historians have cited the meal as the first time an iftar took place in the White House - and it has been referenced in recent White House celebrations of Ramadan as an embodiment of the Founding Father's respect for religious freedom. Meanwhile, critics on the far right have taken issue with the characterization of Jefferson's Dec. 9, 1805, dinner as an iftar.

Whatever Jefferson could have foreseen for the young country's future, it appears the modern-day White House tradition of marking Ramadan with an iftar dinner or Eid celebration has come to an end.
There's no reason why a President of the United States should celebrate any religious holidays other than his own, and that in a private manner that doesn't imply any endorsement by the United States of America. The alternative is trying to treat every religion equally, which is a hard pull in a nation as diverse as the United States. It's inevitable that you'll end up with a top-tier of religions who get honored (Christianity, Judaism, Islam) and a second-tier that is maybe memorialized in some way sometimes (Hinduism, Buddhism), and a bottom-tier who aren't remembered at all (including some very worthy faiths like Sikhism).

It makes sense for a non-religious man like Donald Trump to adopt the first course of action rather than the second. A deeply religious man, like George W. Bush, is more likely to adopt the second tact and try to do it as fairly as he can. But the second tact is much harder to make work fairly, and much more likely to yield legitimate grievances among those whose faiths don't make the cut for official celebration for whatever reasons.

"One of the biggest cuts to the social safety net in history"

I mean, that part sounds good. That so-called safety net is driving many crises in our society, including the opioid addiction rate.

If state and local governments can do it better than the Feds, who have no constitutional authority to do it anyway, this gives them the chance to try. Go to it, and good luck.

Great Shot, Kid

That was one in a million.

Another Georgia Convict Story

Not all convicts are created equal -- most of them aren't hardened criminals like the two who killed their guards and escaped the other day. Today's news is a much happier story.

Also, it's a good reminder that heat injuries are for real. We're now in that time of year. Drink water, take a knee, keep your head covered.

A "Female First" Victory in Georgia

CNN reports that Karen Handel is Georgia's first female Congressional GOP representative. What I like best about that is that no one mentioned it as a reason to vote for her, at least not that I heard. These "first such-and-so" things are a bad way to make decisions about who would be the best candidate for a given office. Still, for what it's worth, congratulations.

Georgia's first female Senator, by the way, came in 1922.

Why Does Georgia Have So Many Counties?

Iowahawk is mocking Georgia for having a vast, vast number of counties compared to many states. It's true: we've got a lot of them.

What I was taught about this in history class here in Georgia was this is a product of the Jeffersonian political ideals that ruled in the early history of the state, when the counties were being drawn up. The idea was that every citizen should be able to get to the county seat to participate in self-government without it being an undue burden on them. Since this was the late 1700s and early 1800s, there were no railroads (first Southern railroad was chartered in 1827; the Cherokee were removed and a land lottery was distributing their land by 1832). There were no cars, of course. There were no major highways (two Federal roads). Transport was by horse, mule, buggy, or foot.

As a result, the counties were set with a very small size to make sure that citizens could make it to the county seat. Wikipedia calls this a "traditional explanation" without sourcing, but it was taught to me in formal classes in state history. Whether that makes it more or less than folklore is up to the reader to decide.

The Opposite of Secession

The Chicago Tribune publishes a paper advocating for dissolving Illinois for absorption by the surrounding states.

Stonehenge

Sumer is Icumin In

This is the oldest known musical composition featuring six-part polyphony.  Apparently it also may not be entirely appropriate for today, as "Sumer" may have applied to a longer period of time than "Summer", and so they may have been singing this earlier in the year in the 13th century.  Regardless, here's hoping for a Summer as festive and merry as this rendition of a very old song.

AJC: Handel wins GA 6th

Looks like a Republican keep in the toughest race anybody could afford to throw. The Georgia 6th is R+8, and results tonight look like the obsessive focus and vast amounts of money only brought that down to 53/48, or about +5. A big pull, but not enough.

I really expected Ossoff to win this thing, though, because I only lately even learned his opponent's name. I don't live in the 6th, so I wasn't paying very close attention, but all the ads I saw were either "Vote Ossoff!" or "Vote against Ossoff, that monster/liar/faker!" Usually you can't beat something with nothing, but once in a while you really can.

Immigration Has No Downsides

A reflection in the Atlantic.
In 2005, a left-leaning blogger wrote, “Illegal immigration wreaks havoc economically, socially, and culturally; makes a mockery of the rule of law; and is disgraceful just on basic fairness grounds alone.” In 2006, a liberal columnist wrote that “immigration reduces the wages of domestic workers who compete with immigrants” and that “the fiscal burden of low-wage immigrants is also pretty clear.” His conclusion: “We’ll need to reduce the inflow of low-skill immigrants.” That same year, a Democratic senator wrote, “When I see Mexican flags waved at proimmigration demonstrations, I sometimes feel a flush of patriotic resentment. When I’m forced to use a translator to communicate with the guy fixing my car, I feel a certain frustration.”

The blogger was Glenn Greenwald. The columnist was Paul Krugman. The senator was Barack Obama....

“A decade or two ago,” says Jason Furman, a former chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, “Democrats were divided on immigration. Now everyone agrees and is passionate and thinks very little about any potential downsides.” How did this come to be?
It's a good question. You can read their answer, and think about it for yourselves.

The Quiet Man

Probably the video most of you watched today knowing it would lead to someone's death was the Castile video; here's one from the world of sport. It's worth watching even knowing that one of the fighters is going to die because it shows the fair play and sportsmanship of the boxer who won. He wasn't there to hurt or kill his opponent: he is meticulously fair, stopping and walking away at many points in order to give his opponent time to recover. He fights exactly like a gentleman.



The fight lasts a little more than five minutes, short for a boxing match. "The sweet science" is no joke, in spite of its rules governing fair play, and the reputation of more permissive sports like Kung Fu and MMA. Even with padded gloves, even with careful adherence to the rules, it's a very serious matter.

Colion Noir is Right: Philando Castile Should Be Alive

We haven't talked about the Castile shooting since last year, but at the time I thought it 'disturbing.' It was clear to me, though, that the officer would walk -- as he did.
By far the more disturbing case was that of Philando Castile, who had a concealed weapons permit and had informed the officer of that fact. The officer shot him while he reached for his wallet to produce it, as well as his driver's license. What makes the case most disturbing is that the officer then held him at gunpoint while he bled out, making no effort to render aid or assistance to the dying man, nor to verify his story by calling in his IDs, nor to do anything except wait for backup.

For me, this underlines the point I've made about these shootings in the past: they are about the way we train police officers, and teach incoming officers to think about their relationship to the public. The incident makes perfect sense if you follow the logic of the training. If the most important thing is to protect the officer's life, then you shoot as soon as hands go for something unseen. You don't render aid or assistance until you have full and complete control of the situation. That cannot happen until all the other parties are secured, i.e., handcuffed or locked in police cars. When there are multiple other parties (here there was a girlfriend and a 4 year old), the only thing you can do is maintain watch with your weapon covering the unsecured members of the public while you wait for backup to arrive.

Only then can you take steps to save the life of the man you shot.

If you watch the video, you can hear the upset and tension in the officer's voice. He's very highly strung on adrenaline and fear of what he's just done. He's not thinking straight under these circumstances. He's going to follow his training, and this is how he's been trained.

Which means that he, like other police in these cases, will walk. He will be found to have acted appropriately, because he will have done just what he was trained to do.
That doesn't change the fact that the shooting shouldn't have happened. The NRA has long been blamed for not speaking out for a licensed concealed-carrier who was shot and then let die. Nothing has improved since this case occurred, and that needs to change.

Do-It-Yourself Car Modifications

They're not for everyone.

Hate Speech is Free Speech

A plainly correct result from the Supreme Court, one that garnered an 8-0 majority.

Now, just remember that being free to say hateful things doesn't mean that you ought to say hateful things. You have to decide the justice of the remarks separately.

No, No, Negative

The House of Representatives special election has been pretty ugly all along, but this is a new low.
“The unhinged left is endorsing and applauding shooting Republicans,” a text overlay says. “When will it stop? It won’t if Jon Ossoff wins on Tuesday.”
There are reasons to vote against Ossoff; there may even be a reason to vote for his opponent, though I'm not aware of it since all I've seen from her side are attack ads against him. But he is not responsible for anyone else's murders.

Philosophy: A Quiz

John Maynard Keynes is supposed to have said that those who consider themselves "exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist." Many are indeed his intellectual slaves today, now that he is also a defunct economist -- or he would be, if people were ready to admit that his systems don't really work.

In case you're wondering whose intellectual slave you might be, this little quiz can help you identify the broad school of thought that is informing what you think plausible. It won't help people who have put significant care into learning about philosophy for themselves, as they will already know, but it can be useful if you have not.

I've verified it with a couple of philosophers I know, and they report that it's roughly correct in its identification for them. My results were as follows:


That's accurate enough; metaphysically I follow a sort of Neoplatonism. However, I don't accept Plato's political philosophy -- though I do think it has important elements that we should reconsider, especially the role of honor in political life, I reject the basic notion that it's important for elites to lie to the people in order to manipulate them into civilized behavior.

Secession Talk, Left and Right

Erick Erickson argues from the Right, sounding somewhat like me circa every year since 2004. Crucially, this is still phrased as an "if/then" statement, which is still how I think about it: 10th Amendment Federalism, but if that proves to be unattainable, then...
Federalism should be the answer.... But let’s not kid ourselves. If Texas decided to end abortion on demand and prohibit gay marriage, three-quarters of the Fortune 500, the NCAA, and every professional sports league would boycott the state. It is not enough that each state should be able to set its own values, even here the left demands adherence to its beliefs and punishment for the beliefs of others. So there is no escape from the culture war. There is no escape from the politicization of everything....

The only escape is dissolution. We should part ways if we cannot have federalism. We should start talking about secession. If both sides have decided that every hill is a hill to die on and control of Washington means reward for their friends and punishment of their enemies, we need to end Washington. The way to do that is end the union.
Even secession wouldn't solve the problem he's pointing to, of course. It could well be that every sports league and the Fortune 500 would pull their businesses out of Georgia and Texas in order to move them to California and Maryland. But it's not super likely that these businesses would do that: they do business in China and Saudi Arabia, after all. Those leading the charge to end the sanctions on Iran for its constant support of terrorism and its constant pursuit of nuclear weapons were the international companies like Boeing who wanted to do business there. So probably, once it's a matter of real money rather than empty virtue signalling, those economic concerns would go away.

From the Left, the issue is of course tax money.
Here’s the kicker: Even though most California voters surveyed were disgusted with Donald Trump 90 days into his administration, a majority (53-47 percent) also told Berkeley IGS that negotiation would be better than secession.

It isn’t that Californians have an undying love for the U.S. The voters who were surveyed said compromise would be better than taking a chance on the state losing federal funding.
I keep reading that blue states contribute more in taxes than they receive in Federal benefits, so either this is just a question of voter education or -- as is more likely -- those stories are accounting-gimmick propaganda designed to make red states look bad.

UPDATE: The "if/then" statement seems to me to be a live issue, especially with control of the Supreme Court so close a thing. If Trump (or Pence) gets to appoint another Justice or two, or even more, the 10th could make a renaissance. It's a hard pull, of course, since the bulk of what the Federal government does (measured by spending) is actually unconstitutional if the 10th is taken seriously. But it's possible, particularly if the alternative looks like the breakup of the nation.

Shots Fired

A US fighter pilot shoots down a Syrian SU-22.

UPDATE: Russia says it will shoot down any American planes that enter the parts of Syria it is claiming as a protectorate... er, I mean, claiming to protect.

Father's Day

This is my first without my father. I would have called him today, but not have made a big deal about it. He always snarled at those "Hallmark Holidays" that he regarded, for the most part, with disdain.

If you still have the chance, maybe make more of a big deal about it.

Mattis: No Enemy Has Hurt US Military as Much as Congress

He's talking sequestration, which is bad policy, but there are other things he might have mentioned as well. I always think of Harry Reid's "This War Is Lost" as symbolic of the willingness to destroy morale in favor of partisan political advantage.

Escaping the Leftwing Bias in Technology

Jon Del Arroz at the Federalist discussed the left-wing bias and influence of the big tech organizations, from corporations like Google to non-profits like Wikipedia. He then offers alternatives.

A couple of things he mentions are interesting. Former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich is leading development of the Brave browser. I use Firefox a lot because it has certain extensions I consider important. However, Brave looks like it might be a good alternative when I'm just surfing for fun. I've been using Vivaldi for that, and I like it. However, it also lacks the extensions I need. Looks like I'm stuck with Firefox for some things.

Vox Day, meanwhile, has forked Wikipedia and now offers an alternative at Infogalactic. I'm not sure what to think about that. I'm not convinced that Wikipedia is irredeemably biased, but even if it is, I question whether an organization led by Day is the right corrective, if for no other reason than the controversies that surround him.

I tend to think we just need to get a bunch of non-left editors over to Wikipedia. Why not adopt a page or two over there on topics that you know about and start tracking, writing, and editing? The way Wikipedia is set up, I think that over time we could have a reasonably fair encyclopedia. It would take patience; it apparently takes a track record of reasonable editing to get higher level permissions, but it's doable.

There is one company that is not included in Arroz's article that I would like to ask about. Patriot Mobile markets itself as a conservative alternative in mobile service. Has anyone here used them? Or can you comment on them?

The reason I'm asking is a recent change in my current cell service. First, they turned on their news app to feed into my notifications feed. (I had it turned off.) Then, several times a day I got "current headlines" that were consistently anti-Trump headlines from the WaPo, etc. I left it on for a couple of days and never saw one headline for an article that was not an attack on Trump. I turned the news feed off again, but since then I've seriously been thinking about switching providers.

A Pattern of Violence

The Political Insider lists 36 incidents of Trump supporters / conservatives being attacked or receiving credible threats of violence over the last 11 months. Sources are linked for each item on the list.

Update: Joshua Hersh has an article at VICE News on rising left-wing violence as well: Extremism Experts Are Starting to Worry about the Left. (H/t The Daily Wire)

A bit late, I think, but it's a beginning.