Common Ground: The News

All the news that's fit to argue about -- Well, at least, all the news the Hall told me they read. Or almost all of it. For everyone who contributed, thank you very much! Also, in addition to the below, let me recommend the sidebar links under each contributor's name.

I am not familiar with all of these, so if I have mis-categorized something, please let me know. Also, if I left something out, or if you've thought of something else you'd like to add, let me know. Or, if you have a better system for categorization. Etc.


Several people mentioned their Facebook feeds, and Grim gives this related advice: "I get a lot of news off Facebook these days, as friends of various kinds are interested in a lot of things that differ from my own interests. Since my friends are of a wide range of political views, I get a wide range of information and news in that way. It's the best real advice I can give here: not that you should read this or that site, but that you should cultivate friendships with intelligent and decent people of many different views."

Links below the fold.

The Fall of Brazil

A friend of mine from Brazil recommends this video as a relatively minimally biased piece for Americans trying to understand what is going on.

Friday Night AMV

Ride of the Valkeries. 
Hueys, Cobras, "Why-do-you-guys-sit-on-your-helmets?", Goth-lolli girl with a giant axe. Wait, what? So......what would happen if your average medieval fantasy world opened a gate into out world?

"Brought to you by Shinzo Abe".   Heh.

Viking Songs in Poland

Live by the Twitter...

Marine Corps Pugil Sticks

A short video from the USMC's mandatory gender-integrated training.

Some thoughts about this.

1) The cadre jump in angrily and immediately to pull the male off her. You can tell they are mad because he tried to hurt her, but in this context that's exactly what he is supposed to do. The whole point of pugil stick training is to teach aggression in killing with the rifle and/or bayonet.

2) Now he's being asked to train as if his opponent needs to be protected and treated somewhat gently. It is a basic principle of combat training that you will fight as you train (because you won't have time to think carefully while in contact with the enemy), so you should train as you intend to fight. He is being trained to be less aggressive in hand-to-hand combat. That creates the danger of failure in the field, when his life and his unit's will be on the line.

3) If training is altered so that she is on a more even footing, meanwhile, she will also be being trained wrong. She will be being led to believe in a fraud: that she has been given the right training and tools to succeed in a real war against a male opponent. Belief in this fraud can only hurt her if she is ever called to serve in combat. It will set up similar danger to her life and to the survival of her unit. She needs to be taught to realize that she is at an incredible disadvantage if circumstances like these ever occur in the field, because she is. Her survival, already unlikely, depends on her fully grasping how dangerous the situation is.

4) Anyone who might later attain command over women in an infantry unit also needs to understand this limitation of some of the Marines under their command, just as they understand other tactical limits. The future leaders who will emerge from this training also need to see what happens if they should order female Marines under their command into situations in which this kind of combat is likely to occur. The success and even the survival of their units depends in large part on commanders fully understanding the limitations under which they and their units operate.

5) Thus, the cadre need to be trained out of their protectiveness if this is to continue. Pugil sticks are heavily padded, and combatants are in armor. Women Marines should be beaten as viciously as their opponents are able to beat them. That is the only way in which the training can teach the right lessons about how to survive and attain victory at war.

6) That fact alone ought to be reason to reconsider this whole enterprise. I don't think anything good will come of encouraging young men who excel in testosterone and strength to think of women as acceptable targets for their full strength. Such training will give us the most effective gender-integrated infantry units we could have, but they will still be less effective than all-male units -- and at the potentially substantial social cost of weakening our cultural norm against men using physical violence on women.

I cannot imagine the tradeoff is worth it, and least of all as part of a strategy for making American society better and more decent for women. This is hugely counterproductive for both the military's ends and the social aims allegedly justifying it.

7) What is sometimes called the paradox of equality is on fullest display here. By creating a formal legal equality, we have created a massive actual inequality. You can repair the inequality of outcomes only by creating a new inequality -- for example, allowing the women paintball guns so that they can "win" against a pugil-stick wielding opponent by shooting him from a distance. That would potentially be decent training for both the man and the woman as it would teach the woman a workable way of surviving a situation like this one. It would also require the man to push even harder in order to succeed given the disability -- as he would have to if he were out of ammunition and facing someone with a rifle.

John R. Schindler on Clinton's NSA Problem

A veteran of signals intelligence writes on Clinton's other security problem. There are at least two massive issues revealed by the email dumps. The one we knew about -- somehow her confidante Sidney Blumenthal appears to have had access to NSA signals intelligence "somehow," although he had no security clearance at all and had been specifically rejected for government service by the President.

The other one is new, and involves Clinton's personal refusal to be bound by security standards. She wanted a Blackberry that she could take into Secure Compartment Information Facilities (SCIF).
But personal electronic devices—your cellphone, your Blackberry—can never be brought into a SCIF. They represent a serious technical threat that is actually employed by many intelligence agencies worldwide. Though few Americans realize it, taking remote control over a handheld device, then using it to record conversations, is surprisingly easy for any competent spy service. Your smartphone is a sophisticated surveillance device—on you, the user—that also happens to provide phone service and Internet access.

As a result, your phone and your Blackberry always need to be locked up before you enter any SCIF. Taking such items into one represents a serious security violation. And Hillary and her staff really hated that.


[T]here was no problem with Ms. Clinton checking her personal email inside her office SCIF. Hers, like most, had open (i.e. unclassified) computer terminals connected to the Internet, and the Secretary of State could log into her own email anytime she wanted to right from her desk.

But she did not want to. Ms. Clinton only checked her personal email on her Blackberry: she did not want to sit down at a computer terminal...

Why Ms. Clinton would not simply check her personal email on an office computer, like every other government employee less senior than the president, seems a germane question, given what a major scandal EmailGate turned out to be. “What did she not want put on a government system, where security people might see it?” the former NSA official asked, adding, “I wonder now, and I sure wish I’d asked about it back in 2009.”
Recently there was a story about how the FBI was looking at pictures of Clinton using her Blackberry. At the time it was suggested they might be trying to figure out where there were gaps in the email record, as she deleted tens of thousands and never turned them over to the government, claiming they were "personal."

Now it looks like there might be another angle: can they bracket at least some emails as having been sent from the Blackberry while in the SCIF? That would be a demonstrable violation of national security by Clinton herself.

Missed A Chance There

InstaPundit on failures by elites to understand the right:
The Tea Party movement — which you also failed to understand, and thus mostly despised — was a bourgeois, well-mannered effort (remember how Tea Party protests left the Mall cleaner than before they arrived?) to fix America. It was treated with contempt, smeared as racist, and blocked by a bipartisan coalition of business-as-usual elites. So now you have Trump, who’s not so well-mannered, and his followers, who are not so well-mannered, and you don’t like it.

Why Not Honesty?

The BART system explains why it was down recently.
@shakatron BART was built to transport far fewer people, and much of our system has reached the end of its useful life. This is our reality.

— SFBART (@SFBART) March 17, 2016

@tquad64 Planners in 1996 had no way of predicting the tech boom - track redundancy, new tunnels & transbay tubes are decades-long projects.

— SFBART (@SFBART) March 17, 2016

@lisabari To illustrate this point - the number of people who exit at 19th street in Oakland has doubled in less than a decade.

— SFBART (@SFBART) March 17, 2016

@CBonneaux We have to fix what we have first - our system was built to last about 45 years and we've reached that limit.

— SFBART (@SFBART) March 17, 2016

@cliberti We have 3 hours a night to do maintenance on a system built to serve 100k per week that now serves 430k per day. #ThisIsOurReality

— SFBART (@SFBART) March 17, 2016

@cliberti The magnitude of repair projects is too great to do during our 3 hour maintenance window. 1/2 the time would be spent staging.

— SFBART (@SFBART) March 17, 2016

The last trains are leaving the end of each line within the next 15 mins - it's been a great conversation. Goodnight. #BayAreaRidesTogether

— SFBART (@SFBART) March 17, 2016
Twitter is not the ideal way to communicate, but they managed to make it work.

Cadence to Arms

The Feast of Saint Patrick

Today the Army is in trouble for cultural appropriation.
The Ancient Order of Hibernians, an Irish-American cultural group and drinking society, is using St. Patrick’s Day to draw attention to its dispute with the United States Army over the Army’s “cultural appropriation” of the color green.

“Green is our fookin color,” according to Mickey McSorley of no fixed address, South Boston. “Nobody else’s! And by the way, everybody isn’t fookin Irish today, laddie. Just the Irish.”

“The real Irish. Not the ‘Scots-Irish’ frauds...” he added in a brogue that onlookers described as “wicked fake.”
If you're looking for an Irish meal today, corned beef is actually more an American-Irish meal learned from intermingling with other immigrants in our big port cities. If you want something from Ireland itself, try this amazing Dublin Coddle. Even if you don't care about the feast particularly, you can't go wrong with bacon, sausage, onion, and potato.

It always strikes me as strange that this holiday comes right inside Lent, but is such a huge party. We used to leave Savannah for a week when we lived down that way. But there is a real saint behind the fake Irishness. Here is the prayer most associated with him.

"The Great Fear"

Following up on Nassim Taleb's article from yesterday, Wretchard notes that this election is marked by a loss of faith in the establishment among the base voters of both parties. The elites have proven to have no clothes:
Rightly or wrongly Americans used to have a sense of place in the world. It was once a comforting place where the president -- be he from either party -- protected them. It was a place where secretaries of state and defense stood guard over the borders and American children could count as their birthright having better lives than their parents....

If Trump represents the Great Fear his origins can be traced in the arc from the Three AM Call to the Barking Dog. We needed to believe, in this dangerous world, that the former was true and not the latter. What Trump did was look behind the curtain and destroy one faith without giving us another. What now? What now? That may be the real question this campaign should answer.
Ted Cruz, for what it is worth, has taken a bold step in assembling an answer. His team at this time is big-tent enough that they hold competing positions, but that may be a strength at a time when the answers aren't clear. What may be needed are strong thinkers who find different views plausible, competing with each other over whose idea best fits the new reality. There are many different parts of that new reality, from crises in the South China Sea to Syria to North Korea. It may be that nobody has all the answers, or that many have only part of what a real answer might look like. Being open to competition of thought is a good start.

How Far Back in Time Could You Go and Still Understand English?

I am an exception, in that Middle English is no problem for me if it is written down. When spoken with the original accent, however, I am not practiced in understanding it.

Discipline is the Soul of the Army

Five deputy sheriffs are suspended without pay for failing to arrest the Trump activist who sucker-punched a protester.

I imagine they felt like the protester got what he deserved. However, those charged with enforcing the law on others are the ones it is most important to hold to legal standards. This is a dangerous year already; to fail to enforce these standards would be to court disaster.

NYT: That White Working Class Needs More Welfare

Paul Krugman disagrees with Williamson about the remedy.

How On Earth Does This Happen?

Headline: "CNN Poll: Most Voters Hate Both the Likely Nominees."

Fermat's Last Solved

Three hundred years is a reasonably long time, even in the history of thought.

NNT: This is a Global Rebellion Against Insiders

Nassim Taleb says this is not just American and Europe, it's India and the rest of the world too. Also, the criticism is justified.
What we are seeing worldwide, from India to the UK to the US, is the rebellion against the inner circle of no-skin-in-the-game policymaking "clerks" and journalists-insiders, that class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts with some Ivy league, Oxford-Cambridge, or similar label-driven education who are telling the rest of us 1) what to do, 2) what to eat, 3) how to speak, 4) how to think...and 5) who to vote for.

With psychology papers replicating less than 40%, dietary advice reversing after 30y of fatphobia, macroeconomic analysis working worse than astrology, microeconomic papers wrong 40% of the time, the appointment of Bernanke who was less than clueless of the risks, and pharmaceutical trials replicating only 1/5th of the time, people are perfectly entitled to rely on their own ancestral instinct and listen to their grandmothers with a better track record than these policymaking goons.

Indeed one can see that these academico-bureaucrats wanting to run our lives aren't even rigorous, whether in medical statistics or policymaking. I have shown that most of what Cass-Sunstein-Richard Thaler types call "rational" or "irrational" comes from misunderstanding of probability theory.

Philosophers: Terrible Spouses

Well, unless they have servants. I'm going to need a servant, I guess. Any volunteers of appropriately submissive temperament? (Not around here, I'll warrant!)

9mm v. 40 S&W

Following on the pistol discussion of yesterday, a trauma surgeon writes on this longstanding debate.

I notice he disallows 'larger' as an option early:
You have two options. You can use a really large round at very high velocity like the 30mm cannon rounds from an Apache helicopter's M230 Chain Gun, which produces substantial kinetic energy, or you can place your shot where it has the most effect. Obviously, shot placement is the only realistic option for a law enforcement officer.
Well, if that's obvious, we're done. Lower recoil is more important than size. But that doesn't follow all the way down: .22 LR is a terrible choice, although recoil is minimized to the point that it is almost negligible.

For myself, I favor .44-.45 diameter choices. I realize that the science shows that .357 Magnum out of a four inch barrel is the best one-shot stopper. I favor .44 Smith & Wesson Special or properly structured .44 Remington Magnum or .45 Long Colt cartridges for revolvers. These have the advantage that, when hiking in grizzly and moose country, you can readily step up to a cartridge that can handle big game defensively.

As a consequence, if I carry a semi-automatic, I prefer .45 ACP as the closest equivalent to .44 SPL. Still, if the suggestion is that there's no difference in trauma worth noting between .40 S&W and 9mm, the lower recoil could be decisive.

No One Who Mattered

Clinton claims 'We didn't lose a single person in Libya.'

Well, um.

In addition to the Americans lost at Benghazi, including a US Ambassador -- the very figure of American power -- the real test of whether Libya was a wise decision or not has to do with the fact that ISIS has taken over parts of it and is using them to stage head-cutting videos. President Obama blames this on Europe not doing a good enough job of following his 'lead from behind.'

You don't start a fight, run away from it, and then complain that the people you left behind lost without you.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Trump-Mas

"Ohio election officials say that more than half of all early voting on the GOP side is from voters who were recently Democrats or Independents."

Herself got a lot closer to putting an end to the Sanders insurgency tonight, although he has a good slate coming up and plenty of cash from his successful fundraising. A few likely wins will be putting some energy back in his campaign, assuming that he -- as seems likely -- is stubborn enough to not give up.

But on the Republican side, there's no real joy for anyone but Trump tonight.

So I guess the question is, did those early voting Democrats in the Republican primary come to stop Trump or to join him? It was Trump's only loss of the night, to a favorite son candidate in his home state. Maybe Kaisch came over the top to beat Trump's supporters plus a bunch of Democrats, but probably this was the only success of Operation Chaos.

Preventing a second Clinton Presidency is my major goal for our country this next little while. For some of you, it's stopping Trump. We probably need to talk this through, because we're getting very close to having to make a call between those goals.

Personally, I can rest safe in the knowledge that my vote is never going to Clinton -- but it doesn't matter, because I live in Georgia, where any Republican will beat her easily. I could write in anyone I want and be sure that I was not casting a secret or accidental vote for Clinton.

It's going to matter in other ways, possibly. Where are we, people of the Hall?

But How Would Corporations Make Millions Off That?

The U.S. Army's chief of staff said Thursday that if he had his way, he'd abandon the bureaucratic Modular Handgun System effort and personally select the service's next pistol.

Speaking at the Future of War Conference 2016, Gen. Mark Milley said he has asked Congress to grant service chiefs the authority to bypass the Pentagon's multi-layered and complex acquisition process on programs that do not require research and development.

"We are not exactly redesigning how to go to the moon, right?" Milley said. "This is a pistol."
It's a fair point. Pistol technology is mature. The basic design of the semi-automatic pistol has been refined rather than fundamentally altered in the hundred years since John Moses Browning's 1911. The common choices among elite military forces today have fused plastic receivers, and polycarbon slides, neither of which can be readily disassembled -- but which are so reliable and cheap that they never need to be. They're good-enough accurate out of the box and indestructible in normal use with normal lifespans.

For an army made up mostly of teenagers and 20-somethings, several manufacturers offer off-the-shelf pistols that are not just adequate, they're perfect. Pick one.

Odin versus Loki

In today's Commentary magazine, John Podheretz poses seriously:
Trump, I’ve often said, is a manifestation of Loki, the god of misrule. Misrule breeds chaos. Chaos breeds violence.
This reminds me of a quote that Joel Leggett sent me a week ago, which I have been pondering. It is from C. S. Lewis.
"What business have people who call might right to worship Odin? The whole point about Odin was that he had the right but not the might. The point about Norse religion was that it alone of all mythologies told men to serve gods who were admittedly fighting with their backs to the wall and would certainly be defeated in the end. 'I am off to die with Odin' said the rover in Stevenson's fable, thus proving that Stevenson understood something about the Nordic spirit which (Nazi) Germany has never been able to understand at all. The gods will fall. The wisdom of Odin, the humourous courage of Thor (Thor was something of a Yorkshireman) and the beauty of Balder, will all be smashed eventually by the realpolitik of the stupid giants and misshapen trolls. But that does not in the least alter the allegiance of any free man. Hence, as we should expect, real Germanic poetry is all about heroic stands, and fighting against hopeless odds."
Odin is an interesting figure. Many of the Norse Gods have clear echoes in Greek or Roman gods, or (especially in the case of Thor) in Irish gods. They aren't quite the same, but the figures are recognizably similar. Odin, and the Germanic Woden from which the Norse got the name, is in many ways unique.

Tacitus thought Woden was the Germanic Mercury/Hermes, but that is not quite right. They are alike in that they are gods concerned with transitions over boundaries between worlds. Both are concerned with poetry and literature. But Odin is not a messenger god. He is a god of nobility of the soul. He is the patron of kings and warriors who aspire to a glorious life and a glorious death. The boundary they most wish to cross is into Valhalla. Odin inspires poetic flights, but like Bacchus rather than like Hermes: with the intoxicating "mead of poetry," which intensifies access to knowledge and allows wisdom to flow like honey wine.

And Odin searches always for wisdom, even through great personal suffering. When Ares is speared in the Iliad, his suffering does not produce anything glorious like wisdom: if anything, he slinks off to Olympus to sulk. Not Odin, who seeks out suffering for its mysteries and the wisdom to be gained.
Wounded I hung on a wind-swept gallows
For nine long nights,
Pierced by a spear, pledged to Odin,
Offered, myself to myself
The wisest know not from whence spring
The roots of that ancient rood.
They gave me no bread,
They gave me no mead,
I looked down;
With a loud cry
I took up runes;
From that tree I fell.

Nine lays of power
I learned from the famous Bolthor, Bestla' s father:
He poured me a draught of precious mead,
Mixed with magic Odrerir.

Waxed and throve well;
Word from word gave words to me,
Deed from deed gave deeds to me....

The Wise One has spoken words in the hall,
Needful for men to know,
Unneedful for trolls to know:

Hail to the speaker,
Hail to the knower,
Joy to him who has understood,
Delight to those who have listened.
It is strange to see the Norse gods invoked in our politics today. They have not been invoked in this way in a long time. I wonder what it means.

It is easy to choose between Odin and Loki, between seeking honorable wisdom at personal cost versus seeking power without the wisdom to use it well. It is better to die well than to live without honor. It is better to suffer in wisdom than to play in wickedness. The noble of soul know this.

What Tolkien added to the Norse mythology was a Christian concept: that the noble of soul, fighting with their backs against the wall, against certain doom, might be aided suddenly from the root of the world. Odin was written into the Lord of the Rings as Gandalf. He fought the Balrog and fell into darkness, only to be purified. Denethor was driven to despair by the strength of Mordor, and threw himself into fire. Gandalf led the armies against Mordor in the face of despair, only to see a miracle worked by suffering against strength.

We must do our duty, and hope. We ought to seek wisdom, but not trust too much in it. The world is bigger and wiser than we, and its author moves it in ways we do not understand. Strangely enough, Odin teaches this too, in the Havamal:
It is best for man to be middle-wise,
Not over cunning and clever:
The fairest life is led by those
Who are deft at all they do.
It is best for man to be middle-wise,
Not over cunning and clever:
No man is able to know his future,
So let him sleep in peace.

It is best for man to be middle-wise,
Not over cunning and clever:
The learned man whose lore is deep
Is seldom happy at heart.

An Incomplete Truth

In the Islamic Monthly, Lord Jonathan Sacks -- a rabbi -- writes of the Jewish debt to Islam. What he says is quite true. It's just incomplete.
It was the great Islamic theologians and thinkers — among them al-Farabi, Ibn Sina (Avicenna), and Ibn Rushd (Averroes) — who recovered the classical tradition of philosophy, leading the West out of the Dark Ages.

Maimonides, one of the greatest Jewish thinkers in the past 1,000 years, was also deeply indebted to them. Throughout his masterwork, The Guide for the Perplexed, he is in constant dialogue with the Mutakallimun, or the Muslim Kalamists. Even his great religious law code, the Mishneh Torah, was inspired by Sharia codes. Maimonides, in turn, influenced Christian thinkers like Aquinas. Thus, both Judaism and Christianity are deeply indebted to the thinkers of Islam.
I gave a talk on this subject once at US Central Command. Avicenna in particular is important to Christianity because of a mistake that was very helpful to Aquinas. Avicenna inherited a work of Plotinus' that had been wrongly titled The Theology of Aristotle. Plotinus' philosophy, which we call Neoplatonism, is really not at all similar to Aristotle's metaphysics (which is the closest he ever gets to a theology). Avicenna devoted himself to harmonizing these two doctrines because he thought that doing so was necessary to understand the deeper, hidden message of Aristotle that somehow these two quite different works were both attempting to convey.

Avicenna's metaphysics was therefore quite useful to Aquinas, who inherited Aristotle from the early phases of the Christian reconquest of Islamic Spain. Aristotle's works were scientifically far superior to what existed at the time, but they were philosophically incompatible with the Neoplatonic thought that had influenced many early leading thinkers of the Church. Avicenna provided the way forward: he showed how to harmonize the new Aristotelian science with the Neoplatonic-influenced interpretations of Christian writings that were important to several early saints (even Augustine).

All of that is right. And yet if you turn to the back of Avicenna's metaphysics -- I have a copy right handy -- you find plenty of the following: "As for enemies and those who oppose the law, [the legislator] must decree waging war against them and destroying them -- after calling on them to accept the truth -- and [decree] that their property and women must be declared free for the spoil." That's exactly ISIS's position, you'll notice.

Likewise: "The same applies to people that are far removed from acquiring virtue. For these are slaves by nature -- as, for example, the Turks and the Negroes..."

So, do we owe a lot to Avicenna? Yes. Does that imply that our views and Islam's are fully compatible? No. Some small objections remain.

Trump and the Revenge of the Constitution

Reading some of these articles on whether the Republican Party can be "lent" to Trump without it being fundamentally transformed, I realize that there's a point being missed by everyone. First, here is a strong version of the argument:
...if he cleans up tomorrow night, you’re going to see an explosion of pieces online like the one Ross Douthat published yesterday urging the RNC to deny Trump the nomination by any means necessary — including a rule change before the convention, if need be, that frees up delegates to vote their conscience. (“A man so transparently unfit for office should not be placed before the American people as a candidate for president under any kind of imprimatur save his own.”) A member of the RNC’s Rules Committee is already circulating a letter suggesting, contra all available evidence, that delegates are not bound on the first ballot and haven’t been in 40 years. The price of stealing the nomination from Trump after he’s supposedly clinched it would be sky high. It would delegitimize the RNC; it would vindicate Trumpists’ criticism that the establishment is corrupt and that the system is rigged; it would certainly doom the GOP’s chances in the general election as millions of Trump fans decide to stay home or vote third-party in protest; and it would effectively disenfranchise the millions of Trumpers who turned out to vote for him throughout the primaries. It very well might destroy the GOP. But hardcore anti-Trumpers have already reached the point where they view that as the lesser of two evils. Better to protect the country by booting him out of the party and into independent never-neverland, even at the cost of an irreparable rupture on the right, than to protect whatever small amount of “integrity” the GOP has left by crowning Trump as the duly elected nominee.
Here is my alternative view: Trump winning the GOP nomination and the election does not mean the GOP is surrendering to Trump. It means they are recognizing the sovereignty of the voters. The moral independence of the party as a whole is a reason to think that Trump as President can be contained as a threat in a way that President Obama never can be.

The reason is that impeachment and removal from office by Congress returns as a real potential under a Trump administration. With Democratic loyalty to President Obama being so intense, he has been able to operate lawlessly on immigration, on foreign affairs, in terms of protecting from prosecution criminals in his administration from Lois Lerner to Hillary Clinton, and in unilaterally rewriting the law where he likes.

Trump would not have that luxury. People have expressed concern that a man who suggests he would cover the legal fees of those charged with violence against protesters cannot be trusted with the Constitutional power to pardon. But Trump would come into office facing a House and Senate led by nominal allies who are deeply suspicious of him, and would indeed love to find a way to rid themselves of him without losing the support of his voters. Republican party leaders in Congress will be only too ready to join with Democrats in removing him from office if he makes an egregious overstep.

Thus, one option might be to consent to Trump in the convention in return for a Vice Presidential pick acceptable to the party's Congressional wing. That would make impeachment and removal even easier to contemplate. Indeed, it would make it an attractive option that Trump would have to work hard to avoid them electing to pursue.

Our Constitutional controls on the President have been failing since Clinton because of party loyalty. Political parties are an extra-Constitutional feature of our government, part of the dangers of factionalism warned against in the Federalist Papers. The absence of party loyalty to Trump would allow the Constitutional controls on the President to function as designed for a change.

Military Times Survey: Trump or Sanders

In a survey of the preferences of serving members of the military, including the National Guard, strong preferences emerge in each race for the insurgent candidates.

However, they ran the question as a 'first choice for President' without requiring you to specify which in primary you were going to vote. Thus, we get a sense of overall support that is surprising.

In the Army and Marine Corps, Trump dominates the field. In both services, he has approximately twice the support of the next leading candidate.

In the Navy and Air Force, Sanders is the overall winner. Sanders edges Trump by a few points, though, rather than dominating the field as Trump does. Trump is an easy second place in both fields, although far more so in the Navy: Ted Cruz is close to Trump in the Air Force, but a bit behind.

Even in those latter services, where Sanders is the overall winner, Democratic first-choice votes are a minority. Sanders thus has extremely intense support, because he overcomes both the alleged frontrunner in his own party and a divided Republican field.

Clinton is the first choice of only about ten percent of military voters. The bigger services favor her more than the smaller ones: she is slightly above 12% in both the Army and the Navy, but well under 10% in both the Air Force and Marine Corps.

False Positives? Never!

How could hundreds of peer-reviewed studies possibly be so wrong? There may be a way to explain it, and it's shaking researchers to their cores.

Every time scientists conduct an experiment, there's a chance they'll find a false positive. But here's the scary thing: Psychologists are now realizing their institutions are structured so it's more likely that false positives will make it through to publication than inconclusive results.

"We’re now learning that there’s so much bias in the published literature that the meta-analyses can’t be trusted," Simine Vazire, a professor of psychology and the editor in chief of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, tells me.
We were just talking about the problems with multiple regression analyses. On the other hand, here's a meta-scientific study that concludes that earlier meta-scientific studies about the replicability of many other studies was tainted by failures to replicate the studies correctly. And then....

One of My Senators Writes on the Republican Chaos

Whatever his other flaws may be, Sen. David Perdue is not a long-time D.C. figure: this is his first term in the Senate, and his first job in government. I tend to regard him as a part of the crony-capitalist Republican elements, as he made a fortune in business while a cousin was Governor, and then was suddenly picked out of the blue to be a candidate for an open Senate seat. Still, for what it's worth, here's what he thinks about why the Establishment is on fire.
This town is filled with well-intentioned people who believe they are doing the right thing, but far too many have lost their way after years in Washington. Politicians pay more attention to special interests groups and powerful lobbyists writing checks to their next campaign, than listening to the people back home who sent them here in the first place....

Georgians sent me—someone who had never run for elected office—to the United States Senate to try and do something about it and change the system. In state after state this year, voters have voiced support for presidential candidates who are not part of the political class.

This is a growing movement, and it is bigger than any one candidate or election victory. Unless the political establishment is willing to learn from the anger felt by millions of Americans who feel left behind, this will not end in November.

True to form, though, political elites prefer tearing down individuals to understanding what created this movement. This movement of Americans wants nothing to do with Washington, and neither endorsements nor criticisms are going to change that.

No matter who our Republican presidential nominee is at the end of this process, one thing is clear, we cannot allow Democrats to double down on the failed policies of the last seven years.
Bucking for Vice President, Senator?

What Happens if Trump is Assassinated?

Via Althouse, Scott Adams predicts an (or another) attempt on Trump's life. It makes perfect sense, he says:
It would be easy to blame the protesters for taking things too far. But all they are doing is responding to hate speech from the next Hitler. Shouldn’t someone be fighting hard to stop Hitler? We can’t blame people for wanting fewer Hitlers....

Fast-forward to today and we see the media priming the public to try to kill Trump, or at least create some photogenic mayhem at a public event. Again, no one is sitting in a room plotting Trump’s death, but – let’s be honest – at least half of the media believes Trump is the next Hitler, and a Hitler assassination would be morally justified. Also great for ratings. The media would not be charged with any crime for triggering some nut to act. There would be no smoking gun. No guilt. No repercussions. Just better ratings and bonuses all around.

In the 2D world of reason, no one in the media consciously wants a candidate for president to be injured, and no one is consciously acting in a way that would make it happen. But in the 3D world of persuasion, society has decided to lance the wart that is Trump. Collectively – the media, the public, and the other candidates – are creating a situation that is deeply dangerous for Trump.
Adams cites a British author who did security for Farage, who describes the effects this will have on Trump's campaign.

I said that the Chicago disruption tactics would become standard against disfavored (i.e. conservative or Republican) candidates if they worked. I wonder if instead we'll just proceed directly to killing Republican candidates? They're not always as aggravating as Trump's rhetoric can make him, but they're always portrayed as deeply evil.

UPDATE: BLM says they are totally going to "shut down" the Republican Convention if they can. You can be sure that there will be plenty of police clashes with activists no matter who the frontrunner is, setting up the narrative for the fall. The Republican nominee will be portrayed as a deeply racist hater inheritor of Trumpist violence, by the very people engaged in trying to "shut down" opposing speech.

By the end of it all, America may decide it's ready for the "law and order" candidate. Right now, today, everybody is horrified by Trump. Three more months of this, and people may be wondering who is strong enough to put a stop to it.

Yeah, That's What I Figured

Headline: "Trump orders arrest of violent protesters. Wants 'law and order' for the United States."

UPDATE: The Obama administration's immigration efforts are setting Trump up for success.

Sturgill Simpson on NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts

Grim introduced Mr. Simpson the other day and I enjoyed his sound. NPR has a neat little program called Tiny Desk Concerts where musicians play a few songs live in the NPR offices. I've enjoyed several of these concerts now.

The 30% Solution

The Speed Metal band Metallica used to say, "Kill 'em all." But in a scholarly treatment of the world's worst wars, from ancient Athens to the Thirty Years war and from Napoleon to the Confederacy, Spengler says that's not necessary. Killing just 30% of the military-aged male population appears to do the trick.

Rather bloody mathematics, that, but his citations are chiefly to solid academic works. I wonder if he hasn't identified something universal in the inflection point. If so, I wonder why that universal would hold in such different times and cultures.

UPDATE: Thinking about this more overnight, I notice the omission of two examples of war of attrition that I'd have expected to see: the Vietnam War, and the Russian war in Afghanistan. Figures for Vietnam are controversial, but the high-end numbers don't support anything like a 30% loss of military aged males: the population of Vietnam actually grew rapidly during the war, from 28 to 45 million. I'll estimate military-aged as roughly 1/3rd of any population, with males being roughly 1/2, so 1/16th is the very rough estimate for military-aged males in a population. The highest number of estimated Vietnamese killed is 3.1 million; 1/6th of 28 million is 4.7 million. But in fact the population will have added nearly an additional 5 million military-aged males during the 20 years of the war, with those deaths being spread out over the whole course of the war and not all happening at once.

Thus I estimate deaths would have needed to be twice what they were and then some to attain the 30%, and that's if the highest estimates of dead are accurate. If the lower estimates are accurate instead, then more than six times as many deaths would have been necessary to attain the figure Spengler describes.

For Afghanistan, the total population is thought to have been around 16 million in 1981-2. 1/6th of that is 2.7 million. The 9 year Soviet war killed -- again, taking the highest estimate -- 1.6 million. So once again, in spite of Soviet brutality, they never approached the figure Spengler describes.

So these two possible counter-examples, in which industrial powers attempted to use attrition as a strategy, both fail to disprove his argument.

National Review: Die, White Working Class

Kevin Williamson, who has often been cited here and who is certainly a good writer capable of clear and clever thought, thinks America's white working class is vicious and worthless, and we'd be better off if they died out.
If you spend time in hardscrabble, white upstate New York, or eastern Kentucky, or my own native West Texas, and you take an honest look at the welfare dependency, the drug and alcohol addiction, the family anarchy—which is to say, the whelping of human children with all the respect and wisdom of a stray dog—you will come to an awful realization. It wasn’t Beijing. It wasn’t even Washington, as bad as Washington can be. It wasn’t immigrants from Mexico, excessive and problematic as our current immigration levels are. It wasn’t any of that...

The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets. Morally, they are indefensible. The white American under-class is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles. Donald Trump’s speeches make them feel good. So does OxyContin.
He's a good enough writer that I assume he didn't misspeak.

I don't share his economic theories. I do think immigration had a major effect on destroying America's working class, and I think the free-trade policies he champions did too. Bracket that, though: we'll agree to disagree on the question.

The welfare dependency he cites is a major part of the problem. America's welfare state, set up precisely to help the poorest Americans, has been deeply destructive to their lives and culture. It should be dismantled.

However, I am surprised that he doesn't see the effect of both welfare and over-regulation on the traditional economies of these regions. What did they ever produce? Small farms. You weren't going to get rich running a family farm, but you could sell the milk you got from your cow each day, and cheese, and a few crops. You were going to have to work hard (the absence of which he says is the root of the moral rot he describes). You'd need to keep the family together, somehow, to get that work done. Presumably no one would do it if they could sit back and collect a check from D.C., and the checks get bigger if the family falls apart. Subsidize anything and you get more of it.

But now not only is there the check, there's a huge set of rules and regulations that ban you from collecting and selling your cow's milk without expensive technological investments. You'd need to hire a lawyer to make sure your farm wasn't violating rules nine ways to Sunday.

The black market in drugs flourishes in part because, if everything you know how to do for money is illegal, you might as well do the most profitable one of the crimes.

The problems he cites of course generalize to all of America's working poor, but if you wrote the same column about the urban poor you'd be fired as a racist. (John Derbyshire's equally honest treatment of urban black culture in America is how he got shown the door). I won't call for that, because I value honesty. It's good to speak your mind plainly. Being offensive is sometimes helpful to breaking a deadlock on a big problem. The solution to America's poverty problem is not that the poor communities should 'die out,' however.

The solution is dismantling the existing transfer-payment welfare system and also the vast set of food production regulations that make farming the business of corporations instead of small family farms. In their place, we will need to set up CCC-style systems to teach people how to do the things that the current generation no longer knows how to do because their grandparents had to give it up.

We can structure our regulations to make it more likely that small family farms succeed, and we can make work-based systems like this the only welfare game going. Do that, and you'll have a healthier working poor. They'll still be poor. But they will have decent lives.

Along the way, we'll also get a better kind of food. Small farmers doing grass-fed, grass-finished beef or free-range chickens is something people want anyway: it's just too expensive to be marketable. Increase the supply vastly, however, and the price will come down. Doing so will ultimately be much cheaper than the transfer-payment systems we have now, and give us several goods we would be glad to have.

Pressing Charges

From a Trump rally in Kansas City (not the one in Wichita Valerie cited):
“I hope they get put into, I hope these guys get thrown into jail. They’ll never do it again. It’ll destroy their record. They’ll have to explain to mom and dad why they have a police record, and why they can’t get a job. And you know what? I’m going to start pressing charges against these people. And then we won’t have a problem.

“And I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to ruin somebody’s life. They’re probably good kids, you know. They’re probably good kids. I don’t what to ruin people’s lives. But the only way we’re going to stop this craziness is if we press charges. Because then their lives are going to be ruined. They’re going to know their lives are going to be ruined. So I’ll just tell you folks from now on, if you do anything, we’re pressing charges, okay?”
Trump is really good at playing the crowd. He's talking the right way now -- not 'Hey, I'll pay your legal fees if you beat up a protester.' American Presidents don't invite brown shirts to engage in violence against protesters. They use official police forces.

If he can make that shift, he will be poised to run as the law-and-order candidate in the fall. It will be difficult for Clinton or Sanders to take the same tone, because the BLM movement has their number. They can't afford to stand up to this kind of anti-free-speech, lawless disruption.

You'll Get Some On You

Indiana U is hosting an interdisciplinary conference in Psychoanalysis and Analytic Philosophy. I can't think of anything worse for Analytic Philosophy, although frankly that faction of the field deserves what it courts.