This Poll is Difficult to Believe

Boy, those atheists, huh?
Many Americans view Islam unfavorably, and supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump are more than twice as likely to view the religion negatively as those backing Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, according to a Reuters/Ipsos online poll of more than 7,000 Americans.

It shows that 37 percent of American adults have a "somewhat unfavorable" or "very unfavorable" view of Islam. This includes 58 percent of Trump supporters and 24 percent of Clinton supporters, a contrast largely mirrored by the breakdown between Republicans and Democrats.

By comparison, respondents overall had an equally unfavorable view of atheism at 38 percent, compared with 21 percent for Hinduism, 16 percent for Judaism and 8 percent for Christianity.
Does anyone really believe that as many or slightly more Americans have a negative view of atheism as Islam? When was the last atheist terror attack?

My guess is that 38% of Americans genuinely have a problem with atheism, whereas only 37% of Americans feel comfortable speaking honestly about their concerns with regard to Islam. Such concerns need not be hateful nor, at this point, an expression of "prejudice" -- a word that means a pre-judgment, in advance of the facts. There are plenty of hard facts in evidence now. At this point, anyone who doesn't admit to honest concerns about Islam as practiced today is not being honest, possibly with themselves. Muslims themselves have reasons to be concerned about Islam just now, and maybe Muslims most of all. I know some several who will admit to their concerns, at least in private conversation.

Again, at some point we need to start speaking honestly about all this. If we're to avoid a future of ethnic cleansing and worse, we need to stop trying to paper this stuff over.

How Captain America: Civil War Should Have Ended

The gentle folk at How It Should Have Ended take on Captain America. They bring up some of the stuff we talked about in our earlier discussion.

Also, here there be spoilers!

Range 15 Update

It's still showing here and there. "Here" being a few screens that have gotten repeat showings, as interest continues. "There" being... Baghdad.
U.S. veterans and now stars of recent military horror-comedy, “Range 15,” visited service members Saturday-Monday and shared a screening of their movie.

Soldiers deployed to Forward Operating Base Union III in support of the Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command – Operation Inherent Resolve filed into a room to watch “Range 15” and got the opportunity to meet the stars – Mat Best, Army Ranger veteran and CEO of Article 15 Clothing; Jarred Taylor, Air Force veteran and Article 15’s chief marketing officer; and Nick Palmisciano, Army veteran and founder of Ranger Up clothing company.

Because most deployed Soldiers would not have gotten the opportunity to see “Range 15,” Palmisciano worked his contacts to set up the tour in coordination with Armed Forces Entertainment, Best said.

“There was no theatrical release overseas, and this movie was made by vets for vets,” he said.

"Those Of Us Who Are Over... 35 Or So..."

Some words from Ronald Reagan.

How are we doing on this, brothers and sisters?

Man Without Most of His Brain... Still Conscious

This goes with the 'male and female mice have different pain structures' discussion. We really don't have any idea how all this works.

Dear Piers Morgan: Don't Let The Door Hit You

His reaction to this commercial was to say that it was "One of the most disgusting things I've ever seen."

Well, we won't miss you, Piers. But I'd watch that talk if you ever run into my wife, because she's just this kind of girl.

Pocket Monsters

(H/t Mad Minerva)

A bit of reverse cultural assimilation: Pokemon (ポケモン) is a Japanese contraction for the English words "pocket monster" (ポケットモンスター / poketto monsuta-). For some reason, I find it amusing to hear Americans say "Pokemon".

No, I have no excuse for posting this. It's Friday: We don't need no stinking excuses!


Good Question

[I]n November, when American voters choose how to cast their ballots for president, they will surely take policies and the candidates' personalities into consideration.

But they also have another question to answer, and it is not a frivolous one. Do they want four more years of leaders who respond to crisis by delivering self-righteous lectures to them about their faults?

The FBI Is Not Covering Itself With Glory Lately

The Bureau finds 'no evidence' that Omar Mateen intended to target gays in his decision to stage an Islamist attack at a gay nightclub.

Cf. this reminder of another recent FBI investigation:
Never in the history of world has a human being been so completely buried under a mountain of no evidence. Hillary Clinton can say there’s no evidence she sent classified emails until the evidence shows up, at which point there is no evidence she knew they were classified, until evidence of that shows up, at which point there is no evidence anyone got hold of it, until 400 people are willing to stake their lives that it was certainly compromised by sophisticated bad actors, at which point there is no evidence that it mattered.

This came to mind listening to FBI Director James Comey’s interesting phraseology, carefully formulated, no doubt: “We found no evidence” and “We did not find clear evidence” and “[Hillary’s lawyers] deleted all emails they did not return to State, and the lawyers cleaned their devices in such a way as to preclude complete forensic recovery” (emphasis mine).
It does seem as if they are, lately, more devoted to finding "no evidence" than to finding evidence.

November Paris Attack Tortured Victims for ISIS Propaganda

The French government has suppressed the story until now.
The chief police witness in Parliament testified that on the night of the attacks, an investigating officer, tears streaming down his face, rushed out of the Bataclan and vomited in front of him just after seeing the disfigured bodies.

The 14-hour testimony about the November attacks took place March 21st.

According to this testimony, Wahhabist killers reportedly gouged out eyes, castrated victims, and shoved their testicles in their mouths. They may also have disemboweled some poor souls. Women were reportedly stabbed in the genitals – and the torture was, victims told police, filmed for Daesh or Islamic State propaganda.
At some point, we're going to have to start being honest with ourselves about what we're facing.

Military Coup Attempt in Turkey

Unfolding. The Turkish military was entrusted by Ataturk with the duty of preserving his revolution, which has been undermined somewhat by the present administration's flirtation with Islamism. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

MikeD, Call the Office

Hey, Mike, I have a message for you and I don't seem to have your email. A friend of your friend COL Sobichevsky is trying to get in touch.

Viking Ship Update

Popular Mechanics has confirmed that it's actually four hundred thousand dollars that is being demanded in piloting fees.

Good gracious, people. Even if this were a commercial and profit-making vessel, how could that be a reasonable figure?

Immigration and Terrorism

A post at Fabius Maximus.
Europe is in a situation much like the forests of the western US. Years of policy errors have made both into large tinderboxes. Prevention is impossible; massive fires are inevitable. Mitigation is the only option. That’s easy (albeit expensive) with forest fires. Less so with the consequences of mass immigration.

France will have to live with the great rings around its cities of disaffected, poor, unassimilated migrants and their children. Fundamental Islamic groups have spent years building their infrastructure, with jihadists lurking within. More attacks are likely.
One could also cut down the forests. We don't, but only because we value the forests a great deal.

Brains and Immunity

Back in March, the University of Virginia announced that the brain turns out to be connected directly to the immune system -- and by structures we didn't know existed, long after most medical doctors thought the body was fully mapped. Now it turns out that the brain's connection to the immune system appears to govern something important about our social interactions.
So could immune system problems contribute to an inability to have normal social interactions? The answer appears to be yes, and that finding could have significant implications for neurological diseases such as autism-spectrum disorders and schizophrenia.
That's going to change the way we think about a number of different things.

Weber Was Wrong

Bear this in mind, as you bear your arms.
Here’s the issue before us, after Dallas: Is the United States a state?

The question seems strange; this nation’s full official name suggests not only a state, but also a union of states. Among defining attributes of a state, the United States possesses a territory, a flag, laws — and courts and bureaucrats to enforce them.

What it doesn’t have, crucially, is a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence by a central authority.

In part, this is by design. The Constitution provides for the legitimate use of violence by a federal government, but also by the 50 semi-sovereign entities represented in Washington. Indeed, in the founding era, the federal government exercised only limited power to establish a standing military or law-enforcement apparatus; it relied heavily on state cooperation, and state resources, to provide what we know today as “national security.”

And then there’s the Second Amendment, which gives “the people” a right to “keep and bear arms,” thus legitimizing nongovernmental violence, not only by groups — from slave patrols to pioneers to sheriffs’ posses — but also by individuals, from hunters to homeowners.

No constitutional provision better expresses an essential difference between the state as Europeans understood it and the “republic” America’s founders conceived. Yet none has spawned more debate, confusion and conflict within America itself, right down to the present day.
No greater matter exists for us as a free people. The United States must never be a "state" by this European notion. Should it come to an appeal to the God of Hosts, we must keep this right subject to the People. This is what enabled Magna Carta, the Declaration of Arbroath, the Declaration of Independence. There is no more fundamental matter, nothing more important save the salvation of our souls.

And even there, if we are wrong, we have the comfort of praying for forgiveness in our error.  But we aren't wrong:  Luke 22:36.

Bastille Day

30 dead in France. The weapon of choice? A big truck.

Liberté, égalité, fraternité still need fighting for. Aux armes, citoyens. You're likely to need those arms, and your ploughshares won't stop them.

That's true there, here, and everywhere.

UPDATE: There seems to be a big fire at the Eiffel Tower.

UPDATE: At least 75 killed. Bodies for a mile, some of them children. This is accounted a great day by our enemies.

Cornell West: Obama Has Failed Us

I note that Professor West has also announced that he will be supporting Green Party candidate Jill Stein, and not Hillary Clinton. It's interesting that he chose the Guardian, out of the UK, for this article.
Unfortunately, Obama thrives on being in the middle. He has no backbone to fight for justice. He likes to be above the fray. But for those us us who are in the fray, there is a different sensibility. You have to choose which side you’re on, and he doesn’t want to do that. Fundamentally, he’s not a love warrior.
Funny, I'd heard that he was a "lightworker," whatever that meant. Guess it's not the same thing. Maybe lightworkers are like Jedi, and they aren't allowed to love?

"There Are Two Americas...."

John Edwards' famous stump speech is coming true, although not in the way he envisioned it. In one America, violent crime is at historic lows. In 35 American cities however, as we were discussing yesterday, there has been a spike in murder rates coinciding with the spike in tensions between the police and black Americans.

And now:
The Army last week warned all military personnel in the United States to avoid 37 American cities this week over concerns that anti-police protests, dubbed “Days of Rage,” are planned and could turn violent. The July 8 notice from the U.S. Army North said there is a potential for violence or criminal activities in the aftermath of the shootings of five Dallas police officers.
Want to bet those lists of cities overlap more or less completely?

The article notes that the Army's warning seems based on an internet rumor. Still, mobs -- including flash mobs -- can organize around internet rumors as well as anything else.

False Positives on Racism

As someone who thinks that the issue here is really one of training -- specifically, of training for a stimulus-response reaction of shooting when hands get out of sight in cases where weapons are considered likely -- I've tended to dismiss or downplay the idea that racism is much at the back of these issues. Many, many people disagree with me about that. I would say that it is the most commonly held opinion among the 'great and the good' that America is still suffering from a simmering racism that has never been expiated through all our suffering.

I believe racism exists. I grew up in a county in Georgia where the Klan recruited openly, wearing their robes but not bothering with their hoods because they didn't think what they were doing was shameful. I just don't see racism like that any more, except in fringe cases. For example, in both the Stone Mountain rally here in Georgia, and the "Traditional Workers Party" rally in California, the members of the pro-white racist groups were vastly outnumbered by the anti-racist groups. In Stone Mountain, all the arrests were of anti-racists. In California, the police elected not to protect the white separatists.

Last night I was reading an article at the Huffington Post that investigates a suggestion that one of the slain Dallas cops was a "proud, open white supremacist." The HuffPo author ultimately approves the idea, saying that the signals individually could be dismissed, but that all together they are demonstrative.

Here is the alleged evidence:

These strike me as a collection of false positives, none of which should individually or collectively be taken as evidence of racism.

Support for Donald Trump is apparently taken to be prima facie evidence of racism, as is the display of any sort of Confederate flag. There are plausible non-racist reasons for either, to say the least that might be said.

I don't know who Pastor Greg Locke is, but I'm not a Protestant evangelical, and my guess is that he's known for more than just being opposed to trans* issues. I don't see how that's relevant to whiteness anyway; lots of trans* people are white. It's relevant to traditional Christian culture. Many Americans from traditional Christian faiths feel under siege on these issues, and some of the rhetoric has been angry, but it's got nothing to do with race.

Same deal with a Crusader tattoo. Chris Kyle had one. Was it about race issues in America? Of course not. It was about 9/11, and the sense that the West was under attack from radical Islam. Islam is not a race, and although many people would like to run "Islamophobia" in with racism, the comparison isn't plausible. Race is an invented, pseudo-scientific category that refers to nothing actually real in the physical world. Islam is a real thing. Anger at Islam for events like 9/11, or Orlando, or San Bernardino, or Chattanooga, or Fort Hood, or... well, anyway, it's not difficult to understand the anger. Maybe Muslims worldwide have some valid reasons to be angry with America, too, such as a sense that we are polluting their culture with images they find pornographic. Either way, it's got nothing to do with racism.

What they are calling an "Iron Cross" is properly called a cross formée or cross pattée. There are two of them on the sidebar here, one red and one white. It's a traditional piece of Christian heraldry, much older than and quite apart from any use by Germans, quite apart from any use by bikers (such as myself) or surfers. The Pope wears them on his sash. Others have other heraldic reasons for using them.

So what about the Thor's Hammer? You know, we talk about Vikings all the time around here. In the last week, I've had a post about the Viking ship sailing across the Atlantic and another about Wagner's Ring. Others inspired by such things include noted Roman Catholic J. R. R. Tolkien -- if you read the Silmarillion, note the character of Tulkas the Valiant. There's a very popular television show right now about Vikings. Interest in such things has been intense since about the middle of the 19th century, and for good reasons. The sagas and poetics have proven tremendously inspiring, and they are even today a continuing source of high art. That it may appeal more to people who have a sense of kinship with the Vikings is no more racist than the fact that Beijing opera appeals mostly to Han Chinese. Beijing opera has a kind of universal appeal -- witness Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, or for that matter Xena, Warrior Princess -- but it also has a cultural context that makes it more resonant for those within that culture. That's not shocking.

False positives are not helpful. Let's not magnify the perils of racism in our imagination, but rather fight it forthrightly where it unambiguously exists.

Good news in food

Maggie's Farm linked to a guide for the neurotic food buyer. I found this part cheering:
Potatoes are Republican. There’s a possibility your potatoes were grown using Koch Advanced Nitrogen fertilizer. Yes, that’s Koch as in Koch Brothers, the family that has used its $82 billion fortune to finance free-market principles that are diametrically opposed to ideas like Fair Food certification.
What to buy: In 2010, the Wichita Eagle called Koch Industries the third-largest nitrogen-fertilizer company in the world. Considering how much fertilizer is required to grow not only potatoes but also corn feed for chickens, pigs, and cows, cutting Koch fertilizer out of your diet would be a challenge. You can try boycotting products like Dixie, Brawny, and Angel Soft, but there is really no effective way to avoid contributing to a new libertarian world order.

Rev. 3:16

Cox emphasized that Bikers for Trump weren’t looking for trouble at the convention. “Veterans are the backbone of the biker community,” Cox continued. “We are patriots and unlike Black Lives Matter and the other leftist idiots, we love our cops. You won’t find one biker in Cleveland jumping on cars, lighting fires, or doing any of the other stupid things we’ve gotten used to seeing on TV the last few months.”
The police are having a difficult moment right now. I have a lot of concerns about the way we train police, and the way we equip them, and the way we deploy them. However, my intent in fielding these criticisms is to come to a place in which we have a better civilization. Police and other citizens aren't natural enemies, and it's strange in a way that we've gotten to this place. In another way, it's not so strange: it serves the interest of powers on both sides.

Nevertheless, I find Chris Cox's reaction puzzling. It's true that Vets are the backbone of the biker community. It's also true that lots of cops are also Vets. It is generally true that bikers are very strong patriots. It does not therefore follow that bikers love cops. A few bikers aren't just outlaws, they're criminals who have reason to fear the police. Among those who are outlaws in the sense of "Outlaw Country," police are often used to harass and extract money from them at gunpoint. Cops are often deployed against them by some of those powerful interests, and the police go along with it. It is, after all, their job to work for the bosses elected over them. In a corrupt system, and many of our localities are quite corrupt, the orders of the bosses are often bad. A friend of mine who was a long-time Chicago cop used to say that, in his opinion, the police were just the best-armed gang in that city given that the government itself was just another, bigger racket.

Even understanding the difficulty of the moment, I can't help but notice how strong the reactions have been. Cox isn't alone in overstating the case in spite of obvious counterexamples. The other day Nick Palmisciano of Ranger Up posted a criticism of two individual police officers -- the two from the Baton Rouge video. It was based on his experience as a military officer, and was both heartfelt and honest -- as well as detailed. I think it's been erased since then.

No wonder it has been. There's been a furious reaction against him by police. This is a guy who has a whole section of his store devoted to pro-police "Blue Line" merchandise. Nick Palmisciano really does love his cops. In spite of that, his criticizing one event featuring two individuals is being taken as proof of something akin to treason.

Nick will forgive them, if he hasn't already. Sometimes we'd see things like this during the heat of the Iraq war, when a bad call by a unit would lead to international headlines. We'd do our best to hold our own accountable, while trying not to lose it with those who were assuming the worst of all fighting men and preaching that the military was an evil bunch of baby-killers. So I get it. I do. I think a citizen has to take these issues seriously and deploy honest criticism, but I'm not insensitive to the pain the police must be feeling in the wake of Dallas.

Rolling Music

That's Whitey Morgan and the '78s doing a Dale Watson tune called "Where Do You Want It?", if you don't recognize it. The 'Billy Joe' is Billy Joe Shaver, who was a friend of his. It's apparently based on a true story.

DNC Host: Trump Right on Trade

That's... surprising. Not that he agrees with Trump, as Trump is to the left of Clinton on this issue (as on foreign policy). Just that he would say it out loud right now.

"We've Seen That Movie Already..."

"... In fact, Hillary Clinton produced that movie."

How Different Are The Male and Female Experiences of the World?

Take something very basic to the human experience -- pain. The ancients thought that pain and pleasure were the two biggest problems for ethics. To experience pleasure, or to avoid pain, human beings will often do terrible things. For the Epicureans, ethics was all about moderation because it provided the greatest pleasure and the least consequent pain (think of enjoying wine without the hangover; only perhaps you don't need the wine, either). For the hedonists, enjoying life as much as possible while experiencing the least pain was the whole purpose of ethics. Modern utilitarians explain things in roughly the same way, albeit with collective pleasure and pain as the measure.

So what if the experience men call "pain" and the one women call "pain" aren't actually the same thing at all? There's some evidence from lab rats that this might be true.
A growing body of evidence—including a 2012 analysis of 11,000 patient records—indicates that women are more sensitive to pain. In fact, they may be hardwired to feel pain differently. Last year, Magil and a plethora of co-authors published a study showing that female lab mice actually used different cells to transmit pain signals through their spinal cord. And while no one has confirmed that this is also the case in human females (paging the ethics committee…), Magil says evidence in animals is both compelling and growing stronger.
As the article says, it may not be true that humans differ in this way just because mice do. Considering the possibility, however, raises some really big epistemological and metaphysical questions. Maybe some ethical ones too, especially for the utilitarians.

Well, that's one more reason not to be a utilitarian -- a matter already over-determined, in my book.

OODA Loop Beats AK

A concealed carrier takes down a rifleman.

We often hear this can't be done. Of course it can be done. It just can't always be done. If the guy walks in with his rifle and lights you up first thing, you aren't going to have a chance to do anything. But if he's there for something else, and you're careful not to be observed bringing your own weapon to bear, you have the advantage provided that you can hit your target. He's going to have to observe you, orient to what he's observing, and decide to shoot you before he can do it. If you're decisive, it's possible.

Wagner, Love, and the Loss of God

A piece in Prospect tries to untangle the lessons of the story:
So Wagner has a reply to Feuerbach, and to Feuerbach’s other great disciple, Karl Marx, namely: stop looking to politics for your salvation. But stop expecting from love anything more than it demands: which is sacrifice. It is a harsh moral, but a true one.
The piece is worth reading.

Matter and Intelligence

A new study suggests fat people have less grey and white matter in a significant network of their brains -- though not in the brain overall -- than people who are not fat. The article suggests this means that they are less "intelligent" when it comes to making good food choices.

I'm not buying it, if only because the measure they used was BMI. Someone who has a high BMI because they are a weightlifter is all about smart food choices. It takes considerable attention to ensure you get enough protein to maintain large muscles. The suggestion that BMI correlates with weakened self-control over food choices isn't adequate. (I doubt that they really used only BMI, anyway. If they wanted to study 'fat people,' they doubtless used an informal visual evaluation to determine which high-BMI candidates to include.)

Nor am I ready to buy off on the claim that we know exactly what part of the brain always and everywhere handles this or that function of the mind.

However, a follow-on study might be interesting if the study were done over a period of years, especially tracking thin people of whom some became obese. I'd be interested to know if the weakening of this sector proceeded or followed the increase in weight.

It Does Sound Like She's Trying Out for the Supreme Court

Loretta Lynch, prosecutor, won't say that you've broken the law by speeding.
"I've got a question for you," said Collins. "Driving down the road, speed limit says 55, I'm doing 65. Have I broke the law?"

"You would have to ask the Highway Patrol," Lynch answered, as the chamber erupted in snickers. "He would likely write you a ticket," she added helpfully.

The dumbfounded Collins exclaimed, "I went to a small law school. We were taught the law!" He noted that he wasn't so sure about Harvard (Lynch's alma mater) though.

He repeated his question, "Did you break the law or not — 65 in a 55? My dad was a state trooper..."

"As I said before, you would get a ticket for that," Lynch answered.

"So you broke the law!" Collins exclaimed.

"You would be cited for that," Lynch offered. "That would be considered an offense."
This isn't the ordinary perspective of a prosecutor, who would stand up before a jury and tell them that they have proven a breach of the law if they have proven that you were going 65 in a 55. It's the perspective of a judge, even a Justice: until a court has issued its ruling, there is no fact of the matter about whether or not you are guilty of violating the law.

Indeed, from this perspective, until the black robed Olympians have ruled, we cannot know what the law says -- or whether there is a law at all. The "real" law isn't the text passed by some legislature, but the set of precedents that fill out just how the law will actually be applied. Too, if the Supreme Court should rule that the law is void for some reason, the mere fact that some legislature and executive passed and signed a law means nothing whatsoever. No law has been broken if there was never a law to start with.

I think we know what Bill Clinton promised her on that plane.

UPDATE: FBI agents interviewed anonymously report that they believe there was a deal struck on that plane.

Well, probably there isn't anyone who doesn't believe it deep down. There are just some who feel obligated to deny it to soothe their own consciences about what they're going to do in November.

...And Replace Them With What?

A Chicago BLM activist names Jessica Disu calls for the police to be -- well, she isn't very clear about what she wants. She says she wants them "demilitarized," "disarmed," and "abolished." From my perspective, that's three options rather than one. FOX News took her to be insisting on abolishing the police outright, but one could merely demilitarize or merely disarm them. One of those solutions isn't terribly radical -- I've been advocating for years that the police be armed like citizens, rather than like a branch of the military or some other specialized force. The other two are more radical.

The problem is that, asked the inevitable question, she didn't have a clear answer. That's too bad, and it might be worth trying to find out if there's a better answer forthcoming on reflection.

I think that for maybe 90% of the country -- by land mass, not by population -- we really could shift to the model of having the police work like fire departments rather than operating as patrols. Especially given the prevalence of cell phones now, it's almost always going to be the case that you could call for help if you needed it. I think this would have a very positive effect on police/citizen relations, as I have written a couple of times lately. It's very close to how policing works where I live now, and would probably work fine for most parts of America where the population is not deeply dense and crime rates are quite low.

However, Ms. Disu is talking about the least plausible places for that model. Most of America continues to enjoy historic lows in violent crime. That is not true for certain parts of several cities, where there has been a sharp uptick in crime of late. These are all poor, densely-populated urban areas with criminal gangs and drug violence. There is a plausible argument that police withdrawal from these communities, out of fear of sparking a BLM protest, is what is behind these upticks in violence. It doesn't seem like fewer police patrols is helping these areas.

So this is the real question: is it possible to replace the police in these areas with some sort of community action? Like a local citizen militia, say? Or is the answer going to be a more robust police enforcement -- say of Project Exile laws that would raise the costs of criminals carrying guns high enough that they'd stop doing it?

Or why not both? You could organize local militias like volunteer fire departments, to operate with the professional fire-deparment-like police in most of the country. As with volunteer fire departments, the government would support the volunteers by helping to fund training exercises and limited facilities. In the urban areas, whether a militia's citizens' arrest or a peace officer's arrest was at work, the Feds would back them up by actually enforcing these robust Federal laws against felons and drug gang members who carry firearms.

It seems as if we could get this under control, while also improving citizen/police relations.


I have been experimenting with subsidiarity lately: the devolution of organized political control to the smallest possible local level. I think I mentioned before that I joined the board of something called an "improvement district," which is a tax-funded state-sanctioned governmental entity that resembles a utility district on steroids. It covers a development, or perhaps several developments in a relatively small area, and is responsible not only for utilities but other public amenities such as (in my case) canals, piers, and bulkheads. The development that this district is currently responsible for (the others not yet having got going) has only a few homeowners so far. As soon as possible, when there are enough homeowners, they should run for spots on the board. For now, though, the developers essentially appoint board members.

On this small peninsula, there are a handful of companies supplying water--generally well water with an associated RO treatment plant, because our well water is brackish and pretty awful--but only one entity supplies the wastewater treatment, under contract with all the others. That entity is itself a government district, in this case an ordinary municipal utility district. Recently we had some heavy rains, which predictably infiltrated the MUD's leaky sewer lines. At the same time, a building contractor on my own district's property apparently used an insufficient sewer plug to protect an open sewer line at one of the building sites, and the extra pressure from the heavy rain blew it out, causing even more freshwater intrusion in the sewer lines. The wastewater plant shut down operations only for a few hours, but cut my district off from sewer services for months while we all argued about how big a check the contractor's insurance company should write for the damage that could be attributed to the sewer plug. (We paid a honey-dipper to truck out the relatively small amount of sewage from the few current residents.) Do our state utility laws and the wastewater service contract permit the MUD to cut off our sewer services for financial leverage, after it's clear there no longer is a safety/operations issue? I'd say no, but my district's counsel is not what you would call aggressive, or even energetic; they're terrific at complying with the open-meetings rules and shepherding us through bond offerings and tax issues, but not so inclined to jump into contract negotiations or litigation. All I know is, before the MUD gets another chance to deny us service for financial leverage, I'd like to have other options, especially when we have enough residents that honey-dipping is hardly practical. Our contract, however, appears to obligate us not only to stay with the MUD for our wastewater treatment, but even to finance a significant part of a scheduled upgrade and expansion of the current rather old and tattered plant. So for the next few years, we'll probably be looking for opportunities to renegotiate the contract's requirements and freedoms. It turns out not to be all that expensive or time-consuming to get an independent permit or build and operate an independent wastewater treatment plant, and it's something I'd love to learn about. It will irritate the MUD, though, and will be politically touchy. And of course it may never happen; we may mend all the fences and/or simply find the contract requires us to grin and bear it.

Sorting through all this stuff, which had a 10-year complicated history before I got involved, has proved engrossing. I attend not only my district's meetings, but increasingly the public meetings of other entities, such as the MUD, the County Commissioners Court, and a proposed new Groundwater Commission. While the infrastructure issues I have to get up to speed on are wildly interesting, I probably never will learn to like attending a lot of meetings regularly every month. I do it because I feel the only way to keep distant government at bay is to have strong local government that doesn't flub matters and leave a public mess. It turns out, though, that there are almost limitless meetings of this kind. As it is, I don't attend monthly meetings of the fire department or the Republican Party, let alone multi-county regional meetings addressing things like the groundwater situation. I've never attended a state political convention or an annual Diocesan meeting. It could eat up your whole life, going to these things: not the best choice for an introvert.

Gowdy Buys Lynch's Defense

He sounds very argumentative, except at one moment where he agrees that he 'understands that' it is important to protect the confidentiality of Lynch's team.

Her argument is that it's very important that these decisions not be touched by politics. That is to say, in this case, that it is important that they not have to explain themselves to the American people. This is being presented as an interest in justice: that it is important to justice itself that these decisions not only be made out of the public square, but that the explanation for the decisions never be revealed to the public at all.

And that's the part that Gowdy buys.

Trump Has A Point Here

Bernie Sanders' endorsement of Hillary Clinton doesn't make any sense. It is like Occupy endorsing Wall Street.

The Clintons' actual word is worthless, but they do carry out their threats and fulfill at least those promises for which they were paid large sums of money. I suppose some combination of threats and promises must have carried the day.

Republicans Adopt Very Pro-Israel Platform Plank

You can read it here. I certainly do support Israel, for a number of reasons, but I have some questions about this plank.

Of greatest interest to me is the commitment to help Israel maintain a qualitatively superior military force. Barack Obama has been fueling both sides of an arms race in the Middle East. On the one hand he has guttied provisions that restrained Iran's development of ballistic missile technology, while allowing them to purchase upgraded missiles from Russia, and heavy weapons from China and elsewhere. He's also provided them with a vast windfall from the end of sanctions, cutting free tons of money that Iran is now using in large part for military upgrades (and support to its network of proxy fighters like Hezbollah). On the other hand, he has been trying to buy support for this Iran policy from Sunni states by selling them advanced American weapons in much larger quantities than ever before.

Thus, maintaining a "qualitatively superior military" in Israel has gotten a lot harder. A cynical man might see this plank as a gift to the 'military-industrial complex' of which we've heard so much. Even a non-cynical man who is a true friend to Israel might wonder about what exactly this entails, given that we are already in back of a major escalation in the Middle East's arms race. Are we going to cut sales to other nations? Can we re-impose sanctions on Iran in a meaningful way, given that the UN Security Council ruling is going to prevent most other countries from going along with it even if we try? Or -- should this plank become America's foreign policy -- are we just committing to pumping even more weapons and technologies into Israel to try to keep them ahead of the flood?

Not Getting It

The President fails to understand the shooting in Dallas, in two different and predictable ways.
The president met for nearly two hours with leaders of eight law enforcement groups Monday, informing them that he considered the killing of the five police officers in Dallas on Thursday “a hate crime” and that he would work actively to serve as an intermediary between minority activists and police.

“I’m your best hope,” Obama remarked at one point, according to the Fraternal Order of Police’s James O. Pasco, one of the meeting’s attendees.
Once more, it's all about him and his unique and pivotal role in human history. I'm reminded of his comments at the time of the financial crisis that he was the 'only one between the banks and the pitchforks.'

The far more dangerous misunderstanding is the idea that this was a "hate crime." This was not a crime in the ordinary sense of the word. It was an act of war. It was not a terrorist attack either, but a guerrilla attack that was consonant with most of the provisions of the Geneva Conventions -- especially if you include Protocol I, which the United States has not ratified, but which intends to clarify the status of guerrillas in the laws of war. The only questionable provision is the one requiring them to be under the command of a central authority: this group may have had a commanding officer among them, but it does not appear to have been part of a larger movement. Their status is therefore unclear pending the resolution of that question, and whether a 'central' authority can be derived from such a small group.

The reason this is important is not to say that the shootings were morally better or worse than a terrorist attack or a hate crime. That's a debatable question at best, and one that can be set aside completely at the moment. The reason that it's important is that the solution set is different. If it's a terrorist attack, you kill the terrorists. Terrorists are hostis humani generis. They target civilians, destroy the infrastructure on which life depends, and so forth. This attack waited until civilians dispersed, and targeted only armed agents of the state.

If it's a hate crime, you can be satisfied with merely arresting and prosecuting the hateful criminals. That sets a standard of what is acceptable within the community that will be persuasive, such that even those who are hateful will mostly be motivated by the fear of punishment not to commit such crimes.

A guerrilla swims in a sea of popular support, however. A guerrilla movement cannot exist without such a sea, as Mao pointed out. If you are dealing with a guerrilla movement, you need to address the underlying problems that are giving rise to the support for the killers.

It should be clear from the reaction nationwide that there is a sea for these fish to swim in. Likewise, the fact that "20 to 30" people brought rifles to the BLM protest suggests that there is a strong message being sent to the government that it has reached the limits of patience, and that armed force is the next option. I support such armed, peaceful protests. It's true that armed protesters can confuse police in the case of an actual attack. In that case, the police are justified in treating armed protesters as shooters until they prove themselves otherwise. But it is important that the government recognize that this willingness to take that kind of risk onto one's self is an indicator that political legitimacy has become strained. Legitimacy derives from consent of the governed. A polity that brings rifles to confront the government is still consenting to be governed: they are lawfully protesting and not shooting. But they are an important warning siren that the limits of consent have been reached, and the government should reform itself.

Ultimately I think it would make more sense for the armed protesters from the III% movement and the ones from the BLM movement to get together, and present a unified challenge to a government that has grown accustomed to exceeding its authority. A shift to a more consensual model of government would benefit all of us. There is a common flaw in the approach that gives rise to BLM -- that's "Bureau of Land Management" -- abuses out West, and the shift by localities into using police to generate revenue through the constant extraction of fines.

Nor have I any patience for the liberal/progressive tendency to sing songs of love for BLM -- that's "Black Lives Matter" -- while suggesting that they should definitely disarm themselves and pursue only fully peaceful and nonviolent resistance. If you really respect what they're doing, have the decency to recognize their right to arms. Free citizens don't submit to tyranny, nor are they under any moral obligation to endure it peacefully while begging for relief. Martin Luther King, Jr., was as successful as he was in part because he could point to the crazy radicals like Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X. 'Deal with my movement of Christians adhering to ordinary middle-class morality,' he did not even have to say, 'or, if you will not work with us, deal with the radicals your resistance to change creates.' If you really want to see change, rich white progressives, you should be glad to see this dynamic emerging. Your attempt to marry gun control to loud public signalling of your support for BLM sounds to me like an attempt to slip in submission to your own preferred moral scheme -- a centralized, powerful government with authority to regulate all aspects of American life, and with the sole claim to the legitimate use of force. If you really care about this as you claim to do, progressives, have the courage to dare a potentially revolutionary conflict.

Sometimes violence is a good thing. Violent resistance to overbearing authority gave us Magna Carta, the Declaration of Arbroath, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution and its Bill of Rights. None of those things would have existed without men taking up arms to fight for liberty against powerful authority. Political violence also often leads to bad results. You should recognize, however, that this particular moment is not a moment of crime, or hate, or terrorism. Those solutions aren't adequate or appropriate to this situation.

Haidt on Globalism v. Nationalism

He has the rare insight, for a member of his class, that the debate is not about why a healthy and sane globalism is being overtaken by a virulent nationalism. Rather, he says, we have to explain why globalism is attractive to anyone -- it cuts against several very normal moral senses.

It's a good piece, although as usual Haidt strikes me as wrong about some important aspects of things. Still, he is wrong with an open mind that is trying to grasp the other side's position. That's worth something.

Rather than tell you what I think is wrong, though, I'll leave the matter open in case you want to discuss it in the comments.

What'd They Need a Pilot For? They Found Canada Fine the First Time

Draken Harald Hårfagre, the Viking ship currently visiting the Americas, has been forced to withdraw from "the Tall Ships Challenge 2016," an event held on the Great Lakes. The reason is that Canada decided to slap them with a massive pilotage fee in spite of having promised them that they wouldn't.
The ship was invited to participate in the Tall Ships Challenge Great Lakes 2016 and entered the waters of St Lawrence and the Great Lakes with information from the Great Lakes Pilotage Authorities that a ship of the size and variety of Draken Harald Hårfagre would be excepted the requirement of pilotage. “…Foreign ships of less than 35 meters in overall length are not subject to compulsory pilotage in the Great Lakes Region”

The expedition relied on the information from the Pilotage Authorities and the possibility not to be a subject to compulsory pilotage. Unfortunately the project learned, when entering the St Lawrence Seaway, that the ship is required a pilot at all times while at sea with no possibility of reduction in cost. The cost for the pilotage, if the ship were to participate in the schedule for Tall Ships Challenge Great Lakes 2016, is well over 400 000 USD.

The fees are not within reason for a non profit sail training vessel, it blocks the opportunity for any foreign tall ship to enter the Great Lakes and visit the ports.
Indeed not, though I think there's a decimal point missing in that fee. It looks like the charge is going to be closer to four thousand dollars than four hundred thousand.

Still, that's silly given that this is a Viking ship conducting a nonprofit educational mission and not a commercial freighter. You'd think some good-spirited pilot would volunteer his time, and Canada would have the decency to waive the fees. The only thing more rapacious than a boatload of Viking warriors is a Canadian tax collector, I suppose.

"My Biggest Flaw? I Just Work Too Darned Hard."

The coverage of Hillary Clinton at Vox is shamefully in-the-tank, and never moreso than when Ezra Klein is writing it. He sounds like one of those too-clever job interviewees, except he's making the case for her getting the job instead of himself.

My favorite example remains his piece entitled, "Hillary Clinton Doesn't Trust You." It purports to be a criticism of Hillary Clinton for not trusting the voters, but it is really a criticism of the voters for not really meriting her trust. The idea is to immunize her for a real flaw by admitting the flaw's existence, but then casting it as a strength. You're supposed to come away with a new respect for her wisdom in not trusting the American people, and maybe even a sense of guilt for not being worthy of her.

Today, he has a longer and more in depth version of the same rhetorical trick. Why is it that people inside Hillary's circle describe her in such different terms, adoring and glorious, when the average person doesn't trust her? Once again, he admits the problem exists, and pretends that he is going to criticize her faults as a candidate. But the real answer? "Every single person brought up, in some way or another, the exact same quality they feel leads Clinton to excel in governance and struggle in campaigns.... Hillary Clinton, they said over and over again, listens."

Oh, yeah. That's why I don't trust her. Because she listens.

Or maybe, you know, it could be this.

Scots Wha Hae

A small poem on the occasion of the Highland Games.

"Lay the proud usurpers low,
Tyrants fall in every foe,
Liberty is in every blow,
Let us do or die!"

Was Off to the Wild

I spent the weekend in the Pisgah National Forest, and at the Grandfather Mountain Scottish Highland Games.

The Grandfather Games

Plenty of time for hiking and camping. If you get up early enough, you'll find yourself completely alone in the Linville Gorge. It is named after a Long Hunter who was killed by the Shawnee, along with his son. Those "Long" hunts for furs could go on for as much as a year, during which time you might amass quite a store of hides. Of course, this made you an ever-more tempting target.

Linville Gorge

Saw a black bear again this weekend, a charming young male who pause and stood up to look me in the eye before continuing on his way. No aggression at all, just curiosity. I also saw a double rainbow after an evening rainstorm, the first one I've ever seen that you could fully see both of the two bows from horizon to horizon. It was especially intense in its color.

They did "Britannia Rules the Waves" at the games, as well as all the military service songs. People who had served stood up while their service's song played. Turns out bagpipes can't play the Air Force song because it features "chromatics," whatever that means.

A bit of appropriate music for the Celtic Carolina homeland. This instrument is the Appalachian Dulcimer, a simplified version of a very old instrument -- and, in its hammered form, a much more capable one. You see the Appalachian form throughout Western North Carolina. You see the hammered form more rarely.

The national animal of Scotland, by the way, is the unicorn.

A Little Bit of Craig Morgan

I recently got the chance to see him live over the long 4th holiday.

Morgan spent nearly a decade on active duty with the 82nd and 101st, and another six in the reserves, before releasing his first country album in 2000. In the GWOT, he toured Iraq & Afghanistan with the USO.