The NRA Is Coming Out Swinging This Time

The NRA is fairly credible on this point, as they were strong supporters of "Project Exile," which called for felons with guns to be prosecuted in Federal courts under a 1968 law that established a mandatory five year -- and up to ten year -- sentence in Federal prison for gun criminals. It's been their approach for decades: law-abiding citizens should have the full protections of the Second Amendment, but those who abuse their rights by committing crimes should be harshly punished. In that way, the nation has the benefits of the Second Amendment in terms of its protection against political tyranny and the protection of individuals and families against crimes.

These Federal cases are still sometimes brought -- I'm aware of a case in Tennessee right now involving a Federal prosecution on these grounds -- but he's right to say that the law could be applied very sweepingly to those areas in which most violent crime in America occurs. It doesn't have to be Federal police who make the arrest: it could be applied to everyone arrested who turned out to have a felony conviction and a gun. Even without raids or sweeps, you could pull a lot of these people off the streets for five years to a decade in the normal course of business.

Painting the death toll in the President's home town, which the President has the power to stop, is a fairly brutal rhetorical move. I don't mean to suggest that it is unfair. It just darkly underlines how hypocritical the President is on this issue of 'stopping the gun violence in our streets.' He has the tools. The NRA, far from being an opponent, has long supported the robust exercise of these laws. The ball is in his court, but he does nothing.

A Funny Review

I was ordering a copy of Orwell's Animal Farm, and saw this review:

From Library Journal

This 50th-anniversary commemorative edition of Orwell's masterpiece is lavishly illustrated by Ralph Steadman. In addition, it contains Orwell's proposed introduction to the English-language version as well as his preface to the Ukrainian text. Though all editions of Animal Farm are equal, this one is more equal than others.

Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

For Cassandra

Aircraft Designers and Love

Just adding to Eric's AMV, Miyazaki had another movie with a brilliant young aircraft designer falling in love, although the hero of the story is a flying pig.

Saturday Morning AMV

Miyazaki again. Only in Japan could you make an animated romance about an aircraft designer. But I suppose it's all the more interesting for that.

"Reconciliation" Is An Odd Choice of Words

The Senate vote on violating the Constitution was brought under the reconciliation procedures, which are supposed to deal with budget matters. The NRA reports.
Despite the seemingly innocuous title, the bill set up a dramatic showdown over Second Amendment rights.

The bill was brought under budget reconciliation, an expedited legislative procedure for a budget resolution to meet fiscal targets. Under this procedure, the bill required only 51 votes to pass the Senate and was limited to 20 hours of debate. It was also subject to a rule which prohibits non-budget related provisions from being added.

Anti-gun Democrats were nevertheless determined to exploit both the bill and recent tragedies to attach as many gun control amendments as possible. To proceed to debate on these out-of-order amendments, however, they had to reach a supermajority of 60 votes to suspend the rules. The pro-gun Senate you elected held the line. Every anti-gun amendment was defeated.

Long-time Second Amendment opponent Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) offered a far-reaching amendment that would have given the U.S. Attorney General what amounted to a discretionary veto on gun sales to anyone “appropriately suspected” of having some connection to “terrorism.” ...

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) also dredged up his ill-fated ban on private firearm transfers between friends and many family members. That was defeated by a vote of 47-50 – receiving seven votes less than it got two years ago....

In the days leading to the vote, gun prohibitionists and their allies in the media had whipped themselves up to a veritable frenzy. The pressure they brought to bear on the Senate was intense. Nevertheless, cooler heads prevailed, backed by sound research and empirical evidence.
Probably you should let your Senators know how you feel about how they voted, because the issue is likely to come up again.

That's Some Edge

Headline: "Loretta Lynch Vows to Prosecute Those Who Use 'Anti-Muslim' Speech That 'Edges Toward Violence'"

Apparently the Senate voted on that gun control "proposal" of the President's, that he or any of his agencies be allowed to ban whomever they want from purchasing firearms with no due process. Had Congress gone for it, the courts would have surely thrown it out -- it's a violation of the 2nd, 5th, and 14th Amendments. Of course, being a scholar of Constitutional law he must know this. He proposed it anyway, and got a vote on it because of Senate allies.

The contempt for the Constitution is growing very hard to ignore.

What? No Way.

Headline: "Obama is Wrong: Mass Shootings Do Happen Elsewhere, and More Frequently."
Norway had the highest annual death rate, with two mass public shooting fatalities per million people. Macedonia had a rate of 0.38, Serbia 0.28, Slovakia 0.20, Finland 0.14, Belgium 0.14 and the Czech Republic 0.13. The U.S. comes in eighth with 0.095 mass public shooting fatalities per million people. Austria and Switzerland are close behind.

In terms of the frequency of attacks, the U.S. ranks ninth, with 0.09 attacks per million people. Macedonia, Serbia, Switzerland, Norway, Slovakia, Finland, Belgium and the Czech Republic all had higher rates.
Norway, Switzerland, Finland, Belgium? Aren't those some of the very countries that we're being told we should emulate as ideal models?

An Insight Into ClintonWorld

An email from the cache of correspondence Hillary Clinton kept on her private server during her tenure as Secretary of State shows that former aide Anne-Marie Slaughter proposed raising private funds for a Palestinian state. It “might be a crazy idea,” wrote Slaughter, director of the State Department’s policy planning office from 2009-2011, who suggested that a “pledge for Palestine” fundraising drive targeting billionaires “would reflect a strong vote of confidence in the building of a Palestinian state.”... It would also, she wrote, have a “shaming effect” on Israel.

The email provides a peculiar view into ClintonWorld, where the hard work of policy is greased by the kind of really rich people whose money really moves the world. And since billionaires—in the thinking of Clinton apparatchiks like Slaughter—are the arbiters of cosmic morality, how better to embarrass a U.S. ally?

Slaughter’s “crazy idea” isn’t just crazy, it is also probably illegal. U.S. policymakers aren’t supposed to be using their office to raise private funds to reach policy goals, regardless of the policy.

Another Relevant Cartoon

"Alt Right"?

I hadn't heard the term either. The Daily Beast considers it a form of white supremacism, but while I also oppose white supremacism, I suspect their definition of it may be wider than mine.
What Roy left out of his interview is that the alt right is a neoreactionary effort comprised of right-wing agitators brought together by their opposition to immigration (in particular, Hispanic and Muslim immigration), animosity to Muslims, and general opposition to multiculturalism (they call it cultural Marxism). They hate political correctness, they like Donald Trump, and they love dubbing their enemies “cuckservatives.”

“Our enemies scream the usual ‘RACIST’, ‘WHITE SUPREMACIST’ and ‘NAZI,’” reads a post on alt right blog RamZPaul. “We just laugh and go forward.”
In fairness, the fact that people on the Left are screaming those things is no reason to think it's plausibly characteristic of the movement. These days it is said to be racist to deny the existence of races: "colorblind" is supposedly a code-word for practices that refuse to appropriately take color into account.

So, pro:

* 'Neoreactionary' sounds good, though I don't know what she means by it.

* Opposition to immigration is possibly good, depending on what exactly is meant by it -- the USA benefits from some level of immigration of the right kind of people, and whether they are 'Hispanic or Muslim' has nothing to do with whether they are the right kind of people. Give me all the Mexicans or Arabs you can find who are like this guy. We need people who are devoted to the American project.

* By the same token, I'd be happy to support emigration -- for those who aren't devoted to the American project. If there's somewhere you'd rather be, let's help you get there.

* I have no animosity toward Muslims. Most of them are like anyone else. Others are my enemies, by their own choice. I love my enemies.

* Opposition to "multiculturalism" is good. Multiculturalism somehow goes hand in hand with "cultural appropriation." Having people from lots of cultures is great, as long as we can all learn from each other and build something together. The cultural balkanization of American is bad.

* Opposition to political correctness is good. Discourtesy is not good, but anyone who wants to impose speech controls has gone against the spirit of America.


* "Cuckservative" is the kind of sexualized language that has damaged our politics every time it is deployed. We are supposed to reason together. We cannot do that while we try to reduce ourselves or each other to sexual appetites or the functions of material organs. Even when we're talking about sex in politics, as we must sometimes do, it is best to not to use language that activates sexuality in the mind. It certainly should not be used elsewhere. Explain your objections without it, and not only will your position be stronger, so will the political system out of which a strong argument might produce something.

* It may be obvious by now that I am not a huge supporter of Donald Trump for President.

* Everything in the "good" category could have a bad aspect: opposition to immigration out of racism, for example; xenophobia rather than mere disdain for being told how to live by the PC or multi-culti factions.

So, do any of you have anything to do with this 'alt-right' movement? How do you find it on balance? More like the good, or more like the bad?


Headline: 'Costs, Spending Explode Under Obamacare.'

So spending is way up, but now most people have huge deductibles? I wonder why the economy is so sluggish?

A Moment of Clarity

It's worth celebrating a moment of refreshing honesty, in which pretenses of "common sense" are set aside, and a man speaks his real mind.
Realistically, a gun control plan that has any hope of getting us down to European levels of violence is going to mean taking a huge number of guns away from a huge number of gun owners.


The US doesn't just have a gun violence problem because of its lax gun regulation. It has a problem because it has a culture that encourages large-scale gun possession, and other countries do not. That, combined with Australia's experience, makes large-scale confiscation look like easily the most promising approach for bringing US gun homicides down to European rates.

Large-scale confiscation is not going to happen. That's no reason to stop advocating it. (I also want to repeal all immigration laws and give everyone a monthly check from the government with no strings attached, and will argue for those ideas even though they're doomed.) But it does mean that we should be realistic about what gun control with an actual shot of passage can achieve. It can make us safer. It cannot make us Europe.
The main form of "safety" he seems to think Australia and similar countries achieved was a reduction in suicides by gun. As far as I know, you're as safe from suicide right now as you decide to be. Access to guns may make suicide by gun more likely, but there's no reason to believe (as he asserts) that it would "save" thousands of lives a year. It's not that hard to tie a rope, and it's quite easy to take a few extra pain pills if you can get access to them.

Still, just because I disagree with everything about his proposal and a lot about his analysis, let's celebrate his honesty. This is the real goal: large scale confiscation of firearms, as well as completely eliminating immigration restrictions and instituting a universal basic income. Disarm the public to the greatest possible degree, completely eliminate official border security as well, and then tax anyone with property for enough to pay everyone who comes as much as they are said to 'need.'

Clearly he thinks this will lead to a US that looks like Europe. It will, in the sense that it would destroy both American and Europe. America would rapidly absorb multitudes more from the poorest parts of the world, and rapidly lose whatever wealth could fly. Europe would lose the protection the American military has provided it for seventy years, and with it the capacity to sustain public assistance budgets as large as has been common for decades. That isn't what he imagines will happen, but that is what would happen in fact.


Mike's most recent post began with the confession. I suppose we should pause for a moment to remember that it is universal. Chesterton approaches it at the end of Orthodoxy.
All the real argument about religion turns on the question of whether a man who was born upside down can tell when he comes right way up. The primary paradox of Christianity is that the ordinary condition of man is not his sane or sensible condition; that the normal itself is an abnormality. That is the inmost philosophy of the Fall. In Sir Oliver Lodge's interesting new Catechism, the first two questions were: "What are you?" and "What, then, is the meaning of the Fall of Man?" I remember amusing myself by writing my own answers to the questions; but I soon found that they were very broken and agnostic answers. To the question, "What are you?" I could only answer, "God knows." And to the question, "What is meant by the Fall?" I could answer with complete sincerity, "That whatever I am, I am not myself."
If you are not yourself, what are you? Yourself, plus something else: the orthodox answer being yourself plus original sin. Like a chimera -- or, as Chesterton himself more rightly noted, like a centaur or a mermaid -- you are a human being, and also an animal. You are in the world, but not of it.

The recognition that we are monsters is meant to be liberating. In recognizing that we are not perfect just as we are, we are free to try to cut loose of what is wrong with us. Even if we fail, at least we know in what direction to strive.

Another Dead End

The President ponders the mystery of yesterday's attack.
“At this stage we do not yet know why this terrible event occurred,” he said.

“It is possible that this was terrorist-related but we don’t know. it’s also possible that this was workplace related,” he continued.
It's too bad we can't identify a common theme between this and other organized cells that carry out bomb and gun attacks in major Western cities.

Consciousness vs. "Fissiparous Seething"

A reasonably good summary of the problem that consciousness poses for our physical understanding of reality. It will be familiar to most of you, but it's worth going over again because it remains one of the more interesting problems.

Happier news

The Cameroon army frees 900 Boko Haram hostages, incidentally reducing the carbon footprint of a lot of Boko Haram members while they're at it.


Well, the title certainly applies to the San Bernadino shooters, but in this particular case, it doesn't.

You may or may not be surprised to find that it in fact applies to me.  Apparently, I am a "cold-hearted monster" "indifferent to loss of life".  What could I have done to earn these appellation?  I objected to the President's proposal to strip citizens of their Fifth Amendment rights to due process because they're on a "No Fly List".  After asserting what it is that I object to (the arbitrary removal of civil rights on the say so of an unelected bureaucrat), I was told that I must come up with an alternative solution then.  Otherwise I am... I am unsure... wrong?  Bad?  Irresponsible?  It was never made clear to me.  So I gave my response.  "Nothing" would be a better solution than this.  And to borrow from an old joke, "that's when the fight started".*

Pop Culture Metaphors Don't Work For Me

Oddly placed in an article on dark matter:
If dark matter were a pop star, WIMPs would be Beyoncé. “WIMPs are the canonical candidate,” says Manoj Kaplinghat, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California, Irvine.
What on earth is that supposed to mean?

Foamy the Squirrel Says...

Solid advice, Foamy.

There. Will. Be. Polka!

To paraphrase Ace, or some moron over there, it's a spectacularly silly time to be alive.

Berdoo Is The Weirdest Thing I've Ever Seen

Initial reports are never right, but today was really strange. Who are these guys?

1) It seems clear that this was a semi-professional team of guys who knew how to work together, and who had either the capacity to make pipe bombs or connections who did. They carried out their plan and managed to exfil successfully before police could arrive. Yet hours later, they're still driving around in the same car, in the same kit, a mile and a half away?

2) The target doesn't make any obvious sense as a terrorist target, except that it was a soft target with lots of people.

It's like you had a team of guys who meticulously planned out how they'd carry out a major attack, but never got further in their planning than how they'd drive away from the scene within a given response time, leaving IEDs to cover their tracks. There was apparently no "then what?" considered. There were major freeways they could have taken, and if you've got three guys you surely have access to more than one car. They could have dumped the SUV and their kit, piled into a white sedan, and been in another state by the time the police caught up to the first vehicle.

Wannabe martyrs? One of whom lost his nerve and fled on foot when the final firefight arrived? But then why bother with the exfil? You could have stayed and killed a few more people, and become martyrs where you were. The police were coming.

It's like they had everything mapped out until a minute after they drove away, and then suddenly realized they had no idea what came next (and no imagination between them that would let them plan up something better than 'drive around the neighborhood in the getaway car').

The one thing that might make sense is if they had been trained by professionals who considered them disposable. They were taught how to do the part they did right, and then... what now?

Or maybe they're just yahoos who thought this out carefully on their own, and weren't bright enough to think beyond it.

Otherwise, conflicting details in all the reports make it hard to know what to think so far.

Final IAEA Report on Iran's Nuclear Weapons Program Released

Two weeks early, too. Iran definitely had one, it lasted formally until 2003, informally continued after, and the IAEA has gotten chiefly stonewalling and obfuscation from Iran about its program since then. Iran's written answers promised under the "road map" in July were so ambiguous that the IAEA provided a list of follow up questions and held a number of technical meetings to try to get answers, but the report rather suspiciously says absolutely nothing about whether any answers were forthcoming.

Too bad we'll all be having another round of talk about how important it is to strip Americans of their weapons today instead. This will probably slide into the ether almost unnoticed.

Quiz: Opening Lines of Medieval Literature

Without making any use to any reference materials whatsoever, including of course search engines, I managed 9 of 10. Oddly enough, I'd read the one I missed many times -- Erec en Enide -- but somehow failed to remember the opening.

Dissent Magazine: "Beyond the Wage System"

A call for a universal basic income to address the exploitative nature of work, "under-work," "over-work," and non-work.

The author "teaches in the Women’s Studies Program at Duke University. She studies feminist theory, political theory, the critical study of work, and utopian thought."

By coincidence, I also ran across this image from an anarchist cartoonist that seems to capture the argument surprisingly well:

The American People Are Uniquely Bad

Asked about the "mass shooting" where a nut job shot three people at a Colorado abortion clinic, President Obama once again became exasperated with the American people.

"I say this every time we've got one of these mass shootings: This just doesn't happen in other countries."

He actually said this. In Paris.
The author thinks it might be part of a case for his removal from office -- not by impeachment, but for cause of mental impairment according to the 25th Amendment. That of course is merely a rhetorical flourish: the 25th Amendment requires members of his cabinet or the President himself to admit that he cannot perform the functions, and the action can be undone simply by the President sending a letter to the effect that "no such disability exists" unless the Vice President anda majority of executive branch heads insist that he is not able. It was very carefully balanced so as not to be an extra tool for Congress to use against a President it didn't like.

Still it is a strange thing to have said, in Paris.

UPDATE: The Washington Post fact-checks the statement.
Is his statement true?

In one sense, the answer would be “yes.” President Obama’s statement was in the form of: “Every time X happens, I say Y.”

For Your Friend, Tex

You can wait until next Thanksgiving if you want, but let us know how it goes.

The Fruits of Gun Control Talk

This is probably a great time to invest in gun manufacturing stocks, given that the President claims it'll be a major focus of his final year in office. Congratulations to those who already do own such stocks: you'll probably be getting a nice dividend.

Please Refrain From Shooting Your Cab Driver

The fact that your cab driver is a Muslim does not justify the practice. If he took you where you wanted to go without heavily padding the fee by ferrying you along the "scenic route," you should tip him instead.

Unless your cab driver should try to kill you, kidnap you at gunpoint, or something similar, shooting them is always inappropriate.

You Know What Doesn't Matter to Children? Parents.

A rather bold thesis! Let's look at the evidence.
In terms of compelling evidence, let’s start with a study published recently in the prestigious journal Nature Genetics.1 Tinca Polderman and colleagues just completed the Herculean task of reviewing nearly all twin studies published by behavior geneticists over the past 50 years....

Before progressing, I should note that behavioral geneticists make a finer grain distinction than most about the environment, subdividing it into shared and non-shared components.1,2,3,4 Not much is really complicated about this. The shared environment makes children raised together similar to each other.3 The term encompasses the typical parenting effects that we normally envision when we think about environmental variables. Non-shared influences capture the unique experiences of siblings raised in the same home; they make siblings different from one another. Another way of thinking about non-shared environments is that they represent the parts of your life story that are unique from the rest of your family. Importantly, this also includes all of the randomness and pure happenstance that life tends to hurl in our direction from time to time. Returning to the review of twin research, the shared environment just didn’t matter all that much (that’s on average, of course, for some traits it mattered more than others). The non-shared environment mattered consistently.

The pattern of findings mentioned above is nothing new.1,2,3,4,5 The importance of genetics and the non-shared environment (and the relatively minor importance of the shared environment) was already so entrenched in behavior genetics that years before the Polderman study was published it had been enshrined as a set of “laws.”2 The BG laws, though, are based largely (but certainly not completely) on twin studies, the meta-analysis by Polderman et al. was comprised of twin studies, and if you pay attention to this sort of thing you’ve probably heard some nasty things about twin studies lately.3 You’ve read that twin studies contain an insidious flaw that causes them to underestimate shared environmental effects (making it seem like parents matter less than they do). The assumptions of twin research, however, have been meticulously studied. The methods of twin researchers have been around for decades and have been challenged, critiqued, refined, adjusted, and (perhaps most importantly) cross validated with other techniques that rely on different assumptions entirely.3,4 They work, and they work with impressive precision.

Based on the results of classical twin studies, it just doesn’t appear that parenting—whether mom and dad are permissive or not, read to their kid or not, or whatever else—impacts development as much as we might like to think. Regarding the cross-validation that I mentioned, studies examining identical twins separated at birth and reared apart have repeatedly revealed (in shocking ways) the same thing: these individuals are remarkably similar when in fact they should be utterly different (they have completely different environments, but the same genes).3
So, good news for those of you who are parents: Junior is a rat because of your rotten genetics, not because of your moral failings.

Well, and his peer group: it turns out that the 'socialization' that really matters is the kind of kids he runs with. "As Harris notes, parents are not to blame for their children’s neuroses (beyond the genes they contribute to the manufacturing of that child), nor can they take much credit for their successful psychological adjustment."

Psychoanalysts hardest hit.

Holiday Lesson Proves Nothing

These guys are good singers, though.

Oh, It's Even Worse Than That

Michael Ledeen writes on the Iran deal:
I dare say very few people realize there is no formal deal. Countless journalists refer to something that was “signed” or “inked” in Vienna, even though no such thing took place. A handful of careful writers, notably Yigal Carmon and Amir Taheri have gotten it right, and last week the State Department admitted that nobody has signed The Deal and it is not legally binding on anybody.

As I wrote in July, Iran has promised to be on good behavior, and we have promised to pay for it. We are indeed paying, as we have for more than two years ($700 million per month), and the Iranians, as is their wont, have done their worst to spread terror and jihadism all over the world, from the Middle East to Asia, Africa and South America.

Such a deal! Carmon thinks Obama will have to admit failure, and return to the negotiating table. As I predicted…
Oh, it's been signed by one person. Thus, it's legally binding on one country.

Guess which one?

I'm Big on Metaphors

Sounds like you're suggesting unions for grad students. Which, frankly, isn't that insane given the tremendous abuses they are suffering under currently: for below-poverty-line pay, you teach most of the courses the university offers. As Federal student loans vastly enrich university budgets, and as the teaching is the real value the university provides, that's the kind of imbalance that leads to people thinking that a union might not be a bad idea. Solidarity, baby! Popcorn!

Grim's Law of Wrench-Turning and Social Media

When looking for practical advice on how to repair mechanical problems with your ride, remember: YouTube is invaluable, Google is helpful, and Facebook is evil.

Don't forget to mix sugar into your gasoline to make sure it doesn't get too thin in the dry winter weather, and be sure to let all the summer air out of your tires and refill them with winter air so they don't burst in the cold.

In Fairness, the Baptists Banned Alcohol Sales Too

America's first majority Muslim city has elected its first majority Muslim city council, and they've passed their first laws.
While the members of the Hamtramck, Michigan city council have denied that they would put religion into politics, their actions show otherwise. They’ve already banned alcohol sales within 500 feet of local mosques, and allowed daily calls to prayer to reverberate through town as early as 6am.
I suppose churches would want to be excepted from public noise ordinances insofar as they had church bells. On the other hand, they wouldn't generally be ringing them at six in the morning.

The Feast of St. Andrew

Saint Andrew is a strange choice to be the national saint of Scotland. Scotland has plenty of its own saints, had they wished to choose a Scot. The Scots nevertheless chose him, but celebrate his feast day with a celebration of traditional Scottish culture. Just as ironically, Romania celebrates the Feast of St. Andrew -- who was a Jew from Galilee in spite of his Greek name -- with a festival descended from the Roman Saturnalia.

In any case, here's an appropriate video.

Yeoman "Farmers"

W. R. Mead is on ground I find very familiar today. He is making a pragmatic argument about why we should shift to a system that prefers small business development, but there's a political philosophical argument for the proposal as well. It's Jefferson's old argument about the increased practical liberty that comes from owning your own means of production. Political liberty is good, but if you are effectively under the thumb of another, you are not really at liberty to speak your mind. This is why James Jackson, that greatest of Georgian political heroes, fought to undo the Yazoo land fraud and ensure a Georgia in which you could own your own land.

When I say he fought for this I mean literally fought, not "fought for" in the figurative sense preferred by contemporary politicians. First he fought in the Revolutionary War for the principle of political liberty. Then he fought four duels in the course of trying to undo the Yazoo land fraud as his opponents tried to kill him to prevent his success. He was not dissuaded by these multiple attempts on his life, but saw the question through to victory.

So what was the principle for which he fought? It was that the American system of government should work to ensure that Americans had at least the real potential to own their own means of production. Instead of a society structured around a renter/land-lord relationship, it would be a society structured as much as possible to be about individual families owning the things they needed to produce a living. Then they could say what they wanted when it came time to reason politically rather than having to scrape to the opinions of the great or the rich. It would enshrine the political control of the community among the people because the people would be practically as well as formally free.

There is an Aristotelian idea behind this model as well. In the Politics, Aristotle writes that the least dangerous group to own power in any society is the propertied middle class. Because they have land or businesses of their own, they want strong protections for private property, and thus will not (as the poor tended to do in Aristotle's time) vote to 'take from the rich and give to the poor.' Because they are not so rich that they can afford to be long away from tending to their own business, they will not seek to rule any more than is absolutely necessary, ensuring that government remains limited to only those concerns that absolutely require it. Unlike government by the rich or by those who are paid to govern, popular government led by the middle class will not seek to overawe every aspect of life in order to further their own class interests.

Thus they will avoid both the problems associated with government by unregulated democracy, and government by an elite that is rich or that is paid to perform public office.

It remains a good ideal for future reform. Government could do much less, so much less that it was only done part time by those who would want as quickly as possible to get back to literally minding their own business. What is the solution to poverty on this model? Encouraging the poor in coming to develop a productive business of their own.

"Reason" a raison

Little French lingo for a Monday afternoon, since the President is badmouthing us in Paris at the climate change conference. On his other favorite topic, Reason magazine has the sense of it: "Obama Insists 'We Have to Do Something' About Mass Shootings but Can't Say What or Why It Would Work."
The Times describes Obama as increasingly exasperated by Congress's refusal to enact the gun controls he supports. Some of us are increasingly exasperated by Obama's failure to elucidate any logical connection between those measures and the crimes they supposedly would prevent.
It's a faith-based approach, which, actually, is another tie between his two favorite subjects.

UPDATE: It sounds as if the President's spokesman does have a specific plan:
The Obama administration is pressing for gun control, repeating a demand that Congress pass a ban on gun ownership for Americans on the no-fly list.

“If the U.S. Government has determined that it is too dangerous for you to board a plane then you shouldn’t be able to buy a gun,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said during a press conference in Paris today.... “Congress should pass this law before leaving for the Holidays,” Earnest said.
So, your proposal is that Congress should immediately give the executive branch unilateral authority to rescind any individual's Constitutional 2nd Amendment rights based on whatever criteria it likes, without any due process at all? That's a modest proposal.

Knocked That One Out Of The Park

Noah Rothman at Commentary magazine notices that "Problems change, but the remedy doesn't." The old problem was the Soviet critique of Western imperialism. The new problem is how to resolve an alleged crisis with climate change. Those sound like they are different enough problems that they should have nearly wholly different solution sets. But no, the solutions proposed are the very same solutions:
The notion that the American way of life is unsustainable and unfair toward the rest of the world’s population is an old argument, and its remedies are suspiciously familiar. It was once claimed that the prosperity of the first world must be curtailed if there was to be peace.... Replace the scourge of climate change with poverty and “climate-friendly technologies” with advanced military-industrial technologies, and you have a boilerplate Soviet speech aimed at an international audience.
It's not very surprising to find John F. Kerry at the forefront of advocating that America yield to the Communist agenda. He's been at that for a while now.

The Beauty of Nature, Perfected by Art

Isle of Lewis, Scotland. Someday, I think I may need to go and visit that place.

Of Course He Did

'At Paris Conference, Obama says US Partly to Blame for Climate Change.'

We're lucky he didn't assume the whole blame for us.

Fair Enough

The Colorado Fraternal Order of Police would like everyone to know that they don't appreciate the suggestion that they are racists.

"Carelessly Labeled"

A woman named Monica Bauer -- Master of Divinity, playwright, ordained as a minister in the United Church of Christ -- wants to accuse the entire Right to Life movement of being accomplices in murder. Exactly whose murder isn't clear, since no one belonging to Planned Parenthood's organization was hurt in the recent incident in Colorado, but let's leave that pesky factual question. I just want to get after the basic assertion.
[T]he religious extremist is most likely a right-wing Christian. And the shooter had help. He had help from an entire movement that has carelessly labeled abortion as "murder" and "baby-killing." Killing abortion providers flows logically from the moment you call abortion "murder" and this labeling has to stop. Now.

Am I a Christian? You bet. Have I read the Bible? Many times, and carefully. Graduated from Yale Divinity School with a Masters in Divinity. Ordained in the ministry in 1982, in the United Church of Christ. Still an active member of the church. Jesus never said a word about abortion, and the only way anti-choice activists twist the Bible to their side is to take a few lines from a Psalm or a few words about "spilling seed" out of context. There are entire books debunking the pro-life movement as resting on shaky theological grounds, so I won't waste time recapping all the arguments here.
There are actually a few more pesky factual matters here -- for example, there's no evidence in any of the recent interviews conducted with family and neighbors to indicate that this guy was a "religious extremist," or even "religious," let alone "right wing" or even a Christian. But we'll leave all that too.

Jesus never said anything about abortion. However, the objection to abortion does not stand on any obscure theology or any strange passages about 'spilling seed.' It's about the killing of a human being.

The appellation "baby-killing" is not some sort of weird locution: it involves killing a human being at a stage of development that, were the child wanted by his or her mother, we would have no problem identifying as a baby. We would say, and do say, "When is the baby due?" or "Have you decided what to name the baby?" It's only when mother has decided to kill her baby that we are told that we can only describe it using clinical language designed to mask the humanity of the creature being killed.

You may object to murder, since murder is defined in different ways by different people. The law doesn't consider this murder as murder is defined by the law -- a rather circular argument made worse given that the law often did treat it as a kind of murder until the Supreme Court overturned the laws of all fifty states. So we might well say that it is not murder in the technical sense of the word given to us on stone tablets from that famous bench in Washington, D.C.

Still, a commonplace definition of the word murder as it might be used by any ordinary person is this: "the intentional killing of an innocent human being." Let's run through the steps.

1) Is it intentional? Yes.

2) Is it a killing? Yes.

3) Is it a living being? Obviously it is, or it couldn't be killed.

4) Is the being to be killed innocent in the usual sense of the word "innocent"? Yes.

5) Is it human? It either is or it isn't. If it isn't, what kind of being would you say it was?

A more extended argument on that last point: to be a thing of a certain kind is to be structured in a certain way. A table is a thing that is structured in such a way as to be capable of holding objects off the floor. Artifacts like tables are structured by makers, who put them into a given order for a given purpose. Living things are different: they structure themselves out of other things they find in the world. They are their own purpose.

Now a given living thing -- say a fox or a dog or a hawk -- is not the stuff of which it is made. All of us have had dogs, I presume, and all of those dogs have grown from puppies, taking on more and more stuff from the world and putting it into the order that is themselves. The physical parts of themselves -- proteins, water -- are all exchanged over the course of their lives, but we recognize that it is still our dog. It's the activity of the ordering principle that is the life of the dog, and it is the order that is the dog. As long as it continues, we say that our dog is alive. When our dog dies, the ordering stops: though it may look like our dog for a while, it is no longer actively being put in order as a living thing.

The living, growing being is ordering the world as it encounters it into itself. Of course it is a human being: it is putting the world into a human order. It will remain a human being as long as this continues, even if she should live to be a hundred and one.

That's what you are killing.

I am no absolutist on this point. I understand that there are cases when the life of the mother will be lost, when there is a sense in which the child is not "innocent" and the killing is therefore not murder -- indeed, it might almost be morally obligatory. But these are a tiny minority of cases, as any honest observer will confess.

The language being used to describe these acts is not careless. It is dangerous because it is accurate. It is the right way to describe what we are allowing to happen all across our nation, using ordinary language as we would ordinarily use it.