A Hoax Pointed at Starbucks


This is really an urban phenomenon. One thing I really hate about going to the city is all the locked bathrooms. We don't get this out in the country. People know that going to the bathroom is something human beings have to do once in a while, and that it can be rather urgent at times. Locks are unwelcome.

All the same, every city I ever go to has locked bathrooms everywhere.

I could use this moment to make one of the comments to which I am personally inclined about how living in the city is a less worthy life, but I won't do that. Instead I'll admit that cities offer some advantages in terms of access to wealth and trade, and the goods that those things can bring -- goods like theaters, orchestras, and the like. You don't find those out in the middle of the country either.

In return, however, you have to live with a lot more indignity. Cities have a high cost of living in terms of taxes, higher rent, and the like. They also cost more of your dignity. If you are going to live in easy proximity to those goods, you're going to pay for the privilege. Part of that cost is that you will be less free, treated with less respect, and subject to many more daily humiliations. That's true for everyone, though of course it is worse if you are poor.

Crossing the line

You may or may not be aware of a little controversy in Jacksonville FL recently.  This article summarized it nicely, and rather than do so here, I trust you will get the gist quickly.

The citation was probably accurate under the city code as written, wrongheaded, and it looks like that rule has been amended to allow for military flags.  But honestly, that wasn't particularly shocking to me, being just a poorly written and overly non-specific rule.  The code enforcer's treatment of a veteran in the store (not the business owner being cited, but just a customer who happened to be in the store) was outrageous, and while it crossed the line, that's not actually so much what I want to talk about.

Instead, it got me thinking.  This woman is a city employee.  A government official.  Can the government fire her for being rude?  Should the government be able to fire an employee for stating an unpopular opinion?  I go back and forth on this.  Sure, if she were a private employee, her employer could toss her out the door for bringing controversy to the business.  But the government is bound by the First Amendment in a way that private businesses are not.

On the other hand, I wouldn't be surprised if there is not some rule or regulation about representing the city in a negative light, or perhaps mistreatment of the public as being a fireable offense, and if such a rule exists, and it was a condition of her employment, controversy over... mostly.  If there is no such rule, then I don't know that she can legally be fired for being rude to a veteran.  And I don't know if she ought to be.

I am a veteran.  I can hardly think of a more grave insult you can pay to a wounded vet that "you did nothing for this country" (which is what was originally reported, but I will accept the article's interpretation that she actually said what the vet did overseas does not matter [in the context of the citation]).  But insults still are protected speech.  Oh, one may face social opprobrium for saying such a thing.  One may be ostracized and publicly shamed, and rightfully so.  But the government cannot punish someone for expressing an opinion, regardless of how unpopular it may be.  They are prohibited from doing so, and should be prohibited from doing so.  And I don't know that I want the government to start getting into the business of deciding what speech is protected, and what is not.  Because that is a VERY short slope towards the modern leftist desire to label all speech they do not like as unprotected "hate speech", and then using that to legally ban such speech.

A Hoard of Harald Bluetooth

A boy has made a major find:
Braided necklaces, pearls, brooches, a Thor’s hammer, rings and up to 600 chipped coins were found, including more than 100 that date back to Bluetooth’s era, when he ruled over what is now Denmark, northern Germany, southern Sweden and parts of Norway.

“This trove is the biggest single discovery of Bluetooth coins in the southern Baltic Sea region and is therefore of great significance,” the lead archaeologist, Michael Schirren, told national news agency DPA.

The oldest coin is a Damascus dirham dating to 714 while the most recent is a penny dating to 983.

The find suggests that the treasure may have been buried in the late 980s – also the period when Bluetooth was known to have fled to Pomerania, where he died in 987.
That late a date means that it would have been after Bluetooth's conversion to Christianity. Bluetooth is, of course, the king with whom the protagonists of The Long Ships feasted one memorable Yule. He is also the namesake of those "Bluetooth" devices you see everywhere; the logo is a bindrune of his initials, the runic forms of H and then B.

Purely Coincidence, Your Honor

The judge who is overseeing the dispute between Trump and his DOJ employees was Bill Clinton's second (failed) Attorney General nominee, and personally officiated at the last wedding of George Soros.

Is there anyone involved in the Mueller investigation, apparently to include the judges themselves, who isn't a member of the Clinton faction?

Kimberley Strassel on Comey

She has a series of penetrating questions of the sort that, of course, Comey has not been asked. He ought to be, though.

James Comey, Anchorman

As explained by Ron Burgundy.

The Constitution, How Does It Work?

The President is going to court to force the Department of Justice, which works for him, to take his lead on how to handle the seizure of his own attorney's papers. This is roughly like the House of Representatives suing the Senate in Federal Court because they disagree with how the Senate has handled a bill they forwarded.

What the court should say, of course, is that this is an internal Executive Branch matter over which the court has no power. Instead, they are apparently taking seriously the assumption that a court should have authority to rule over a dispute between the President and his employees in the Executive Branch.

Meanwhile, the Senate is considering a law that would give a Special Counsel recourse to the courts to sue if they are fired and get themselves reinstated. Presumably that would have to be passed into law over the President's veto, but if so it would represent a seizure of constitutional authority from the Executive by the other two branches of government.

The proposed law also seems to create the Department of Justice as a kind of independent secret police. You can see how wise this is if you substitute in the name of any other secret police: "...a [Stasi investigator] may be fired only by the [head of the Stasi], and only for good cause, like misconduct." I'm sure we all have a higher opinion of the DOJ and the FBI than we do of the Stasi or the Gestapo, but the point of constitutional limits on power is to assume that someday bad people might get in charge. Do you really want to set up a secret police that is fully independent of elected officials?

This really has turned into a constitutional crisis.

The real problem with greed

I'm often exasperated by attacks on the profit motive.  The one area where I'm willing to attack it is the action of an individual who knows what's right and what's wrong but chooses the wrong because he's paid to do it.  From a surprising source--CBS, for Pete's sake--comes this spot-on criticism of James Comey's new book "A Higher Loyalty":
As Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com tweeted, it's "not particularly honorable, if you have information you believe is of immediate and vital national importance, to wait 11 months to release it until you can have a giant book launch and publicity tour." Silver—no Trump fan--calls the book "A Higher Royalty."

Truth and pity

Chesterton on virtue:
When a religious scheme is shattered (as Christianity was shattered at the Reformation), it is not merely the vices that are let loose. The vices are, indeed, let loose, and they wander and do damage. But the virtues are let loose also; and the virtues wander more wildly, and the virtues do more terrible damage. The modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering alone. Thus some scientists care for truth; and their truth is pitiless. Thus some humanitarians only care for pity; and their pity (I am sorry to say) is often untruthful.

Prediction is hard

Powerline chuckles at the latest strike of the "Al Gore Effect," which is the juxtaposition of record-cold temperatures in Minnesota with a "March for Science" dominated by climate alarmists. He notes, of course, that these days HotColdWetDry is as eager to explain record cold as record heat by pointing to catastrophic climate something or other. Whatever we just experienced, it was somehow linked to original climate sin. I like his conclusion: "I will be more impressed with the alarmists’ models when they predict something before it happens."

Separation of powers

At last, some clear thinking on the rule of law from Andrew McCarthy:
If lawmakers believe the president is abusing his power by firing good public servants arbitrarily, they can impeach the president. Or they can try to bend the president into better behavior by cutting off funding, refusing to confirm nominees, or holding oversight hearings that embarrass the administration. Congress has these powerful political tools. But it does not have legal means to usurp the president’s constitutional power. Those powers do not come from Congress. They come from Article II. The Constitution cannot be amended by a mere statute or a regulation. Congress may not enact a law that purports to place conditions on the president’s power to dismiss subordinates who exercise his powers.

Comey's goals

Per Powerline, a clip from Comey's interview with George Stephanopoulos.  Comey freely acknowledges that he never told President Trump that the Steele Dossier was funded by Clinton's campaign.  It wasn't important for Comey's goals, he says, which were simply to let Trump know that the FBI had this information. You have to admire an administrator for keeping such a tight focus on his own organization's welfare, at a time when it would have been easy to be distracted by principles of honesty or justice, or the broader good of the nation.

Comey is oddly un-self-conscious.  I have the idea that if you charged him with amorality, he wouldn't take offense but would only gaze at you in mild blankness, wondering what you were getting at.

A Kinda Frightening CIA Blunder

Christopher Harper over at Da Tech Guy lists a few CIA blunders. This one was kinda frightening to me:

My all-time favorite happened in Lebanon.

The pro-Iranian group Hezbollah identified numerous CIA operatives by staking out a Pizza Hut in Beirut. How did Hezbollah figure out that the CIA was meeting with double agents and informants at Pizza Hut? The CIA decided to use the code word “pizza” when communicating with agents.

The code literally meant to meet at a pizza joint for pizza! Ten agents had their identity revealed, and numerous other informants were discovered—some of whom were executed. The CIA was left essentially blind in Lebanon for several months, having to pull the agents out, because agents were lazy and uncreative with their tradecraft.

I don't regularly read Da Tech Guy, and I don't know if this story is true. An ABC report seems to confirm it, though.

Days of Our Lives

Does it strike anyone else as strange that we're watching a for-real national saga in which the President is being prosecuted by a man who is best friends with the star witness in the case against the President, while that star witness has just started profiting off a book tour that will be more successful insofar as the prosecution seems serious? Doesn't that seem like an ethical issue to anyone? As far as I can tell, the main concern (even among members of the President's party) is protecting the investigation.

Shifts in the Night

Is Paul Ryan's departure the end of the 'one party that acts as if it were two'? Possibly, but it'll be costly.

The Democratic party has gone hard left since the defeat of Clinton; the capacity to move hard on ideology is realized because they are at a low point in terms of holding statewide or national office. They have nothing much to lose, so they can say what they want.

Is it worth the exchange? No, in the case of the Democrats: socialism is bad. What about in the case of an America-first party?

For Douglas

Since he was so happy to hear hockey talk in the Hall, here you go.

Calexit

A small problem for that vision of the future in which California is the model for the whole United States. What if people would rather be free?

Disney Princesses & Abortion

A very sad piece by a woman who worked for Disney as a "princess," who did in fact have an abortion. I forward it because she ends up endorsing a thought that Chesterton also endorses, and that I reflect on myself from time to time: that the old fairy tales are reliable.
The stories little girls need to continue to hear are already exemplified in the fairy tales that teach us about goodness and truth. It has always been the witches plotting to confuse the princesses, attempting to lure them away from their noble pursuits ... Cinderella, battling through unplanned circumstances as an orphan in the fire before being transformed into a sparkly princess and future queen, is a story that brings hope and teaches us about true empowerment. It’s a story of making something beautiful out of the life surprises that threaten to burn us.

Cinderella’s crown represents victory over the lies of evil women that told us we were dirty girls destined to sit in the cinders rather than future monarchs destined to rule. Princess fairy tales have lasted ages and teach women about goodness, mercy, kindness, power, perseverance, and strength in a world trying to whistle songs of death past little ears.
I think you're forbidden to suggest that there are "evil women" in the world, or that they bear responsibility for the harms caused by their words. But it is a prominent feature of the old stories, for what are doubtlessly wicked and patriarchal reasons.

Jacksonian Foreign Policy

An interview with one David Reaboi, a former member of the "New York city avant garde" jazz scene, until he was present at 9/11. Present at the creation, as it were. His insights on foreign policy thought on the right are worth hearing.

Wretchard on Governance

Read it all.

Update on British Self-Defense Case

From no less than Kim du Toit, we learn that the police have decided not to prosecute the elderly man who successfully defended himself from home invasion. However, the police are also not doing much to protect him against apparent revenge attempts by the career criminal relatives of the dead invader.
So in defending himself from two murderous intruders, he now has to live his life cowering behind boarded-up windows, in fear of reprisal from the dead asshole’s relatives; because while the Britcops are very efficient in arresting the law-abiding, they’re completely incompetent when it comes to protecting them. And of course, there is no way in hell Our Hero is ever going to be allowed to own a shotgun to protect himself....

So when our local would-be gun controllers confiscators talk about “reasonable U.K.-style gun laws”, please note that this would be one of the outcomes for us law-abiding folks.

Viking Sunstones

A detailed article on the subject of the legendary stones.
The team simulated 3600 voyages taken during the spring equinox, the presumed start of the open seas travel season, and the summer solstice, the longest day of the northern year....

When navigators took readings every 4 hours, their ships reached Greenland between 32% and 59% of the time. Readings every 5 or 6 hours meant the ship had a dramatically poorer chance of making landfall. But for voyages on which the seafarers took sunstone readings at intervals of 3 hours or less, ships made landfall between 92% and 100% of the time, the researchers report today in Royal Society Open Science. In addition to the frequency of readings, key to a successful journey was using the sunstone for an equal number of morning and afternoon readings, the researchers say. (That’s because morning readings can cause a ship to veer too far northward and afternoon readings can cause it to veer too far southward, sometimes missing Greenland altogether.)

Crowder Does Enjoy Driving