Live Free or Die

I'll never flee my country, but will fight -- and die, if necessary -- to preserve our freedoms. However, if you were looking for a nice place that's reputedly willing to accept American refugees from Donald Trump, you could hardly beat Inishturk. Perhaps we could send our noncombatants there -- whoever wins.

An Even Worse Lexicon

The other day, we were talking about an attempt to provide a lexicon for terrorism both from Islam and the far right. It was really solid on the Islam question, but was very weak in providing an accurate name for "far right" actors. It was functional for part of its intended purpose, then, but not all of it.

The Lawfare Blog has proposed its own similar lexicon of violence, and it is even less useful. It has two major flaws, which I will explain once I give you the lexicon.
Violent Extremist Organization: An organization that takes action to further a Violent Extremist Ideology.

Violent Extremist: An individual who take actions to further a Violent Extremist Ideology.

Resident Violent Extremist: A Violent Extremist who takes actions to further a Violent Extremist Ideology in the same State in which they are considered a national under the operation of its law.

Non-Resident Violent Extremist: A Violent Extremist who takes actions to further a Violent Extremist Ideology in a different State than that in which they are considered a national under the operation of its law.

Supported Violent Extremist: A Violent Extremist who receives support for their actions from another Violent Extremist or a Violent Extremist Organization.

Unsupported Violent Extremist: A Violent Extremist who does not receive support for their actions from another Violent Extremist or a Violent Extremist Organization.

Inspired Action: When a Violent Extremist takes action that is inspired by a Violent Extremist Ideology.

Directed Action: When a Violent Extremist takes action based upon direction they received from another Violent Extremist or a Violent Extremist Organization.

Spontaneous Action: When an individual with no known previous plausible ties to a Violent Extremist Ideology, Violent Extremists, or a Violent Extremist Organization, suddenly takes action, with little planning or preparation, to further a Violent Extremist Ideology.

Opportunistic Claim: When an individual with no known previous plausible ties to a Violent Extremist Ideology, Violent Extremists, or a Violent Extremist Organization engages in violence, and a Violent Extremist or Violent Extremist Organization claims responsibility without providing proof that they inspired or directed the action.
There are two big issues here, as I mentioned.

1) All of this is ultimately rooted on the definition of "Violent Extremist Ideology," which is unspecified. Thus, the whole thing is groundless. Specifying exactly what a Violent Extremist Ideology is -- so that it captures all and only the right kind of actors, leaving legitimate political actors alone -- is the real work to be done, and it's untouched.

2) This approach elides essential differences. By essential differences I mean things that make the other things necessary. The first lexicon accurately captured that a commitment to jihad was what was making all the violence necessary. The right wing groups are doing whatever they're doing for entirely different reasons. Violent Communist groups, like the Maoists in the Philippines, are necessarily committed to violence out of a different essential understanding of the world and their place in it. Since ultimately you have to get at the motivations of violent groups in order to make the violence go away, collapsing these essential distinctions is a terrible idea.

The motivation for all of this is to try to treat different kinds of radical groups "equally," I suppose. Yet equality isn't what we're interested in here: we don't have to be afraid of being unjust to people who run over children with big trucks. We need to retain an understanding of just what is moving them to do all these things, because it is that motivating force that we ultimately have to deal with.

Friday Night Party Music

First, "Medieval Music - Hardcore Party Mix"



... then some Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, "S.O.B."


Alright, gimme a drink!

Is a "Trainwreck" Ever Good?

To answer Ed Morrisey's question, there is one really positive aspect to the trainwreck in Cleveland. It proves, again, that the Republican party is not rigged.

The Democratic Party really is. We've seen the fix in for Clinton from the DNC's own internal messaging, from the way in which they structured the debates to favor Clinton's interests, and especially from the handling of her criminal troubles by the Justice Department. The whole system, up to and including the criminal justice system, was rigged to deliver her as nominee. When a substantial number of Democratic voters said, "No, thank you, we'd really prefer Bernie," the DNC bent itself backwards to make sure that he failed. The voter fraud was so bad that even Snopes can't bring themselves to fully deny it.
WHAT'S TRUE: Two researchers (presumably graduate students) from Stanford University and Tilburg University co-authored a paper asserting they uncovered information suggesting widespread primary election fraud favoring Hillary Clinton had occurred across multiple states.

WHAT'S FALSE: The paper was not a "Stanford Study," and its authors acknowledged their claims and research methodology had not been subject to any form of peer review or academic scrutiny.
That's funny stuff -- 'OK, the part about the study proving widespread voter fraud is true, but it's not really a 'Stanford Study,' it was just done by students at Stanford... and, er, nobody's going to check their work, because nobody wants to know if they're right.'

So, democracy is messy. The RNC had a rules fight, a floor fight, Ted Cruz's excellent speech on principle, and then nominated Donald Trump. Donald Trump, I mean, and not Jeb Bush. If the Republican party were rigged like the Democratic party, Jeb Bush would be the Republican nominee this morning.

Factor that in to the choice, I suppose. The Democratic system is rigged from stem to stern. The Republicans are really taking this democracy thing seriously, even at the cost of losing control of the party, even at the cost of public embarrassment. Even, possibly, at the cost of what should have been an easily-winnable election.

Maybe that commitment to democracy ought to mean something. I leave it for you to decide.

Great Ape Starts Fires, Cooks Own Food

So if this election does lead to Armageddon, at least our replacements are on deck.

That's Convenient Timing

The Fraternal Order of Police hit Hillary Clinton on her convention speakers:
“The Fraternal Order of Police is insulted and will not soon forget that the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton are excluding the widows and other family members of police officers killed in the line of duty who were victims of explicit and not implied racism,” Mr. McNesby said in a statement.

He said it’s “sad that to win an election Mrs. Clinton must pander to the interests of people who do not know all the facts, while the men and women they seek to destroy are outside protecting the political institutions of this country.

“Mrs. Clinton, you should be ashamed of yourself, if that is possible.”
In fairness, there's no evidence that it is possible.

It sure is good timing for Donald Trump, who apparently intends to say the following lines in his speech:
I have a message for all of you: the crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon come to an end. Beginning on January 20th 2017, safety will be restored.

The most basic duty of government is to defend the lives of its own citizens. Any government that fails to do so is a government unworthy to lead.

It is finally time for a straightforward assessment of the state of our nation.

I will present the facts plainly and honestly. We cannot afford to be so politically correct anymore.

So if you want to hear the corporate spin, the carefully-crafted lies, and the media myths the Democrats are holding their convention next week.

But here, at our convention, there will be no lies. We will honor the American people with the truth, and nothing else.

These are the facts:

Decades of progress made in bringing down crime are now being reversed by this Administration’s rollback of criminal enforcement.

Homicides last year increased by 17% in America’s fifty largest cities. That’s the largest increase in 25 years. In our nation’s capital, killings have risen by 50 percent. They are up nearly 60% in nearby Baltimore.

In the President’s hometown of Chicago, more than 2,000 have been the victims of shootings this year alone. And more than 3,600 have been killed in the Chicago area since he took office.

The number of police officers killed in the line of duty has risen by almost 50% compared to this point last year.... The problems we face now – poverty and violence at home, war and destruction abroad – will last only as long as we continue relying on the same politicians who created them.
I don't know who wrote this speech, but they earned their money.

A Paradigm Example of the Problem With OODA-Loop Gun Training For Police

When a 23-year-old autistic man carrying a toy truck wandered from a mental health center out into the street Monday, a worker there named Charles Kinsey went to retrieve him.

A few minutes later the autistic man was still sitting cross-legged blocking the roadway while playing with the small, rectangular white toy. And Kinsey was prone on the ground next to him — a bullet from an assault rifle fired by a police officer having struck his leg.

“He throws his hands up in the air and says, ‘Don’t shoot me.’ They say lie on the ground, so he does,” Kinsey’s attorney Hilton Napoleon said Wednesday. “He’s on his back with his hands in the air trying to convince the other guy to lie down. It doesn’t make any sense.”

...

Kinsey said when he asked the officer why he fired his weapon, the cop responded, “I don’t know.”
It makes perfect sense. You train for a stimulus/response reaction, you're training the officers to shoot without thinking. He doesn't know why he shot. It's an honest answer. Some stimulus triggered the response. He never thought about whether to shoot at all.

Here's A Concept

80 % Arms sells unfinished upper and lower receivers that are perfectly legal to buy without any kind of license. They also sell jigs for finishing them. Looks like for less than $300 you could have both the jig and an unfinished lower, which you could finish at your convenience.

You could then purchase or build any kind of upper for it, and have a working rifle that's completely legal and yet also completely off the books.

Range 15 in the Washington Post

The 'Rocky Horror Picture Show' of the military community, they quote Nick Palmisciano as saying.
Since its mid-June debut in the U.S., the comedy has brought in close to $700,000 at the box office in fan-sponsored screenings across the country. One of those screenings was late last month at Ashburn’s Alamo Drafthouse, selling out a 135-seat theater in a day. It was at that Virginia theater that Nick Palmisciano, a West Point grad and one of the movie’s stars and producers, began to wonder if the movie had hit a nerve.

Predictably, most of the audience had military ties but, to Palmisciano’s surprise, about a third of the crowd had already seen earlier screenings. As the jokes and gore ratcheted up, he sat stunned as fans began to shout out dialogue.
I can see that. There's another round of shows scheduled in Georgia. I don't know if any of them will make, but if they do, I might like to go back and shout dialog at the screen with comrades.

Doctrine Man Poll: Johnson the Troop Favorite

I don't know if any of you participated in this poll, but here's how it shook out. It was a web-based poll, so the findings aren't considered scientific.
Current, reserve and former members of the Army preferred Johnson at 35.4 percent. Trump, the Republican nominee, came in second at 31.4 percent, and Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee, at 15.3 percent.

Among the Marine community, an overwhelming 44.1 percent chose Johnson, while 27.1 percent chose Trump, and 12.7 percent chose Clinton.

The majority of the Air Force respondents chose Johnson at 39 percent, but Trump next at 29.9 percent and Clinton at 12.9 percent.

Trump ranked the top choice for the Navy community, at 32.4 percent, versus 31.7 percent for Johnson and 22.9 percent for Clinton.

Despite Clinton's underwhelming performance among active duty troops in the poll, their family members preferred Clinton at 29.4 percent to 27.5 percent for Trump. Johnson came in third, at 24.5 percent.

Trump came out on top among members of the military who retired after serving at least 20 years.

Retirees preferred Trump at 37.4 percent, compared to 32.2 percent for Johnson and only 11 percent for Hillary Clinton.

However, when former members of the military who served fewer than 20 years were included, Johnson came in first, at 36.1 percent, while Hillary Clinton garnered 12.6 percent.
Unfortunately, the category of "family members" is going to be much larger than any of the other categories. Though relatively fewer family members voted than service members, in a real election their slight preference for her would have big effects on the total vote. Still, it's striking that even with Johnson as the runaway favorite, Trump still pulled double the figure that Clinton did in the overall results of this poll.

Good Question from Raven

Raven asks if "interchangeable parts" with regard to MA's new assault weapons ban applies to things like detachable magazines and scopes. Does that mean anything with a Picatinny rail is now an assault weapon?



Watch out for that "assault" break-action shotgun.

Just What Does My Conscience Say About Trump?

Ted Cruz's manful speech puts us in the difficult question of having to ask whether, in good conscience, one could vote for Donald Trump for President. I am convinced he is personally unfit for the office, and that he would make terrible decisions if elected, and that he is without the moral character that ought ideally to accompany one into such an awesome -- or perhaps awful, in its Biblical sense -- set of responsibilities.

Thus, I cannot in good conscience vote for him.

However, if his opponent should win, I am quite sure that things will be even worse. She will be able to effectively repeal any part of the Constitution she dislikes by replacing the late Justice Scalia with a fifth progressive vote. The "living Constitution" means no real Constitution at all: it just means whatever the left would like it to mean, even if it plainly says otherwise. One faces not merely political defeat of our understanding of the right view for a time, but a permanent end to the Constitution as a written document establishing hard limits on the government.

Likewise, she herself is corrupt and a corrupting influence. She is also completely without decent character, and not the least bit shy about lying through her smile to the American people whenever it is even slightly convenient. The FBI and the Justice Department have recently proven both her corruption and her deception, as much as they were trying to avoid prosecuting her.

So, if she is elected I can reasonably expect the American project as I understand it to die. There will still be a "Constitution," but it will not serve to restrain the powerful: it will serve only to produce occasional apologies from the Supreme Court for the government's continual expansion of power. The government will also become intensely corrupt at the same time that it is becoming completely unrestrained.

Thus, I cannot in good conscience vote for her.

Of the remaining candidates, I think the Libertarians are simply wrong on the merits on a number of foreign policy issues, as well as immigration. Immigration is right now one of the most important of issues to get right, and they don't. The Green Party's candidate is a well-meaning woman of intelligence and forceful argument. I like her, and I respect her as a moral agent, but I disagree with her about nearly everything.

On the other hand, neither of them is going to win, so I could in good conscience vote for either. My disagreements with them won't matter if they are never elected, and they are probably both decent people. I would have exercised my very limited power as a voter responsibly by endorsing only someone with the right moral character for the office, and I will have caused no harm in any case.

This all comes back to a philosophical argument we've had here from time to time. In the infamous "trolley problem," one envisions a trolley speeding down a track toward five people. They will be killed if you do nothing. However, you are standing next to a switch that can route the trolley onto another track. Only one person is on that track. Is it morally better to do nothing, or to pull the switch?

Some of you have argued that it is better to let the five die, because you are not responsible for that. That's an accident. If you pull the lever to save them, you will be responsible for intentionally killing the one innocent life. Intentional killing of the innocent is murder, and murder is always wrong. Thus, you cannot pull the lever even to save five lives.

Others say that not pulling the lever is also a chosen action, and by allowing the five to die rather than pull the lever you are taking their deaths on your conscience. Thus, you cannot refuse to pull the lever under the circumstances.

At the moment, with the polls tight, this looks like a difficult decision that might come down to a difference of philosophical intuitions like these. It may be that, closer to election day, the race will have diverged so much one way or the other that it will be easier to vote in good conscience. But for now, one must think of whether or not to pull the lever.

DB: Military Must Condemn Radicalized Veterans

Following two incidents this month where veterans of the armed services murdered police officers, Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and GOP congressional leaders are putting heavy pressure on ordinary military people to condemn the actions of radicalized veterans, according to several statements released by representatives....

The Council on American/Military Relations (CAMR) has gone on the offensive.

“The actions of Mr. Johnson do not reflect the values of the United States Army or any of the other branches of service,” CAMR Secretary Eric Fanning said in response to the calls for condemnation. “The army is a religion of peace.”

Vote Your Conscience

After all, if Hillary Clinton wins, there's always South Australia.



Actually, Australia has intense immigration laws. So don't lie to yourself. You live or die here. America is the last hope, and not just the "last, best hope." We're it.

The RNC is Awash with Plagiarism

Ted Cruz's speech tonight:
To protect our God-given rights... so that when we are old and grey, and when our work is done, and we give those we love one final kiss goodbye; we will be able to say, "Freedom Matters, and I was part of something beautiful."
I've heard that speech before.



Well, if you must steal, you ought to steal from the best.

Actually, there are a lot of parallels with this speech and the matter before us today.

A Viable Replacement for the Home Shotgun

Well, I mean, not for squirrel hunting. For other things.



Julian Castro for Dem VP Nominee

Why not go all the way with the unindicted criminal thing?

UPDATE: Actually, you know what? It looks like there may be more than one option here.

3,000 Year Old Settlement Preserved... By Being Burned

Via Albion Swords, a raiding party thousands of years ago struck this settlement and burned it. Oddly enough, that's just why we can see it today in such dramatic detail.

The Guns of the Mid-Late 20th Century

...as seen through a selection of their advertisements.

Updating Sidebar

In a discussion below, I mentioned that the sidebar could really use an update. All of you who are co-authors here are invited to let me know if you would like a links section added, or updated, with your favorites. Anything you may be writing yourselves, including other blogs or books, you are welcome to mention.

Many times I don't even realize that people who leave comments here have blogs of their own I should be following. Let me know if there are resources I should know about.

For Love of Latin

A victim of the financial collapse finds new purpose in a 'dead' language.

Massachusetts Bans Sale of Many Modern Sporting Rifles

Declaring that their law bans the sale of any rifle that has interchangeable parts with any other rifle on their 'banned' list, by a stroke of a pen they have made illegal the sale of whole categories of rifles designed to be compliant with their state laws.

It's my understanding that (unlike handguns) you can buy a rifle while traveling in a different state than the one in which you reside, as long as you buy from a licensed gun dealer. (If you're worried about government records, you can then sell that rifle to someone in your own state in trade for another rifle they own -- which they can have purchased out of state from a licensed gun dealer.)

Massachusetts isn't that big of a state. Working around its restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms should be doable for most.

Muslim(s?) for Trump

I missed this aspect of last night's festivities, but it strikes me as significant -- not that it implies a lot of Muslim supporters for Trump, but for what it says about Trump and his people. They can't be nearly as anti-Islam as they have been painted if they're hosting Islamic prayers on the campaign stage. Trump is often compared to Hitler by his opponents, but no Nazi rally was ever going to close with a Jewish prayer.

"Lock Her Up"

I am amused by how upset people on the left are by the focus by the RNC crowd, especially during Christie's speech, on putting Hillary Clinton in prison. Why this is unprecedented! Disturbing! How can you debate an opponent fairly if you assume she is a criminal?

Well, you know, maybe don't keep nominating criminals, then.

High Crimes vs. Misdemeanors

NRO, in a list of ten reasons why Trump might actually win, suggests that part of it comes down to what kinds of offenses each creates:
Trump struggles with embarrassing misdemeanors, Clinton with high crimes. She may be delighted at not having been indicted, but FBI Director Comey confirmed to the nation that she was an inveterate liar, paranoid, conspiratorial, and incompetent. That she was not charged only made the FBI seem absurd: offering a damning hooved, horned, pitchforked, and forked-tailed portrait of someone mysteriously not a denizen of Hell. Add in the Clinton Foundation syndicate and the fact that lies are lies and often do not fade so easily, and Hillary in the next 15 weeks may average one “liar” and “crooked” disclosure each week — at a rate that even the Trump tax returns and Trump University cannot keep up with.

The Melania Hoax

This is a huge story, and they're right that it has to be completely humiliating for Melania Trump. At minimum, it exposes her as someone who was willing to get up and give a speech about her life that was written by someone else, which wasn't obviously true to her life.

However, while everyone shouts at each other and tries to gain partisan points, let me suggest that this was a hoax. The evidence is the "Rickroll" in the middle of it.

Now as everyone knows, the "Rickroll" is an internet hoax created and popularized by 4chan pranksters. At least some members of Anonymous, which is linked to 4chan (and indeed commonly thought to have grown out of it originally) have declared war on Donald Trump, although the group's main channel has rejected the call.

Still, my guess is that some of these hackers got access to the Trump campaign's data -- through a hacked private email account, it could easily be -- and altered the speech in a way that was guaranteed to be humiliating to Ms. Trump. The "Rickroll" in the middle is a kind of signature, then, so everyone will realize how clever they were.

If I'm right in that guess, it was a devastating move. By the time anyone picks up on it, the news cycle will be over and she will have been both publicly humiliated and likely permanently damaged as a campaign asset.

Marcus Luttrell at the RNC

The Lone Survivor decided he wasn't very good with a teleprompter, and was just going to speak from the heart. He did a pretty good job of it, too.

These "Art" Protests Are Pretty Pointless

Does anyone really think that Donald Trump is going to grasp the high-concept feminist point that these 100 naked women intended to make? (Link is NSFW, probably, unless your boss is totally OK with pictures of lots of nude women as long as they're making a high-concept feminist point).

If you're going to use art as a means of protest, shouldn't it be art that is structured to reach the particular people you're trying to change? Shouldn't it be clear and intelligible to them, rather than aimed over their heads?

Make a Western or something.

In Praise of Forgetting

For some years I've argued that 'moral progress' is a mere illusion. Joseph W. and I used to fight about this, in that joyous and pleasant way in which we contested each other's ideas. My sense is that mostly people's values change by encountering other people -- ideas 'rub off,' as it were. Now people closer to you rub off on you more than people further away. It is possible to be distant in both time and space, such that people further away from you in time will look less like you than people closer. That means that we should ordinarily expect to see an illusion of progress, because (a) we take our own values to be right, and (b) the further back you go, the less people agree with us.

There are some obvious additional factors that make it easier or harder for people to 'rub off' on you: sharing a language makes it more likely at distance; belonging to a civilization makes it more likely that you will share at least some values with your ancestors, too. Still, by and large I think it's obvious that you would think of society as progressing morally simply by looking back and discovering that, the further away from yourself you go, the less people agree with your (obviously correct!) moral values.

As a Catholic, I'm inclined to draw a big exception to this general rule, which is that real moral progress is possible if and only if we are moving toward divinely defined rather than human values. Only if we are speaking in this way can we speak sensibly of a real moral progress. Any other sort of talk of moral progress is going to prove to be illusory, a mere flattering of one's self and of those that agree with us.

(There is an inverse argument that most conservative fears of moral crumbling are likewise illusory: if you set any moment in history as your ideal, naturally as you get further away from it values will be more and more different. Thus, both of our usual political viewpoints on morality -- the ones animating progressivism and conservatism -- are wrong.)

I remind you of all of that so that I can present you with this book review.
This is a shocking book, and all the better for it. Many right-thinking and historically well-informed people with a lively sense of justice will be appalled, even outraged, by its central argument, yet it is an argument they will be hard put to refute. In his closing pages, David Rieff states his case with a cogency and directness that are not blunted by the fact that it is framed in the form of a rhetorical question: “is it not conceivable,” he writes, “that were our societies to expend even a fraction of the energy on forgetting that they now do on remembering ... peace in some of the worst places in the world might actually be a step closer?”
I once heard a Buddhist argument that held something like: "To say that you have forgiven but not forgotten is to say that you have not forgiven." This is that argument in a developed form.

If you truly did forget, you would lose both any sense of moral progress, and any sense of moral crumbling. What would be left? Would it be enough?

Reason: Trump or Clinton Worse?

They asked a lot of people, and got almost always the expected answer: Clinton is the least worst of the two horrible, horrible options. There was one exception:
Glenn Reynolds
professor of law at the University of Tennessee and blogger at InstaPundit.com
"I favor Trump over Clinton, on the theory that he will bring in a fresh crop of thieves, while Hillary will enable the current crop to burrow in deeper."
I remain convinced that Clinton is worse, but I can see from the responses that my reasoning is not shared by anyone there. They all think Clinton will be more controlled, and maybe even more controllable. Virginia Postrel writes, for example, that "Clinton would still be subject to the checks that system provides, including the demand for a modicum of deference to the law. For the very reason that she is such a conventional politician, her opponents would know how to effectively oppose her."

I think that the opposite is true. Clinton would be completely immune to the system's checks. As long as you lacked the supermajority necessary to remove her from office in the Congress, Congress would be powerless against her. She would have a progressive pure majority on the Supreme Court to back her every play. I can't imagine that she could be stopped from doing anything she wanted.

Trump, on the other hand, has set himself up with a very ordinary Republican as his Vice President. If he proved as bad a President as is likely, there's no reason his own party wouldn't go along with replacing him with President Pence. Pence could even run for two more terms as President, allowing him to stand for office with all the advantages of the incumbent until the 2028 election. So the checks on Trump will be extraordinarily strong, because it would be in the interests of both parties to remove him for any abuse.

Wichita Does It Right

Peace officers.
Wichita Police Chief, Gordon Ramsay, says he has been working with Black Lives Matter leaders, and a protest that was planned for Sunday is being canceled.

Instead, the police department is hosting a cookout at McAdams Park. Black Lives Matter leaders are calling it the First Steps BBQ.

DB: CDRUSCENTCOM Celebrates Dodging a Bullet on Turkey

Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti and his European Command staff were less excited by the news.

I thought France was the only Islamic country in Europe,” intelligence officer Jason Smith confessed.... Scaparrotti addressed the issue briefly in a press conference this morning. “Look I came to Europe for the same reason as everyone else – to get as far away from Muslims as possible,” he said. “If this instability keeps up I’m packing my bags and heading back to Korea.”
I wonder if there are any plans to evacuate the nuclear weapons from Incirlik?

Project Reverse Exile

An Assistant US Attorney explains what he thinks is going on with the spike in murder rates in American cities. He and I apparently agree about the cause, which is surprising given our quite different backgrounds.
[B]eginning in the mid-80s, when we had violent crimes spiralling upwards, congress gave us, that is federal law enforcement community and the prosecutors some very important tools to dismantle and disrupt large drug – large and often violent drug trafficking organisations and gangs. And we used those tools. We took the most – the worst of the worst off the streets. We put them in federal prisons. And they got some very substantial sentences. That was important, so important that beginning in 1991, the trend of upward, upward trend of violent crime reversed. And by 2014, we had cut violent crime in half. Violent crime rates as well as non-violent crime rates had been cut in half....

...one thing that most people may not know and that is, over the last five years, the United States Department of Justice has – and remember, we’ve focused on the worst of the worst in the violent and drug trafficking arenas, as well as other crime areas, we’ve had a twenty-five percent reduction in federal prosecutions.
He also mentions immigration as a driver of higher crime rates, which is a forbidden thought that will probably get him fired from his position as an AUSA.

The thing is, the Federal laws haven't changed. The President has the power in his hands to turn this around whenever he wants to do so. He's been pushing things the other way instead. Either he is in denial about the effects this is having on America's cities, or he desires those effects for some reason -- perhaps because he thinks it will improve his chances of getting a gun control bill through Congress, or of electing a new Congress that will be easier to get gun control past. That would be a rather cynical move.

My suspicion is that the answer is simply that the President and his hand-picked DOJ team just don't believe that the Federal government's crime policies are good for the black community. They've cut prosecutions because they think that the prosecutions are harmful. Then the spiking murder rate is an unintended effect, but one from which they are not learning. Or rather, they are trying to learn the lesson they'd prefer to learn instead of the obvious one. They're choosing to "learn" that they need to do more to enact their preferred agenda about disarming those tens of millions of Americans who have nothing to do with the crime rates because those people aren't criminals.

One of These Things is Not Like The Other

Michael Ledeen says that you can't win a fight against an enemy you can't even name.

Over the pond, the Qulliam Foundation is trying to figure out how to talk about the dangers from political Islam and the far right. They propose a lexicon.

The section on Islam is reasonable, and it's nice to see a willingness to grapple with it. The section on the "far right" has similarly clear definitions for Neo-Nazis, but the definition of "far right" is suddenly much less clear and precise than the other definitions in the lexicon: "a far-right ideology characterised by extreme nationalistic beliefs or extreme, intolerant behaviour."

There are no wiggle-words like "extreme" in the other definitions. Islamists are those who want to impose "any version" of Islam over society, violently or nonviolently. We know exactly who they are from that definition.

So who is the "far right"? They give some examples, but examples are not definitions. Clarity would be helpful here, as I think there's a tendency to elide a lot of ordinary right wing people and groups into the category of "extreme nationalists." What's the point at which nationalism becomes extreme? Favoring trade policies that protect your country's interests? Being willing to fight to preserve your national territory from invasion? From unlawful immigration? Or does it only embrace expansionist nationalisms, like Russia's is currently?

Red Sun Rising

Japan is poised to amend its constitution for the first time since the Second World War.

It's a mixed bag of proposals, some of which are really nasty.
As Bloomberg reports, the LDP has pointed out that “several of the current constitutional provisions are based on the Western European theory of natural human rights; such provisions therefore [need] to be changed.” What has the LDP got against the “Western European theory of natural human rights”? you might ask. Well, dozens of LDP legislators and ministers — including Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe — are members of a radical nationalist organization called Nippon Kaigi, which believes (according to one of its members, Hakubun Shimomura, who until recently was Japan’s education minister) that Japan should abandon a “masochistic view of history” wherein it accepts that it committed crimes during the Second World War. In fact, in Nippon Kaigi’s view, Japan was the wronged party in the war....

Kaigi believes that “Japan should be applauded for liberating much of East Asia” during WW2, that the “Tokyo War Crimes tribunals were illegitimate,” and that the rape of Nanking was either “exaggerated or fabricated.” It denies the forced prostitution of Chinese and Korean “comfort women” by the Imperial Japanese Army, believes Japan should have an army again — something outlawed by Japan’s current constitution — and believes that it should return to worshipping [sic] the emperor.
In general I think they're right that a 'masochistic' view of history is unhealthy for a nation. I've always had the sense, completely without evidence, that such masochism has something to do with the falling rates of fertility in Japan and Europe. I don't mean to suggest that it's the only cause, only that it has an effect on fertility. The theory runs something like this: just as you can't really be fully healthy if you hate your parents, you can't really be fully healthy if you hate the country that gave birth to you and sustained you into adulthood. Those who are less healthy will feel less interest in reproduction, out of an unspoken sense that they shouldn't pass on sickness and pain. By contrasts, countries with a robust patriotism -- as people who enjoy a strong and loving family bond -- will feel that they are flourishing, and that sensibly relates to a desire to have more children.

There's a neoplatonic root to the theory. Plotinus, explaining why the One produces the rest of the world, says something similar: "all things when they come to perfection produce." Since the One is perfect, it is eternally productive. Now, you may doubt the metaphysical claims of neoplatonism, but I think the insight is perhaps even more applicable to human beings (Plotinus was, after all, a human being). The sense of having reached a kind of perfection leads naturally to that place in which you are open to creating new life, just as a bird strives in the right time of the year to make nests and sing songs of attraction. The more one is afflicted with dense feelings of guilt and shame, the less likely it is that one ever comes to feel that sense that everything is right.

My theory could be quite wrong, of course: it's purely philosophical, and without any solid evidence to support it. However, believing it as I do, I can't help but think that it must be healthy for Japan to reject what it considers 'masochism,' and embrace a prouder view of its nation and traditions.

There is also no reason that Japan should not have an army, being neighbors with China and North Korea. For a long time the alliance with the United States was a plausible defense, but the years of Barack Obama have proven to the whole world that America is no longer reliable. Even once we have a new President, our standing has been greatly weakened by the consequences of Obama's foreign policy. A stronger defense makes good sense.

So those are the good parts of Japan's new self-assertiveness. The nasty parts... are all the rest of it, really. Worshiping the emperor? Abandoning the doctrine of natural human rights? Taking the easy road of revisionist history? These are not good signs.

Police Union President: "I Don’t Care if it’s Constitutional or Not."

NEW: Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association drafting asking OH Gov. John Kasich to suspend open carry in Cleveland during RNC Convention.
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) July 17, 2016
“We are sending a letter to Gov. Kasich requesting assistance from him. He could very easily do some kind of executive order or something — I don’t care if it’s constitutional or not at this point,” Cleveland Police Union president Stephen Loomis told CNN.
Duly noted, officer.

Oh, Good Lord

"FBI Director Comey is a board member of Clinton Foundation connected bank HSBC."

Well, it could prove to be wrong or untrue. Maybe!

This Poll is Difficult to Believe

Boy, those atheists, huh?
Many Americans view Islam unfavorably, and supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump are more than twice as likely to view the religion negatively as those backing Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, according to a Reuters/Ipsos online poll of more than 7,000 Americans.

It shows that 37 percent of American adults have a "somewhat unfavorable" or "very unfavorable" view of Islam. This includes 58 percent of Trump supporters and 24 percent of Clinton supporters, a contrast largely mirrored by the breakdown between Republicans and Democrats.

By comparison, respondents overall had an equally unfavorable view of atheism at 38 percent, compared with 21 percent for Hinduism, 16 percent for Judaism and 8 percent for Christianity.
Does anyone really believe that as many or slightly more Americans have a negative view of atheism as Islam? When was the last atheist terror attack?

My guess is that 38% of Americans genuinely have a problem with atheism, whereas only 37% of Americans feel comfortable speaking honestly about their concerns with regard to Islam. Such concerns need not be hateful nor, at this point, an expression of "prejudice" -- a word that means a pre-judgment, in advance of the facts. There are plenty of hard facts in evidence now. At this point, anyone who doesn't admit to honest concerns about Islam as practiced today is not being honest, possibly with themselves. Muslims themselves have reasons to be concerned about Islam just now, and maybe Muslims most of all. I know some several who will admit to their concerns, at least in private conversation.

Again, at some point we need to start speaking honestly about all this. If we're to avoid a future of ethnic cleansing and worse, we need to stop trying to paper this stuff over.

How Captain America: Civil War Should Have Ended

The gentle folk at How It Should Have Ended take on Captain America. They bring up some of the stuff we talked about in our earlier discussion.

Also, here there be spoilers!

Range 15 Update

It's still showing here and there. "Here" being a few screens that have gotten repeat showings, as interest continues. "There" being... Baghdad.
U.S. veterans and now stars of recent military horror-comedy, “Range 15,” visited service members Saturday-Monday and shared a screening of their movie.

Soldiers deployed to Forward Operating Base Union III in support of the Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command – Operation Inherent Resolve filed into a room to watch “Range 15” and got the opportunity to meet the stars – Mat Best, Army Ranger veteran and CEO of Article 15 Clothing; Jarred Taylor, Air Force veteran and Article 15’s chief marketing officer; and Nick Palmisciano, Army veteran and founder of Ranger Up clothing company.

Because most deployed Soldiers would not have gotten the opportunity to see “Range 15,” Palmisciano worked his contacts to set up the tour in coordination with Armed Forces Entertainment, Best said.

“There was no theatrical release overseas, and this movie was made by vets for vets,” he said.

"Those Of Us Who Are Over... 35 Or So..."

Some words from Ronald Reagan.



How are we doing on this, brothers and sisters?

Man Without Most of His Brain... Still Conscious

This goes with the 'male and female mice have different pain structures' discussion. We really don't have any idea how all this works.

Dear Piers Morgan: Don't Let The Door Hit You

His reaction to this commercial was to say that it was "One of the most disgusting things I've ever seen."



Well, we won't miss you, Piers. But I'd watch that talk if you ever run into my wife, because she's just this kind of girl.

Pocket Monsters

(H/t Mad Minerva)

A bit of reverse cultural assimilation: Pokemon (ポケモン) is a Japanese contraction for the English words "pocket monster" (ポケットモンスター / poketto monsuta-). For some reason, I find it amusing to hear Americans say "Pokemon".

No, I have no excuse for posting this. It's Friday: We don't need no stinking excuses!

Heh

Good Question

[I]n November, when American voters choose how to cast their ballots for president, they will surely take policies and the candidates' personalities into consideration.

But they also have another question to answer, and it is not a frivolous one. Do they want four more years of leaders who respond to crisis by delivering self-righteous lectures to them about their faults?

The FBI Is Not Covering Itself With Glory Lately

The Bureau finds 'no evidence' that Omar Mateen intended to target gays in his decision to stage an Islamist attack at a gay nightclub.

Cf. this reminder of another recent FBI investigation:
Never in the history of world has a human being been so completely buried under a mountain of no evidence. Hillary Clinton can say there’s no evidence she sent classified emails until the evidence shows up, at which point there is no evidence she knew they were classified, until evidence of that shows up, at which point there is no evidence anyone got hold of it, until 400 people are willing to stake their lives that it was certainly compromised by sophisticated bad actors, at which point there is no evidence that it mattered.

This came to mind listening to FBI Director James Comey’s interesting phraseology, carefully formulated, no doubt: “We found no evidence” and “We did not find clear evidence” and “[Hillary’s lawyers] deleted all emails they did not return to State, and the lawyers cleaned their devices in such a way as to preclude complete forensic recovery” (emphasis mine).
It does seem as if they are, lately, more devoted to finding "no evidence" than to finding evidence.

November Paris Attack Tortured Victims for ISIS Propaganda

The French government has suppressed the story until now.
The chief police witness in Parliament testified that on the night of the attacks, an investigating officer, tears streaming down his face, rushed out of the Bataclan and vomited in front of him just after seeing the disfigured bodies.

The 14-hour testimony about the November attacks took place March 21st.

According to this testimony, Wahhabist killers reportedly gouged out eyes, castrated victims, and shoved their testicles in their mouths. They may also have disemboweled some poor souls. Women were reportedly stabbed in the genitals – and the torture was, victims told police, filmed for Daesh or Islamic State propaganda.
At some point, we're going to have to start being honest with ourselves about what we're facing.

Military Coup Attempt in Turkey

Unfolding. The Turkish military was entrusted by Ataturk with the duty of preserving his revolution, which has been undermined somewhat by the present administration's flirtation with Islamism. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

MikeD, Call the Office

Hey, Mike, I have a message for you and I don't seem to have your email. A friend of your friend COL Sobichevsky is trying to get in touch.

Viking Ship Update

Popular Mechanics has confirmed that it's actually four hundred thousand dollars that is being demanded in piloting fees.

Good gracious, people. Even if this were a commercial and profit-making vessel, how could that be a reasonable figure?

Immigration and Terrorism

A post at Fabius Maximus.
Europe is in a situation much like the forests of the western US. Years of policy errors have made both into large tinderboxes. Prevention is impossible; massive fires are inevitable. Mitigation is the only option. That’s easy (albeit expensive) with forest fires. Less so with the consequences of mass immigration.

France will have to live with the great rings around its cities of disaffected, poor, unassimilated migrants and their children. Fundamental Islamic groups have spent years building their infrastructure, with jihadists lurking within. More attacks are likely.
One could also cut down the forests. We don't, but only because we value the forests a great deal.

Brains and Immunity

Back in March, the University of Virginia announced that the brain turns out to be connected directly to the immune system -- and by structures we didn't know existed, long after most medical doctors thought the body was fully mapped. Now it turns out that the brain's connection to the immune system appears to govern something important about our social interactions.
So could immune system problems contribute to an inability to have normal social interactions? The answer appears to be yes, and that finding could have significant implications for neurological diseases such as autism-spectrum disorders and schizophrenia.
That's going to change the way we think about a number of different things.

Weber Was Wrong

Bear this in mind, as you bear your arms.
Here’s the issue before us, after Dallas: Is the United States a state?

The question seems strange; this nation’s full official name suggests not only a state, but also a union of states. Among defining attributes of a state, the United States possesses a territory, a flag, laws — and courts and bureaucrats to enforce them.

What it doesn’t have, crucially, is a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence by a central authority.

In part, this is by design. The Constitution provides for the legitimate use of violence by a federal government, but also by the 50 semi-sovereign entities represented in Washington. Indeed, in the founding era, the federal government exercised only limited power to establish a standing military or law-enforcement apparatus; it relied heavily on state cooperation, and state resources, to provide what we know today as “national security.”

And then there’s the Second Amendment, which gives “the people” a right to “keep and bear arms,” thus legitimizing nongovernmental violence, not only by groups — from slave patrols to pioneers to sheriffs’ posses — but also by individuals, from hunters to homeowners.

No constitutional provision better expresses an essential difference between the state as Europeans understood it and the “republic” America’s founders conceived. Yet none has spawned more debate, confusion and conflict within America itself, right down to the present day.
No greater matter exists for us as a free people. The United States must never be a "state" by this European notion. Should it come to an appeal to the God of Hosts, we must keep this right subject to the People. This is what enabled Magna Carta, the Declaration of Arbroath, the Declaration of Independence. There is no more fundamental matter, nothing more important save the salvation of our souls.

And even there, if we are wrong, we have the comfort of praying for forgiveness in our error.  But we aren't wrong:  Luke 22:36.