Your Slip Is Showing

I thought we weren't supposed to talk about how female political figures dress anyway? Not true? Or maybe it's just that, you know, we aren't supposed to talk about it.

Leave our failing schools alone!

David Harsanyi on the demented interrogation of Dept. of Education nominee DeVos:
[M]inority groups in America’s largest cities are lagging in proficiency in reading and math. Most of them are at the bottom 5 percent of schools in their own state. There is only so much an education secretary can accomplish, but being accused of being a “grave threat” to this system is a magnificent endorsement.
* * *
. . . Democrats on the committee stressed that DeVos was a Republican appointed by a Republican president who had given money to Republican organizations. They further pointed out that DeVos was a Christian who had given money to Christian organizations (often referred to as “antigay groups”) that didn’t meet with their moral approval.
* * *
. . . [R]ich and middle-class Americans already have school choice. In most places, the whiter the neighborhood the better the school system, and the better the school system the higher the prices of homes, making it impossible for those who aren’t wealthy to escape substandard schools (rural school also often suffer.) This is the status quo Warren, Murphy, and Murray hope to preserve.
* * *
You can visit heavily Hispanic areas in Denver and watch mothers cry when their kids’ numbers don’t come up in a charter-school lottery. Or you can listen to technocrats in editorial board meetings, whose kids live in prosperous districts or attend private schools, telling you why too many of those parents have a choice.

Baked-in gerrymandering

Sean Trende has done a series of articles analyzing Trump's win, culminating in this one, which focuses on the geographical distribution of deep-Blue support.  Because we still have a federal system and do not elect Presidents by popular vote, the very division of the country into states imposes a basic gerrymandering on the electoral map.  Add to that a rural-urban split that's been growing for 30 years, and you have an electoral map in which a candidate like Clinton is "wasting" votes by running up the score in states like California, where she already had a lock on the electors.  A winning strategy requires finding a message that also works outside the large cities, which are concentrated in a few states.  Bouncing the rubble in those states won't get you the White House.

Spending the Afternoon

Following the inauguration, I've spent a beautiful warm, sunny afternoon riding my motorcycle, shooting, and will now spend the rest of it drinking my favorite (and American) beer on my back porch.

This may go on all weekend. We'll reconvene next week.


For the first time, I just heard a newscaster say "Former President Obama."

That was satisfying.

The Moment of National Unity Lasted About 20 Seconds


It's Over. Now Comes Something Else.

I give you a toast: To the United States of America. May God bless her in this hour, and the years to come.

An Extended Civil War Analogy at the Inauguration

Here is the full letter that Chuck Schumer wanted you to read.

The bugle call that comes after the oath is taken is equally old: it's "To the Colors," sometimes called "Honors," four blasts.

Richard and John

I was unaware of the middle names of our (very) soon-to-be President and VP until this ceremony. In a way, it's no surprise to learn that they are named after Norman kings.

UPDATE: No joke, Mad Dog Mattis' middle name actually is "Norman."

One Piece at a Time

Check out the "Trumpmobile." (Note that the owner/builder is an immigrant -- a legal one, from Finland.)

It reminds me of the Johnny Cash tune about the auto worker who 'borrowed' a piece from the factory every day for 20 years, and then tried to build a car out of it. "This is Red Ryder in the pscyhobilly Cadillac."

That's some real Americana.

Jim Webb: "The Promise of President Trump"

I might have titled it "the opportunity for" rather than "the promise of," but my favored candidate for President last year has penned a short piece on some hopes he has for the next few years. First, he hopes to break the hold of the group that thinks of itself as our 'governing class,' in favor of the ideal of Cincinnatus. Second, he would like to see us refocus our affirmative action policies on Americans, rather than using them to 'increase diversity' at the expense of those Americans who are already quite poor.

So far, we have no idea what Trump will actually do as President, but those seem like plausible things to think that he might do. We'll see, soon enough, if they happen.

DB: Obama Touts Legacy of Renaming Wars

When pressed to explain the current military operations against ISIS in Iraq and a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan, Mr. Obama responded with “I said I ended the wars didn’t I? There’s no more war. What’s going on now is more like ‘kinetic foreign advising.’”

...The Obama administration’s reluctance to call the actions in Iraq against ISIS which have claimed the lives of three US serviceman “combat operations” has angered veterans and the other dozen or so Americans who pay attention to the nation’s continuing wars.

“The third time we took indirect and sniper fire, I asked my squad leader if we’d get our CIBs (Combat Infantryman Badge) yet,” said Army Pvt. Anthony Dunn, “but he just shrugged and said the commander was going to see if we could get a pizza night in the DFAC.”

Taking Up the Colors

Symbolically, the US is broken up into red states and blue states, and if we end up in another Civil War, those may well be the colors of the two major sides.

However, this is very recent, as many of you probably know. Beginning in 1976, red and blue were used on TV broadcasts to differentiate states on election night, but there was no consistency. One network might have the Democrats red and Republicans blue, another the opposite. After the 2000 election, the networks coordinated and began consistently our current color scheme.

I've wondered quite a bit about why the colors sorted out the way they did. Blue is the traditional color for conservative parties,  and red is normal for the left. In fact, blue used to be more common to represent the Republican Party because of its Civil War association with the Union. So how did the Republicans end up red?

Honestly, it could well have been just a random thing. According to the All-Knowing Wikipedia, journalist Tim Russert started using the terms "red state" and "blue state" while covering the 2000 election, and it has stuck. Maybe that's all there is to it.

On the other hand, the conspiracy theorist in me whispers that it could have been an intentional thing. If the Democrats were red, it would be too easy to just call them reds. Maybe journalists anticipated this and protected their own.

In any case, each side now has a permanent color to rally to, the beginnings of a flag, semi-permanent colors marking territories on our maps. This seems to have emerged out of a genuine increase in polarization, but at the same time, I wonder if, now commonplace, it doesn't also support that polarization by making what had been abstract and fleeting designations used only on election nights into permanent or semi-permanent representations.

Compared with economics and ideologies and cultures, this is a very small thing, but it makes it easier to imagine us as separate peoples, maybe even separate nations, and imagination has its own kind of power.

DB: NATO Called 'Obsolete' by Trump, Anyone Who Saw them in Afghanistan

Remarks from President-elect Donald Trump earlier this week calling NATO allies ‘obsolete’ have been labeled completely unprecedented by everyone except the thousands of American soldiers who have fought alongside them in Afghanistan, sources confirmed today.
The Coalition soldiers in Iraq in 2007/8/9 included some sharp looking guys, but I don't know that they ever left the wire. The Georgians, who weren't in NATO, did so regularly. Admittedly, they wrecked a lot of Hummers because of their sizable liquor ration, but they were willing to go out.

Oh, That's Brutal

As Devos made her way around a crowd and proceeded to shake hands with the senators who questioned her, she extended her hand to Senator Elizabeth Warren, but the progressive icon and 2020 Democratic frontrunner promptly “waved her off” and left the room.

Warren’s apparent snub was widely criticized on social media by pundits on the political right, who called the move classless and another example of the erosion of proper decorum in Washington...

Upon closer examination, Warren appears to be signaling to DeVos in her native Cherokee.

What are they thinking now?


I thought I recalled that Grim didn't think much of ex-Georgia-governor Sonny Perdue.  I was right.  Anyway, Trump has picked him for Secretary of Agriculture.

The Intelligence Community vs. Trump?

Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist gives a good history of this conflict from the election until this week. At the beginning, she frames it as the intelligence community taking on Trump, but later on she specifies that she is talking about political appointees within that community. The value of the article is its thoroughness (for an article, mind you), so it isn't worth much to excerpt it here.

In my earlier post, Trump Does Counter-Intelligence against the IC?, I asked a couple of questions that trouble me, and for which I have no answers.

What if we find out the IC in general is partisan? How could a problem like that be solved? These are the folks who have permission to hide information from us and lie to us for our own good, whose job is ideally proper management of information, but who could easily manipulate it for their own purposes, all protected from scrutiny by law.
Hemingway narrows the conflict to Obama's political appointees in those agencies, but I'm not sure that's the case, and what if it isn't? Intelligence services are essential, and they do very valuable work. But the people in them go through the same schools and programs our neo-Marxian radicals do, and it is likely that many of them identify with the same socio-cultural elite Trump just defeated.

The Speed of Rubber

Joerg Sprave of the Slingshot Channel demonstrates and explains his full-auto crossbow.

Ha ha ha ha!

Tombstone: 2nd A City

So says a town proclamation just issued.

I was hoping they'd explain just why the phrase is so aptly applied, but they didn't. So here's an old post of my own:
The phrase "O. K. Corral" has been invoked on the floor of Congress numerous times as an argument in favor of gun control measures that would limit firearms to policemen and officers of the law. If such measures are meant to avoid the O.K. Corral, how to interpret the fact that it was precisely such a law that precipitated it? It was the attempt to enforce Tombstone's gun control law that was the proximate cause of the gunfight. A even worse problem is that the survivors of the losing side got themselves deputized by the Sheriff and went after the town and Federal marshals. A police-officer-only model of gun control would have done nothing to avoid the shootout, or reduce the violence that followed it.

The one thing that did reduce the violence is the very thing that Congress most hates to consider: citizen vigilantes, who informed the participants that any future shootouts had better be conducted outside of town or there would be some hangings. This maneuver was so effective that historians still have trouble deciding exactly what happened in the rest of the war between those factions, as very little of it occurred close enough for nonpartisan witnesses to view.

Stopping Violence Against Women

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the US military is on the job. How? By teaching self-defense.
Offering the classes, utilizing combatives-certified Special Operations personnel, including Army Green Berets and Navy SEALs, will raise awareness of domestic violence and sexual assault and give women the skills they need to defend themselves. The classes also provide an opportunity to demonstrate a softer side of the U.S. military.
I trust that it's "softer" in the same way that jujitsu is considered a "soft" as opposed to "hard" art. Although it looks like there's a lot of punching and kicking going on, so who knows.

More on "Toxic Masculinity"

In discussing the cartoon in Grim's post This Was An Insult?, both there and in his follow-up Another Look at Ideas on Male Physique, I think something missing is the current SJW assault on traditional masculinity, which they are now calling "toxic masculinity."

Over at PJ Media, Tom Knighton has an article on this topic, Colleges Ramp Up Assault on Masculinity for Spring Semester. He offers some details and links to attempts at colleges to tear down the old masculinity and build a new one. Here is one such:

Duke University’s “Men’s Project,” meanwhile, is looking for applicants for a “nine-week long discussion group” that will also “examine the ways we present -- or don’t present -- our masculinities, so we can better understand how masculinity exists on our campus -- often in toxic ways -- and begin the work of unlearning violence.”

“We want to explore, dissect, and construct an intersectional understanding of masculinity and maleness, as well as to create destabilized spaces for those with privilege,” a description of the program explains. “Duke is an environment where some are rarely made uncomfortable while others are made to bear the weight of their identities on a daily basis -- we aim to flip that paradigm.”

"destabilized spaces for those with privilege" -- there's an Orwellian euphemism for you. I wonder if it will be held in room 101.

Manning is a Traitor

Manning stole hundreds of thousands of secrets and exposed them to the very same Wikileaks that "Trump is a traitor!" people point to as a known front for Russian intelligence. Manning did it knowing that it would expose our secrets to clear and present enemies -- jihadists who were killing our soldiers and Marines every day. He did this while wearing the uniform, under oath, a soldier deployed at war who was intentionally betraying his brothers in arms.

He should have been shot. He was already treated mercifully by the system by avoiding being tried as the traitor he is.

I will take no talk of "treason" seriously from anyone who celebrates this commutation. They don't understand the concept well enough to discuss it.

This is Sparta

I mean, I guess it's good that we get to be Sparta. For one thing, they won.

Pushing National Pride to the Limits

Vladimir Putin:
[Trump is] a grown man, and secondly he’s someone who has been involved with beauty contests for many years and has met the most beautiful women in the world. I find it hard to believe that he rushed to some hotel to meet girls of loose morals, although ours are undoubtedly the best in the world.

Literature & Capitalism

Arts & Letters Daily has two pieces today on the relationship between writing and making a living. The first notes that the complaint that writers want to be paid for what ought to be a work of love goes as far back as Ancient Greece. The author, a professional writer, is not enamored of this view. "Potlatch, like any gift economy, can never be a one-way process; those who receive gifts are indebted, and they are obligated to return the favor in order to save face. If editors and publishers—appealing to love, not money—ask for the gift of free words, then by the logic of the gift those writers can expect a return, with interest."

The second, by a columnist who writes about books, notes that even authors of best-sellers rarely make any money anyway.
That books still make money at all is something of a miracle. (And to be fair, the vast majority of books don’t make money; publishing, like baseball, is a game predicated on failure.) No market could be less rationalized, or as Strayed puts it, “There’s no other job in the world where you get your master’s degree in that field and you’re like, ‘Well, I might make zero or I might make $5 million.’ ”
I'm not sure it's true that there's no other job in the world in which the range goes from zero to five million, or even higher yet. Still, it does make it hard to predict the value of the degree you are pursuing -- although, I wonder how much value a degree in writing has in predicting whether you will even produce good writing.

How to be a Roman Patriarch

An article written in the voice of a man nobly born and of worthy service in the Legions. It's intended only as a teaching tool, to introduce you to the idea of what the Roman family was like as an institution. Some of the advice is a terrible fit for modern America, as you would expect. It is especially pronounced in the Roman disdain for females, both wives and girl children.

All the same, I thought the bit about a father's role in raising and educating sons was surprisingly good.

A Marker

The AP provides a marker against which to test the upcoming inauguration. In 1913, Woodrow Wilson's inauguration was also challenged by a women's march:
The 1913 women's march, timed to get maximum publicity by coinciding with the inauguration, was not without controversy.

According to the Library of Congress' American Memory archives, crowds in town for the inauguration — mostly men — surged into the streets and made it difficult for the marchers to pass, forcing them to go single file at times. Women were jeered, tripped, shoved and spat upon, and police did little to assist them or quell the unrest. Some 100 marchers were taken to the hospital with injuries.

The participants included Helen Keller, the deaf and blind political activist and author. She was so unnerved by the disruptions that she was unable to speak later that day at Continental Hall.

Secretary of War Henry Stimson authorized a troop of cavalry to help control the crowd, according to the archives.
Sometimes historical perspective can be helpful.

It Is No Longer the Case that Living Men Have Walked on the Moon

Rest in peace, Eugene Cernan.

Much of John Lewis' District is Pretty Nice, Actually

In the interest of keeping score fairly -- I did my undergraduate work at Georgia State University, smack in the middle of John Lewis' district. I also lived on the eastern part of that district at one time. That part of Atlanta was, at that time, full of drugs and hookers and run-down storefronts. It was a fun place to be at the age I was in those days. There were empty warehouses for parties, and those run down storefronts could be hired cheaply enough that even young people could afford to open a punk-rock-themed coffee shop or whatever. On the other hand, it had a real crime rate. Atlanta was the murder capital of America at points during those days. But I was young enough that this only added to the sense of adventure.

The intervening twenty-plus years have seen an ongoing expansion of Atlanta's wealth, and that district is not the crime-and-violence haven that it used to be. First, the Atlanta police turned an abandoned factory into a major precinct headquarters right at the center of the drug-and-prostitution trade. That dried up very soon afterwards. Then, all that money coming into Atlanta felt safe expanding into the area.

Today the eastern area is full of stores like Whole Foods. A lot of the fun aspects of the place are gone. They were replaced by less crime, more green space, and upscale shopping. There remain some nasty areas, in a kind of ring between the true downtown (where Georgia State is) and the nicer areas in the east and west. The district compares favorably on some measures with Georgia or America as a whole, and unfavorably on others.

Insofar as it's proper to judge John Lewis' performance in Congress by his district, I think it must be said to have improved during his tenure. I'm not sure that it is all that proper to do so: these are mostly state and local duties, not Federal concerns. But if that's the conversation we're going to have, it's poor grounds for criticism of the gentleman from Georgia.

Another Look at Ideas on Male Physique

Since the discussion below turns on what is a reasonable ideal for a male body, here's another cartoon. This was sent to me by the strongman friend of mine some time ago as as defense of his own approach; I'm not sure where it originates.

This kind of conversation is always fraught, as questions about aesthetic ideals for a man (or a woman) touch on a lot of different levels of meaning. So it's worth reposting this cautionary image as well:


One of Dr. King's remarks was addressed against what he called "white moderates," the progressives of his day. This is from the "Letter from the Birmingham Jail."
I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to 'order' than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: 'I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action'; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a 'more convenient season.'
I have an obvious sympathy for the sentiment. Sometimes it is necessary to do radical things when you find the government, or indeed power of any human kind, resolutely on the side of injustice.

How radical? MLK's niece declares that she voted for Trump. That's a deep cleaving cut from the party of the "white moderates," of whom Hillary Clinton was the most recent and most iconic avatar.

UPDATE: MLK's son meets with Trump at Trump Tower, says good things about both Trump and Lewis. Radical days indeed.

This Was An Insult?

I mean, you know, he could use a bigger beard.

No Snakes in Iceland

Lars Walker's review of this book is quite complementary, and suggests that many of us might enjoy it.

Burning Up the Stage

Apparently our boy Sturgill decided to throw down on SNL this weekend.

Well, won't we all....

These guys are just toooo cute, by half.

The Non-Stick Axe

You will want to get yours today.

The Government as Vandal

Stonehenge is an irreplacable archaeological treasure. One of the known facts about it is that much of its meaning has to do with the things that were underneath it. In addition, of course, over time even structures that were originally on the surface pass underground -- that is why we speak of archaeological "digs."

So why not build a subway under it?
Light pollution at one end of the tunnel will obscure the view of sunset on the winter solstice -- one of the most important dates at Stonehenge -- when thousands gather to celebrate the shortest day of the year.

And experts believe major archaeological treasures hidden beneath the surrounding landscape could be lost forever.

"Recent finds show this place is the birthplace of Britain, and its origins go back to the resettlement of this island after the Ice Age," historian and author Tom Holland, who opposes the plan, told CNN....

The government, though, is determined to press ahead with the scheme.
"Therefore your end is on you,
Is on you and your kings
Not for a fire in Ely fen,
Not that your gods are nine or ten,
But because it is only Christian men
Guard even heathen things."


SpaceX suffered a disappointing setback with last fall's pad explosion, but yesterday it successfully completed a launch that put 10 new Iridium satellites into orbit.

Comey under fire

Around my neighborhood lately, we've been discussing whether James Comey can be fired as director of the FBI.  I gather this may not be crystal clear, but there's reason to think he can:
The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is appointed by the President by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. The statutory basis for the present nomination and confirmation process was developed in 1968 and 1976, and has been used since the death of J. Edgar Hoover in 1972. Over this time, seven nominations have been confirmed and two have been withdrawn by the President before confirmation. The position of FBI Director has a fixed 10-year term, and the officeholder cannot be reappointed, unless Congress acts to allow a second appointment of the incumbent. There are no statutory conditions on the President’s authority to remove the FBI Director. Since 1972, one Director has been removed by the President.
President Clinton fired FBI Director William Sessions, who had been appointed by President Reagan. It seems that the post-J. Edgar Hoover arrangements for a fixed 10-year term were aimed at preventing unreasonably long tenures. Congress must consent, as it did in the case of Director Mueller in 2011, to any extension of a term. There is no equivalent Congressional veto over a presidential firing, nor can Congress get rid of an FBI director other than by impeachment.

Good guy from Samaria

A "Good Samaritan" is one of those back-handed compliments, like saying "He's a good guy for trailer trash."  People from Samaria weren't expected to amount to anything.  Anyway, here's an inspiring Good Samaritan story that sounds like the people involved are all being awfully discrete, um, that is, of course I mean to say "discreet."  A state trooper trying to come to the aid of a woman ejected from a car in a highway accident comes under deadly attack from a guy who may have been behind the wheel.  A passing motorist stops and, hearing confirmation from the trooper that, yes, he sure does need help, shoots and kills the attacker, then promptly and correctly uses the trooper's radio to bring help to an accurate location.  The trooper's boss expresses his appreciation while carefully avoiding the release of any information about the hero, who sounds like a man who's been around the block a few times and is instantly being treated like a real or honorary insider.  Good on him, and on the state troopers, too.