When Your Father Sends You A "Thug Life" Video

I think the song is "You Are My Sunshine," sung in Austrian German. From a former, long-time captain of the Volunteer Fire Department.

I Don't Know Why

But this came to mind today:

And this is apropos as well, in the broader cultural context we find ourselves in:

The FOX Cut

So, my guy in this election is Jim Webb, who though he has been a Republican in other years is running as a Democrat this time. He may yet have a moment, if the Hillary collapse continues, and I think it's right to be prepared for it should it come. On the other hand, this is the right time to be keeping an eye on the primary in general. If I've learned anything about American politics, it's that only those who are interested early have any hope of affecting the outcome. For that reason, these early stories can really matter. Here's one that does: FOX News has picked its debate partners.

It's a shame about Santorum, since he is a Knight of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and for the same reasons the most socially conservative figure in the race. He did very well in 2012, holding off the establishment machine longer than anyone. I realize some among you thought he was a faker about his moral convictions, and he has not polled well this year. Being a frontrunner four years ago doesn't make you a contender today. If he is to come back from this he'll have to earn it.

Otherwise, it seems like the best candidates -- Cruz, Walker -- and the worst ones -- Bush, Trump -- will all be there. Should be a good brawl.


A Strange Definition of Hypocrisy

An author named Damon Linker has an article in which he claims that pro-life advocates are hypocrites. It starts reasonably:
I'm never more dumbfounded by my fellow liberals than when they profess not to be in the least bit morally troubled by abortion. Which means that I've been dumbfounded a lot over the past few weeks.

Come on, admit it — you've heard variations on it, too:

Those videos of Planned Parenthood employees nonchalantly discussing killing unborn human babies, dismembering them, and selling the parts for medical research — how could anyone object to that? What should really make us angry is that these pro-life activists filmed the videos in the first place. And if you want to see something truly despicable — a genuine moral outrage — there's this dentist who hunted down and shot a lion in Africa...
I have indeed heard exactly these variations lately. Somehow the real moral problem exposed by the videos is... that someone made the videos. That should be punished!

So, OK, I'm open to his argument. He comes down to a moderate pro-choice position at least to viability, which is not my position but one I'm prepared to see as reasonable. He's got thoughtful arguments. So what's this about hypocrisy?
[T]he pro-life movement, which consists largely of conservative Catholics and evangelical Protestants, doesn't just want to lower the abortion rate. It also wants to win a culture war in the name of "traditional values" — and encouraging the widespread use of birth control doesn't fit with its conception of tradition, which holds that women are first and foremost meant to be mothers, children are a gift from God, pre-marital sex should be strongly discouraged, both husband and wife should be "open to life" during sexual intercourse, abortion should never be considered an acceptable choice, and the government should enforce all of this by outlawing the procedure.
There's two things to say about that.

1) It's not true that pro-lifers in general oppose birth control, or strive to keep it from being available. In fact, the last I heard there was a faction on the Republican pro-life side that was advocating making birth control over the counter. So not only would you not have to ask your priest if you could use it, you wouldn't have to ask a doctor or a pharmacist either. You could just go grab a bottle of the stuff like you would Tylenol. So there's a pro-life position in accord with his stated views.

By the same token, there are people who hold firmly to all the traditional values but don't necessarily want the government to be the enforcer. For a long time that was my position: pro-choice only in the limited sense of not being willing to actually outlaw and prosecute people over abortion, but pro-life in the strong sense of believing that abortion was obviously immoral. A good person ought not to do it except in a very limited set of cases involving the death of the mother. Other solutions ought to be chosen. That doesn't mean that prison is the answer for those who make what I think is the immoral choice, any more than I would want to see people imprisoned for divorcing or even adultery. So there's a vigorous pro-life option available without force.

2) For the subset that remains, it's hardly hypocrisy to hold to a set of non-conflicting religious doctrines. For Catholics, yes, abortion is a grave sin in addition to a moral crime. Birth control is also forbidden, but not by a conflicting argument, by the same argument about God's purpose for human sexuality. It's the same argument that leads to both conclusions. How can this be hypocrisy?

As I've mentioned here a number of times, to the eternal boredom of everyone, Kant comes to the same position from an argument he believed based on pure practical reason. Whatever Kant was, he wasn't a hypocrite!

On sexual matters especially, there's a danger of hypocrisy in the usual sense of the term: we often really believe in the truth of doctrine, but fall away from practicing it due to temptation. It may well be that the doctrine is so strict that few are able to fully practice it perfectly all the time. Human weakness is not a good argument for abandoning a doctrine soundly based on reason, though, and it's an even worse argument for those who believe the position is derived from divine purpose.

For those who actually live the doctrine, the charge of hypocrisy is wholly unwarranted. They're being honest about what they think is best, and trying to pursue a society in which it is the norm. That's just what they ought to do.

Insurgent Action Report

Charles Koch has struck up a partnership with the United Negro College Fund.

He and [UNCF President Michael] Lomax have found common ground over the issue of criminal justice reform, a cause that Koch Industries has taken up. And Koch expressed concern about the recent spate of high-profile incidents in which black men have died at the hands of police officers.

I think we missed an opportunity to reach out to the Occupy Wall Street crowd when that was going on. I think we're also missing an opportunity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement. With OWS, we have a shared concern with crony capitalism, and with BLM, it's legal reform.

We don't have to agree with everything they want, and we don't even have to like them. But building relationships and working with the left's own protest movements to achieve our goals would be a twofer in every case.

A Conservative Insurgency

Kurt Schlichter's book Conservative Insurgency: The Struggle to Take America Back 2009-2041 presents a battle plan for conservatives willing to fight for reform. It is written as a novel and told as a graduate student oral history project of how conservatives retook American institutions from the universities to Hollywood to, of course, the state and federal governments. In a way, it is the antidote to Dan Simmons's Flashback where everything has gone wrong.

The book assumes Hilary won in 2016 and 2020 and that conservatives lost power in the federal government through the end of her time as president. But, by then, the conservative insurgents, the Tea Party and many like-minded folk, liberals mugged by the reality of what the liberal agenda does, etc., are prepared to fight back and they begin winning in very interesting, and plausible, ways.

Schlichter is a retired infantry colonel, trial lawyer, and, only naturally given the previous, a stand-up comedian. He worked for Andrew Breitbart and has apparently been around the talk radio and Fox channels. He brings all of these perspectives to this book.

It's a quick read and only 280 pages, and it sounds like a good plan to me.

Christina Hoff Sommers on how Feminism Went Wrong

It's an interesting conversation between two low-key, nuanced thinkers from the right. I don't necessarily agree, but her account is well-informed by decades of involvement.

A Good Head On Her Shoulders

I don't know how many of you saw Ronda Rousey's 34-second fight this weekend, but I did, and she has been very well taught. The most important thing she's got going for her from my perspective is that she's got her mind right. She understands what she's there to do, and she doesn't get distracted from doing it. That's more complicated than it sounds, as MMA is more complicated than boxing and it's fairly complex even in boxing. In brief, she's come to understand how the human body can be destroyed, and she's very good at recognizing opportunities to apply the right kind of force to the first opening she comes by that has that destructive potential. That's a mental game as much as a physical one, although you have to do the physical work to train your body to react to the openings in the right way.

So it's not too surprising -- especially since she tends to win very quickly, and therefore limits the number of shots to the head that she takes -- that she's got a good mind to go with her strong jab. Asked about whether she'd like to fight a man, since she's dominating among women, she looked outside of herself and her own situation and recognized something important about the message such a fight would send.
“I don’t think it’s a great idea to have a man hitting a woman on television,” Rousey told The Daily Beast on Wednesday. “I’ll never say that I’ll lose, but you could have a girl getting totally beat up on TV by a guy — which is a bad image to put across. With all the football [domestic violence] stuff that’s been happening, not a good idea. It’s fun to theorize about and talk about, but it’s something that’s much better in theory than fact.”
Today, I came across an interview in which a female reporter tried to get her on board with the 'gender disparity in pay' line. Rousey was not buying it. "If I got to the point that I had like 50 fights," she said, she'd be making the kind of money the top male boxers make at the height of their careers. "But at this point, I have eleven."

Pornography as Anti-Islamist Weapon

Vice magazine reports on a feature length pornographic film featuring Islamic symbolism. The accompanying photos are R-rated, not X-rated, though of course they are images from the promotional materials for a pornographic film. If you go to read the article, set your expectations accordingly.

What is interesting is the psychological claim that the filmmaker is claiming:
First and foremost, I want to make sure that everyone knows I'm not trying to incite another Charlie Hebdo incident. But [our four scenes] basically represent different women from different regions in the Middle East, different kinds of ideas. [We're] trying to be a little titillating, obviously, with the different kids of traditional dress. But I started the video by [thinking]: For Middle Eastern women, veiling is not just a way to suppress her sexual freedom, it's a symbol for all the human rights violations against these women like rape and domestic violence.

[It's about] taking the veil off.
Vice wasn't very impressed with the effect. "At its core," the judge, "the film is a prime example of banal ignorance fueling bigoted imagery."

I obviously haven't seen the film, and don't intend to. However, it strikes me that Vice isn't well placed to judge the impact of the film. Clearly the filmmaker is right about the effect of the veil as it is experienced by women in the region. Some may experience the veil as Islam claims to intend it to be experienced, as a liberation from the tyranny of continual male sexual attention. For others, her reading has to be close to right. What that means is that not only is this symbolism going to be powerful for those women, it's also going to be powerful symbolism for men from the cultures where veiling is tied to issues of sex. It may end up being more effective than they expect, in spite of its banality, because it touches on symbols that are deeply-felt for the Middle Eastern audience in a way they are not here.

So, there's an ethical question: would that be good, to have a beneficial effect achieved through the method of pornography? If you were trying to disrupt Islamist systems and found this was effective, is it a method you'd endorse? Or is the harm done too great to apologize for the good? You might want to include a brief discussion of whether you think pornography is in fact harmful, and if so just how, as philosophical opinions on that differ sharply.

Pressure Mounts on Clinton Emails

Not against Hillary herself, of course, but the water has risen high enough that Huma Abedin now has to tread it.
Judge Emmet Sullivan, a Bill Clinton appointee, cracked down on the delay tactics exercised in the effort to build a moat around her e-mails. He ordered Clinton and two of her closest aides, Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills, to “describe, under penalty of perjury, the extent to which Ms. Abedin and Ms. Mills used Mrs. Clinton’s email server to conduct official government business.” He also ordered them to confirm that that “they have produced all responsive information that was or is in their possession as a result of their employment at the State Department.” And if “all such information has not yet been produced,” they are ordered to produce it “forthwith.”
I assume they will have a lot of trouble recalling, though there is a point at which you can risk charges of contempt going down that road. I suppose they might try the lane cleared for them by Ms. Lois Learner: 'I have done nothing wrong, and plead the Fifth to avoid self-incrimination.'

UPDATE: The NY Daily News reminds us of a precedent: Bill Clinton's CIA director, whom he pardoned for a very similar offense.
The law is plain. Under the Espionage Act of 1917, “gross negligence” in the handling of national defense information is a punishable offense. If such information is “removed from its proper place of custody,” the responsible government official faces a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment....

Only after a year of spinning wheels did CIA managers finally refer the matter to the Justice Department. Attorney General Janet Reno responded initially with the most minimal conceivable action, suggesting that Deutch’s security clearance be reviewed. But after the CIA’s critical report became public in 2000, igniting a firestorm on Capitol Hill, prosecutors swung into high gear.

Yet just as Deutch was ready to agree to a plea bargain, the matter came to an abrupt end. On Jan. 20, 2001, his last day in office, President Clinton issued a surprise pardon to his wayward CIA director.

The Arian heresy

Much blood has been spilled over the vexing question of how to consider Christ's dual human and divine nature.  I've been proofing a book about Mennonite or Anabaptist martyrs in the 16th century and came across this account of the interrogation and torture of a woman who refused to go along with the orthodox line on this and many other matters:
In the sixth place she was asked whether she did not believe that Christ had assumed his flesh from Mary. But she confessed that he was from above, and had come down from the Father; that the Word had become flesh, even as John says: "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life." And as he himself says, that he is the bread which came down from heaven. That he was also the only reconciler, redeemer and advocate. To investigate further, was not necessary to her salvation. John 8:23; 1:14; 1 John 1:1; John 6:31; Rom. 5:10; 1 John 2:1.
That's a good response, I think: "To investigate further, was not necessary to her salvation." I can't believe it was necessary to anyone else's care for her salvation, either, particularly if the investigation was backed up by torture and death by burning (the sentence routinely handed down for unrepentant Anabaptists).  There are some detailed explanations of spiritual mysteries that we are not privy to.  Nor have we been encouraged to believe we are either authorized or obligated to ferret out the explanation by exhaustive analysis, and certainly not that we need to kill each other over our diverse results.

These Anabaptists got into deadly trouble for two other persistent errors.  First, they denied infant baptisms, going so far as to renounce their own, if they had occurred, and insisting on a new baptism as reasoning, consenting, and believing adults.  Often the main focus of their tortured interrogations was to get them to name the parties who had been present at their adult baptisms; it was their primary glory to refuse to answer.  Second, they declined to receive the Catholic eucharist, considering the doctrine of transubstantiation to be a superstition or idolatry.  These were the two heresies that most worked up their inquisitors, to judge by the summaries of their trials and sentences.

For their own part, the shock troops of the Reformation had a bad habit of killing people who persisted in holding or attending Masses, on the ground that it was a deadly heresy to engage in this idolatry.  It was a very bad time, and hard to imagine in these days.  It would be nice to think that's because we now understand that our duty lies more in examining our own conscience than that of others.  More likely, though, it's hardly anyone takes the form of worship seriously enough to imagine killing or dying for it.

The definition of insanity

If inflation has missed the Fed's 2% target for 38 straight months, my husband wonders, "Could it be that there's little or no correlation between the Fed's tool and its intended result?  But no, that's crazy talk."


Is Mitch McConnell essentially a sell-out, or is he so desperate to look like he can govern better than Harry Reid that he's forced to pass every crony capitalist measure that crosses his desk as the compromise price-tag for his own ostensible priorities?

A Ring-Whorled Prow Rode in the Harbour, Iceclad, Outbound...

...a craft for a prince.

Sweet Mental Revenge

I've never cared for the lyrics of the Waylon Jennings classic. I've always liked the music of the song.

Rebels and Rhetoric

What do we do with the Confederate battle flag?

Hoyt Axton

vs. Alfonzo Rachel

This goes back to Grim's post expressing some doubt about whether the Democrats were actually responsible for all of history's horrors. That may be debatable. After all, I don't believe the Black Death was a Democratic policy, though I'm not sure. It does bear some resemblance to the ACA ...

However that may be, the Democrats were the party of slavery, segregation, Jim Crow laws, and Bull Connor. I think we should use that in our rhetoric against progressives again and again and again. We need to destroy the lie that conservatives are racists, and pointing out this history is one important avenue of attack. EDIT: As Grim points out in the comments, I know the history is much more complicated than Rachel paints it, but my point here is about how rhetoric about the flag can help or hurt us. Right now it's hurting us, and we can change that.

But what would that do to us? A lot of Southern conservatives feel a real connection to some aspects of the old Confederacy, and if we take up Rachel's rhetoric, does that start a conservative civil war?

10,000 Posts, Home Defense Artillery, and a Modern Order of Knighthood

Grim's last post last night was the 10,000th for the blog, apparently.

Backyard Ballistics arrived this week. Heh Heh. You'll have to imagine the evil grin.

Have any of you heard of the International Order of St. Hubertus? I ran across their website while looking for information on St. Hubertus (also St. Hubert), patron saint of hunters, and thought the order looked interesting. From their website:
The International Order of St. Hubertus is a worldwide organization of hunters who are also wildlife conservationists and are respectful of traditional hunting ethics and practices.  Founded in 1695, the motto of the Order is “Deum Diligite Animalia Diligentes” or “Honoring God by Honoring His Creatures.” 

Purpose of the Order
  • To promote sportsmanlike conduct in hunting and fishing
  • To foster good fellowship among sportsmen from all over the world
  • To teach and preserve sound traditional hunting and fishing customs
  • To encourage wildlife conservation and to help protect endangered species from extinction
  • To promote the concept of hunting and fishing as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity
  • To endeavor to ensure that the economic benefits derived from sports hunting and fishing support the regions where these activities are carried out
  • To strive to enhance respect for responsible hunters and fishermen

The International Order of St. Hubertus is a true knightly order in the historical tradition. The Order is under the Royal Protection of His Majesty Juan Carlos of Spain, the Grand Master Emeritus His Imperial and Royal Highness Archduke Andreas Salvator of Austria and our Grand Master is His Imperial and Royal Highness Istvan von Habsburg Lothringen, Archduke of Austria, Prince of Hungary.

Well, That's Embarrassing...

Apparently one of the Islamist shooters in Texas may have come to the party with a Fast and Furious gun.

Of Course

REPORT: Navy to Charge Officer Who Fired on Islamist During Chattanooga Terror Attack.

A friend of mine at CENTCOM told me, before it was public knowledge that the two had exchanged fire with the terrorist, that there was talk about whether they could be eligible for Purple Hearts or even valor awards. Their actual chain of command has come up with the more obvious response. Joseph Heller, call your office.

UPDATE: Jim Webb says he'd set the Navy straight if he were President. I doubt ours will, but I expect we'll hear from Tennessee's Senators about this before too long.

UPDATE: The Chattanoogan gets a statement from the Navy to the effect that no one has been charged, though the matter is still under review. PJ Media considers that confirmation that charges are being considered; The Chattanoogan reads it the other way.

My sense is this: of course the Navy was, and perhaps still is, considering charges. It had regulations that were broken. That's why the title of this post was "Of Course." That process had gotten far enough along that LCDR White was given a heads up that he should prepare himself to face possible charges, and he prepared himself by contacting retired LTC Allen West. West had faced very serious charges himself under what White might consider similar circumstances, i.e., he violated regulations in a manner his conscience told him was right and necessary. In both cases, significant good came out of it (LTC West saved his men from falling into a waiting ambush, and LCDR White was able to assist in the evacuation of the recruiting station under hostile fire). West would be a natural person to reach out to for advice on how to handle a situation like this.

West has since become a Congressman, and after that a professional commentator, and decided to conduct a fire mission in support of White. That's appropriate in my view: one reason we sometimes advise servicemembers to "call your Senator" is that the bureaucracy often errs in favor of the hard application of the rule over the wise application of judgment. In a case where the rule is obviously wrong and the judgment was obviously well-considered and properly applied, it's good to provide a counterweight. As a former Congressman himself, West knew what could be done if he could garner Congressional support for White's case.

So, all of you who contacted your Senators or other Congressmen, thank you. You've probably helped to save a good man.

What's that party again?

Chris Matthews amused many of us by asking Debbie Wasserman-Schultz innocently, "What's the difference, really, between Socialists and Democrats?"  Kevin Williamson tries to sort out the socialist-vel-non beliefs of Bernie Sanders supporters by mingling with the crowd:
Aside from Grandma Stalin there, there’s not a lot of overtly Soviet iconography on display around the Bernieverse, but the word “socialism” is on a great many lips. Not Bernie’s lips, for heaven’s sake: The guy’s running for president. But Tara Monson, a young mother who has come out to the UAW hall to support her candidate, is pretty straightforward about her issues: “Socialism,” she says. “My husband’s been trying to get me to move to a socialist country for years — but now, maybe, we’ll get it here.” The socialist country she has in mind is Norway, which of course isn’t a socialist country at all: It’s an oil emirate. Monson is a classic American radical, which is to say, a wounded teenager in an adult’s body: Asked what drew her to socialism and Bernie, she says that she is “very atheist,” and that her Catholic parents were not accepting of this. She goes on to cite her “social views,” and by the time she gets around to the economic questions, she’s not Helle Thorning-Schmidt — she’s Pat Buchanan, complaining about “sending our jobs overseas.”
L’Internationale, my patootie. This is national socialism.
Williamson talks to another fan:
He goes on a good-humored tirade about how one can identify conservatives’ and progressives’ homes simply by walking down the street and observing the landscaping. Conservatives, he insists, “torture” the flowers and shrubbery, imposing strict order and conformity on their yards, whereas progressives just let things bloom as nature directs. I am tempted to ask him which other areas in life he thinks might benefit from that kind of unregulated, spontaneous order, but I think better of it.

Doesn't everyone?

A BBC article reports on people who experience music as an almost sexual pleasure.

The article also observes how idiosyncratic the response is.  The author uses an Adele song (whoever she is) as an example of particularly evocative dissonances, but when I eagerly went to listen to it, I found it didn't do a thing for me.  Then, something like "Women of Ireland" that tears my heart out of my chest leaves someone else cold.  And there's the enduring mystery of why I've been completely indifferent to every Mozart piece I've ever heard, when there may be no other composer so universally beloved.  Why can't I hear it?  The reaction either happens or it doesn't; there's no explaining it.

Good Rx news

A new Ebola vaccine appears to work like a charm.

Songs of Brokenness from "Horse Soldiers! Horse Soldiers!"

The Iran-Contra scandal always gave me doubts about both Reagan and Col. North. Of course, back then I was a very different person, one who mostly believed the New York Times and other MSM outlets. Maybe I should revisit the issue with my now-more-wary eyes.

Corb has a number of songs I would really like to know if there's a real story behind. This one reminds me a litte bit of the old Kirk Douglas movie Paths of Glory, although there the soldiers' crime was to refuse to attack. The similarity is in the commander's insistence on taking responsibility.

Building Beauty

A Distant, Sideways Reply From Frost

"You know Orion always comes up sideways.
Throwing a leg up over our fence of mountains,
And rising on his hands, he looks in on me
Busy outdoors by lantern-light with something
I should have done by daylight, and indeed,
After the ground is frozen, I should have done
Before it froze, and a gust flings a handful
Of waste leaves at my smoky lantern chimney
To make fun of my way of doing things,
Or else fun of Orion's having caught me.
Has a man, I should like to ask, no rights
These forces are obliged to pay respect to?"
So Brad McLaughlin mingled reckless talk
Of heavenly stars with hugger-mugger farming,
Till having failed at hugger-mugger farming,
He burned his house down for the fire insurance
And spent the proceeds on a telescope
To satisfy a lifelong curiosity
About our place among the infinities. 

Internet performance art.

The recipe is actually pretty good. I was surprised by the Tahini. I like his kitchen.

A Boy Named Sue

I trust you all know the song, and that the poem was written by Shel Silverstein. When I was in Jerusalem last year, the Israelis didn't know either, and were surprised to learn that Johnny Cash -- of whom they had heard -- had sung songs written by a Jew. Not just did he, but this is one of Cash's best.

May God defend such partnerships, and truth-speaking of this degree.

Reply to Frost

A reply to "Revelation," in a similar form.
If you're going to tell me where you are
There is something I will want to know:
Can you navigate by a star,
Or is your guess by to-and-fro?

For those who can speak the stars
Are wondrous fellows to engage,
But most speak of the near and far
Like minor guests upon the stage.

Where is your heart? Where your mind?
That is what I hoped to hear from thee:
How fearsome that we speak so blind,
Like ancient echoes on the sea.

Ranger School Update

Of those three women who were permitted to try a third time at Ranger School, two have made it through the mountain phase at Camp Frank D. Merrill. There remains only the swamp phase between them and graduation. If they both succeed, that will set the female pass rate at 10%, assuming three tries, with the male pass rate standing at 45%.

Though I think this experiment has roundly proven that women should continue to be excluded from Ranger School, and indeed the infantry in general, these two women are extraordinarily worthy of praise. I have nothing but the deepest respect for them and their glorious accomplishment.

Clinton: A Literary Analogy

The appearance of malfeasance that burdens Clinton’s political ambition as did Jacob Marley’s chains has lost much of its shock value if only because new revelations about her alleged misconduct are a near daily occurrence.
The latest one is about a dodgy Swiss bank with which she has a massive financial relationship.

Does anyone think she will really be elected? She's the worst candidate ever. I've yet to speak with any American who actually wants her as President, and I travel in fairly wide ideological circles.

Progress? A Political Cartoon

I am generally disinclined to accept arguments that "Democrats" are responsible for every horror in human history. Thomas Jefferson was a slave owner, I understand, but he was also a brilliant man whose political work has mostly laid the ground for centuries of human flourishing. So for me, the partisan angle rings hollow.

The bigger question, though, has to do with the changing of human beings into salable property. The key difference is that the human beings are dead, and so do not have to consciously suffer the indignity of being treated as property. But we wouldn't accept that it was right to kill people in order to treat them as property: if these were any other sort of person it would be no defense at all to say that you'd killed them before you sold their body parts for someone else's proprietary use. Neither do we generally allow organ sales from even elderly persons who have died, though they like others may donate their organs, precisely to avoid the moral dangers of creating a market in human organs that might encourage profit-seekers to hasten the death of human beings in order to harvest organs.

The matter should be troubling. There are a lot of philosophical angles from which to approach it. As a society, we have not given any of them adequate thought.

11 thoughts about Cecil the Lion

8) Some activists (who I respect) associated with completely unrelated causes (which I support) have been complaining about the relative attention that Cecil the lion is receiving, which is not helpful. It’d be super great if everyone could knock off the “lots of people care about a dead lion but I haven’t personally observed them caring about a completely unrelated issue that I personally think is more important” nonsense. People are allowed to care about multiple things. People are allowed to care about different things than you. Threatened species conservation is an important thing. There are also other important things. And no one has ever won anyone over to their side by saying “you’re dumb for caring about the thing you care about, care about the thing I care about instead.”
9) It is possible to be concerned about many aspects of trophy hunting while acknowledging that it can help conservation in some contexts. It is possible to think that what this dentist did to Cecil the lion was bad, but still think that threatening to kill the dentist is bad. It is possible to think that threatening to kill the dentist is bad, but still think that folks saying that “any criticism of hunting is silly and extremist because some critics threatened to kill a dentist” is bad. This is called nuance. More people on the internet should learn about it.

Barack Obama's Speech

No, not that one. Not that one either. The one that he gave in Kenya this week. It's drawn remarkable praise from the Wall Street Journal and Commentary magazine.

At first, he tells a touching anecdote that persuades me that he really does feel a tie to Kenya in a way that he never did anywhere else.
I was a young man and I was just a few years out of University. I had worked as a community organizer in low-income neighborhoods in Chicago. I was about to go to law school. And when I came here, in many ways I was a Westerner, I was an American, unfamiliar with my father and his birthplace, really disconnected from half of my heritage. And at that airport, as I was trying to find my luggage, there was a woman there who worked for the airlines, and she was helping fill out the forms, and she saw my name and she looked up and she asked if I was related to my father, who she had known. And that was the first time that my name meant something. (Applause.)
So he is speaking to a people who are recognizably his people in a deep and special way. He talks about his family. He talks about the indignities the British heaped on him, such as referring to him as a "boy" when he was a grown man and a military veteran of the British King's African Rifles. He talks about how hard it was for his father to get admitted to any university, finally succeeding in Hawaii. He does not mention his own story, because of course they know it. He wants to use the shared history of suffering to make a point that aligns what he wants to say about Kenya with what he wants to say about his own life. And that is this:
For too long, I think that many looked to the outside for salvation and focused on somebody else being at fault for the problems of the continent. And as my sister said, ultimately we are each responsible for our own destiny.
There's a lot to like in the address. Emphasis on the importance of the rule of law if Kenya is to succeed:
Here in Kenya, it's time to change habits, and decisively break that cycle. Because corruption holds back every aspect of economic and civil life. It’s an anchor that weighs you down and prevents you from achieving what you could. If you need to pay a bribe and hire somebody’s brother -- who’s not very good and doesn’t come to work -- in order to start a business, well, that’s going to create less jobs for everybody. If electricity is going to one neighborhood because they’re well-connected, and not another neighborhood, that’s going to limit development of the country as a whole. (Applause.) If someone in public office is taking a cut that they don't deserve, that’s taking away from those who are paying their fair share.

So this is not just about changing one law -- although it's important to have laws on the books that are actually being enforced. It’s important that not only low-level corruption is punished, but folks at the top, if they are taking from the people, that has to be addressed as well. (Applause.) But it's not something that is just fixed by laws, or that any one person can fix. It requires a commitment by the entire nation -- leaders and citizens -- to change habits and to change culture. (Applause.)

Tough laws need to be on the books. And the good news is, your government is taking some important steps in the right direction. People who break the law and violate the public trust need to be prosecuted.
Emphasis added.

It sounds like a good plan, Mr. President. I'm all in favor of enforcing the rule of law on the powerful. The folks at the top need to be held responsible when they betray the public trust. You've still got a year or so to get started on it.

A Small Problem

Hillary Clinton has a problem. In a new Quinnipiac University national poll, more than one in three voters say that the most important trait they are looking for in a 2016 candidate is being "honest and trustworthy." Almost six in ten of those polled said that Hillary Clinton lacks those two traits.

Uh oh.

Clinton's problems with the honest/trustworthy question is not new. As I wrote back in April:
There's a widespread belief in her capability to do the job she is running for. There's also widespread distrust in her personally. People admire her but don't know if she's honest.
"Don't know if" is a fixable problem. I doubt that's the problem she has.

Understanding Agriculture

This guy doesn't:
Suppose a supermarket stocks chickens in units of 1,000. If you buy two or three chickens every month, and then stop, you probably won't cause them to stock 1,000 less. But you might if the supermarket is just at the threshold between order sizes. That will likely only happen about 1 in 1,000 times you buy chicken — but when you do, you save 1,000 chickens.
That's right, you will save a thousand chickens. The farm will just continue to feed them, and they'll live out their lives in poultry bliss because of your virtuous decision not to buy a chicken.

No, they won't. If they can't sell them to the grocery store, they'll sell them to the rendering plant. If you don't eat them, your dog will eat them in his dog food, or they'll be used to make glue.

What may happen if enough people stop eating chicken is that fewer chickens will ever be born. It would be very odd to describe this as "saving" a chicken: there will never have been a chicken to save.

If you want to reform factory agriculture, fine. I like farm fresh eggs that come from free range chickens, and that's mostly what we eat -- a friend of the wife's has a whole bunch of them. I agree that, in general, we should try to structure our relationship with animals in a way that is humane and respects the animal's nature.

But come on. Before you set out to reform an industry, at least learn how it works.

"Sometimes, If Someone Delivers Before..."

In this latest video, the Planned Parenthood doctor explains that they can get intact organs on those occasions when the baby is delivered before the abortion could be carried out. That one is going to be fun to explain. I assume the defense will be that the doctor was only talking about stillbirths, as otherwise you mean that you delivered the baby alive, killed it, and then dissected it. It doesn't sound like that is what she's talking about, though: I'm not sure how to understand her follow-on comments about Planned Parenthood's intentions if she's talking about a child that is already dead. It makes perfect sense if "the procedure" is an abortion, in which case the child was alive.

This video underscores my suspicion, developed in response to Elise's comments below, that the real intent here was to catch PP in lawbreaking (here the Infant Born Alive Act) and it just turned out to be viscerally horrifying. The structure of the video comes across as strange, as the thing they're trying to prove isn't the takeaway for the viewer.

Clinton Emails Had Lots of Classified Data, From 5 Different Intelligence Agencies Including NSA

No one thinks she's going to be made to suffer formal legal penalties. She is obviously above the law. But there's law, and then there's bureaucracy. So a question for all of you keeping score at home: Will Hillary Clinton lose her security clearance?

Her clearance is doubtless inactive because she has been out of the government for a while, but it is doubtless a clearance of the highest level: TS/SCI, for Top Secret, Sensitive Compartmentalized Information. It happens that I know quite a bit about what is involved in obtaining and maintaining such a clearance. There is not a doubt in my mind that any normal person found to have passed classified information through their un-secure private email would be stripped of their clearance that afternoon, and would probably never be adjudicated eligible again.

There is no formal requirement that someone standing for President has to be eligible for a security clearance, of course. She will still be given access to anything at all in spite of being ineligible. Further, Mrs. Clinton is at the end of her public career: if she is not elected President, she will not serve in any other capacity.

Thus, there is no reason not to enforce standards in the usual way. Does anyone think that will happen?

Army Updates Divorce Policy

Everything that is not forbidden is mandatory.

It's the Duffel Blog, the Onion of the military.

Are you a pile of goop? Period.

It's getting harder to differentiate who is and who isn't. Ed Morrissey argues that we should quit focusing on whether Planned Parenthood's organ sales produced a profit:
Planned Parenthood wants to keep the debate on these points to deflect from the real debate — the nature of abortion itself, and the deliberate minimization in language that has allowed it. Abortion defenders claim that the procedure does not terminate life, and that it has no more moral meaning than excising a tumor or a cyst, a "clump of cells" in the most common construction. On Twitter, a young actor in Hollywood offered a more crude assessment this week. "A pile of goop should not have more rights than a human being," Lucas Neff tweeted, "period."
* * *
The true danger to Planned Parenthood and the entire industry is the exposure of their hypocrisy. The two positions of "clumps of cells" and negotiating over human organs from abortions are mutually exclusive. One cannot extract human organs from "a pile of goop," or from tumors or undifferentiated "clumps of cells." Human organs come from human beings, and the only way to harvest them from unborn human beings is to kill them first. The videos cut through all of the misdirection, all of the antiseptic generalities used in defense of abortion, to expose its true nature — and that's what has Planned Parenthood panicked over the videos.

70th Anniversary of the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis

Today marks the 70th Anniversary of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis. Of the crew of about 1200, only 900 survived the initial sinking. Before they were rescued four days after the sinking, another 600 would die of exposure, dehydration, and shark attacks. Most Americans only know about this because of the movie Jaws, where Quint describes the ordeal of the sailors and Marines who survived the initial sinking. But because it was described in a movie, most people assume it is a work of fiction.

It was not.

I encourage everyone to watch the following video and hear the first hand account of a survivor of the USS Indianapolis.

Quit arguing

Kurt Schlichter says it's time to stop wasting your breath on gun-control advocates who are arguing in bad faith:
Put simply, liberal elitists don’t like the fact that, at the end of the day, an armed citizenry can tell them, “No.”

Thanks for bringing that up

Now that you mention it, the Michigan Supreme Court says, not only are private unions prohibited from forcing workers to join and pay dues, the state civil service commission similarly has no business requiring government employees to pay public union dues:
In 2012 Michigan passed a right-to work statute that lets workers decide whether to join a union and thus pay union dues. The United Auto Workers (UAW), which represents 17,000 state workers, brought a lawsuit claiming the law doesn’t apply to its members because their employment terms are set by the Michigan Civil Service Commission.
Bad call. The Civil Service Commission had long held that, while public employees could opt out of the union, they had to pay union fees. On Wednesday the Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that the commission had no such constitutional authority “to compel civil service employees to make involuntary financial contributions.”
That comes under the legal heading of "sorry I filed that lawsuit in the first place."
Union membership has plummeted in Wisconsin and Indiana since similar worker freedom was allowed. The largest state teachers union in Wisconsin has lost more than half of its 40,000 members in four years.
Did I forget to mention, Scott Walker for president?

How To Tell If You Are In An Old English Poem

A practical guide.


So I got notified of my health insurance cost increase for next year. I still have one of those 'grandfathered' plans, and last year it went up by twenty-plus percent in cost. This year, it's going up in price by nearly a quarter. This is not a "Cadillac" plan. I have to pay ten grand out of pocket before it covers anything. The only reason to maintain it versus an Obamacare plan is that it has a real network: almost anyone around is on the network. If you get hurt or sick, you can get care anywhere around. If I switched to Zero-care, good luck finding anyone who will see you for anything at all.

Sure has been nice, this ride into "Affordable Care." I'm sure I'm not the only one who has really enjoyed it. The major effect for me is that I'm now paying hundreds of dollars a month more for the same insurance.

Lost sons returned--actually, not

Update:  my mistake, or rather Ace's--that was a link to a 2005 article about two other boys who were found after being missing on the water for six days.  Sadly, still no word on this week's boys.

I wouldn't have given a plugged nickel for the chances of these two teenagers, who have been missing off the coast of South Carolina for six days.  Their boat was found a couple of days ago, with no sign of the boys.  The initial report doesn't explain how they got separated from the boat, but, incredibly, both boys are alive and doing pretty well.
Their neighbor Joe Namath had been helping fund the search-and-rescue effort.

The Sword in the Stone

King Arthur is supposed to have lived in or around AD 500. However, the legend of the sword in the stone does not originate with him. It was attached to the Arthurian tradition perhaps in the 12th century -- this site credits Robert de Boron, and Wikipedia seems to agree -- some decades after Geoffrey of Monmouth's famous history revived Arthur as a figure explaining why a set of kings from the continent could reasonably claim to be the legitimate royalty over the British Isles. Arthur had ruled both in Brittany and in Britain, by tradition, and the Norman kings would go on to claim the right to rule over the whole territory comprising his legendary kingdom.

The sword in the stone is usually supposed to be related to the Volsung saga in Norse. In that saga, Odin drives a magic sword into a tree as a gift for the man who can remove it. Only Sigmund is able to free it. This sword later breaks, and its shards are re-forged by his son (with assistance from a magic dwarf). The resulting sword, Gram, is the sword Sigurd uses to kill the dragon. This sword is the clear predecessor for Tolkien's Narsil/Anduril, the sword that was broken. The story of Gram is not completely unlike the Arthurian story, with a divinely-given sword, the freeing of which results in a test, and which later breaks and must be replaced. In Malory, the sword in the stone breaks in a fight with king Pellinore, from which Arthur is only rescued by Merlin's intervention. Merlin then takes Arthur and introduces him to the Lady of the Lake, who grants him Excalibur. However, in earlier versions of the story, Excalibur and the sword in the stone are the same sword.

I remind you of all of this to pass on another possible origin for the sword in the stone story, via D29. The timing is just about right. It will have happened some decades before Robert de Boron's poetry.
The legendary sword in the stone still stands in Italy. While connected to Arthurian legend and British history, this Sword in the Stone is associated with a Catholic saint. Visitors can see it in the Montesiepi chapel, near Saint Galgano Abbey in Chiusdino, in Tuscany.

The legend surrounds the story of brave knight Galgano Guidotti, who was born in 1148 near Chiusdino. After spending his youth as a brave knight, Galgano decided to follow the words of Jesus in 1180 and retired as a hermit near his hometown.

Galgano is said to have stuck his sword onto a rock in order to use it as a cross for his prayers. One year later Galgano died, and in 1185 Pope Lucius the 3rd declared him a saint.

After Galgano's death, according to legend, countless people have tried to steal the sword. In the chapel you can see what are said to be the mummified hands of a thief that tried to remove the sword and was then suddenly slaughtered by wild wolves.

The sword was believed to be a fake for years. However, recent studies examined the sword and the hands, and the dating results as well as metal and style of the sword all are consistent with the late 1100s, early 1200s. This lends credence that the story on which the English sword and the stone is based on originated with Guidotti in Italy.
A video of the sword and the stone, around which was later built an abbey, can be seen here.

Michael Bay Is Making A Movie About Benghazi

It will be very interesting to see how this is portrayed, and what repercussions it might have for the Clinton campaign. Will it shy away from the question of her responsibility? Will it try to make it look like she couldn't have done anything? That's my suspicion, but if not, then it could be explosive.

Here's the movie's website, but there's not much but the trailer there now.

Jurisdiction Stripping

Sounds kinda dirty, but Adam Freedman over at National Review claims it's the answer to the USSC overstepping itself on the same sex marriage issue, and federal courts, too, for that matter. What is it?

... it involves nothing more than Congress’s exercising its constitutional authority to define the limits of federal judicial power. The idea of using Congress to rein in activist judges is not new; in fact, it was once advocated by a young lawyer in the Reagan administration named John Roberts. ... 
Congress should listen to the young John Roberts and abolish the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court — and all federal courts — over cases involving state laws defining marriage. At the moment, such legislation would require a two-thirds majority to overcome President Obama’s inevitable veto. But come January 20, 2017, if there is a Republican in the White House, jurisdiction-stripping legislation could become a reality. Every GOP presidential candidate should commit to signing such a bill the moment it crosses his or her desk. The jurisdiction of federal courts is almost entirely a matter of congressional discretion. The Constitution creates only one court — the Supreme Court — and then gives Congress the power to “ordain and establish” lower federal courts as it sees fit. Since Congress has no obligation to create lower federal courts in the first place, it has every right to limit the jurisdiction of those courts it chooses to create.
As for the Supreme Court, its appellate jurisdiction — that is, its ability to review lower-court decisions — is subject to “such Exceptions, and . . . such Regulations as Congress shall make.” ...
Historically, Supreme Court jurisdiction was far more limited than it is today. Until 1889, the Supreme Court could not hear appeals in federal criminal cases. Until 1914, the Court had no right to review state-court decisions striking down state laws or upholding federal law. Essentially, state courts had the last word unless they struck down a federal law or denied the applicability of a federal right.

In the end, it only throws the ball back into the states' court, but it's an interesting idea. Is it a realistic one?

Well, That's Interesting

Among reasons not to drink Mountain Dew:
11. It’ll Dissolve a Mouse
Recently there was a law suit involving a mouse that was found in a can of mountain dew, and PepsiCo’s legal defense suggested that the consumer planter the mouse. They did this by admitting that a mouse left in a can of mountain dew for the period of time that the mouse was supposedly in the can the consumer purchased would have completely dissolved.
This claim appears to check out. Of course, your stomach lining is strong.

Greetings, Denizens of the European Union!

I am informed by our generous hosts at Blogger/Google that you have passed a law mandating that we inform you about our use of cookies, and possibly obtain your consent. If you are coming in from an EU country (or visit an EU-hosted version of this site) you should see an appropriate notice automatically courtesy of our hosts.

I'm not actually sure what cookies Google and or Blogger use on this site. You can consent to them or not, as you prefer. Be aware, however, that as an American I reject any suggestion that I have a duty to obey your laws.

We are a free people. We make our own laws. Keep yours to yourselves.

If this notice constitutes a hate crime in your jurisdiction, please note that this is just too bad.

You Can't Mock This Stuff

If this was a joke, what would you say differently?
The guide also discourages the use of “mothering” or “fathering,” so as to “avoid gendering a non-gendered activity.”
It's amazing. Instead of saying "healthy," say "non-disabled," but don't then say "disabled"!

What on earth are they trying to teach our children?

Strange I've Not Heard Of This Before

Washington state has a law called "mutual combat," which allows people to engage in freely engaged fisticuffs if supervised by a police officer. This sounds like just the sort of thing I've long advocated. I can't seem to find much data on how it's worked out, though, which probably means that it hasn't been a total disaster.

An Old Folk Song About That Coward Robert Ford

From The Long Riders, a traditional folk song about Jesse James. Outlaw songs tend to romanticize the hero, but Robert Ford deserves his infamy.

Vote for the Socialist?

I'm certainly not planning on it, but I'll say this for Sen. Sanders: he has a refreshing habit deflating rather than hiding behind buzzwords.
Ezra Klein
I want to make a turn to foreign policy. Is there a particular foreign policy school of thought you ascribe to? Do you describe yourself as a realist or a democratic socialist?

Bernie Sanders
I don't know what that means. I trust we're all realists.

Ezra Klein
I'm not sure we are.

Bernie Sanders
I don't know what that word means.


Ezra Klein
Do you view yourself as a Zionist?

Bernie Sanders
A Zionist? What does that mean? Want to define what the word is?
I think it's fair to say that, having read this interview, you will know what Bernie Sanders really thinks about everything. I applaud him for that, even where I think he is badly wrong in his thinking. Honesty and directness are the hallmarks of a healthy democracy. We ought to share out views openly and clearly, debate them vigorously, and then choose. Lies and deceit are not befitting in the leadership of a free people. Indeed, it becomes questionable how free any democratic choice can be when its leadership habitually deceives about their intentions.


The Vatican Library has been digitizing its collection, making many beautiful works from throughout the 2000 year history of the Church available to view. Among these are incunabula, that is, printed works from the earliest period of printing. Given our recent discussion of the early history of printing, I thought some of you might enjoy looking at them.

You can visit that section directly through this link.

The Third Planned Parenthood Video

An interview with one of their doctors, who fainted the first time she was asked to do what they had hired her to do. “I thought I was going to be just drawing blood, not procuring tissue from aborted fetuses,” she says.

Beware if you aren't ready for similar sights. "Toward the end, though, an undercover camera catches the horrifying reality of organ harvesting. The hands and feat of dismembered fetuses are clearly visible."

Impossible thrust

That EM propulsion system  that appears to defy the law of conservation of momentum doesn't seem to be going away.  I'm hoping someone (James?) can chime in.

Huckabee: No, Really, Genocide

'You're talking about killing the Jews in Israel. Or, at least, the Iranians are sure talking about it.'

He could be wrong, but there's the very great danger that he might be right. I mean, we all saw the thing the Supreme Leader sent out that has a silhouette of Obama holding a gun to his own head. What's suicidal about war with Iran? Nothing, unless they have access to nuclear weapons.

By the way, we don't know what we promised as a condition of this deal, as no American was allowed to see it. And since neither the main deal nor the side deals treat the Bushehr heavy water reactor, we still haven't seen the terms. We have absolutely no idea what we're agreeing to.