53 Congressmen Call for Mutiny

This is alarming.
“As the respected leaders of our brave armed service members, you have no obligation to implement a hastily considered tweet designed to serve as a ‘wedge’ political issue; but rather you should honor your own independent duty to support and defend the Constitution of the United States,” the lawmakers wrote.

“We believe any serious or credible review of the law and the facts in the present case make it clear that the president’s proposed ban on transgender people serving in the armed forces will weaken, not strengthen our military, and is blatantly unconstitutional.”
If it is blatantly unconstitutional, it is a blatantly unconstitutional policy that then-President Obama maintained for almost his whole tenure -- as did every single President before him. Of course, we have recently learned that the mere fact that a thing has been considered constitutional for the entire history of the nation is no proof against it being declared unconstitutional now.

Still, it's a thin reed to hang a mutiny on. Military orders are to be defied only if they are so obviously illegal as to "shock the conscience," a standard that 'restore the policy we had last year' would rarely satisfy.

There is one military leader on the record as intending to defy the order, which is now a formal policy that will soon be transmitted to DOD. The Commandant of the US Coast Guard says he will defy the order. The Coast Guard is usually a Homeland Security outfit but capable of being transferred to the DOD during war or at the pleasure of the President. The Coast Guard apparently has 13 members who are openly transgender, all of whom he apparently had contacted to express his support.

Meanwhile, The Hill reports that defiance is becoming more standard in nonmilitary Federal agencies.
The growing opposition in the executive branch comes as the White House’s legislative agenda has stalled in Congress and Trump turns to his Cabinet agencies to change course in several policy areas. It also is emanating from career staffers or political holdovers whose resistance to Trump has, at times, been rooted in deep opposition to the president’s agenda.
The opposition can take benign forms, such as resigning in protest, which is obviously perfectly fine and even highly appropriate if you decide that you can't do the job for whatever reason. This opposition can also take other forms, such as the dangerous new culture of leaking American secrets to the press.

For members of Congress to openly call for a military mutiny, though, is... well, reckless at least. Insofar as they believe they are defending the Constitution, I suppose their oaths require them to do what they think is necessary. But they're asking for one hell of a crisis, and I hope they know it.

Biker War Movie Review

This week I had occasion to watch two movies that turn, in important ways, on bikers' relationship with the military. The first was 1971's The Hard Ride, a Vietnam-era story about a Marine who comes home with his best friend's body to try to arrange a funeral with his biker friends. The second was 1984's Tank!, where the military aspects are central, but bikers play a pivotal role in the final outcome.

Together with other movies of the era, these sketch an outline of a transformation in American culture. Spoilers below the break line.

What About Conscription?

What do you think conscription's for?
Europe is the continent with the fewest people willing to fight a war for their country. Globally, an average of 61% of respondents in 64 countries said they would. Morocco (94%), Fiji (94%), Pakistan (89%), Vietnam (89%) and Bangladesh (86%) had the highest percentage willing to fight.

The country with the fewest people willing to go to war was Japan, with just 11% of respondents saying they would fight.
Headline reference from this old movie:


From the NY Sun:
SAS soldiers are trying out “Star Wars”-style bulletproof helmets in the war against terror. The SAS is the UK’s answer to the Navy SEALs.
No, that is not accurate. The SAS has been around since 1941, and thus is not an "answer to" the SEALs because it predates them. Though the SEALs have predecessor units dating to WWII, they're all younger than the SAS. The SEALs themselves came to be during the Vietnam war, twenty years later than the SAS. The basic concept of the SAS isn't even similar, as it is an army-based commando unit conceived around airborne deployments, rather than sea-based naval commandos.

Cool mask, though.

Tattoo in Edinburgh

They're playing the Black Bear, transitioning to Scotland the Brave towards the end of the video. But you probably knew all that if you spend a lot of time around here.

That's from the end. If you want to see what the first rehersal of the massed bands looked like, here it is.

Happiness, German and American

The orchestral music identification video ended with an honorable mention by Robert Schumann called "The Happy Farmer."

Here's the American version of the same idea, "The Happy Camper." This is written and performed by the Reverend Horton Heat.

Happy Friday.

Democrats: Trump Doesn't Go Far Enough

So says Vox.
“Trade is at the core of our economic agenda,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement ahead of the formal launch. “We’re going to propose a better deal for American workers — one that puts their well-being at the center of our trade laws, not just the bottom line of huge corporations. Our trade laws have shortchanged American workers for far too long, and we Democrats are aiming to change that.”

The most striking proposal is a call for the creation of an “American Jobs Security Council,” a body that would review and potentially bar foreign purchases of American companies if they are deemed to be a major threat to American jobs.

That kind of scrutiny and interference with foreign investment would be unprecedented for the United States, says Edward Alden, a trade expert and senior fellow at the nonpartisan Council on Foreign Relations.
I wonder what they'll do when they figure out that his immigration policy is even more popular among their blue-collar target voter demographic than his protectionist policies?

A Pleasant Exercise

This video includes evocative samples from one hundred of the great Western masterpieces of orchestral music. It's a great way to brush up on your recognition of famous pieces, and to rediscover ones you may not have thought of in a while that you'd like to listen to in full.


Round the Mull of Kintyre

A retelling of the story of how the Kings of Norway lost the Hebrides to the Kings of Scotland.

Some appropriate music.

American Muslim Assimilation is Rapid

So reports Cato on its recent findings. The usual caveats about polling data apply, but they speak to some of them towards the end of the piece -- particularly the claim that these results come from lying to pollsters.

A Moment of Clarity

On the left:
A mere half-year ago... there was a shining moment where millions of Americans flooded the streets in cities across the country to register their rage that an unapologetic misogynist had just been made leader of the free world....

What wasn’t to like?

A lot, as it turns out. The leaders of the Women’s March, arguably the most prominent feminists in the country, have some chilling ideas and associations.

On the right
I will let the liberals answer for their own sins in this regard. (There are many.) But we conservatives mocked Barack Obama’s failure to deliver on his pledge to change the tone in Washington even as we worked to assist with that failure.... It was we conservatives who rightly and robustly asserted our constitutional prerogatives as a co-equal branch of government when a Democrat was in the White House but who, despite solemn vows to do the same in the event of a Trump presidency, have maintained an unnerving silence as instability has ensued. To carry on in the spring of 2017 as if what was happening was anything approaching normalcy required a determined suspension of critical faculties. And tremendous powers of denial.
On the left, about the right:
If conservatism emphasizes the importance of national security, how does one understand the indifference to Russian interference in our election process? If conservatism extols the virtues of family and religion, how does one understand the tolerance of — indeed, if polling is accurate, the still overwhelming Republican support for — a person whose moral failings could lead to his being fired from every job except the one he holds? If conservatism defends free speech, where is the outrage over the attacks on a free press?

Those who argue that students need more exposure to conservative thinking to understand our current political dynamic seem to be missing the fact that, when it matters most, conservatives have stopped being conservative.

Viewed dispassionately, the lesson that the most visible conservatives appear to be teaching our students is that power is more important than principle, that winning is more important than adhering to an ethical code, that compromise is failure, and maybe worst of all, that facts don’t matter.
I won't bother to cite something from the right about the left, since I'm sure you've all read plenty of such articles in the past.

From The Week in Pictures

A Female Imam from Denmark

This story is relentlessly negative about her, but there's some potential for progress here. She may be more hopeful than is warranted, and she may be refusing to look at the parts of her faith that are hard. But that's something most people do -- when was the last time you heard a sermon calling us to focus our faith on the Book of Joshua? Christianity doesn't celebrate it, but treats it as a problem to be explained (or, more likely, ignored). Islam could learn to do that too.

I've not heard of Sherin Khankan before, so I don't know if she's truly on the level. But I'll look into her. Her basic idea, that Islam could use a Martin Luther, is not wrong.

Freedom of Attire

A march in Turkey celebrates the right to choose what you wear -- bikini, hijab, whatever you want.

The crack against the hijab, rightly enough, is that it is often not a free choice. Often it isn't, and it's hard to know when it really is. But one reasonable proxy for when it really is comes when the women wearing it are marching in favor of other women having the right to wear bikinis.

Don't We Just?

Correlation and Causation

The one does not equal the other...
Even as activity inside the Beltway bogged down, the markets have been on an almost nonstop rally since the election.
...but sometimes you've got to suspect it.


At least half of this statement is certainly true.
"I don't think Donald Trump has figured out that he chained himself to the Apostle Paul," Drollinger laughed.
This is a White House that could use a little more church.

The Universe Doesn't Care About Your "Purpose"

This is the title of an article in the NYT by a philosopher I've met. He's a Marxist, and the conclusion really follows from Marxism's scientific atheism.

Except maybe it doesn't. Perhaps entropy itself is a kind of purpose: one that gives rise to life and intelligence. So argues a new theory from physics on the origin of life. Metaphysically, the physical theory is like Neoplatonism. Instead of the One 'unfolding' or 'unraveling' through creation, there's a unified purpose (seeking entropy) that is spinning out through the whole universe, resulting in the creation of many forms of life to rush along the entropy. Entropy could be said to be a kind of unraveling, and there is a kind of One in the unified purpose. So a unified font of intelligence arising from this single purpose makes sense too.

Then the Universe really does care about your purpose: your purpose is a way of hastening along entropy, which is a part of the single purpose. Your intelligence is a way of hastening entropy. Your life, and all life, arises from and for the purpose of hastening entropy.

There are significant philosophical consequences from redefining the purpose of the universe from the Aristotelian "seeking to emulate the perfect order of the highest things" to "seeking entropy." That means there are significant practical consequences, too, since basic changes in philosophy work themselves out practically in a myriad of hidden ways.

But it's still better than Marxism, if you must be a scientific atheist. At least it offers a ground for a philosophy that values life, too, which so far the Marxist left hasn't managed to do. "It's kind of good because it feels good, but it isn't really important" is no way to go through life. Thus, why go through life at all, especially if it stops feeling good?

The Police Threat to the 2nd Amendment

David French at National Review.
One officer opened fire on the dog, the other officer fired on the man allegedly holding a gun in the doorway, pointing it at the men approaching his home. As the Washington Post reported on July 26, it was only after the smoke cleared that the officers made their “heart-dropping discovery: They were at the wrong home.”

Lopez died that night. Just like Andrew Scott died in his entrance hall, gun in hand, when the police pounded on the wrong door late one night, Scott opened it, saw shadowy figures outside, and started to retreat back into his house. Police opened fire, and he died in seconds.

Angel Mendez was more fortunate. He “only” lost his leg...

If past precedent holds, it’s likely that the officers who killed Ismael Lopez will be treated exactly like the officers in the Scott and Mendez cases. They won’t be prosecuted for crimes, and they’ll probably even be immune from civil suit, with the court following precedents holding that the officers didn’t violate Lopez’s “clearly established” constitutional rights when they approached the wrong house. After all, officers have their own rights of self-defense. What, exactly, are they supposed to do when a gun is pointed at their face?

In other words, the law typically allows officers to shoot innocent homeowners who are lawfully exercising their Second Amendment rights and then provides these same innocent victims with no compensation for the deaths and injuries that result. This is unacceptable, it’s unjust, and it undermines the Second Amendment.
He has some suggestions for repairs to both law and practice.

Racism and Thought Police

On the one hand, this guy has a great point -- and he's quite right about Twain's work.

On the other hand, just yesterday I saw a residence here in Georgia openly flying a Ku Klux Klan flag. You may not know what a Ku Klux Klan flag looks like, as it's been decades since anyone openly flew them except while wearing hoods to mask their identity. It looks like this.

Now, I don't want to suggest that the state should enforce laws against such display -- laws that would be unconstitutional, as well as a form of thought policing. I only want to say that I liked it better when Klansmen were ashamed to broadcast their affiliation. We don't need the Klan back. It has nothing to offer us that we're going to want in any conceivable future.