No, No, Negative

The Johnsons were going to take custody of their grandson to keep him from going into foster care. When they went to pick up their grandson, William, a retired, disabled Marine with a Concealed Pistol License (CPL), was searched for a firearm. He was not carrying a firearm at the time. At that point, agency officials told the Johnsons that they would be required to provide all firearms’ serial numbers to the agency as part of a registry. When Johnson questioned agency workers, he was given a surprising response.

“If you want to care for your grandson you will have to give up some of your constitutional rights,” a MDHHS worker retorted.

When the Johnsons appeared before a Gogebic County Court judge, the judge reiterated the agency worker’s statement.

We know we are violating numerous constitutional rights here, but if you do not comply, we will remove the boy from your home,” the judge said.
There's a judge who needs to be removed from his bench and placed in a prison instead. Those "Family Service" workers should go with him. Conspiracy to violate any constitutional rights, let alone numerous ones, should be a Federal offense with serious prison time for any government official.

"Nudity Isn't Sexual"

I'm willing to grant the equality claim, but "Nudity isn't sexual"? What exactly would qualify as sexual, then?

There seems to be a lot of basic denial of reality going on these days.

The Simpsons on the Reformation

The Yellow Tape of Disapproval

In Canada, an object lesson in how to do things better has been taped off as 'unsafe' and will likely be demolished.
A Toronto man who spent $550 building a set of stairs in his community park says he has no regrets, despite the city’s insistence that he should have waited for a $65,000 city project to handle the problem. The city is now threatening to tear down the stairs because they were not built to regulation standards.

Retired mechanic Adi Astl says he took it upon himself to build the stairs after several neighbours fell down the steep path to a community garden in Tom Riley Park, in Etobicoke, Ont. Astl says his neighbours chipped in on the project, which only ended up costing $550 – a far cry from the $65,000-$150,000 price tag the city had estimated for the job....

Astl says he hired a homeless person to help him and built the eight steps in a matter of hours.
"Regulation standards" apparently means "we need to get paid bigtime."

Give a homeless guy a job, do the job at 1.3% of the minimum estimated cost, and all it gets you is your stairs torn down at taxpayer expense so they can build the expensive stairs they wanted. I guess he's lucky he's not being thrown in jail for interfering with an exercise of government power.

Different Types of Veterans



Language warning, as usual with the vet videos. That last one is a sympathetic character.

In the Senate, Disasters Follow Disasters

The Republicans' health care bill had few good points, but it would have broken us free from the idea that Democrats had to save Obamacare. Whatever problems it created could be fixed because we wouldn't have this great white elephant to protect.

The far better plan, to repeal and not replace Obamacare with anything whatsoever, died because of three Senators -- both Vox and Vice think it's very amusing that they're all women -- who simply refused to consider that an option. Every single Republican ran on repealing Obamacare, but when it comes time to do it, these three have decided that it can only be done if we have some other form of Federalized control of the market to offer instead.

If Republican Senators have internalized the idea that we must force coverage of pre-existing conditions at non-market rates, there's no possibility of a better solution on health care. We will have only worse solutions.

One Jane Orient, M.D., wants you to know that this is really just about control. The more the government controls your health care, the more it can force you to live the way it wants.

She's right.

In Britain, home of the highest rated health care service in the world -- rated, of course, by advocates of socialized medicine -- the NHS announced last September that it would deny routine surgery to the obese and smokers in "almost all cases." That plan was put on hold, but appears to be back this year.

Obesity is a pre-existing condition, isn't it? But there are shortages, you see, because everyone's entitled and there isn't enough to go around. Since the market can't be allowed to settle that -- pre-existing conditions shouldn't cost more! -- instead the solution will be rationing by government bureaucrats who judge your worth as a person based on how much they agree with your lifestyle and fitness choices.

These people aren't going to solve the problem that not all care can be afforded. They're just going to take control over who gets care. That will be used to punish, of course.

The Net Neutrality Campaign

I thought I might write about this, but Robert Tracinski has saved me the trouble.

Mozilla and a bunch of other internet-dependent companies like Netflix and Amazon have been campaigning to get the FCC to keep the "net neutrality" regulations implemented under Obama, warning that without it big companies may restrict "free speech" on the internet. (This from the company that burned Brendan Eich at the stake for having the "wrong" views on marriage.)

Wikipedia explains the basic claim of these companies:

Proponents of net neutrality, in particular those in favor of reclassification of broadband to "common carrier", have many concerns about the potential for discriminatory service on the part of providers such as Comcast. Common-carriage principles require network operators to serve the public regardless of geographical location, district income levels, or usage. Telecommunications companies are required to provide services, such as phone access, to all consumers on the premise that it is a necessity that should be available to all people equally. If the FCC's ability to regulate this aspect is removed, providers could cease to offer services to low income neighborhoods or rural environments. Those in favor of net neutrality often cite that the internet is now an educational necessity, and as such should not be doled out at the discrimination of private companies, whose profit-oriented models cause a conflict of interest.

Tracinski explains what he believes is the real conflict over "net neutrality":

... The Federal Communications Commission’s attempt to turn Internet service providers into regulated utilities ... was never about stopping them from controlling content. It’s actually about money. It’s about who pays for all of that bandwidth we’re using. To be more specific, it’s about trying to make certain unpopular companies (like Comcast) pay for it, so that other, more popular companies (like Netflix) don’t have to.

The signature case cited as the reason we need net neutrality was the accusation that several big service providers were slowing down people’s Netflix downloads. And you don’t mess with the Netflix download speeds of this nation’s cultural elite.

But if they did this, the ISPs didn’t do it to show their disapproval of “House of Cards.” The real issue was a dispute between Netflix’s service provider, Cogent, and bigger ISPs like Comcast and Verizon, whom Cogent accused of “refus[ing] to upgrade the equipment that handles ISP traffic across the country.” Translation: everyone suddenly wanting to download all their television viewing off the Internet means the ISPs need to spend a lot of money on upgrades, and the big ISPs were asking Cogent and Netflix to foot part of the bill. This is a dispute over who should bear the cost of the Web’s considerable infrastructure, and net neutrality was the government coming in to put a thumb on the scales and dictate the winners and losers.

NYT: Germany's Newest Intellectual Anti-Hero

According to Christopher Caldwell in the New York Times, Rolf Peter Sieferle was a highly respected German historian before his death last September. After his death, a collection of his observations on Germany called "Finis Germania" was published and he seems to have become a pariah in intellectual circles. However, his book has become a best-seller in Germany.

Sieferle sounds like an interesting man:

A socialist in his youth like most German intellectuals of the 1968 generation, Mr. Sieferle was drifting out of sync with that tradition by the 1990s. He came increasingly to aim his sarcasm at naïve idealists. At the height of Germany’s refugee crisis two summers ago, he wrote, “A society that can no longer distinguish between itself and the forces that would dissolve it is living morally beyond its means.” The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung described him as “embittered, humorless, ever more isolated.” 
... 
On the other hand, “Finis Germaniae” (“the end of Germany”) is a familiar and resonant phrase. (Why Mr. Sieferle chose to drop the final “e” in his title has been much discussed.) The phrase captures a fear, or paranoia, about national decline that has been widespread in German history — and explains much about that history. Prosperous though Germany is, one can see reasons such fears might be reviving. Germany is senescent, with a median age of about 46. It is helping construct a European Union meant to supplant the German government in many of its traditional competencies. Germans appear to want to disappear. This, in fact, is the thesis that drives Mr. Sieferle’s passionate book on migration. 
... 
After World War II, the Allied occupiers, as Mr. Sieferle sees it, saddled Germans with a false idea of their own history — the idea that there was something premodern about Germany, a fundamental difference between it and the West. That may describe Russia, but not Germany, and Germany’s modernity is painful for Westerners to face. “If Germany belonged to the most progressive, civilized, cultivated countries,” he writes, “then ‘Auschwitz’ means that, at any moment, the human ‘progress’ of modernity can go into reverse.” 
Mr. Sieferle neither denies nor minimizes the Holocaust. ... But Mr. Sieferle is critical of Germany’s postwar culture of Holocaust memory, which he argues has taken on the traits of a religion. The country’s sins are held to be unique and absolute, beyond either redemption or comparison. “The First Commandment,” he writes, “is ‘Thou shalt have no Holocausts before me.’ ” Hitler, in retrospect, turns out to have done a paradoxical thing: He bound Germans and Jews together in a narrative for all time. In an otherwise relativistic and disenchanted world, Mr. Sieferle writes, Germans appear in this narrative as the absolute enemies of our common humanity, as a scapegoat people. The role is hereditary. There are Germans whose grandparents were not born when the war ended, yet they, too, must take on the role. 
... 
Mr. Sieferle’s is a complex argument. It is linked to his concern, in “Das Migrationsproblem,” with the challenges of mass migration. He believed that Germany’s self-demonization had left it unable to say anything but yes to a million or so migrants seeking entry to Europe in 2015 and that such a welcome was unsustainable. Whether he was right or wrong, this was a concern shared by many Germans, and not necessarily an idle expression of animus.

I am always wary of commenting on intellectual works from other cultures published in languages I can't read, so please take my comments as tentative.

First, I had not heard the idea that there was something premodern about Germany, but it would make sense that Progressives would claim that. But Germany was instrumental in shaping modernity; if anything, it has been one of the most modern of nations.

I think Japan, too, suffers from the way it handles the memory and history of WWII, and they, too, seem to have a desire to disappear. Japan and Germany both seem to have developed a sense that their nations have done uniquely evil things. However, that seems to be SOP for Progressives: I feel they want us to believe that about the US as well. I think it's part of destroying the soul of the nation so they can take over the body.

I think it would be healthy for both Germany and Japan to develop a new sense of patriotism. I can't say nationalism, because for both nationalism is tied to a "blood and soil" idea of the nation that I believe leads to racism. But a love and appreciation for all of the good things their nation has done would be a good thing, I think, along with a desire to see their nations continue. That's healthy, whereas ongoing, generations-long self-flagellation is not.

Snopes: The Lies of Donald Trump's Critics

Snopes has an article up examining the issue of anti-Trump lies headlined "The Lies of Donald Trump, and How They Shape His Many Personas: An in-depth analysis of the false allegations and misleading claims made against the 45th president since his inauguration."

The article begins:

Broadly speaking, most of the falsehoods levelled against Trump fall into one or more of four categories, each of them drawing from and feeding into four public personas inhabited by the President.
They are:
  • Donald Trump: International Embarrassment
  • Trump the Tyrant
  • Donald Trump: Bully baby
  • Trump the Buffoon.

Some of these claims are downright fake, entirely fabricated by unreliable or dubious web sites and presented as satire, or otherwise blatantly false. But the rest — some of which have gained significant traction and credibility from otherwise serious people and organizations — provide a fascinating insight into the tactics and preoccupations of the broad anti-Trump movement known as “the Resistance,” whether they were created by critics of the President or merely shared by them.
Generally speaking, we discovered that they are characterized and driven by four types of errors of thought:
  • Alarmism
  • A lack of historical context or awareness
  • Cherry-picking of evidence (especially visual evidence)
  • A failure to adhere to Occam’s Razor — the common-sense understanding that the simplest explanation for an event or behavior is the most likely.

Infused throughout almost all these claims, behind their successful dissemination, is confirmation bias: the fuel that drives the spread of all propaganda and false or misleading claims among otherwise sensible and skeptical people. Confirmation bias is the tendency to look for, find, remember and share information that confirms the beliefs we already have, and the tendency to dismiss, ignore and forget information that contradicts those beliefs. It is one of the keys to why clever people, on all sides of every disagreement, sometimes believe stupid things that aren’t true.

The analysis is organized by the four "personas" Trump's enemies have created for him and seems good to me.

You Don't Say

Headline, Washington Post: "A ‘very credible’ new study on Seattle’s $15 minimum wage has bad news for liberals."

Time for "Acid Control"

The British decided to ban guns, so people began stabbing each other. So the British decided to ban knives. Now, people are carrying around acid and throwing it in each other's faces.
The reason acid has become such a popular weapon is because it’s easier to carry than a knife — which has a higher chance of being found by law enforcement — and it’s cheap and accessible.

Last month one London acid attack victim told VICE News: “These scars are not going to disappear. I’m going to have to live with what those two individuals done, whenever I look in the mirror. Whenever I have a happy moment in my life, it’s going to be sort of scarred.”
The 'control' model doesn't get rid of the real source of the evil. It just makes evil look for another tool.

"Safe"

What exactly does it mean for a 'man to be safe'? Is that really something a man ought to be?

Cf. this old post on the virtue of at least older men being dangerous.

The author never defines her terms, although in the last usage she specifies that she doesn't feel "emotionally safe" with sons who take offense at the way she talks and writes about them. I presume she does feel physically safe with her children, even though she has offended them. If you can offend someone and embarrass them publicly and still be physically safe with them, that's pretty safe. I'm not sure it's plausible to suggest that even a son, let alone a "man" of any other sort, has a duty to protect your emotions -- especially not while they feel like you are mistreating them. That quality is known as "standing up for one's self," and it used to be thought a quality worthy of a man.

Indeed many years ago, I read a book called Iron John that interpreted an old Germanic myth as a set of lessons on how to become a man. One part of that book that struck me as funny was a part where Iron John has to steal a key from his mother in order to attain manhood. I thought it was odd because stealing is wrong, and how could it be a necessary part of attaining manhood to engage in something like theft? But over time I came to see what the author meant: to become a man and not a boy, it is necessary to take back something that your mother has long regarded as properly her own, an authority she has laid claim to and exercised for a long time for what she believes is your own good. The boy, as a youth becoming a man, has to lay claim to that whether she likes it or not. He has to take the key, and if she will not give it, then he must steal it or rob her of it. But it turns out that this is not wrong, because the key is his by right. She has held it in trust, and sometimes some mothers will try to hold it too long.

To claim the young men are not safe because they stole the key is to fail to understand. It is to fail to understand that they had the right, and it is to fail to understand that 'safe' is not what men are meant to be. Men, like ships, are meant for something else.


UPDATE: Valerie's comment reminded me of a thing I'd seen recently. To ask if men should be safe implies asking if women should be. I doubt that anyone has ever suggested it, not in the same sense of "safe." Indeed, there are many who value women in part because they are dangerous.

The Regulatory Instinct

Hunters attained a small victory in avoiding having sound-boosting aids classified as medical devices and made prescription-only.
The Democrats’ pieces of legislation would force hearing amplifying devices created for hunters or recreational bird watchers, for example, to be regulated by the federal government, so sound amplification products (PSAP) for recreational purposes would have to be regulated like present medically prescribed hearing devices.
Understand that what these things are is nothing more than a microphone, a set of protective earmuffs, and a speaker wired to the microphone through a rheostat that allows you to boost sound to levels you find helpful. The headset typically already controls maximum volume because these things double as hearing protection for hunters. Thus, there's no danger of hearing loss -- certainly less from a stereo system for music. The high-decibel gunshot will be tamped down to the same levels as everything else.

There is no reason why the government or any doctor needs to be in between you and your ability to buy any of this technology. It's just part of that impulse to regulate everything we do.

There's way too much of this that goes on. People with sleep apnea have to pay thousands of dollars to get a diagnosis so that they can buy breathing machines that are nothing more than a plastic tube/mask assembly, a fan, a filter, and a control board. In the old days you might have built one out of parts from Radio Shack plus a medical supply store. Now it's Rx-only, which means it's expensive and unavailable to many who could benefit from it.

And then we hear that "health care is too expensive!", so we need -- of course -- more government regulation!

No more of this nonsense.

"If P Then Q" does not imply "If Not P Then Not Q"

Just because bad politics can drive you to drink does not mean that you can fix politics by stopping the drinking.
Over 73 percent of Democrats would give up alcohol for the rest of their life if it meant President Trump would be impeached tomorrow, according to a survey released on Thursday by a drug and alcohol rehabilitation group.

Only 17 percent of Republicans would give up alcohol for Trump’s impeachment. The poll also found that nearly 31 percent of Republicans would give up drinking if it meant the media stopped writing negative things about President Trump.
Sorry. You can give up drinking if you want, and it might improve your health outcomes -- or it might not. But it's not going to do anything to change your political environment.

UPDATE: By the way, if you're trying to understand health outcomes from drinking, this article is quite helpful.
So at what level does alcohol consumption become equally as dangerous as alcohol abstinence? It appears that the cut off point is somewhere between 20 and 40 US standard drinks per week. We will split the difference and say that it probably lies at around 30 US standard drinks (420 grams of ethanol) per week, a far cry from the puritanical US government limits of 7 for women and 14 for men. Current government limits may have far more to do with the politics of the addiction treatment lobby than any relation to scientific evidence.
That recommendation happens to line up with an earlier study out of Australia, which occasioned a poem.

Opioids and the Government

Even Vox has noticed -- those opioids are coming from the government's plans.

We've talked about this before. The Federal Government could largely end the opioid crisis by refusing to continue paying for it.

I'm Sure This Will Work Out Great

When we talk about morality, we talk about reason, about the experience of pleasure or pain, and about the virtues. People who make robots appear to think that that morality comes down to a combination of culture and guilt.
Rosa views AI as a child, a blank slate onto which basic values can be inscribed, and which will, in time, be able to apply those principles in unforeseen scenarios. The logic is sound. Humans acquire an intuitive sense of what’s ethically acceptable by watching how others behave (albeit with the danger that we may learn bad behaviour when presented with the wrong role models).

GoodAI polices the acquisition of values by providing a digital mentor, and then slowly ramps up the complexity of situations in which the AI must make decisions. Parents don’t just let their children wander into a road, Rosa argues. Instead they introduce them to traffic slowly. “In the same way we expose the AI to increasingly complex environments where it can build upon previously learned knowledge and receive feedback from our team.”...

To help robots and their creators navigate such questions on the battlefield, Arkin has been working on a model that differs from that of GoodAI. The “ethical adapter”, as it’s known, seeks to simulate human emotions, rather than emulate human behaviour, in order to help robots to learn from their mistakes. His system allows a robot to experience something similar to human guilt. “Guilt is a mechanism that discourages us from repeating a particular behaviour,” he explains. It is, therefore, a useful learning tool, not only in humans, but also in robots.

“Imagine an agent is in the field and conducts a battle damage assessment both before and after firing a weapon,” explains Arkin. “If the battle damage has been exceeded by a significant proportion, the agent experiences something analogous to guilt.” The sense of guilt increases each time, for example, there’s more collateral damage than was expected. “At a certain threshold the agent will stop using a particular weapon system. Then, beyond that, it will stop using weapons systems altogether.”
I'm sure you'll have a lot of success getting that military contract you're after with a robot that will teach itself to stop using its weapons systems in the middle of combat.

There seems to be a complete lack of awareness that morality isn't just what you're taught, plus what you feel. The closest thing they get to admitting that moral principles exist is to run them down as a source of moral norms, because they don't change with the culture. Moral relativity isn't just the assumption, it's assumed to be morally good.

If that's true, of course, then there's at least one thing that is good in and of itself. What makes it good? When you AI makers start to grapple with that question, you'll begin to figure out why the games you're playing are not adequate.

David Brooks Gets One Right

...and in the process, of course, he comes in for ruthless mockery from those who want to defend the barriers he is trying to break down.

Taken out of context, his remarks about the discomfort of a high-school-educated friend with European sandwiches sound pretentious. But in context, it should be obvious that he's trying to solve the problem represented by this kind of pretentiousness. He's trying to open a road for ordinary Americans to cross those social barriers. I quote at length to give that context.
I was braced by Reeves’s book, but after speaking with him a few times about it, I’ve come to think the structural barriers he emphasizes are less important than the informal social barriers that segregate the lower 80 percent.

Recently I took a friend with only a high school degree to lunch. Insensitively, I led her into a gourmet sandwich shop. Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named “Padrino” and “Pomodoro” and ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican.

American upper-middle-class culture (where the opportunities are) is now laced with cultural signifiers that are completely illegible unless you happen to have grown up in this class. They play on the normal human fear of humiliation and exclusion. Their chief message is, “You are not welcome here.” ...

To feel at home in opportunity-rich areas, you’ve got to understand the right barre techniques, sport the right baby carrier, have the right podcast, food truck, tea, wine and Pilates tastes, not to mention possess the right attitudes about David Foster Wallace, child-rearing, gender norms and intersectionality....

Status rules are partly about collusion, about attracting educated people to your circle, tightening the bonds between you and erecting shields against everybody else. We in the educated class have created barriers to mobility that are more devastating for being invisible.
That's all correct. This comes after the earlier parts of the column on breaking down regulatory burdens in zoning laws (to make it easier for poorer Americans to live in better school districts), and on breaking down barriers in higher education that make it harder for poorer Americans to attain success there. Normally, when a left-leaning guy like Brooks calls attention to a problem, it's to propose a government program. Here, he's gone as far as suggesting the heresy of stripping layers of government away.

He's also right that many Americans -- I think of my father, who was college educated in East Tennessee -- would be totally uncomfortable in that restaurant, and would find the offer to go for Mexican a huge relief. And yet Mexican food is just as loaded with foreign terminology as French or Italian food. The word "capicollo" is no more impenetrable than the word "chimichanga." The point isn't that folks are xenophobic or incapable of appreciating foreign foods.

The point is about raising barriers designed to keep ordinary people out. Once the ordinary guy learns to order a "croque-monsieur" instead of a "grilled ham and cheese sandwich," they'll change the game and start offering only something else. And you'll learn about this code change if you listen to all the right radio programs on NPR, or the right podcasts, or have the right social groups to walk you through them. The barrier stays up, and the unwelcome remain not welcome.

I Have Read That This Works Wonders

Saying the strategy was certain to attract the most eligible men of the highest repute, relationship experts recommended Friday that single women frustrated with their current romantic options try bathing in an open stream until the ideal suitor glimpses them through the trees.... [P]rofessional dating coach Priscilla Adams [added] that women should choose a location with a small waterfall cascading lightly into a natural bathing pool, where a man out riding his horse or returning from a distant war might catch sight of them from the stream’s wooded banks.

Will Trump Kill the Bourbon Boom?


If President Trump follows through on his threat to impose tariffs on steel imports, expect to see an immediate response from the European Union — including retaliatory tariffs on, of all things, bourbon. 
... 
Still, why bourbon? Trade officials aren’t stupid; when they retaliate, they hit where it hurts — which is not always obvious. 
Consider a recent trade battle between the United States and the European Union. In 2009 Washington imposed a 300 percent tariff on Roquefort cheese to force Brussels to lift a ban on American beef. Roquefort cheese may not be a strategic European industry, but it’s the lifeblood of many French villages, and the tariff was among the reasons the union eased the ban. 
Kentucky and Tennessee face similar financial burdens if trade talks go south and countries target American distilled spirits. Thanks to the $1 billion in spirits that America now exports, over the next six years Kentucky distilleries will invest more than $1 billion in expansions and new facilities.
... 
It’s not just about tariffs. When you’re selling “America” abroad, you need deals in place to make sure no one else is copying the brand. But absent trade agreements, other countries are free to sell their own versions of American products. Like Champagne and cognac, bourbon’s name protection relies largely on trade deals that set standards and definitions; without them, foreign distillers are surely tempted to slap “bourbon” on anything they want.
Clearly, Trump is a threat to the republic that must be taken seriously. (Yes, sarcasm.)

This article is interesting because it highlights some of the intricacies of international trade today. On the other hand, there is a faint whiff of "Trump supporters are voting against their own interests" here as well, though maybe not. The author is Fred Minnick, author of “Bourbon: The Rise, Fall, and Rebirth of an American Whiskey,” so its in his wheelhouse, I suppose.

In Praise of Sir Gawain


An Arthurian discussion.

Chief Justice Roberts: I Wish You Injustice

And just to make sure we got his wish, he rewrote Obamacare to save it -- twice!

Oh, maybe that isn't what he meant.
"Now, the commencement speakers will typically also wish you good luck and extend good wishes to you," Roberts said. "I will not do that, and I’ll tell you why. From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice. I hope that you will suffer betrayal because that will teach you the importance of loyalty."
Well, wish fulfilled, either way.

Hardship can build virtue, but it doesn't necessarily do so. Suffering injustice might make you more likely to value justice, or it might make you more likely to decide that a rigged game is meant to be cheated.

CNN: TRUMP RIPS MARINE'S HAT OFF AFTER ASSAULTING HIM



H/t: Vid.me.

The Righteous Judgment Of....

Richard Fernandez:
Within its bubble the Left's control of culture is so absolute they can watch 1984 without realizing it's about them....

The search is on for the regicide.

The only thing one can be sure of is that the Republican Party didn't cause it; nor did their tame and feeble publications. In fact, not even publications like Breitbart, valiant though their efforts were, can claim credit. Trump couldn't have done it either, since the proud tower that Gerlenter describes would have been impervious to the mere touch of the orange-hued real estate mogul without some other factor in play.

Yet most of us know who did it, though we hesitate to name the obvious suspect. The Left, even in its downfall, has stilled our tongues. The word comes to the edge of our lips before we choke it back, fearful even now of the ridicule and abuse we will get should we blurt it. That word is God. God killed the Left. Of course one could legitimately use some other term. "Reality," "consequences," the "laws of nature," "economics," even "truth" will do.
Thesis, antithesis, synthesis. The thesis was "liberalism," by which I mean the classical liberalism that was America's founding. The antithesis was communism. The synthesis was what Walter Mead calls "the Blue Model," which dominated for so long as Fernandez notes.

But the synthesis is just a new thesis; a new antithesis arises. Even for the Marxist, Hegel is hiding in the background. There is never an end of history.

But it's really the next synthesis that we're looking for.

Dúnadan

"I thought you knew enough Elvish at least to know dún-adan: Man of the West, Númenórean."

― Bilbo Baggins
"The West" is hardly a new term in need of explanation. It applies to that part of civilization -- or, if you like, to that civilization --- which is philosophically rooted both in Athens and Jerusalem. Contra the author, 'race' has nothing to do with it. Aristotle would have considered the Germans and the Jews as much barbarians as he did the Celts; nor did the Jews of Jesus' day see any 'racial' kinship with Greeks or any of the others. However, the author is correct to suggest that religious heritage is important to the West. Much of the West may now be post-Christian, and not Jewish either, but even that part of the West owes an unfathomable debt to Jerusalem. Excluding India from the West is not a sneer at Hindus, but a recognition that they are simply not indebted in the same way.

I cannot believe that this term, constantly in use throughout my lifetime, is in need of explanation to audiences today. I must regard the attempt to redefine the term as hostile to the truth, a truth known (and well known) to everyone who will now be involved in the debate over the proper domain of "the West." Much will be revealed by where one chooses to fall on the question of whether or not to redefine the term as a sort of racism or religious chauvinism.

One thing that Trump's team is certainly right about is that the West needs, and merits, a defense. I count myself among its defenders.

Linda Sarsour Would Like Your Attention to Her Full Remarks

I'm sure you've heard of Ms. Sarsour, if not before today than following her speech at the Islamic Society of North America. She would like you to watch the whole thing before making up your mind about it. It's about 24 minutes long, if you're inclined to do so; follow the link above.

I've lately been revisiting my opinion of Ms. Sarsour's reputation. What I had always heard about her from right-wingers and reform-minded Muslims was that she was an American Islamist who hated Jews and Israel; and I would have gone on believing that if I hadn't lately read a profile of her from a left-wing site claiming that she is an unprincipled politician who has no grasp of Islamism (which they approve of, this group) and who loves Jews and Israel -- or at least is willing to play very nice with them in order to advance her political career in NYC.

That reminded me enough of Chesterton's approach to criticism of Jesus and Christianity -- 'Old bucks who are growing stout might consider him insufficiently filled out; old beaux who are growing thin might feel he expanded beyond the narrow lines of elegance' -- as to be inclined to give her a look and see where she really stands. This is the speech she wants to stand on, by her own remarks; see what you think of it.

Revel in the Smell of Cordite

After a pleasant evening of shooting off fireworks and other explosives -- the highlight of the evening was some for-entertainment-only mortars, which came complete with a cardboard launching tube -- it's nice to crack a beer and see everyone else enjoying themselves too.

Reuters:


The Associated Press:
As many in the United States celebrate the Fourth of July holiday, some minorities have mixed feelings about the revelry of fireworks and parades in an atmosphere of tension on several fronts.

How do you celebrate during what some people of color consider troubling times?
There are no good answers forthcoming, but there is some advice from U.S. News (and World Reports?) on how not to celebrate during what 'some people of color' consider troubling times.


Request denied. Enjoy your freedom.

Happy Independence Day



Remember what we celebrate.

This Guy

Czechs on Gun Rights in Europe

The EU is tightening restrictions. In return, the Czech Republic is considering adopting its own version of our Second Amendment.

Sideways

I rely on the Catholic Church to hold the moral center. On this occasion they've lost their way. That's a big problem: if they don't mark the center, how do others who have wandered find their way back?

The British are different from us, for reasons we remember this week. They are subjects of the Queen, and I suppose there is some sense in which subjects might be ordered to yield up their child's life on the orders of the state. Sure, they had the money to pursue their child's last hopes without anyone else being inconvenienced. But the state said the child should die, so the parents are subject to obedience. Pit and gallows, that sort of thing. All subjects are subject to being disposed of at the state's decision.

Should an American court issue a similar order on me, to command me to stand by while they killed a child of mine mauger my head, I would take it to be my duty to wage war upon them until I or they were stricken from the earth.

The Sea Queen



They reference Grace O'Malley, who was an impressive Irish leader around the time of Elizabeth I.

Gender-Blind

What happens if you put an obviously African-American name like "Jamal" on an application instead of a white-sounding name? Fewer job offers for Jamal: that study's been done many times.

What happens if you put a man's name on an application instead of a woman's?
The trial, which was an effort to push more women in senior position jobs, revealed that removing the gender from a candidate’s application does not help boost gender equality in hiring. The trial also revealed that adding a male name to a candidate’s application made them 3.2 percent less likely to get the job while adding a female name made it 2.9 percent more likely that the candidate would be hired....

“We anticipated this would have a positive impact on diversity — making it more likely that female candidates and those from ethnic minorities are selected for the shortlist,” said Professor Michael Hiscox, a Harvard academic. “We found the opposite, that de-identifying candidates reduced the likelihood of women being selected for the shortlist.”
It's as if hiring boards were under intense pressure to find qualified female candidates, and really wanted to do so whenever possible.

Travel Ban: Not that Different

Following a unanimous SCOTUS rejection of all the lower courts that had ruled on Trump's travel ban, the thing finally went into effect. The result?

Chaos!

Things were pretty much like always.
It’s not because the Trump administration implemented this ban perfectly — it made one important change to who’s banned and who isn’t right before the ban went into effect, and further changes could be on the way. But it was smooth enough to avoid a political uproar or a midnight courtroom fight.

In one respect, that’s a victory for the ban’s critics. But it’s also a serious challenge. The ban, as it’s instituted right now, folds neatly into the things in existing immigration law that often seem maddening, unjust, or discriminatory[.]
The thing is, deciding who of the endless millions of people who would like to come to America actually gets to come to America is necessarily an act of discrimination. You can't ban discrimination from discriminating.

Big Moves on Outer Space

Flanked by legendary astronauts including Buzz Aldrin, President Trump announced the reformation of the National Space Council. It is tasked with the pursuit of "grand ambitions," a mission very much in the Trump mindset.

Meanwhile, in Congress, a motion to split the Air Force in order to establish a Space Corps survived its first hearing.

Early stages, but these moves represent an attempt to restore a part of what "Made America Great" in the eyes of the earlier generation. Buzz Aldrin's father's generation dreamed up Buck Rogers: Aldrin himself went to the moon. The greatness of that has never been equaled, and so far, it has never been surpassed.

I don't know if I believe that Federal bureaucracies still have the capacity to do things that are Great in that capital-letter sense. Maybe not. But at least they're aiming in the right direction.

Beer for the Beer God

A rather cheerful piece of history on some ancient Celtic mythology.

Making Health Care Cheaper

Vox says that one of the most important issues is why Americans pay so much for care that costs less elsewhere. One reason why: America's two basic systems for providing care both put the payment on organizations with huge pools of money. Insurance companies have big budgets, but they are dwarfed by the Feds who run Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs.

Inflation follows naturally when more dollars chase the same number of services.

"The Clenched Fist of Truth"?

This is not the NRA I thought I knew.



The old concept was always that an armed citizenry could hedge against government tyranny. That's not what is on offer here.

Why Do People Want to Kill Each Other Over Politics?

A philosophically-trained writer at the Federalist says it's because we view the government's power as far more necessary to life and its goods than it really is.
If government power is the people’s best and only hope, then to deny the use of that power, or even to exercise it in the wrong way, is just like killing people. So you are naturally going to long to see the political malefactors behind such a policy struck down, for the same reasons we love the scene in the action movie when the bad guy finally falls off the skyscraper and gets what’s coming to him.

This attitude is not strictly limited to the provinces of the Left where we currently see it so flamboyantly displayed. As we have recently discovered, some on the Right also look to government for salvation, hoping that the right kind of limits on trade and immigration, the right deals made by the right dealmaker, will solve all of our problems—and anyone who doesn’t support that leader is a traitor.

But the basic idea of government as salvation is associated more with the Left, because expanding the power of government is their primary political cause.
Is he right about that? Vox argues that it's impossible to tell conservatives apart from their caricature of conservatives -- and for them, I don't doubt that this is true. Republicans want to kill the poor in order to provide tax cuts for the rich, and that's the only way to understand the policy they're proposing.

I don't care a bit about tax cuts for the rich, but I'd like to see the government get completely out of health care. My reasoning has two parts: most importantly, because government-run health care poses severe challenges to human liberty; less importantly, because the government's effectively-unlimited money distorts markets and produces runaway price inflation. If the government must be involved at all, it should be on the back end, quietly repaying expenses for qualifying veterans (and potentially certain very poor individuals) so that no one realizes that there's an unlimited pool of money they could chase. Then people's capacity to come up with the money up front would serve as a market brake on the inflation, and yet veterans would be able to pursue the health care they want from the doctors they choose -- not ones imposed on them by an uncaring, massive bureaucracy.

But I suppose that's tantamount to saying that I want people to die.

Georgia Alters the Deal

I mean, eight percent is better than nothing, but a promise is a promise.

Medieval Times

Russian propaganda is an interesting phenomenon. We see little of it here in the West, just a small subset that is shaped to fit in with our own news well enough to fool those who don't pay close attention. But there is a much wider set of claims being made by the propagandists. This newsletter tracks the major themes.

This week there's a fun claim about a secret plan to restore Moscow to it's medieval boundaries:
This week, pro-Kremlin disinformation time-travelled to medieval times, suggesting that the West and/or NATO planned to reduce Russia after the fall of the USSR to the size of the historical Grand Duchy of Moscow. For those who can't quite recall the borders of that Grand Duchy, you can find a map here. Like in any good spy novel, it all supposedly came from secret documents obtained by Russian intelligence services – soon handed over to Sputnik apparently. There was no further information concerning why the West and/or NATO had a plan to divide Russia according to medieval territorial borders, but the curious disinformation was repeated both in Russian and English outlets. Needless to say, the claims were not accompanied with any proof of the existence of such a 'Grand Duchy plan'.

Victor Charlie

A fine Celtic piece that will make some of you feel right at home.

Frederick Law Olmsted

AVI has a good piece on the famous designer's early travels. I have nothing of value to add to what he says, but I do have a relevant story of roguery and mis-spent youth.

Way back in mumble-mumble I graduated from High School. This was at a school in Atlanta, Georgia. Naturally, we gave some attention to the "senior prank" that might have been better spent on preparing for the SATs. In fact, we planned the thing months in advance. It was decided that we would steal a desk from the school, one of the proprietary ones that obviously belonged to a school, spray paint it with "Kilroy was Here!" graffiti, and then hang it in a big oak opposite the school's main building.


The operation was divided into three phases. Mine was the first phase, the stealing of the desk. Needless to say this had to be done in such a way that the hanging of the desk would later seem to be a tremendous surprise. Thus, it had to disappear long before the prank, and in such a way that no one would be sure where it had come from. For that reason, I arranged to defeat the school's security systems -- both lock and electronic -- so that we could spirit out a desk in the middle of the night, in the winter-time long before graduation. We also rearranged the desks in the room during the operation so that no one would notice a missing one.

That was effected before Christmas. We then had plenty of time to paint the desk appropriately, concealing it for months in a secret location.

Near graduation day we had one of our comrades who was an expert tree-climber sneak into the park opposite the high school headquarters at night, and toss lines over the high tree limbs. Assuming his success -- this was before everyone had a cell-phone -- we arrived about 2 AM with the desk, so that it could be hoisted and secured in position. After that, it was a simple matter of removing the lines and exfiltrating the park before police noticed our activity. It was thus secured well above where anyone would be able to simply remove it.

Here is the tie-in: unbeknownst to any of us, the next day was the 100th anniversary of that park, which was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. The mayor of Atlanta came down to give a speech at the very spot where we'd secured the "Kilroy was here!" desk.

Our comrade the tree-climber was immediately captured, as his hobby was too well-known for him to avoid detection. He was a stand-up guy, however, and the rest of the team escaped unpunished. I'm sure we're well past the statue of limitations now.

Viking Dragons

Naturally we have to hear this lecture from our new favorite professor at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Lindisfarne

Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a church on the holy island that may well have been standing during the famous first Viking raid of 793.

Confidence in Institutions Poll

We look at this poll every year, more or less. This year's results are unexpected: American confidence in institutions is up, at a level not seen since Obama first took office.

More, this poll defies the trendline I've been worried about over previous years. The decline in faith in institutions has chiefly affected the non-coercive institutions: the consistently highly placed winners were the police, the military, and the criminal justice system. Congress, newspapers, churches -- all the non-coercive branches fared worse and worse. This year, that reversed to some degree.

There's a big partisan split in a couple of places, especially faith in the Presidency (swings near fifty points for both parties) and newspapers (way up among Democrats, down somewhat among Republicans). SCOTUS shows a zero shift among Democrats, but a big gain among Republicans -- no doubt the outcome of the Gorsuch fight.

But that doesn't hold everywhere. Many institutions show compatible shifts, including things like organized labor (Republicans up by two, Democrats by a little more), church (1/3), and public schools (9/5). At least some of the ways in which we deal with each other nonviolently are tracking up a bit, and that's kind of surprising given the political climate.

Civil Affairs

Apparently a survey of morale did not come up aces.

Civil Affairs differs from Civil-Military Operations in roughly the same way that Psychological Operations differs from Information Operations: the latter is the regular-Army, staff-section integrated attempt to command a job originally thought of as a kind of special operations. The lion's share of the older form has been pushed to the Reserves, where they serve as enabler units assigned to work under the authority of regulars. The older units still have the pride that comes from having been originally thought of as a special operations unit, and the pride that comes from having a degree of independence from the regular command. This gets expressed in ways that are sometimes fairly petty: for example, the PSYOP units I observed in Iraq would make it a point to wear the patrol cap if the regulars were under orders to wear boonie hats on base, or vice-versa.

It's a tough life. The other side of that independence is that the regulars don't really think of you as part of their organization, and have a fuzzy degree of sense of how much you're on the same team. They don't deploy at the same time that you do, so you were either there when they arrived (and thus are short-timers who shouldn't complain since they're on the way out the door) or are newcomers who aren't going to get to leave with you (and thus haven't suffered as much as you, and shouldn't complain until they have paid their dues).

Nevertheless both CA and PSYOP carry an important load in the kinds of wars we've been waging for so long. It would be good to get their morale issues taken seriously, just as the more commonly considered special operations units also have serious morale issues that come from the way we've been fighting.

More on Jewish Gay Flags

An expression of gratitude from someone who found all this to be clarifying.

This is CNN

I wonder if they knew about the Project Vertias report when they fired -- er, 'allowed to resign' -- those reporters yesterday?

You definitely want your leadership telling people that your stories are "bulls***" and a "witch hunt."

Putting the Brakes on at CNN

Apparently the executives are worried that their own news team has fallen off into the land of wishful thinking.

Big Day at the Supreme Court

Good news for religious liberty, which is of course described as bad news for secularism. Call me when people are being forced to attend these religious schools.

Also, the President won an initial ruling on his travel ban. The court will consider the case more completely in the fall.

What I Learned on the Internet Today

Amazon sells edible dehydrated spiders. Be sure to see the Q&A section.

Canada and the Dukes of Hazzard

Apparently somehow this was an issue this weekend.
Anderson — who reportedly brought her three-year-old son to the event featuring rides, a beer tent and a classic car show — said she was aghast when she set her eyes on the jump-prone muscle car driven by Bo and Luke, the good old boys.

“I was in shock at first,” she said, according to Inside Toronto. “My heart started beating.”

In her mobile phone video, Anderson expresses great outrage at the car and demands that festival organizers get rid of it immediately.

“I want the car gone!” Anderson demands in the video. “I want it out of sight!”

“Everyone knows, anyone who went to high school, you [expletive] numb nuts!” Anderson said, apparently with her young child in tow. “This is racist.”
I mean, I went to high school. I also saw the Dukes of Hazzard as a kid. I'm pretty sure the show wasn't racist even though other uses of the flag have been.

But let's review. Here's a couple of Outlaw Country legends performing on the show at the "Boar's Nest" roadhouse. They don't make a big deal about it, but notice that -- nearly forty years ago -- the crowd at this imaginary Southern drinking establishment was portrayed as cheerfully integrated.





I don't know that they did this intentionally, or if they just pulled extras at random, but clearly it wasn't being imagined as a place where anyone of good faith wasn't welcome.

UPDATE:

Apparently not the only uproar about an unexpected flag this weekend.
The Chicago-based LGBTQ newspaper Windy City Times quoted a Dyke March collective member as saying the rainbow flag with the Star of David in the middle "made people feel unsafe," and that the march was "pro-Palestinian" and "anti-Zionist." The Chicago Dyke March is billed as an "anti-racist, anti-violent, volunteer-led, grassroots mobilization and celebration of dyke, queer, bisexual, and transgender resilience," according to its Twitter account.
UPDATE: Ironically, gay activists in Turkey have their struggles covered sympathetically today by the Times of Israel.

The tribal identifiers aren't working well. We should really look for common principles instead.

Rediscovering Jefferson

It seems like just the other day that they were changing the name of the "Jefferson-Jackson Dinner" because they'd decided that those two Presidents represented everything bad about America.

Now it turns out that Jefferson is a model of what a good President looks like after all.
In the early days of December 1805, a handful of prominent politicians received formal invitations to join President Thomas Jefferson for a White House dinner.... "dinner will be on the table precisely at sun-set - " the invitations read. "The favour of an answer is asked."

The occasion was the presence of a Tunisian envoy to the United States, Sidi Soliman Mellimelli, who had arrived in the country just the week before, in the midst of America's ongoing conflict with what were then known as the Barbary States. And the reason for the dinner's later-than-usual start was Mellimelli's observance of Ramadan, a holy month for Muslims in which observers fast between dawn and dusk. Only after sunset do Muslims break their fast with a meal, referred to as an iftar.

Jefferson's decision to change the time of the meal to accommodate Mellimelli's observance of Ramadan has been seized on by both sides in the 21st-century debate over Islam more than 200 years later. Historians have cited the meal as the first time an iftar took place in the White House - and it has been referenced in recent White House celebrations of Ramadan as an embodiment of the Founding Father's respect for religious freedom. Meanwhile, critics on the far right have taken issue with the characterization of Jefferson's Dec. 9, 1805, dinner as an iftar.

Whatever Jefferson could have foreseen for the young country's future, it appears the modern-day White House tradition of marking Ramadan with an iftar dinner or Eid celebration has come to an end.
There's no reason why a President of the United States should celebrate any religious holidays other than his own, and that in a private manner that doesn't imply any endorsement by the United States of America. The alternative is trying to treat every religion equally, which is a hard pull in a nation as diverse as the United States. It's inevitable that you'll end up with a top-tier of religions who get honored (Christianity, Judaism, Islam) and a second-tier that is maybe memorialized in some way sometimes (Hinduism, Buddhism), and a bottom-tier who aren't remembered at all (including some very worthy faiths like Sikhism).

It makes sense for a non-religious man like Donald Trump to adopt the first course of action rather than the second. A deeply religious man, like George W. Bush, is more likely to take the second tack and try to do it as fairly as he can. But the second tack is much harder to make work fairly, and much more likely to yield legitimate grievances among those whose faiths don't make the cut for official celebration for whatever reasons.

"One of the biggest cuts to the social safety net in history"

I mean, that part sounds good. That so-called safety net is driving many crises in our society, including the opioid addiction rate.

If state and local governments can do it better than the Feds, who have no constitutional authority to do it anyway, this gives them the chance to try. Go to it, and good luck.

Great Shot, Kid

That was one in a million.

Another Georgia Convict Story

Not all convicts are created equal -- most of them aren't hardened criminals like the two who killed their guards and escaped the other day. Today's news is a much happier story.

Also, it's a good reminder that heat injuries are for real. We're now in that time of year. Drink water, take a knee, keep your head covered.

A "Female First" Victory in Georgia

CNN reports that Karen Handel is Georgia's first female Congressional GOP representative. What I like best about that is that no one mentioned it as a reason to vote for her, at least not that I heard. These "first such-and-so" things are a bad way to make decisions about who would be the best candidate for a given office. Still, for what it's worth, congratulations.

Georgia's first female Senator, by the way, came in 1922.

Why Does Georgia Have So Many Counties?

Iowahawk is mocking Georgia for having a vast, vast number of counties compared to many states. It's true: we've got a lot of them.

What I was taught about this in history class here in Georgia was this is a product of the Jeffersonian political ideals that ruled in the early history of the state, when the counties were being drawn up. The idea was that every citizen should be able to get to the county seat to participate in self-government without it being an undue burden on them. Since this was the late 1700s and early 1800s, there were no railroads (first Southern railroad was chartered in 1827; the Cherokee were removed and a land lottery was distributing their land by 1832). There were no cars, of course. There were no major highways (two Federal roads). Transport was by horse, mule, buggy, or foot.

As a result, the counties were set with a very small size to make sure that citizens could make it to the county seat. Wikipedia calls this a "traditional explanation" without sourcing, but it was taught to me in formal classes in state history. Whether that makes it more or less than folklore is up to the reader to decide.

The Opposite of Secession

The Chicago Tribune publishes a paper advocating for dissolving Illinois for absorption by the surrounding states.

Stonehenge

Sumer is Icumin In

This is the oldest known musical composition featuring six-part polyphony.  Apparently it also may not be entirely appropriate for today, as "Sumer" may have applied to a longer period of time than "Summer", and so they may have been singing this earlier in the year in the 13th century.  Regardless, here's hoping for a Summer as festive and merry as this rendition of a very old song.

AJC: Handel wins GA 6th

Looks like a Republican keep in the toughest race anybody could afford to throw. The Georgia 6th is R+8, and results tonight look like the obsessive focus and vast amounts of money only brought that down to 53/48, or about +5. A big pull, but not enough.

I really expected Ossoff to win this thing, though, because I only lately even learned his opponent's name. I don't live in the 6th, so I wasn't paying very close attention, but all the ads I saw were either "Vote Ossoff!" or "Vote against Ossoff, that monster/liar/faker!" Usually you can't beat something with nothing, but once in a while you really can.

Immigration Has No Downsides

A reflection in the Atlantic.
In 2005, a left-leaning blogger wrote, “Illegal immigration wreaks havoc economically, socially, and culturally; makes a mockery of the rule of law; and is disgraceful just on basic fairness grounds alone.” In 2006, a liberal columnist wrote that “immigration reduces the wages of domestic workers who compete with immigrants” and that “the fiscal burden of low-wage immigrants is also pretty clear.” His conclusion: “We’ll need to reduce the inflow of low-skill immigrants.” That same year, a Democratic senator wrote, “When I see Mexican flags waved at proimmigration demonstrations, I sometimes feel a flush of patriotic resentment. When I’m forced to use a translator to communicate with the guy fixing my car, I feel a certain frustration.”

The blogger was Glenn Greenwald. The columnist was Paul Krugman. The senator was Barack Obama....

“A decade or two ago,” says Jason Furman, a former chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, “Democrats were divided on immigration. Now everyone agrees and is passionate and thinks very little about any potential downsides.” How did this come to be?
It's a good question. You can read their answer, and think about it for yourselves.

The Quiet Man

Probably the video most of you watched today knowing it would lead to someone's death was the Castile video; here's one from the world of sport. It's worth watching even knowing that one of the fighters is going to die because it shows the fair play and sportsmanship of the boxer who won. He wasn't there to hurt or kill his opponent: he is meticulously fair, stopping and walking away at many points in order to give his opponent time to recover. He fights exactly like a gentleman.



The fight lasts a little more than five minutes, short for a boxing match. "The sweet science" is no joke, in spite of its rules governing fair play, and the reputation of more permissive sports like Kung Fu and MMA. Even with padded gloves, even with careful adherence to the rules, it's a very serious matter.

Colion Noir is Right: Philando Castile Should Be Alive

We haven't talked about the Castile shooting since last year, but at the time I thought it 'disturbing.' It was clear to me, though, that the officer would walk -- as he did.
By far the more disturbing case was that of Philando Castile, who had a concealed weapons permit and had informed the officer of that fact. The officer shot him while he reached for his wallet to produce it, as well as his driver's license. What makes the case most disturbing is that the officer then held him at gunpoint while he bled out, making no effort to render aid or assistance to the dying man, nor to verify his story by calling in his IDs, nor to do anything except wait for backup.

For me, this underlines the point I've made about these shootings in the past: they are about the way we train police officers, and teach incoming officers to think about their relationship to the public. The incident makes perfect sense if you follow the logic of the training. If the most important thing is to protect the officer's life, then you shoot as soon as hands go for something unseen. You don't render aid or assistance until you have full and complete control of the situation. That cannot happen until all the other parties are secured, i.e., handcuffed or locked in police cars. When there are multiple other parties (here there was a girlfriend and a 4 year old), the only thing you can do is maintain watch with your weapon covering the unsecured members of the public while you wait for backup to arrive.

Only then can you take steps to save the life of the man you shot.

If you watch the video, you can hear the upset and tension in the officer's voice. He's very highly strung on adrenaline and fear of what he's just done. He's not thinking straight under these circumstances. He's going to follow his training, and this is how he's been trained.

Which means that he, like other police in these cases, will walk. He will be found to have acted appropriately, because he will have done just what he was trained to do.
That doesn't change the fact that the shooting shouldn't have happened. The NRA has long been blamed for not speaking out for a licensed concealed-carrier who was shot and then let die. Nothing has improved since this case occurred, and that needs to change.

Do-It-Yourself Car Modifications

They're not for everyone.

Hate Speech is Free Speech

A plainly correct result from the Supreme Court, one that garnered an 8-0 majority.

Now, just remember that being free to say hateful things doesn't mean that you ought to say hateful things. You have to decide the justice of the remarks separately.

No, No, Negative

The House of Representatives special election has been pretty ugly all along, but this is a new low.
“The unhinged left is endorsing and applauding shooting Republicans,” a text overlay says. “When will it stop? It won’t if Jon Ossoff wins on Tuesday.”
There are reasons to vote against Ossoff; there may even be a reason to vote for his opponent, though I'm not aware of it since all I've seen from her side are attack ads against him. But he is not responsible for anyone else's murders.

Philosophy: A Quiz

John Maynard Keynes is supposed to have said that those who consider themselves "exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist." Many are indeed his intellectual slaves today, now that he is also a defunct economist -- or he would be, if people were ready to admit that his systems don't really work.

In case you're wondering whose intellectual slave you might be, this little quiz can help you identify the broad school of thought that is informing what you think plausible. It won't help people who have put significant care into learning about philosophy for themselves, as they will already know, but it can be useful if you have not.

I've verified it with a couple of philosophers I know, and they report that it's roughly correct in its identification for them. My results were as follows:


That's accurate enough; metaphysically I follow a sort of Neoplatonism. However, I don't accept Plato's political philosophy -- though I do think it has important elements that we should reconsider, especially the role of honor in political life, I reject the basic notion that it's important for elites to lie to the people in order to manipulate them into civilized behavior.

Secession Talk, Left and Right

Erick Erickson argues from the Right, sounding somewhat like me circa every year since 2004. Crucially, this is still phrased as an "if/then" statement, which is still how I think about it: 10th Amendment Federalism, but if that proves to be unattainable, then...
Federalism should be the answer.... But let’s not kid ourselves. If Texas decided to end abortion on demand and prohibit gay marriage, three-quarters of the Fortune 500, the NCAA, and every professional sports league would boycott the state. It is not enough that each state should be able to set its own values, even here the left demands adherence to its beliefs and punishment for the beliefs of others. So there is no escape from the culture war. There is no escape from the politicization of everything....

The only escape is dissolution. We should part ways if we cannot have federalism. We should start talking about secession. If both sides have decided that every hill is a hill to die on and control of Washington means reward for their friends and punishment of their enemies, we need to end Washington. The way to do that is end the union.
Even secession wouldn't solve the problem he's pointing to, of course. It could well be that every sports league and the Fortune 500 would pull their businesses out of Georgia and Texas in order to move them to California and Maryland. But it's not super likely that these businesses would do that: they do business in China and Saudi Arabia, after all. Those leading the charge to end the sanctions on Iran for its constant support of terrorism and its constant pursuit of nuclear weapons were the international companies like Boeing who wanted to do business there. So probably, once it's a matter of real money rather than empty virtue signalling, those economic concerns would go away.

From the Left, the issue is of course tax money.
Here’s the kicker: Even though most California voters surveyed were disgusted with Donald Trump 90 days into his administration, a majority (53-47 percent) also told Berkeley IGS that negotiation would be better than secession.

It isn’t that Californians have an undying love for the U.S. The voters who were surveyed said compromise would be better than taking a chance on the state losing federal funding.
I keep reading that blue states contribute more in taxes than they receive in Federal benefits, so either this is just a question of voter education or -- as is more likely -- those stories are accounting-gimmick propaganda designed to make red states look bad.

UPDATE: The "if/then" statement seems to me to be a live issue, especially with control of the Supreme Court so close a thing. If Trump (or Pence) gets to appoint another Justice or two, or even more, the 10th could make a renaissance. It's a hard pull, of course, since the bulk of what the Federal government does (measured by spending) is actually unconstitutional if the 10th is taken seriously. But it's possible, particularly if the alternative looks like the breakup of the nation.

Shots Fired

A US fighter pilot shoots down a Syrian SU-22.

UPDATE: Russia says it will shoot down any American planes that enter the parts of Syria it is claiming as a protectorate... er, I mean, claiming to protect.

Father's Day

This is my first without my father. I would have called him today, but not have made a big deal about it. He always snarled at those "Hallmark Holidays" that he regarded, for the most part, with disdain.

If you still have the chance, maybe make more of a big deal about it.

Mattis: No Enemy Has Hurt US Military as Much as Congress

He's talking sequestration, which is bad policy, but there are other things he might have mentioned as well. I always think of Harry Reid's "This War Is Lost" as symbolic of the willingness to destroy morale in favor of partisan political advantage.

Escaping the Leftwing Bias in Technology

Jon Del Arroz at the Federalist discussed the left-wing bias and influence of the big tech organizations, from corporations like Google to non-profits like Wikipedia. He then offers alternatives.

A couple of things he mentions are interesting. Former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich is leading development of the Brave browser. I use Firefox a lot because it has certain extensions I consider important. However, Brave looks like it might be a good alternative when I'm just surfing for fun. I've been using Vivaldi for that, and I like it. However, it also lacks the extensions I need. Looks like I'm stuck with Firefox for some things.

Vox Day, meanwhile, has forked Wikipedia and now offers an alternative at Infogalactic. I'm not sure what to think about that. I'm not convinced that Wikipedia is irredeemably biased, but even if it is, I question whether an organization led by Day is the right corrective, if for no other reason than the controversies that surround him.

I tend to think we just need to get a bunch of non-left editors over to Wikipedia. Why not adopt a page or two over there on topics that you know about and start tracking, writing, and editing? The way Wikipedia is set up, I think that over time we could have a reasonably fair encyclopedia. It would take patience; it apparently takes a track record of reasonable editing to get higher level permissions, but it's doable.

There is one company that is not included in Arroz's article that I would like to ask about. Patriot Mobile markets itself as a conservative alternative in mobile service. Has anyone here used them? Or can you comment on them?

The reason I'm asking is a recent change in my current cell service. First, they turned on their news app to feed into my notifications feed. (I had it turned off.) Then, several times a day I got "current headlines" that were consistently anti-Trump headlines from the WaPo, etc. I left it on for a couple of days and never saw one headline for an article that was not an attack on Trump. I turned the news feed off again, but since then I've seriously been thinking about switching providers.

A Pattern of Violence

The Political Insider lists 36 incidents of Trump supporters / conservatives being attacked or receiving credible threats of violence over the last 11 months. Sources are linked for each item on the list.

Update: Joshua Hersh has an article at VICE News on rising left-wing violence as well: Extremism Experts Are Starting to Worry about the Left. (H/t The Daily Wire)

A bit late, I think, but it's a beginning.

With Apologies to Cassandra...

...who hates memes.

Justin Johnson: Driving It Down


Georgia's Escaped Convicts Captured

They made it as far as Tennessee, but a homeowner caught them trying to steal his truck and held them at gunpoint for police. There's a crisis over, and thanks to an armed citizen acting in a citizen's role to defend the common peace and lawful order.

Man's got a point

Ouch.  Musings from Putin, via Wolf Howling at Bookworm Room:
It sounds very strange when the head of the security services writes down a conversation with the commander-in-chief and then leaks it to the media through his friend … How, in that case, does he differ from [Edward] Snowden? That means he is not the leader of the security services, but a human rights defender. And if he faces pressure, then we are happy to offer him political asylum, too.

Coming soon

If this isn't me and all my friends yet, it will be before long:

Reasonable Accommodation

I once defended a prospectus on Ash Wednesday, which entails a much less strict fast than the Ramadan one. I was successful, but about an hour in I really began to notice that my brain wasn't hitting on all cylinders due to the lack of food.

Thus, it strikes me as completely fair and appropriate for professors who wish to do so to offer Muslim students the chance to take exams once they've eaten. That seems like a very reasonable thing to do.

Stars Are Born in Pairs

A fascinating new theory.
The new assertion is based on a radio survey of a giant molecular cloud filled with recently formed stars in the constellation Perseus, and a mathematical model that can explain the Perseus observations only if all sunlike stars are born with a companion.

"We are saying, yes, there probably was a Nemesis, a long time ago," said co-author Steven Stahler, a UC Berkeley research astronomer.

"We ran a series of statistical models to see if we could account for the relative populations of young single stars and binaries of all separations in the Perseus molecular cloud, and the only model that could reproduce the data was one in which all stars form initially as wide binaries. These systems then either shrink or break apart within a million years."...

Using these data, Sadavoy and Stahler discovered that all of the widely separated binary systems - those with stars separated by more than 500 AU - were very young systems, containing two Class 0 stars. These systems also tended to be aligned with the long axis of the egg-shaped dense core. The slightly older Class I binary stars were closer together, many separated by about 200 AU, and showed no tendency to align along the egg's axis.