Aren’t There Enough People In America?

Another Anton piece.

I don’t want to oversell Anton. I’ve met Anton a couple of times. We haven’t talked, because he’s the kind who talks so much that I don’t bother to try to talk with them. He’s a foppish dresser, proudly so. I don’t know how much we have in common. But look at this, where he gets the working man exactly right:

“After at least two decades of wage stagnation and even decline, now that we’ve finally reached the nirvana of full employment (and who knows how long it will last), why not take advantage of this tight labor market to raise wages across the board? Especially for the working and middle classes that got nowhere or even lost ground during the housing, finance and tech booms of recent years?”

Boy is right about that. He’s got a few other strong points too.

The other half of the motive

And if a hope of currying favor with the expected new president isn't enough, now there's the fear of suffering reprisals from the possible new Congress:
The Justice Department’s tepid OIG report, with its risible assertion that there was no political bias in the FBI’s Clinton email probe, suggests that it was written by people afraid to tell the unvarnished truth about the conduct of the federal government’s police apparatus, an agency that openly defies congressional oversight and has participated in a vendetta against a sitting president. The FBI’s leadership clearly hopes that the Democrats will win majorities in Congress and put a halt to the investigations into its multifarious abuses of power. The OIG is loath to face the ruthless reprisals that would inevitably follow such a disaster.
In other words, the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General is filled with people who fear the FBI. Think about that for a minute. What is the usual term for a government whose members live in fear of its police arm? Ronald Reagan famously said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” The OIG report suggests that its demise may be only one election away.

"Future Pres HRC"

Speaking of grand unifying theories, I believe Victor Davis Hanson has cracked the code that explains a lot of head-scratching deep-state decisions in 2016.

Karen Veith: Closing the Door on the Madison Metropolitan School District

A teacher with 16 years in the system explains in detail why she quit, primarily because the administration's policies and lack of leadership led to chaos in the school. There are a lot of stories out there like this one.

It's worth reading the whole thing if you want to understand public schools today.

Incrementalism vs. absolutism

I don't understand the particle physics, of course, but I'm interested in this discussion about the approach to research:
The bottom-up method is much less ambitious than the top-down kind, but it has two advantages: it makes fewer assumptions about theory, and it’s tightly tethered to data. This doesn’t mean we need to give up on the old unification paradigm, it just suggests that we shouldn’t be so arrogant as to think we can unify physics right now, in a single step. It means incrementalism is to be preferred to absolutism – and that we should use empirical data to check and steer us at each instance, rather than making grand claims that come crashing down when they’re finally confronted with experiment.
This gets me where I live. We can't make much sense of data unless we have theoretical structures, but it can be hard to improve our theories if we let them blind us to new data. I love the image of "bunging in" a new hypothesized particle.

On second thought . . . .

. . . Let's don't try it again after all.  Even Columbia's poorest citizens are seeing through the bright promises of socialism.  Nicaragua is not looking satisfied either.

Pope Francis Denounces Abortion

Nazi comparisons are everywhere these days.
...the SIR agency of the Italian bishops’ conference quoted him as denouncing the pre-natal tests that can result in parents choosing to terminate a pregnancy if the fetus is malformed or suffering other problems.

“Last century, the whole world was scandalized by what the Nazis did to purify the race. Today, we do the same thing but with white gloves,” the agencies quoted Francis as saying.

The pope urged families to accept children “as God gives them to us.”
On this point, at least, he is solidly within the norm of Papal remarks. Unfortunately, I don't think our age is primed to listen to him. It's also worth remembering that eugenics weren't just a Nazi thing; they were beloved by the elite here in America, too.

Colonel Kurt on the IG Report

In his inimitable style, a beatdown from an unapologetic voice of the right.
The bombshells in the IG report could justly be classified as “thermonuclear,” but remember the Comey conference back in July 2016? Its bombshells were thermonuclear too. Integrity Boy laid out an utterly devastating case against Felonia Milhous Von Pansuit, highlighting in damning detail her litany of crimes that would have consigned you, me, or anyone else not in the elite to a long tour in the stony lonesome. And then that Looming Doofus concluded his lengthy summation with, “But never mind.”

The same with the IG report. Yeah, the report demonstrated intense and pervasive political bias. Yeah, at every turn the FBI/DOJ hacks gave unprecedented deference and breaks to Hillary. Yeah, from the get-go they talked about how no one was ever going to be prosecuted. Nah, nothing to see.

It’s like a prosecutor laying out a crushing case to a jury, then saying, “And in conclusion, I’d like you to find the defendant not guilty.”

“No evidence,” concludes the IG report. It’s 500+ pages of evidence.
There's more, if you're inclined.


Paul Sperry:
IG Horowitz revealed in Senate testimony FBI never named a target or even subject in Clinton probe. Not Mills, Abedin, Combetta or Clinton herself. "Nobody was listed as a subject of this investigation at any point in time," adding this was "surprising" for a crim probe
It would be surprising, had it been a criminal probe. For an exercise in one hand washing the other, it's just what you'd expect.

I wonder if the Mueller probe has named any subjects or targets? Wanna bet?


BREAKING: IG Horowitz says 2 of the 3 unnamed FBI agents caught sending anti-Trump text messages are currently on the Robert Mueller probe investigating President Trump
Of course they are.

Sad life

Hard to beat this Dan Pfeiffer piece for lack of self-awareness:
For most of my time working for Obama, whenever we encountered some Beltway political crisis that dominated cable news, we would ask focus groups of voters if they had heard anything about it. There were things that Washington got worked up about, and things the American people cared about, and rarely did those things overlap.
But something had changed. Suddenly, focus groups knew all about the trivial things that Washington would get worked up over, and they knew about them in great detail, often reading back to the moderator what sounded just like Republican talking points or a Fox News story—which are actually the same thing.
It must have seemed brutally unfair to Mr. Pfeiffer, after what amounted to a lifetime of succeeding in controlling the news. Can you imagine a world in which ordinary voters have become aware of the GOP spin on an issue?  Who let that happen?

I particularly enjoyed his explanation of how the American people lost their faith in the MSM, the proximate cause of the Democrats' otherwise inexplicable loss of the Senate in 2014: it happened when the MSM uncritically accepted George W. Bush's lies about the WMD in Iraq. Oh, and about that same time, Fox News cynically persuaded customers that they would enjoy a news outlet that covered stories the MSM was ignoring, but only because Fox wanted to make money, which is a bad motive for news organizations unless they're the ones Pfeiffer likes, in which case we should all want them to remain profitable so they can retain all those seasoned, reliable reporters. Also so that political operatives can avoid an unpleasant hectic life keeping up with a voracious and uncivilized news cycle, because it turns out that Pfeiffer's stint in the White House was really kind of a pitiful drag.

I'll bet it seems even more like pointless drudgery in retrospect.

Crimsoning the Eagle's Claws: Review

In 2014, a scholar named Ian Crockatt translated a series of poems by a Viking Crusader named Rognvaldr Kali Kolsson. The poems are well known, coming from the Orkneyinga saga. Nevertheless they reward new translations, for reasons the author ably explains in his translator's introduction.

Likening the extremely strict poetic form to the shell of a crab, Crockatt points out that what it is 'to be a crab' is to have that precise form. (This is a highly Aristotelian point, form as structure that defines being). It is not possible to directly translate the poems into English without losing the form. One will get a sense of the poem's subject matter, but nothing of the sense of the poem; Crockatt likens this to knowing crabs only from encountering plates of cooked and mashed crab, but never knowing a thing with shell or claws.

Of course, in order to capture the form, you'll have to swap some things around. The version of Norse spoken by Rognvaldr is effectively a dead language, and while numerous loan words and other influences exist in English, the basic vocabulary of the language is different. You can craft an English version by preferring Old English words to ones derived from Latin or French, and then precisely applying the form of stressed-and-unstressed syllables, alliterative near-rhymes versus full-rhymes (alternating by line, so that 1/3/5... are near-rhymes and 2/4/6... full ones). But now you have an English poem in the Old Norse form, and it's going to be meaningfully different from the original. Content may be shifted from one line to another, so that the images get disrupted; or the word that fits the form may have a different connotation in English than was intended in the Norse.

As a very ordinary example to clarify, he gives:

"tið mér bók ok smíðir."


"well-read, a red-hot smith -"

You can see that the full-rhyme alliteration and stress patterns are right, but the content is changed subtly. There's nothing about being 'red hot' in the original. The line does not end but is continued into the next thought with a dash. You lose the sense that he is proclaiming mastery of books and smithing in exactly parallel terms, which is an interesting juxtaposition that a modern English speaker would never arrive at because reading is so ordinary for us, and smithing so arcane. To be 'well-read' means something quite different than the Viking intended. All the same, you get a much more lyrically proper sense of the poetics by reading it this way. A straight translation would deny encountering a poem with rhythm and flow.

Scholars who want to understand the poems thus wisely grapple with them first by direct translation, then by seeing if they can translate them poetically as Crockatt does. It is a useful exercise for him for another reason. The poetic form shapes the word, but learning to use the form shapes the mind. Habituating the mind to the creation of poems in just this form is going to alter the way one thinks, slightly but definitely. In learning the compose poems in this strict form, you are learning to think just a bit more like the Viking who is your historical subject.

Some of the translations are beautiful and evocative even though alliterative poetry is rarely used in Modern English. Here is his rendering of a love poem, which I find especially striking.

Who else hoards such yellow
hair, bright lady -- fair as
your milk-mild shoulders,
where milled barley-gold falls?
Chuck the cowled hawk, harry
him with sweets. Crimsoner
of eagle's claws, I covet
cool downpours of silk; yours.

George Mackay Brown gave this same poem without the erotic final thrust:

Golden one, Tall one
Moving in perfume and onyx
Witty one, You with the shoulders
Lapped in long silken hair/Listen: because of me
The eagle has a red claw.

The "silk" mentioned in the original is her hair, not her clothes, the downpouring of which might also be coveted; it is a love poem, after all. The erotic is lost in the strict translations; admiration of beauty is there, but not the tension. Yet I suspect Crockatt is right to find a way to include it.

The book is recommended. You may wish to pick up a copy of the saga to go with it, as the book is devoted to only the poems themselves.

The Cycle

Michael Anton on why the Founding was corrupted.


Blogger is annoyingly not working right now. Here’s the link:


From the Federalist's excerpt of the DoJ FBI report, a couple of charts of leak paths (at the link), and this finding by the IG:

Second, although FBI policy strictly limits the employees who are authorized to speak to the media, we found that this policy appeared to be widely ignored during the period we reviewed. We identified numerous FBI employees, at all levels of the organization and with no official reason to be in contact with the media, who were nevertheless in frequent contact with reporters. The large number of FBI employees who were in contact with journalists during this time period impacted our ability to identify the sources of leaks.

The USAF has PAOs—Public Affairs Officers—who are the only persons authorized to speak to the public, not just the press, about USAF official business.  There are sever penalties for violating the regulations laying out that authority.  USAF members are, of course, allowed to speak to the public, including the press, but those members must be at pains to be clear that they're speaking only for themselves, and they cannot under any circumstance speak of official business—those questions are to be explicitly referred to the PAO.  I think the other services have similar requirements.
And this:

FBI employees received tickets to sporting events from journalists, went on golfing outings with media representatives, were treated to drinks and meals after work by reporters, and were the guests of journalists at nonpublic social events[.]

While the IG team acknowledged that the difficulty of identifying the leakers, as I've commented once or twice, "difficult" means "possible."  The only way the FBI and the DoJ can regain credibility is for the effort to be expended, the leakers identified promptly and publicly, the leakers fired for cause, and where appropriate (the bribe receptions of the second cite), the leakers brought to criminal trial.

It's especially important to do this promptly because the large majority of line agents and DoJ personnel are honest and above board, but their reputations are badly smeared by these…miscreants'…misbehaviors.

Eric Hines

The wild surmise

Project Gutenberg has had a spate of old histories of the New World, which I can't get enough of.  Every time I read a reference to Darien I hear this Keats sonnet in my head:
On First Looking into Chapman's Homer
Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star'd at the Pacific—and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise—
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
The poem refers to an exciting translation of Homer by George Chapman.  The last few lines stick in a lot of heads, it seems; the literary world is stuffed with references to them.  G.K. Chesterton worked them into a drinking song, The Logical Vegetarian:
I am silent in the club,
I am silent in the pub.,
I am silent on a bally peak in Darien;
For I stuff away for life
Shoving peas in with a knife,
Because I am a rigid Vegetarian.

No more the milk of cows
Shall pollute my private house
Than the milk of the wild mares of the Barbarian
I will stick to port and sherry,
For they are so very, very,
So very, very, very, Vegetarian.
Clovis Sangrail freezes out a fellow trying to cadge a favor in Saki's "The Talking-Out of Tarrington":
The next moment the overtures of an affably disposed gentleman were being received by Clovis with a "silent-upon-a-peak-in-Darien" stare which denoted an absence of all previous acquaintance with the object scrutinized.
Vladimir Nabakov famously incorporated a baseball-themed pun on the sonnet's title into Pale Fire:  "Red Sox Beat Yanks 5–4 On Chapman's Homer."

Ted Davis explained that baseball has been around forever, since God made the whole world in the big inning, then Eve stole first, and Adam second, after which they were both thrown out.  He then wrote "On First, Looking into Chapman's Homer":
Or like stout Mantle, when with eagle eyes
He star’d out at the distant fence — and then
Watch’d his ball just rise and rise and rise —
Silent, above a park in Washington.
A Punch sketch from 1922 recounts a student's attempt to recite the poem.  He gives "coffee-colored" for "deep-brow'd Homer," and ends with "Or like fat Cortez, when with staring eyes/He swims in the Pacific. . . " to the disgust of his professor, who predicts his enormous success as a Philistine in public life.

Jordan Peterson Says We Should Make Ourselves Dangerous

James Morganelli talks about this at the Federalist.

But the interview takes a turn after Peterson says, “It’s very helpful for people to hear that they should make themselves competent and dangerous and take their proper place in the world.”

Stossel scoffs, “Competent and dangerous? Why dangerous?”

“There’s nothing to you otherwise,” Peterson replies. “If you’re not a formidable force, there’s no morality in your self-control. If you’re incapable of violence, not being violent isn’t a virtue.
Morganelli agrees and reflects on this idea and draws out the ethical principles at play in deciding to use violence. I'm not sure we would all agree with his conclusions, but the discussion is interesting.

Prager U Declared a "Hate Group"

What a strange conclusion. Having watched a few Prager U videos, I've no idea what they could be talking about. I don't remember ever hearing them say anything hateful; frequently, they're not even irritable.

But maybe I missed their greatest hits. Here are 21 videos that YouTube is censoring. Let's watch a few and judge for ourselves.