Silly Music for Saturday Night

Just a couple of silly little ditties for your enjoyment on a Saturday night.
This first one seems particularly apropos given that this was the week of the second GOP debate/melee:
And this one is just fun with numbers:

It Sure Seems That Way

The Conservative Review:
There is one enduring observation about contemporary party politics that serves as a guide to those perplexed by the actions of our politicians: whereas Democrats harness their base to advance the party’s liberal agenda, the Republican establishment works to undermine, deceive, and disenfranchise its own base the minute they have pocketed their support in the general election.

Everything else makes sense once you internalize this observation.

The latest artifice from the GOP establishment is on display this week with their newest plan to make an end-run around the base and fund Planned Parenthood.
The National Review:
"Why on earth would Republicans do that?” That is a question I’ve been asked at least a dozen times since illustrating that the GOP has played a cynical game in connection with President Obama’s Iran deal. “Follow the money” is a common answer to questions about political motivation. It may not explain everything in this case, but it is certainly relevant.

This spring, Republican leadership colluded with the White House and congressional Democrats to enact a law — the Corker-Cardin Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act — that guaranteed Obama would be authorized to lift sanctions against Iran (the main objective of the terrorist regime in Tehran). The rigged law authorized Obama to lift sanctions as long as Republicans could not pass a resolution of disapproval. As Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, and other GOP leaders well knew, there was no way they would ever be able to enact a disapproval resolution over Obama’s veto. But the process choreographed by Corker-Cardin meant they would be able to complain about the deal and vote to disapprove it — thereby creating the impression that they were staunchly against the lifting of sanctions that they had already authorized.
Maybe there's some brilliant plan, though.

We Have to be Broadminded

I mean, it is 2015.

I'm Not Even a Republican and this Makes Me Angry

The White House decided to use Donald Trump to call the entire Republican party racist.
"People who hold these offensive views are part of Mr. Trump's base," said Josh Earnest. "Mr. Trump himself would be the first to tell you that he's got the biggest base of any Republican politician these days. Now it is too bad that he wasn't able to summon the same kind of patriotism that we saw from Senator McCain, who responded much more effectively and directly when one of his supporters at one of his campaign events made the same kind of false claims.

Now what is also unfortunate is that Mr. Trump isn't the first Republican politician to countenance these kinds of views in order to win votes. In fact, that is precisely what every Republican presidential candidate is doing when they decline to denounce Mr. Trump's cynical strategy, because they are looking for those same votes.

Now other Republicans have successfully used this strategy as well. You will recall that one Republican congressman told a reporter that he was David Duke without the baggage. That congressman was elected by a majority of his colleagues in the House of Representatives to the third highest-ranking position in the House. Those same members of Congress blocked immigration reform. Those same members of Congress oppose reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act. Those same members of Congress couldn't support a simple funding bill because they are eager to defend the confederate flag.

So those are the priorities of today's Republican Party. And they will continue to be until someone in the Republican Party decides to summon the courage to stand up and change it."
You may not have noticed, son, but it was Republicans who took down the Confederate flag across the South. They didn't rush to defend it. They fell all over themselves for the chance to pull it down.

It is too bad Josh Earnest wasn't able to summon the same kind of patriotism -- and class -- as Senator McCain. Trump is supposed to take responsibility for what some random guy said about the President. Is President Obama going to take responsibility for what his own Press Secretary said about half the country?

UPDATE: Charles C. W. Cooke points out, quite rightly, that both the 'Birther' and the 'Secret Muslim' themes started with Clinton in 2008. The 'Secret Muslim' thing tracked to her campaign directly, whereas the 'Birther' thing was allegedly some of her "diehard supporters." What I have heard is that it was her oppo research team running an astroturf campaign, but OK, let's grant that there is a chance she might have had some 'diehard supporters' in 2008.

Yes, Exactly

The biggest problem in American government today is the hyper-nationalization of government. Even in the middle of Republican presidential politics, even when every Republican candidate claims to be a "conservative," the myopic fixation on federal government resolution of every conceivable problem dominates everything, and the centralization of all power into our Potomac cesspool is largely ignored.

The problem, of course, is Washington. America is brought down not by awful governance in New York City or Chicago. America easily survives over-taxation in Massachusetts or over-regulation in California. The beauty of American government has always been federalism, the retention of most governmental power in sovereign states and not in a national government.
His diagnosis of the problem is right. So, I think, is the solution, with one exception.
We need the spark of another American Revolution – a peaceful, constitutional, and political revolution, but a revolution nonetheless. It is wise to consider that the first American Revolution had more to do with the distant and arrogant rule of London than anything else. In much of America today, it is more 1776 than 2015. The peaceful, political revolution against Imperial Washington needs simply a great leader to win.
The "great leader" we need is someone like Washington, who would do the job and go home. Otherwise, a "great leader" is likely to compound the problem by centralizing power in himself.

Rep. Duncan Hunter: Secretary Mabus Cannot Lead Marine Corps

First-time commenter ColoComment mentioned this letter from Representative Hunter to the SECDEF. He also thinks the Secretary of the Navy should resign over his refusal to even consider the evidence collected by the Marine Corps in its study of these issues.

Reports tonight indicate that the USMC is going to ask to keep combat jobs closed to women, at odds with Secretary Mabus, the President, and the other services. There is some question about whether Secretary Mabus will set aside the Marine Corps Commandant's recommendation as well.

Revolution Songs, II



He stole the tune, but that's true of "The Star Spangled Banner" as well. I like that they gave a brief biography at the beginning. Quite a man.

The Danger of Feeling Smug is Very High With This Story

Headline: "Obama’s Nobel peace prize didn’t have the desired effect, former Nobel official reveals."

Reagan's movie library

This site has a list of every movie Reagan is supposed to have watched during eight years in the White House.  It's surprisingly similar to what I'd have been likely to watch.  That is to say, there are lots of things missing that I'd have enjoyed, but very few that I haven't seen or that I started and couldn't be bothered to finish.

Bill Kristol on Qualifications

Bill Kristol at the Weekly Standard suggests that there's a real qualifications problem for the Republicans' two leading candidates.
Trump is certainly the less qualified of the two, a self-regarding blowhard who’s not much of a conservative to boot, who is not now and will never be qualified to be president.

Carson is a Christian gentleman and a genuine conservative. But he’s not yet prepared to be president, and he’d have to show an awful lot of growth to be ready a year from now. What’s more, for either Trump or Carson to win the general election, voters would have to conclude that he is so extraordinary a figure that for the first time in American history, they would send a man to the White House who had neither held elective office nor served as a general officer or cabinet officer.
Well, first times happen sometimes.

I think you have to say that this applies to the top three leaders in the Republican party's primary so far, after Fiorina's performance at the last debate. She's never held any of those offices either. She has been a corporate officer, but that's far from the same thing (and so have both of the others).

Kristol goes on:
The good news is the Democrats are probably in worse shape than the Republicans. There’s no good reason either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders should be our next president, and it’s very likely that belief is shared by a majority of Americans. The likeliest late entrants into the Democratic field—one or more of the septuagenarian group of Joe Biden, Jerry Brown, and John Kerry—don’t exactly inspire either.
There is one candidate on the Democratic side who has been a decorated military officer, a cabinet secretary, a diplomat and an elected Senator. But let's not talk crazy by including him on the list of possibilities, I guess.

No Confidence in Secretary Mabus

OAF Nation is impressed with him, in a bad way.
Not long after the Marine Corps released its findings on long term combat simulations with gender-integrated units, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus grabbed at every straw and went for just about every fallacious argument to be found in a Critical Thinking 101 college textbook. Aside from claiming that pre-existing institutional misogyny resulted in female Marine participants having trouble lifting their rucks over walls, and aside from claiming these 100 women were basically subpar to the phantom stock of vagina-owning death dealers the Marine Corps is keeping in some underground, undisclosed location, during his September 11th NPR interview, this jewel stood out from all others:

"Women got injured a lot or more than men on duty. Men got injured four times as much as women off duty. So, we've got these knuckleheads who are, 'here, hold my beer and watch this,' . . . So, do we keep men from being in the infantry because they get hurt so much off duty? I don't think so."

There is so much to pick apart in that statement, but lets just focus on one issue. Now—let a former beer guzzling, dare devil, first-enlistment knucklehead take the floor.
I think he should resign. How can he command the force's respect after this?

The Cruz Conjecture

Via D29, a point about Cruz in the last debate:
Ted Cruz gives good answers, but it’s been two debates now in which it sure seemed like nobody wanted to give him any time to speak. The one time he was given a truly substantive and interesting question he came up with perhaps the most meaningful answer of the debate; namely, on the question of John Roberts as the Supreme Court Chief Justice appointed by George W. Bush. This occasioned a back-and-forth with Jeb! Bush, who attempted to chide Cruz for now being critical of Roberts but was steamrolled by a brilliant answer. Cruz noted that conservatives keep voting for Republicans and never seem to be satisfied with the results, largely because Republican presidents (all recently named Bush) take the easy way out rather than to do the hard things.

And Cruz looked at the nominations of David Souter instead of Edith Jones and Roberts instead of Mike Luttig as examples of the failure to deliver for conservatives. He noted that if Jones and Luttig were on the court instead of Souter and Roberts, Obamacare would have been found unconstitutional three years ago and all the state laws banning gay marriage would still be alive. Cruz then admitted supporting Roberts as the nominee, and said he regrets it.... what Cruz said was spot-on. The Bushes nominated two Supreme Court justices with no particular paper trail to prove an ideology, and in so doing weakened the court when to engage a full-throated ideological fight could have changed America for the better. That’s a great reason not to elect Jeb! as president — particularly when despite his reticence to use his last name the former Florida governor has done little to demonstrate his presidency would be any different from the uninspiring tenure of his father and brother.

Behavior Scoring

China is leading the way in building a 'social media' system that will track the loyalty of its subjects to every aspect of its state vision.
China is proposing to assess its citizens' behavior over a totality of commercial and social activities, creating an uber-scoring system. When completed, the model could encompass everything from a person's chat-room comments to their performance at work, while the score could be used to determine eligibility for jobs, mortgages, and social services.
I suppose it's already the case that your behavior on social media can help determine your eligibility for a job in America. Certainly it will be considered if you are up for a security clearance. We have a ways to go before they're tracking everything we do all the time to make sure we comply with the politically correct view before we obtain state services, though.

However, all is not well: the government has just been licensed to perform behavioral experiments on the American people to see if can 'nudge' us to 'better' behavior. The government has a history of trying out psychological experiments to control the American people that is not very charming. If you didn't watch this BBC documentary the first time around, you might want to do so this time.

Russia, Syria, and Ukraine

Daniel Drezner argues that everyone has lost in Ukraine, but that Russia has lost most.

USMC Top Sergeant Throws Away Rank for Honesty

In response to the Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus saying the Marine Corps should've chosen better females for the infantry integration experiment, Sergeant Major Justin LeHew stated:

"...This was as stacked as a unit could get with the best Marines to give it a 100 percent success rate as we possibly could. End result? The best women in the GCEITF as a group in regard to infantry operations were equal or below in most all cases to the lowest 5 percent of men as a group in this test study.

They are slower on all accounts in almost every technical and tactical aspect and physically weaker in every aspect across the range of military operations. SECNAV has stated that he has made his mind up even before the release of these results and that the USMC test unit will not change his mind on anything.

Listen up folks. Your senior leadership of this country does not want to see America overwhelmingly succeed on the battlefield, it wants to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to pursue whatever they want regardless of the outcome on national security. The infantry is not Ranger School. That is just a school like any other school and is not a feeder specifically to the infantry.

Anyone can go to that school that meets the prereqs, just like airborne school. Kudos to the two women who graduated. They are badasses in their own right. In regards to the infantry... There is no trophy for second place. You perform or die.

Make no mistake. In this realm, you want your fastest, most fit, most physical and most lethal person you can possibly put on the battlefield to overwhelm the enemy's ability to counter what you are throwing at them and in every test case, that person has turned out to be a man.

There is nothing gender biased about this, it is what it is. You will never see a female Quarterback in the NFL, there will never be a female center on any NHL team and you will never see a female batting in the number 4 spot for the New York Yankees. It is what it is. As a country we preach equality.

But to place these mandates on the military before this country has even considered making females register, just like males, for the selective service is in all aspects out of touch with reality. Equality and equal opportunity start before you raise your right hand and swear and oath to this country.

Yes, we are an all volunteer force at the moment. Should this country however need to mobilize rapidly again to face the threats of the world like our grandfathers did, it will once again look to the military age males of this country to fill the ranks because last I checked, we did not require women to register for the selective service.

Until that happens, we should not even be wasting our time even thinking about opening up the infantry to women..."

Now he's under fire for posting this on Facebook and has since removed it. I'm sure the PC leaders will do everything they can to burn him.
UPDATE: The post he wrote has been taken down, but here's an article on it.

Come Down With Your Rifle

We need to start searching out songs of the Revolution. Here's the first one.

"Here's two-legged game for your powder and ball. And share, share, the Green Mountain Air."

A Memento of Times Happily Past

"The Negro Motorist Green Book," from 1949. An important quality of the book was that it helped motorists understand which places in a given town would serve them, so that they could eat without abuse, or sleep without fear.

We must find the way to recapture the glories of the earlier America without the poison of racism. It seems as if it should be easy -- simply dispose of race as the false construct that it is, and extend the arguments about the universal and natural rights of mankind to all of mankind. It hasn't proven easy. It still must be done.

This One's Not Satire

Headline: "After Three Days of Clashes on Temple Mount, US Calls on Israel To Ban Jews."

So, when I went to Israel in December, it was still the case that only Muslims could approach the Temple Mount. Jews were not allowed as a regular thing -- in Israel, mind -- and if they did approach for some special occasion, they had to be accompanied by a police officer who would physically remove them if they did anything that could be possibly interpreted as praying. The idea of Jews praying at the Temple Mount was impossibly offensive to the Muslim population because of the Al Aqsa mosque's presence atop that mount.

Very recently an Israeli Supreme Court decision set aside this longstanding practice. It stated that Jews, like Muslims, must be allowed to pray atop the Temple Mount. With the Jewish High Holidays upon us, this has become a flashpoint for violent protests against the Jews.

Naturally, the US State Department has taken the side of Jews staying away from the Temple Mount.
United States State Department spokesman John Kirby condemned the clashes on Monday, stating, “The United States is deeply concerned by the increase in violence and escalating tensions surrounding the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount. We strongly condemn all acts of violence.”

“It is absolutely critical that all sides exercise restraint, refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric and preserve unchanged the historic status quo on the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount,” he added. The “historical status quo” Kirby is referring to is a ban on Jews on the Temple Mount.
It is amazing to me that we have come to a pass at which "naturally" the US Department of State calls on Israel to ban Jews from worshiping freely at their most holy site, just as "naturally" the Secretary of the Navy immediately dismisses a carefully constructed scientific study that contradicts the political will of his superior even though it will lead to the deaths of his Marines.

The most obvious and basic, the most fundamental American moral values are being violated in these matters. It has become a matter of course.

Today's Quiz: Satire or Not?

Headline: "5 US Trained Rebels Fight ISIS."
Just “four or five” U.S.-trained anti-ISIS fighters are combatting the so-called Islamic State, a top American military official told Congress on Wednesday, despite a program that cost as much as $500 million.

Headline: "Guantanamo Bay Prisoner's Match.com Profile: 'Detained, but Ready to Mingle.'"
Guantánamo Bay is not standing in the way of prisoner Muhammad Rahim al-Afghani’s desire to find love. His lawyer Carlos Warner runs an account for the terrorist on Match.com.

But These Are Our Newest Allies!

Canada shuts Iranian embassy, expels diplomats over vicious Antisemitism.

The "Obama Recovery" in Nine Charts

Via ZeroHedge.

Marine Corps' "Gender Integrated Infantry Unit" Finishes Assessment

The latest in the quest to integrate women fully into line infantry units is the United States Marine Corps' nine-month study, just concluded, of a "gender integrated" infantry unit performing simulated combat. As a scientific experiment ought, it ran a standing infantry unit (all male) through the same paces to see how they compared. The results are as predictable as anything could possibly be.
Women in a new Marine Corps unit created to assess how female service members perform in combat were injured twice as often as men, less accurate with infantry weapons and not as good at removing wounded troops from the battlefield, according to the results of a long-awaited study produced by the service....

Infantry squads comprising men only also had better accuracy than squads with women in them, with “a notable difference between genders for every individual weapons system” used by infantry rifleman units. They include the M4 carbine, the M27 infantry automatic rifle (IAR) and the M203, a single-shot grenade launcher mounted to rifles, the study found.

The research also found that male Marines who have not received infantry training were still more accurate using firearms than women who have. And in removing wounded troops from the battlefield, there “were notable differences in execution times between all-male and gender-integrated groups,” with the exception being when a single person—”most often a male Marine” — carried someone away, the study found.

The full study is more than a thousand pages long, Marine officials said....

Researchers hooked men and women alike up to a variety of monitors, and found that the top 25th percentile of women overlapped with the bottom 25th percentile of men when it came to anaerobic power, a measure of strength, Marine officials said....

The gender-integrated unit’s assessment also found that 40.5 percent of women participating suffered some form of musculoskeletal injury, while 18.8 percent of men did. Twenty-one women lost time in the unit due to injuries, 19 of whom suffered injuries to their lower extremities. Of those, 16 women were injured while while carrying heavy loads in an organized movement, like a march, the study found.
Naturally the results were immediately dismissed by the Secretary of the Navy. Some of the Marines involved in the study were so incensed by his refusal to take the results on board that they took the unusual -- and certain to be punished -- step of complaining openly to the press about the appointed civilian leadership.
Marines involved in a controversial experiment evaluating a gender-integrated infantry unit say they feel betrayed by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus after he criticized the results of a nine-month study that found women are injured more frequently and shoot less accurately in simulated combat conditions.

“Our secretary of the Navy completely rolled the Marine Corps and the entire staff that was involved in putting this [experiment] in place under the bus,” said Sgt. Danielle Beck, a female anti-armor gunner with the task force....

To Beck, a 30 year-old who was one of the strongest women in the company, Mabus’s remarks were insulting.

“Everyone that was involved did the job and completed the mission to the best of their abilities,” said Beck, adding that Mabus’s remarks about the type of women in the experiment were a “slap in the face.”

“The caliber of the women in Weapons Company are few and far between in the Marine Corps,” she added. “They are probably some of the most professional women that anybody will ever have chance to work with, and the heart and drive and determination that they had is incomparable to most women in the Marine Corps.”
The thing is, this study lines up perfectly with the results from the United Kingdom's tri-service longitudinal study of women in the military. They also found that, across the services and over time, women were less physically capable, less lethal because the strain on their bodies interfered with weapons accuracy, more likely to be injured, less capable of helping other soldiers who became wounded, and reduced the unit's ability to maneuver under fire.

The Marines haven't found anything new. The real question is whether we can accept the truth, or whether we just cannot. If we can't, in the end, Americans will die in some cornfield or ricefield or desert ditch because of it. Wars may be lost, the course of history may turn away from our vision of human liberty, but that's hard to get your head around. Just think of the kids you're leaving to die, Secretary Mabus. Think about the Marines you are personally condemning to death.

Against Objectifying Objects

In spite of the funny title, I think there's a pretty good argument to be made here. It just isn't the argument being made.
Dr Kathleen Richardson, a robotics expert at De Montfort University in Leicester, England, warns that sex robots could contribute to the systemic dehumanization of women and children....

“Technology is not neutral. It’s informed by class, race and gender. Political power informs the development of technology,” she told the Washington Post. “That’s why we can do something about it. These robots will contribute to more sexual exploitation.”
There is no reason to believe that users of sex robots will lose the distinction between the object they are objectifying and actual women (or children). If anything, this might provide an outlet for people of very strong but antisocial desires to express themselves without hurting real human beings.

The real argument against this is not what it will do to the robots, but what it will do to the users. The problem isn't that they're using an appliance for its designed purpose, but that they're treating their own sexuality as a toy. This isn't a new problem: it applies to all such uses. Here's Kant on the subject, from The Metaphysics of Morals.



Kant can be a little opaque, and there's a lot more that has to be read to appreciate his full argument, but in sketch he is arguing this:

1) All things that happen have a cause.

2) For most things, that cause is something else acting on the thing being changed, e.g., sunlight hits ice, melting it.

3) These actions are not free, because they are caused by something else acting upon you.

4) Human beings, and other rational beings, have a possibility to act freely.

5) This only occurs when we are our own cause.

6) When we act as animals, we are not behaving freely: we are giving in to being acted upon by an outside stimulation.

7) Rather, we are free only when we reason to the right thing to do, and do that.

8) We can reason that the obvious good of sexuality is the preservation of the species.

9) Other uses are mere animal ends, and lack dignity because they lack freedom: we are throwing away our rational freedom and allowing ourselves to be driven like an animal.

10) Thus, dignity is only compatible with rationally electing to use sex for its proper purpose.

This is not a new argument even to Kant, although he frames it in what he would call 'pure practical reason.' You can find the same basic argument in Aquinas or Aristotle. It's an argument that has always struck me as incomplete: it's missing something, though after years of considering it I'm less sure than ever that I can say just what it is missing. Aquinas' version is better -- he distinguishes not one but three goods associated with sex -- but it doesn't avoid the conclusion that only this one mode of sexuality is fully good and worthy of a free and dignified human being.

Whether or not it's quite right, though, it's surely a good part right. Thus, the strong argument against sex robots isn't that they will lead to people imagining exploiting women or children: what is more likely is that those people are already imagining it, and might substitute the appliance for an actual person who would otherwise be exploited and harmed. The strong argument is that this mode of sexuality is itself necessarily harmful even to the user. It cannot be practiced without harm, even if in fact it reduces the actual incidence of harm to innocent third parties.

Kant makes an argument in the quoted passage that we can know this in part because the act is shameful. You're happy to present your spouse to the community, but would presumably hide the fact that you own a blow-up doll (or sexbot). I think he's right that it ought to be shameful, and that a decent society would be ashamed of such things and keep them private. What I wonder, though, is if a society is necessarily ashamed of it. Ours has come to think of free expression of sexuality as a kind of positive good, and might well treat parading your sexbot around as an act of courage. Can't you imagine hearing how "brave" someone was for "being open about his sexuality" in this way?

If that's right, then shame and reason have come apart: we aren't ashamed of what we ought to be, and have begun to praise vices as if they were virtues.

UPDATE: By the way, I've been doing some further reading on this subject, and the concept of "objectification" in sexuality seems to be rooted in feminist readings of Kant. Kant's talking about objectification in his sense, which is importantly different from the way these readings take him, here: the wrongdoer here is turning himself into an object by throwing away his rational capacities in favor of being acted-upon from outside. He gives up rational thought about what is right and wrong, and allows the impact of sensation to provoke desire, and desire to provoke action, as if he were a thoughtless object instead of a thinking subject.

Of course, part of what I think Kant gets wrong is the idea that even animals are "objects" in this way. The analysis may break quite early if, as seems likely to me, at least some animals are engaging in rational evaluation of desires or rationally adapting to ways of life compatible with other beings. There's probably also a basic error in assuming that rationality is divorced from sensuality, as both are emergent qualities from the world: to whatever degree we are actually rational, our ancestors had a potential for rationality that came to be realized in us. It is probably an error to think of reason as standing separate and alone, ordering reality rather than being ordered by it in the way that the Kant Song describes the First Critique. Reason itself is a product of the world, revealed by evolution, and its own function is therefore to be expected to be aligned with the world rather than divorced from it. We should expect to overcome Hume's objections not by Kant's apperception, but by a better understanding of the reality that we encounter with both reason and sensation.

"Things Were A Lot Worse in the Mid-70s" Is Not a Ringing Defense

In which Fortune magazine discovers that Donald Trump is right about something:
Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is not predicated on the candidate’s mastery of or allegiance to facts.

His views on things like immigration or international trade are just not supported by any relevant statistics. So when The Donald called into CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday and claimed that Americans are living in a “false economy,” where the unemployment rate is actually 40% rather than the 5.1% as reported by the Labor Department, you’d be forgiven for believing this was just another Trumpian whopper.

But actually, this view can be supported by actual statistics.
The real issue is that things are worse than they have been since Ronald Reagan was turning things around during his first term -- and unlike Reagan's time, the rate of improvement is not sharply inclined. Government policies have been depressing hiring and investment in new business here in America, especially the Obamacare law and its effects but also the general increase in regulation of business.

Guns in Counties

City-Data has a list that purports to be the 101 most well-armed counties in the United States. I'm not at all sure it's accurate, since many gun owners wouldn't report owning a gun out of reasonable concern about government watchlists and attempts at establishing a pre-confiscation registry. Still, it's probably as good a list as can be put together. How many crime-ridden hellholes can you find on it?

Idiocracy

I've been reading up on Athenian democracy, and came across this tidbit on Wikipedia:

A good example of the contempt the first democrats felt for those who did not participate in politics can be found in the modern word 'idiot', which finds its origins in the ancient Greek word ἰδιώτης, idiōtēs, meaning a private person, a person who is not actively interested in politics; such characters were talked about with contempt, and the word eventually acquired its modern meaning. According to Thucydides, Pericles may have declared in a funeral oration:
We do not say that a man who takes no interest in politics is a man who minds his own business; we say that he has no business here at all.

A Small Detail

I think this is mostly good advice, except for one thing: Israel has no use for the Massive Ordnance Penetrator. That weapon can only be deployed from a B-2 stealth bomber. Israel does not have any B-2 stealth bombers. We do not plan to sell them any B-2 stealth bombers, and for a pretty good reason: as much as we all love Israel, and I certainly do, it has a history of reverse engineering American military technology and occasionally selling that technology abroad. It's perfectly understandable that they do this, given their position and the threats that they face, but we can't afford to pass them the B-2.

It's not as easy as just handing them a great big bomb, in other words. We'd have to hand them the delivery system as well, and teach them how it works, and doing that once basically means giving up our exclusive understanding of the technology involved. If Israel wants to develop and deploy its own bomber that can handle the MOP, that's fine: there's no real problem with giving them this bomb, which is based around conventional explosives. They could, for that matter, probably develop their own version currently. Still, for now, the best thing is to try to ensure a serious-minded President is in office in 2017: then we can handle the bombing ourselves, if we need to do so. I suspect that an air campaign isn't the right answer in any case. Exactly what I do think is the right solution I won't publish in the clear, but there's a better way to approach this than trying to bomb the sites with gigantic explosives.

Waco Update: Small Town Justice

This sounds pretty familiar to me, having grown up in rural Georgia. Waco, Texas, is a bigger town -- but it's got a small-town justice system.
It's a city where a district judge and district attorney are former law partners, the mayor is the son of a former mayor, the sheriff comes from a long line of lawmen and Waco pioneers and the sheriff's brother was the district attorney's chief investigator....

No formal charges have been made, and it remains unclear whose bullets, including police bullets, struck the dead and injured, or when cases will be presented to a grand jury, which is currently led by a Waco police detective....

Defense attorneys have been critical of how the cases have been processed, accusing District Attorney Abel Reyna of writing 'fill-in-the-blank' arrest affidavits. A police officer testified a justice of the peace approved the affidavits without making any individual determination of probable cause.

In the criminal case of one of the defendants, Reyna's former law partner, District Judge Matt Johnson, issued a gag order as written by Reyna....

Although police and the district attorney described last spring everyone who was taken into custody as criminals, an Associated Press review of a Texas Department of Public Safety database found no convictions listed under the names and birthdates of more than two-thirds of those arrested.
So, the grand jury is headed by a member of the Waco police department. The District Attorney is a former law partner of the District Judge, who apparently trusts his former partner enough that he issues arrest affidavits and gag orders written by his friend the DA. The gag orders prevent anyone arrested -- two thirds of whom had no previous convictions of any kind, though they were described as "criminals" by the government and held on $1 million bond each -- from giving their version of events. No formal charges have been filed against anyone at all.

At the time we contrasted it with shootings in Ferguson and elsewhere, saying, hey: look how we trust that all this massive force was used appropriately, and don't get out in the street and march. The other side of that trust is that we expect some accountability, eventually, for how the force of law was used. Eventually, an accounting must be made to us. Right now, it's not looking good for the Waco justice system.

Trying on a Different Juxtaposition with Microaggressions, Just for Size

Back to George Sachs "10 Ways White Liberals Perpetuate Racism," with a different juxtaposition this time. Let's see how this fits.

Sachs drew his list from The Racism Root Kit: Understanding the Insidiousness of White Privilege, written by "Paul Pendler, Psy.D., of the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University Medical School and Phillip Beverly, Ph.D., Department of History, Philosophy, and Political Science at Chicago State University".

Sachs
We [White liberals] are one of the millions of white people willing to make a change for the betterment of our country. We actually live by the words of our Declaration of Independence, that "all men are created equal." 
At times, though, we feel a distance from our black and Latino friends; a noticeable energetic gulf that separates us from a deeper connection with them. We want to be closer to people of color. Yet somehow, some way, we sense a wall between us. We wonder: Is it me or them?

Maybe years of racism have made it hard for people of color to trust White folks--even Atlantic magazine liberals like you and me. 
Or maybe we're saying or doing something racially insensitive--perpetuating racism and white privilege. And we don't even know it.

1984
'What are you in for?' said Winston.
'Thoughtcrime!' said Parsons, almost blubbering. The tone of his voice implied at once a complete admission of his guilt and a sort of incredulous horror that such a word could be applied to himself. He paused opposite Winston and began eagerly appealing to him: 'You don't think they'll shoot me, do you, old chap? They don't shoot you if you haven't actually done anything -- only thoughts, which you can't help? I know they give you a fair hearing. Oh, I trust them for that! They'll know my record, won't they? You know what kind of chap I was. Not a bad chap in my way. Not brainy, of course, but keen. I tried to do my best for the Party, didn't I? I'll get off with five years, don't you think? Or even ten years? A chap like me could make himself pretty useful in a labour-camp. They wouldn't shoot me for going off the rails just once?'  

And Monday, While We're At It

This was my introduction to Stan Rogers, on the old Dr. Demento Show.