This is the most interesting thing from China in quite a while, from my perspective.

In a ritual equal only to that of the church, last week China placed a statue of Confucius in its political heart, Tiananmen Square, before Mao Zedong's portrait and near the modern obelisk to the People's Heroes, two symbols that materially defined China's national identity for 60 years.

This is a political statement, not a celebration of art, and it reshapes the country's ideological mission.
That's certainly right. It also represents a significant retreat from Maoism -- not so far as to repudiate him, but as far as one can go without repudiating him. Whereas the mission of the Maoists was to undo traditional society and radically alter it in new directions, the elevation of Confucius is a restatement of the importance of his teachings as a foundation of Chinese society. If China is now looking for the middle way between radical rejection of the lessons of the past, and adherence to strong traditions with a positive heritage, it is doing something very different from what Mao wanted to do. It is also doing something better.

Gender Equality

Gender Equality

I don't feel I've been holding up my end lately on the gender war discussions. I derived new inspiration from Megan McArdle's latest post, which started out as something incomprehensible about the First Lady, pedestrian deaths, and those smug high-fructose-corn-syrup ads about how it's "natural, and fine in moderation," but quickly shifted in the comments to a useful discussion about gender roles:

Why, just this morning as I was enjoying one of the blueberry muffins my wife had made, I remarked about how glad I was to be having her home-cooked food, b/c it's blessedly free of high-fructose corn syrup, transfatty acids, & other commonly maligned bogeymen of our foody-age. Well, she came right back at me with all of the facts & figures that she had dug up last night during one of her regular exhaustive visits to the Corn Refiners Association website. I gotta tell you, it really opened my eyes about a few things . . . Mostly it made me question why I had ever thought marrying such a pedantic bore might be a good idea. Well, at least there's the blueberry muffins, I suppose.

A commenter responded:

It's appalling to witness such rigid gender role assignment in this day and age. Shame on you (in a self-esteem promoting way, of course) for not holding a family meeting to discuss a less discriminatory and more unisex arrangement. For starters, consider banishing such outdated strictures as "wife" and "husband" in favor of "Spouse 1" and "Spouse A."
To which came the reply:
That is an excellent suggestion. I particularly like "Spouse 1 & Spouse A" even though it perpetuates the long-held discrimination in favor of the allegedly 'first' numbers & letters. In that respect, "Spouse 67Q and Spouse %6y" might be even better, though perhaps a bit unwieldy in everyday usage.

Regardless, my Spouse 67Q is a perhaps unenlightened, old-fashioned sort. She even changed her name after we got married. She changed it to "Rogers" rather than mine, but still, it's the thought that counts.

End Times

End Times

Doesn't this photograph evoke Judgment Day? This shot of a Montana supercell, which is today's home page for the Bing search engine, is part of a series of photographs from a National Geographic 2010 contest, which you can find here.

The NOAA explains that most supercells will produce some ugly weather, but only about a third will mature into a tornado. This kind of impressive rotation is associated with the head-on collision of cold air and warm air along a front, which results in a kind of breaking-wave effect, as shown in this graphic:



Advocated by the paper in Richmond.

Republicans and Democrats have lamented the frequency of violent rhetoric in politics. Fewer seem to have regrets about the actual use of violence itself....

But what about violence by the state? Liberals and conservatives alike often embrace it as a means to an end they desire.

Government, as Max Weber famously put it, is distinguished from other social organizations by its claim to a monopoly on the legitimate use of force. A church or club might invite you to join, but cannot conscript you as government can. A developer cannot take your property by eminent domain; only government can. Acme might try to persuade you to buy widgets through advertising. A gay-rights group might try to coerce Acme to adopt gay-friendly personnel policies by organizing a boycott of Acme's products. But Acme cannot make you buy widgets at the point of a gun, and gay-rights groups cannot change Acme's employee policies by kidnapping the CEO's daughter.

Acme must rely on your consenting however grudgingly to buy its widgets, and the rights group must rely on other people consenting to join their boycott. Only the government can make you buy its products on pain of imprisonment. (Just ask actor Wesley Snipes, currently doing a three-year stretch for tax evasion.) Only government can force you to "boycott" products it declares off-limits, such as heroin, and arrest you if you don't.

The debate over the size and scope of government, then, is an argument over when to use violence to change things and circumstances consensual activity cannot.
I would contest the claim of government to a monopoly on the use of force; either that, or recognize that all citizens end up having a role to play, as citizens, in the governance of the nation. Nevertheless, there is broadly speaking a good point to be made here.

Don't Give Me That

Alexander the Great Conquered Afghanistan:

Not in his own lifetime... by proxy:

Though Alexander the Great could not totally conquer this rugged northeastern flank of the Persian Empire in the fourth century B.C., he is credited with leaving behind the drug that ultimately would. Actual cultivation of poppy shows up in Afghanistan's recorded history about 300 years ago. It was a crop well suited to the loamy soils of Badakhshan and the eastern province of Nangarhar, where it was first grown—requiring little fertilization and rainfall, a short growing season, and about as much expertise as it takes to hand-scatter seeds and cut slits in a bulb. Poppy occupied a benign niche in the country's agrarian culture throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, even as India's stranglehold over the opium trade later gave way to Turkey and then to the highlands of Southeast Asia, thanks to the growing market for heroin in Europe and the United States.

Only in the middle of the 20th century did Afghanistan become an opium exporter. At the request of the United Nations, which Afghanistan joined in 1946, King Mohammad Zahir Shah temporarily halted cultivation. The subsistence poppy farmers of Badakhshan and Nangarhar persuaded him to reverse his decision. In the meantime the crops for which Afghan farmers achieved renown were pistachios, almonds, pomegranates, cotton, and grapes.

So it was, until the Soviet invasion of December 1979 upended Afghanistan's landscape.
King Mohammad Zahir Shah was clearly the bright spot of recent Afghan history. Every good word anyone has to say about its history seems to center on his reign.


The Anti-War Movement:

We have long known that the core of the anti-war movement was naive college students who haven't yet learned how reality works, led by a very few hard-core radicals. Some of these radicals are good people, like the Quaker groups, which are mostly made up of northeastern mothers who just hate the idea of violence. Some are terrible, like the Stalinist group ANSWER, which serves as an apologist for states like the DPRK. Regardless of which, however, there are very few people genuinely committed to the movement. There aren't many Stalinists because the ideology has been slowly exposed as the totalitarian evil that it is. There aren't many Quakers for the reasons explored by the excellent John Wayne film Angel & the Badman (currently available on Hulu, by the way).

The use of the movement by the broader left during the Bush administration made it seem larger than it ever really was. A new video clarifies just how great the falloff has been since the election of a left-wing president. The temporary swell wasn't made up of committed anti-warriors at all. It was made up of some combination of Democratic party partisans, and people who kind of thought the 1960s were cool and were sorry they had missed it. Wouldn't it be fun to go out and protest a war, man?

This is too bad, because the anti-war movement -- at least that good-hearted part of it -- really does serve an important function.

An American-led military unit pulverized an Afghan village in Kandahar’s Arghandab River Valley in October, after it became overrun with Taliban insurgents. It’s hard to understand how turning an entire village into dust fits into America’s counterinsurgency strategy — which supposedly prizes the local people’s loyalty above all else.
The pictures are, and ought to be, stunning. It is surely an object lesson on why it is a bad idea to get crosswise with a Field Artillery unit. Perhaps it is also a lesson on the limits of asking an artillery unit to function as a counterinsurgency unit, although such units have functioned very well in Iraq and elsewhere. This response is not out of character for a redleg unit, that is to say; but that is not to say that they haven't operated with restraint up to this point.

Now, I'm not suggesting that the unit in question did anything wrong. The commander will have been advised by a lawyer on his staff; clearly the action was passed for approval all the way up to General Petraeus, given the presence of his biographer in the pre-planned media response 'fires.' Therefore, we can assume that the action was considered by various Staff Judge Advocates and others of their kind, and found to be in accord with military law and the laws of war.

Still, it is the proper function of the anti-war movement -- the good hearted, loyal opposition sort -- to insist on that explanation being made plainly and loudly. This kind of action has to be justified on pretty demanding grounds, including St. Thomas Aquinas' doctrine of double effect.

The 1-320th is clearly doing at least some of the right things from a COIN standpoint, such as holding shuras with the popular leadership to arrange for compensation and rebuilding. That said:
Flynn has held “reconstruction shuras” with the villagers and begun compensating villagers for their property losses, but so far the reconstruction has barely begun, three months after the destruction.

“Sure they are pissed about the loss of their mud huts,” Broadwell wrote on Facebook, “but that is why the BUILD story is important here.”

Broadwell writes that the operation is ultimately a success, quoting Flynn as saying “As of today, more of the local population talks to us and the government than talk to the Taliban.” That appears to be good enough for higher command. Petraeus, having visited the village and allowing Flynn to personally approve reconstruction projects worth up to $1 million, told his commanders in the south to “take a similar approach to what 1-320th was doing on a grander scale as it applies to the districts north of Arghandab.”
It is not shocking to learn that reconstruction takes more than three months in Afghanistan, given its noted logistical problems. What bothers me -- a man who has, I think it is fair to say, a warrior spirit -- is to learn that this story made no appearance whatever three months ago when it happened. (What was going on three months ago that might have drowned the story, by the way? Let's see... January, December, November.... that would put this right before the elections. Oh, right.)

That the military has the mechanisms to do the right thing I do not doubt. That it is surely going through the process I do not doubt. It is nevertheless part of the moral health of our society to have the explanations made carefully and as part of the public debate. The anti-war movement should be the ones insisting on that; but warriors have a duty to hold each other to the laws of war as well. It is, after all, the souls of our brothers that are at stake.

In demanding such an explanation I do not mean to cast doubt upon the military officers who serve as their lawyers, or even the ones who serve as their chaplains. It is simply a duty that we have to perform.

A Hero

A Hero in Germany:

I mentioned below that I was reading Eichmann in Jerusalem earlier this week. One of the issues raised by the book is nonviolent resistance to the Nazis' plans for extermination of the Jews in occupied Europe, which author Hannah Arendt showed to be more common than is often realized, and generally effective where practiced. She is particularly clear in her praise of the Danish people.

Of course, given time, it is quite likely that the Nazis would have overcome these obstacles. There was likewise the necessity of physical force to stop the Nazi regime. One of the attempts famously came from the German military itself. Arendt is somewhat dismissive of it.

What had sparked their opposition had been not the Jewish question but the fact that Hitler was preparing war, and the endless conflicts and crises of conscience under which they labored hinged almost exclusively on the problem of high treason and the violation of their loyalty oath.... To the last, their greatest concern was how it would be possible to prevent chaos and to ward off the danger of civil war. (Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem (New York: Penguin Books, 1994), 98.)
Now, these are from my perspective highly proper concerns for military men to hold in their hearts. Violation of an oath must be very carefully considered; treason is no matter for a man of honor to take lightly. The danger of a civil war is a severe one under the best of circumstances, which do not include having the Red Army advancing on your position.

Nevertheless, one can appreciate the objection that their concerns were patriotic, and not motivated by a human feeling for Jews as such. For that reason, I found this essay by Alan Wolfe both surprising and fascinating.
Bonhoeffer believed that states were necessary to secure conditions of social order. But when a state violated the prior order established by God, as the Nazis had clearly done, what should a Christian do? Bonhoeffer expressed his answer in an essay called “The Church and the Jewish Question” in 1933, which he wrote out of his disgust with the German Christians and their worship of naked power. Without Judaism, he declared, there could be no such thing as Christianity. Christians therefore had to stand in opposition to such explicitly anti-Semitic policies as the Aryan Paragraph. But Bonhoeffer went further. Christians, he continued, were under a positive duty “not just to bandage the victims under the wheel, but to put a spoke in the wheel itself.” Any church that allied itself with an evil regime was not a church, and could not therefore speak for God. “What is at stake,” Bonhoeffer insisted, “is by no means whether our German members of congregations can still tolerate church fellowship with the Jews. It is rather the task of Christian preaching to say: here is the church, where Jew and German stand together under the Word of God; here is the proof of whether a church is still the church or not.”

The implications of Bonhoeffer’s thinking became obvious in May 1934, at the meeting that produced the famous Barmen Declaration and the birth of the Confessing Church. “If you find that we are speaking contrary to Scripture,” the Declaration proclaimed, “then do not listen to us! But if you find that we are taking our stand upon Scripture, then let no fear or temptation keep you from treading with us the path of faith and obedience to the Word of God.”
Bonhoeffer was a crucial member of the conspiracy, one who spoke openly but also worked as a secret agent for the benefit of the Jews. He is clearly someone that Arendt leaves out of her calculation that 'to the last' the conspirators were chiefly worried about worldly things.

Wolfe is somewhat bothered by this.
As admirable as Bonhoeffer’s actions were, there nonetheless remains something disturbing—we should be candid about this—in his willingness to jettison so many centuries of moral and ethical reflection on the good life and how it should be led. “Principles are only tools in the hands of God,” he wrote. “They will soon be thrown away when they are no longer useful.” But it is precisely because we recognize the fragility of ethical principles that we work to preserve and protect them when they are under attack. If all men were Bonhoeffers, ethics might be dispensable. But they are not, and so we need Kant and his successors....

I would be less than honest if I did not admit that bringing this man—and his intransigence on all the important questions of our time—so vividly to life raises awkward questions for the liberalism in which I put my own faith. How, precisely, would a Rawlsian have acted in those dark times? Must we not move beyond this-worldly conceptions of politics as a struggle for power to other-worldly concerns with repentance and days of judgment, if we are to grasp how the Nazis were able to combine their own rational plans to kill millions with satanically inspired ideas about a Thousand Year Reich, and also how some people were able to resist those plans? Is it possible to face death with courage without knowing that a better life awaits? Can one be loyal to one’s collaborators in the resistance without being loyal to some higher power? Can faith help overcome torture? Lurking behind all such questions is the major one: if the problem of evil is not one that humans can solve, have we no choice but to rely on God for help? Does Bonhoeffer’s greatness prove his rightness?
We can see the problem clearly if we return to Arendt for a moment. She was plainly a Kantian -- her final argument for the execution of Eichmann in spite of all legal difficulties pertaining to the case is essentially drawn from Kant's Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals. Her final writing at the end of her life was on Kant's practical and political philosophy.

She also notes, however, that Eichmann claimed to be a Kantian.
[Eichmann] declared and with great emphasis that he had lived his whole life according to Kant's moral precepts, and especially according to a Kantian definition of duty.... "And, to the surprise of everybody, Eichmann came up with an approximately correct definition of the categorical imperative. 'I meant by my remark about Kant that the principle of my will must always be such that it can become the principle of general laws'.... Upon further questioning, he added that he had read Kant's Critique of Practical Reason.... Whatever Kant's role in the formation of 'the little man's' mentality in Germany may have been, there is not the slightest doubt that in one respect Eichmann did indeed follow Kant's precepts: a law was a law, there could be no exceptions. (Arendt, 135-7)
I'm not quoting her strident and plain objection to Eichmann's application of Kant's principles. She also noted that Eichmann himself admitted that he was failing Kant when he agreed to work on the Final Solution.

However, the Final Solution followed two previous 'solutions' -- forced emigration and concentration camps. Apparently both of these were in line with Eichmann's formulation and understanding of the categorical imperative. That's not quite as unreasonable as it sounds: the conflict in the will in 'formulating a maxim' that people be killed is that, if it were universalized, you would also be killed and thus unable to will. Since that is a logical contradiction, the maxim cannot be approved by Kant's mechanism. There's no similar contradiction in a universal maxim that people should be expelled from their homes. However uncomfortable, it doesn't stop me from willing.

This is really the problem with Kant's practical philosophy. His clear idea (which becomes much more explicit in the "Doctrine of Virtue," in his later Metaphysics of Morals) was to prove that Christian morality was capable of being generated by pure practical reason. There are good arguments that he failed to do this; in fact, there are a lot of good arguments, too many to address fairly even in sketch.

Even if he had come up with a mechanism that would let a Christian legislate for himself the principles of the faith, however, it is really a problem for the model that Eichmann could reasonably claim to be relying on it for his own earlier 'solutions.'

Probably a lot of people in Nazi Germany had read Kant: doubtless he was a point of Aryan pride if even Eichmann got around to it. Ultimately, it does not appear that his model inspired anyone to do from reason what Bonhoeffer did for God.


Self Criticism:

(Image courtesy of Foreign Policy, whose article on Chinese humor is well worth reading on its own merits!)

An important part of Maoist practice, not obvious in Communist practice in general, is the art of self-criticism. Apparently, this practice is spreading.

Here, there is no conceivable way in which, in my judgment, her presence on the national stage can improve our discourse, help solve our problems or improve public life. But that does not forbid one from noting the great example she has shown in rearing a child with Down Syndrome, whatever his provenance, or noting her effectiveness as a demagogue, or from admiring her father's genuineness or her skill in exploiting new media. I've consistently tried to do this without undercutting my still-raw amazement that an advanced democratic society could even contemplate putting such an unstable and irresponsible person in a position of any real power.
His approach to the new civility, he says, will be "generous anger: a classically Orwellian term." The idea is "to make strong and lively points without demonization."
I noticed Mr. Yglesias doing this the other day. It's an odd conceit: 'How shall we be more civil, as our righteous leader instructs, given the evil of our opponents?'

Generous anger! It's a little weak, honestly, compared with caritas. Of course, I stand accused (by RCL) of taking a 'sadistic pleasure' in that; so perhaps I shouldn't speak to the matter.



Walter Russel Mead has an interesting challenge that appeals to me. He is speaking of the need to move past what he calls the 'blue model' of liberalism, or 'Liberalism 4.0' and change to a 'Liberalism 5.0.'

Now, he's playing off the idea that 'liberalism' has altered its meaning several times: a very early meaning was what we now call 'classical liberalism,' which was (roughly) the ideology of the Founders. By the 'blue model' he is thinking of the FDR sort of liberalism (what is sometimes called 'reform liberalism').

Setting aside the terminology, though, there's something useful being said about the American project. After describing elements of the 'blue model' that are not optimal -- say, massive commutes to the factory; having to work in a factory -- he talks about some future improvements that we can imagine. For example, we can imagine not commuting to the factory, but working from home. Or commuting not to a central office, but to a smaller, local office.

If we can imagine that much, what else?

In my posts late last year about 5.0 liberalism I was beginning to get at the need for a new political imagination that could take us beyond the world of 4.0 liberalism and its blue social model.... It’s not just a question of bulldozing the bureaucratic structures of the 4.0 world (though in some cases bulldozers are called for).

For 4.0 liberals, who genuinely believe that the old social system was the only good way to organize society, life is full of gloom and doom. For 5.0s, this is a time of adventure, innovation and of unlimited possibility.
Adventure is my trade, of course, so I'm pleased to hear the call. We're talking about a movement away from the FDR-type of systems; and what shall replace them?

We might start by asking what kind of life we want. If we object to the trekking to factories, and working in factories, what do we want to do? And who shall work in the factories? Not only robots! This was a problem that Marx had to wrestle with, even, for he believed that capitalist systems were necessary to produce the wealth that could inspire a revolution. Thus, even when the revolution came, someone was still going to have to turn up at the factories -- everyone takes a shift, so that everyone can also have a shift at literary criticism, or politics, or philosophy?

Well, let's start with the last question, because it's the easiest one. Most visions of the good life include the liberal arts, the humanities. They are pursuits of the True and the Beautiful, as we often say. Good. This requires study, and study is expensive. Therefore, we shall have to make study less expensive.

Public education is already "free." Shall we expand the model to, say, graduate school?

It is clear that we cannot do so. Indeed, it is not clear that we can afford to continue with free education to the high school level, if it is to be governed by teachers' unions and mandatory benefits that must be paid before the state budget can proceed to new expenses.

That seems like a problem out of the gate. But we already have (so we have heard) a glut of Ph.D.'s. They are outside of the system, and therefore have no stake in it -- they can be used, and would probably love to find work in their field.

An easy answer should lie here. What is it, friends?

Bankruptcy for States?

Bankruptcy for States?

This WSJ article proposes an amendment to the federal bankruptcy law expressly extending to states the right (which municipalities already have) to declare bankruptcy. The idea is that several of our state governments are in such dire straits that the only other options are a chaotic default or a federal bailout, because the states' constitutions may prohibit them from making the deep cuts to public pension and bond obligations that would be required to avert a crisis.

Another option, I suppose, would be amendments to the state constitutions to give them the power to do what they need to do. That would have the advantage of not requiring the federal government to interfere in the state's duty to clean up their own houses. If it seems unrealistic to expect a state's leaders to take such a drastic step regarding its own constitution, what makes us think it's realistic to expect a state to take the step of declaring bankruptcy under a new law? One commenter to the piece pointed out that existing bankruptcy law provides for both voluntary and involuntary bankruptcy. Under certain conditions, that is, creditors can force a company into bankruptcy against its will. A similar right might be extended to a state's voters via a referendum. These are the same voters, however, who keep electing the governors and legislators who won't face up to the need to limit the appetite of government.

Other commenters objected that a state bankruptcy would resemble the GM chapter 11 case, in which bondholders took greater hits than were strictly compatible with what we had previously understood to be settled bankruptcy law, while unions were coddled. Still others suggested that it was inconsistent to turn a cold eye on the pitiable prospect of public union retirees for whom it was too late to build up other security for their old age, unless we were willing to treat military pensioners the same way. That argument gives me pause, because my natural sympathy for the military and antipathy to public sector unions lays me open the temptation of invidious distinctions. On reflection, though, I'm not impressed. Only a few public union employees, such as police and firemen, can make any claim to special treatment as a result of having risked life and limb. The military justifiably is extended special treatment in all sorts of ways. Also, I'm not aware of any mechanism by which the military leadership extorts money from its ranks to fund lobbying efforts to increase military benefits, or otherwise abuses its public position to alter public policy towards its own members.

Finally, a number of commenters expressed a wish to force the national experiment to its logical conclusion, in which the states with bloated budgets would fail and, by so doing, expose the intellectual bankruptcy of their ideologies. That's a good reason for opposing a federal bailout, but I suppose either bankruptcy or chaotic default would equally serve to expose the results of electing generations of local leaders who could neither face facts nor stand up to pressure from public sector unions.

Horse Post

A Horse Post:

RCL writes to complain that we haven't had a good horse post in too long, and he's been saving up for you. You should have said something sooner!

This first video he sends is an extraordinary example of Spanish horsemanship. Look at the collection of this hot-blooded beast, while it plays around with a rider and a lance. (Technically, the pole is called a garrocha.) And on a loose rein!

Another bullfighter. The horse is just playing with that bull. Good collection in the middle sections, but on a tighter rein.

Now, how about an Aussie cowboy?

Hat tip, I am told, to Irreverent Buckaroo.

UPDATE: By the way, did you ever wonder what a bullfight would look like if it were just for play? Behold:

The owner of this bull, and horse, is Jesus Morales -- the rider featured in the first video, above.



Ross Douthat is charged by Dr. Althouse with something... she asks you to choose what.

Why does it feel like a marriage to Ross Douthat? I'll offer 2 possible answers. See if you get it right:

1. Because Sarah Palin is a woman.

2. Because Sarah Palin is a conservative.

The correct answer is #2. If Sarah Palin were a liberal, using the marriage analogy to talk about a female politician would have been recognized as too sexist.
Logically, the answer can't be #2, but "both." After all, it is the union of these categories that is the sufficient condition for his claim. She has to be both a woman and a conservative for it not to 'be recognized as too sexist' to make the analogy. If she were a man, it not only wouldn't be 'recognized,' it wouldn't be sexist at all: it would be perfectly fair, given the way female politicians are treated!

This, though, is something we've always known. The same rules don't apply to conservative women. The question I would ask is: Should we want them to apply? Mr. Douthat's piece is so obviously bad not because it is sexist, but because of the strength of Mrs. Palin's actual marriage. The clash between the literary analogy and the actual fact is so strong that it makes the piece absurd.

That's a strength of the lady; it's good, for her, to have the comparison raised.

Now, there's another way in which Mr. Douthat has a valuable point that is lost in the failure of his analogy: the interaction between the media and Mrs. Palin has not covered the media in glory, but neither has it always been positive for her. That is a problem if she has serious political ambitions. It is just as possible that she is serving as a stalking horse, though, while getting rich off the media's hyperventilation.

If that is her intention, the mechanism is all to the good from her perspective.

The Primera

The Primera:

We usually hear Diego Ortiz's segunda. But here is the first one:

If you've forgotten the segunda for some reason, here it is. (And of course we can all count at least as far in Spanish as the segunda from reading Louis L'amour; he used the term in its common meaning of 'second in command,' to show the degree of crossover among Spanish and American cattle ranchers in the southwest.)

You can see why the second was more famous. Still, the first should not be forgotten.

The Bold

The Bold Shall Inherit:

There is also something to be said for bulling your way through.

The Meek

The Meek Shall Inherit:

Via Cassandra, a quote from C. S. Lewis:

What, you may ask, is the relevance of this idea to the modern world? It is terribly relevant. It may or may not be practicable--the Middle Ages notoriously failed to obey it--but it is certainly practical; practical as the fact that men in a desert must find water or die.[...]

The medieval ideal brought together two things which have no natural tendency to gravitate towards one another. It brought them together for that very reason. It taught humility and forbearance to the great warrior because everyone knew by experience how much he usually needed that lesson. It demanded valour of the urbane and modest man because everyone knew that he was as likely as not to be a milksop.

In so doing, the Middle Ages fixed on the one hope of the world. It may or may not be possible to produce by the thousand men who combine the two sides of Launcelot's character. But if it is not possible, then all talk of any lasting happiness or dignity in human society is pure moonshine.

Due Process

Due Process:

A note from your psychologist doesn't really count as a medical diagnosis, let alone adequate due process for stripping someone of civil rights.

Two high-profile politicians today called for sweeping reforms to the nation’s mental health system that would prevent individuals deemed ill from legally purchasing firearms.
"Deemed" ill? Is that somewhat like "deem-and-pass"?
Giuliani said among the problems that led to the shooting spree, which left six dead and 19 injured, is the nation’s “inability to deal with mental illness.” He urged policy “adjustments” that balance things like an individual’s constitutional right to own firearms with keeping guns out of the hands of unstable people.
Better: but just how do we balance these issues? What is the due process that could work here? The diagnosis process, as I understand it, is largely an Occam's razor process -- that is, you look at reported symptoms and determine what is most likely. There's no lab test. No one can be sure the diagnosis is right.

There's also no meaningful appeal. Presumably, since the diagnosis has no force, you could simply get a second opinion. However, why would anyone give you one? They can't be any more certain of their diagnosis than the original doctor. That puts them in particular legal jeopardy if they give you the 'all clear': if they say you're good and they're wrong, they are personally liable for the harm you do. If they concur, or give a report that is noncommittal, they're safe. Why would they take the risk?

You might answer: "Because they believe in individual liberty." In that case, though, how can we rely on their clearance? Let us say that the ACLU were to set up a shop of psychologists who took it as their duty to clear everyone possible, in the interest of civil liberty. (Or say it was the NRA; whoever.) Now you really do need due process, to decide between the competing reports.

On what basis, though, would a court decide? Something as sentimental as the judge's personal sense of whether or not you 'seem normal'? A jury's? Shall we pursue a foundation for our fundamental liberties no more certain than that?

All of this suggests to me that we're far better off absorbing the occasional shooting -- and preparing ourselves, as individual citizens, to resist it -- than accepting this kind of restriction on basic liberty.

Yes, it's terrible. The responsibility to be prepared to stop such a thing is our own, though: it cannot reasonably be delegated to the state.