Speaking well

The Earl of Chesterfield's account of a bill he introduced in the House of Lords in 1751 to reform the Julian Calendar:
I acquainted you in a former letter that I had brought in a bill into the House of Lords, for correcting and reforming our present calendar, which is the Julian, and for adopting the Gregorian. . . . It was notorious, that the Julian calendar was erroneous, and had overcharged the solar year with eleven days. Pope Gregory XIII. corrected this error [in 1582]; . . .  It was not, in my opinion, very honourable for England to remain in a gross and avowed error, especially in such company; the inconvenience of it was likewise felt by all those who had foreign correspondences whether political or mercantile. I determined, therefore, to attempt the reformation; I consulted the best lawyers, and the most skilful astronomers, and we cooked up a bill for that purpose. But then my difficulty began; I was to bring in this bill, which was necessarily composed of law jargon and astronomical calculations, to both of which I am an utter stranger. However, it was absolutely necessary to make the House of Lords think that I knew something of the matter, and also to make them believe that they knew something of it themselves, which they do not. For my own part, I could just as soon have talked Celtic or Sclavonian to them as astronomy, and they would have understood me full as well; so I resolved to do better than speak to the purpose, and to please instead of informing them. I gave them, therefore, only an historical account of calendars, from the Egyptian down to the Gregorian, amusing them now and then with little episodes; but I was particularly attentive to the choice of my words, to the harmony and roundness of my periods, to my eloquence, to my action. This succeeded, and ever will succeed; they thought I informed, because I pleased them; and many of them said, that I had made the whole very clear to them, when, God knows, I had not even attempted it. Lord Macclesfield, who had the greatest share in forming the bill and who is one of the greatest mathematicians and astronomers in Europe, spoke afterwards with infinite knowledge, and all the clearness that so intricate a matter would admit of; but as his words, his periods and his utterance were not near so good as mine, the preference was most unanimously, though most unjustly, given to me....

Salad

From The Holy State, by Thomas Fuller (1642):
[A]t our yeoman's table you shall have as many joints as dishes. No meat disguised with strange sauces, no straggling joint of a sheep in the midst of a pasture of grass, beset with salads on every side, but solid substantial food . . . .
From Pale Fire, Vladimir Nabokov (1962):
I am a strict vegetarian...The usual questions were fired at me about eggnogs and milkshakes being or not being acceptable to one of my persuasion. Shade said that with him it was the other way around: he must make a definite effort to partake of a vegetable. Beginning a salad, was to him like stepping into sea water on a chilly day, and he had always to brace himself in order to attack the fortress of an apple.

Choking shale

The Democratic Party may yet succeed in choking the life out of the shale-oil industry, but if that's what the Saudis were trying to do, it's back-fired:
Khalid Alsweilem, a former official at the Saudi central bank and now at Harvard University, . . . wrote in a Harvard report that Saudi Arabia would have an extra trillion of assets by now if it had adopted the Norwegian model of a sovereign wealth fund to recyle the money instead of treating it as a piggy bank for the finance ministry. The report has caused [a] storm in Riyadh.
"We were lucky before because the oil price recovered in time. But we can't count on that again," he said.
OPEC have left matters too late, though perhaps there is little they could have done to combat the advances of American technology.
In hindsight, it was a strategic error to hold prices so high, for so long, allowing shale frackers - and the solar industry - to come of age. The genie cannot be put back in the bottle.
That's a funny aside about allowing solar to "come of age," though. I'm afraid that genie has only begun to think of peeking over the edge of the bottle.

This Is Alarming

I can't recall any time in years in which the US has had no aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf -- which, by the way, we call "the Arabian Gulf" in order to side with the Gulf States against Iran's claim to the waters. Just a coincidence that this first "gap" in years is going to coincide with Congress' Iran vote, but it does make it easier for Iran to be provocative if it decides to be. Maybe they'll be on good behavior in the hope of not provoking a no vote, but maybe not, and in any case hope is not a plan.

Apparently a Serious Concern in Sydney, Australia

"Dungeons and Dragons: sinister craze or good night in?"

You're a little late to the party. We did this like thirty years ago in America. Turns out, it's just good fun. Kids benefit from trying on various roles, exploring what it means to be heroic.

Some of them even go on to try out the lessons they learned in real life. Imagine.

Criminal

The NY Post is reporting that the FBI inquiry into Clinton's emails is a criminal probe. But the claim is qualified.
“My guess is they’re looking to see if there’s been either any breach of that data that’s gone into the wrong hands [in Clinton’s case], through their counter-intelligence group, or they are looking to see if a crime has been committed,” said Makin Delrahim, former chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, who served as a deputy assistant secretary in the Bush DOJ.

“They’re not in the business of providing advisory security services,” Delrahim said of the FBI. “This is real.”
The problem is that their CI branch and their criminal branches are separate. We could still be looking at merely a counterintelligence assessment, somehow separate from a questioning of her security clearance. But keep an eye on it. There's an outside chance that the Department of Justice might be interested, for a moment, in justice.

MONKROCK

From a Real Clear Religion article I recently ran across:

There are obvious similarities between punk rock and religious monasticism.

Both are cultures that deviate from the mainstream. Both eschew high fashion in favor of simplicity. Both believe in a Do It Yourself (DIY) ethic. (Corporate label won't sell your record? Produce and distribute it yourself. The secular world is obsessed with fame and toys? Wear a robe and shave your head.)

Punks and monks are about a stripped-down opposition to a sinful world that can [b]e sermonized into making sense.

Enter MONKROCK. The all-caps official name of the company is the brainchild of Kevin Clay, a musician and artist who lives in Tennessee. Clay, who is a "lay monastic," believes that the most authentic expression of punk in 2015 is traditional Catholic monasticism.

...

And they have their own coffee, as well at t-shirts, art, etc.

It's True What They Say...

You know you've really got trouble when the soldiers stop complaining about the food.

OPSEC: Pull Her Clearance

I've never heard of this group of "former special operations forces and intelligence community members," but they do sound like they know what they're talking about.

As we discussed here recently I think it's the obvious thing to do, and so obvious that in any other case it would have been done the same afternoon. Whatever you think about whether or not charges should be filed, there's simply no reason this shouldn't have been done at the first sign of clear evidence of document mishandling, even pending the investigation. You don't wait until someone is convicted to pull their clearance: they don't have a right to it, so there's no due process concern about life or liberty being taken from them, and you can always restore it later if they are vindicated. It's what we'd do with absolutely anyone else.

I know: she's above the law. She's above the rules. And that's why she needs to be President.

Journalistic Standards of Writing

Business Insider wants you to know that while the FBI is investigating Hillary Clinton's server, they aren't investigating Clinton herself.
The Post reports that the unusual system was originally set up by a staffer during Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign, replacing a server used by her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
Where they wrote "unusual" I might have said "illegal," since at minimum Clinton was violating the Federal Records Act. I suppose journalists usually say "allegedly illegal," as well they might here since there are apparent violations not only of that act but of the acts governing the care of classified material. Still, no one in authority has dared to allege illegality. Those concerns have been raised only by other journalists, and who are journalists to challenge the powerful?

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.

"1332"

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."

"Governing"

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.