The Clintons, then and now

I've been watching old "Larry Sanders Show" episodes, inspired by an enjoyable HBO restrospective of the career of the late Garry Shandling.  These shows roughly coincide with the 1990s Clinton Era, and I've been surprised by the number of casually biting hits on both Bill and Hillary Clinton in the fictional talk-show host's monologues.  Bill appears as a clownish lecher, Hillary as a mean, dangerous criminal.  One joke from last night concerned the hardships of a documentarist trying to interview employees at the White House in order to investigate rumors of a fascist atmosphere.  A telephone operator begged the interviewer to go away before someone saw them talking, because Hillary would "hurt him."  A typical monologue joke turns on Hillary's exposure to criminal prosecution, requiring no explanation for the audience.

Shandling was no right-winger; his jokes at the expense of the GOP were if anything more harsh.  It makes me realize the extraordinary--though unsuccessful--effort to rehabilitate Ms. Clinton during the Obama Era.

A Hoax Pointed at Starbucks


This is really an urban phenomenon. One thing I really hate about going to the city is all the locked bathrooms. We don't get this out in the country. People know that going to the bathroom is something human beings have to do once in a while, and that it can be rather urgent at times. Locks are unwelcome.

All the same, every city I ever go to has locked bathrooms everywhere.

I could use this moment to make one of the comments to which I am personally inclined about how living in the city is a less worthy life, but I won't do that. Instead I'll admit that cities offer some advantages in terms of access to wealth and trade, and the goods that those things can bring -- goods like theaters, orchestras, and the like. You don't find those out in the middle of the country either.

In return, however, you have to live with a lot more indignity. Cities have a high cost of living in terms of taxes, higher rent, and the like. They also cost more of your dignity. If you are going to live in easy proximity to those goods, you're going to pay for the privilege. Part of that cost is that you will be less free, treated with less respect, and subject to many more daily humiliations. That's true for everyone, though of course it is worse if you are poor.

Crossing the line

You may or may not be aware of a little controversy in Jacksonville FL recently.  This article summarized it nicely, and rather than do so here, I trust you will get the gist quickly.

The citation was probably accurate under the city code as written, wrongheaded, and it looks like that rule has been amended to allow for military flags.  But honestly, that wasn't particularly shocking to me, being just a poorly written and overly non-specific rule.  The code enforcer's treatment of a veteran in the store (not the business owner being cited, but just a customer who happened to be in the store) was outrageous, and while it crossed the line, that's not actually so much what I want to talk about.

Instead, it got me thinking.  This woman is a city employee.  A government official.  Can the government fire her for being rude?  Should the government be able to fire an employee for stating an unpopular opinion?  I go back and forth on this.  Sure, if she were a private employee, her employer could toss her out the door for bringing controversy to the business.  But the government is bound by the First Amendment in a way that private businesses are not.

On the other hand, I wouldn't be surprised if there is not some rule or regulation about representing the city in a negative light, or perhaps mistreatment of the public as being a fireable offense, and if such a rule exists, and it was a condition of her employment, controversy over... mostly.  If there is no such rule, then I don't know that she can legally be fired for being rude to a veteran.  And I don't know if she ought to be.

I am a veteran.  I can hardly think of a more grave insult you can pay to a wounded vet that "you did nothing for this country" (which is what was originally reported, but I will accept the article's interpretation that she actually said what the vet did overseas does not matter [in the context of the citation]).  But insults still are protected speech.  Oh, one may face social opprobrium for saying such a thing.  One may be ostracized and publicly shamed, and rightfully so.  But the government cannot punish someone for expressing an opinion, regardless of how unpopular it may be.  They are prohibited from doing so, and should be prohibited from doing so.  And I don't know that I want the government to start getting into the business of deciding what speech is protected, and what is not.  Because that is a VERY short slope towards the modern leftist desire to label all speech they do not like as unprotected "hate speech", and then using that to legally ban such speech.

A Hoard of Harald Bluetooth

A boy has made a major find:
Braided necklaces, pearls, brooches, a Thor’s hammer, rings and up to 600 chipped coins were found, including more than 100 that date back to Bluetooth’s era, when he ruled over what is now Denmark, northern Germany, southern Sweden and parts of Norway.

“This trove is the biggest single discovery of Bluetooth coins in the southern Baltic Sea region and is therefore of great significance,” the lead archaeologist, Michael Schirren, told national news agency DPA.

The oldest coin is a Damascus dirham dating to 714 while the most recent is a penny dating to 983.

The find suggests that the treasure may have been buried in the late 980s – also the period when Bluetooth was known to have fled to Pomerania, where he died in 987.
That late a date means that it would have been after Bluetooth's conversion to Christianity. Bluetooth is, of course, the king with whom the protagonists of The Long Ships feasted one memorable Yule. He is also the namesake of those "Bluetooth" devices you see everywhere; the logo is a bindrune of his initials, the runic forms of H and then B.

Purely Coincidence, Your Honor

The judge who is overseeing the dispute between Trump and his DOJ employees was Bill Clinton's second (failed) Attorney General nominee, and personally officiated at the last wedding of George Soros.

Is there anyone involved in the Mueller investigation, apparently to include the judges themselves, who isn't a member of the Clinton faction?

Kimberley Strassel on Comey

She has a series of penetrating questions of the sort that, of course, Comey has not been asked. He ought to be, though.

James Comey, Anchorman

As explained by Ron Burgundy.

The Constitution, How Does It Work?

The President is going to court to force the Department of Justice, which works for him, to take his lead on how to handle the seizure of his own attorney's papers. This is roughly like the House of Representatives suing the Senate in Federal Court because they disagree with how the Senate has handled a bill they forwarded.

What the court should say, of course, is that this is an internal Executive Branch matter over which the court has no power. Instead, they are apparently taking seriously the assumption that a court should have authority to rule over a dispute between the President and his employees in the Executive Branch.

Meanwhile, the Senate is considering a law that would give a Special Counsel recourse to the courts to sue if they are fired and get themselves reinstated. Presumably that would have to be passed into law over the President's veto, but if so it would represent a seizure of constitutional authority from the Executive by the other two branches of government.

The proposed law also seems to create the Department of Justice as a kind of independent secret police. You can see how wise this is if you substitute in the name of any other secret police: "...a [Stasi investigator] may be fired only by the [head of the Stasi], and only for good cause, like misconduct." I'm sure we all have a higher opinion of the DOJ and the FBI than we do of the Stasi or the Gestapo, but the point of constitutional limits on power is to assume that someday bad people might get in charge. Do you really want to set up a secret police that is fully independent of elected officials?

This really has turned into a constitutional crisis.

The real problem with greed

I'm often exasperated by attacks on the profit motive.  The one area where I'm willing to attack it is the action of an individual who knows what's right and what's wrong but chooses the wrong because he's paid to do it.  From a surprising source--CBS, for Pete's sake--comes this spot-on criticism of James Comey's new book "A Higher Loyalty":
As Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com tweeted, it's "not particularly honorable, if you have information you believe is of immediate and vital national importance, to wait 11 months to release it until you can have a giant book launch and publicity tour." Silver—no Trump fan--calls the book "A Higher Royalty."

Truth and pity

Chesterton on virtue:
When a religious scheme is shattered (as Christianity was shattered at the Reformation), it is not merely the vices that are let loose. The vices are, indeed, let loose, and they wander and do damage. But the virtues are let loose also; and the virtues wander more wildly, and the virtues do more terrible damage. The modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering alone. Thus some scientists care for truth; and their truth is pitiless. Thus some humanitarians only care for pity; and their pity (I am sorry to say) is often untruthful.

Prediction is hard

Powerline chuckles at the latest strike of the "Al Gore Effect," which is the juxtaposition of record-cold temperatures in Minnesota with a "March for Science" dominated by climate alarmists. He notes, of course, that these days HotColdWetDry is as eager to explain record cold as record heat by pointing to catastrophic climate something or other. Whatever we just experienced, it was somehow linked to original climate sin. I like his conclusion: "I will be more impressed with the alarmists’ models when they predict something before it happens."

Separation of powers

At last, some clear thinking on the rule of law from Andrew McCarthy:
If lawmakers believe the president is abusing his power by firing good public servants arbitrarily, they can impeach the president. Or they can try to bend the president into better behavior by cutting off funding, refusing to confirm nominees, or holding oversight hearings that embarrass the administration. Congress has these powerful political tools. But it does not have legal means to usurp the president’s constitutional power. Those powers do not come from Congress. They come from Article II. The Constitution cannot be amended by a mere statute or a regulation. Congress may not enact a law that purports to place conditions on the president’s power to dismiss subordinates who exercise his powers.

Comey's goals

Per Powerline, a clip from Comey's interview with George Stephanopoulos.  Comey freely acknowledges that he never told President Trump that the Steele Dossier was funded by Clinton's campaign.  It wasn't important for Comey's goals, he says, which were simply to let Trump know that the FBI had this information. You have to admire an administrator for keeping such a tight focus on his own organization's welfare, at a time when it would have been easy to be distracted by principles of honesty or justice, or the broader good of the nation.

Comey is oddly un-self-conscious.  I have the idea that if you charged him with amorality, he wouldn't take offense but would only gaze at you in mild blankness, wondering what you were getting at.

A Kinda Frightening CIA Blunder

Christopher Harper over at Da Tech Guy lists a few CIA blunders. This one was kinda frightening to me:

My all-time favorite happened in Lebanon.

The pro-Iranian group Hezbollah identified numerous CIA operatives by staking out a Pizza Hut in Beirut. How did Hezbollah figure out that the CIA was meeting with double agents and informants at Pizza Hut? The CIA decided to use the code word “pizza” when communicating with agents.

The code literally meant to meet at a pizza joint for pizza! Ten agents had their identity revealed, and numerous other informants were discovered—some of whom were executed. The CIA was left essentially blind in Lebanon for several months, having to pull the agents out, because agents were lazy and uncreative with their tradecraft.

I don't regularly read Da Tech Guy, and I don't know if this story is true. An ABC report seems to confirm it, though.

Days of Our Lives

Does it strike anyone else as strange that we're watching a for-real national saga in which the President is being prosecuted by a man who is best friends with the star witness in the case against the President, while that star witness has just started profiting off a book tour that will be more successful insofar as the prosecution seems serious? Doesn't that seem like an ethical issue to anyone? As far as I can tell, the main concern (even among members of the President's party) is protecting the investigation.

Shifts in the Night

Is Paul Ryan's departure the end of the 'one party that acts as if it were two'? Possibly, but it'll be costly.

The Democratic party has gone hard left since the defeat of Clinton; the capacity to move hard on ideology is realized because they are at a low point in terms of holding statewide or national office. They have nothing much to lose, so they can say what they want.

Is it worth the exchange? No, in the case of the Democrats: socialism is bad. What about in the case of an America-first party?

For Douglas

Since he was so happy to hear hockey talk in the Hall, here you go.

Calexit

A small problem for that vision of the future in which California is the model for the whole United States. What if people would rather be free?

Disney Princesses & Abortion

A very sad piece by a woman who worked for Disney as a "princess," who did in fact have an abortion. I forward it because she ends up endorsing a thought that Chesterton also endorses, and that I reflect on myself from time to time: that the old fairy tales are reliable.
The stories little girls need to continue to hear are already exemplified in the fairy tales that teach us about goodness and truth. It has always been the witches plotting to confuse the princesses, attempting to lure them away from their noble pursuits ... Cinderella, battling through unplanned circumstances as an orphan in the fire before being transformed into a sparkly princess and future queen, is a story that brings hope and teaches us about true empowerment. It’s a story of making something beautiful out of the life surprises that threaten to burn us.

Cinderella’s crown represents victory over the lies of evil women that told us we were dirty girls destined to sit in the cinders rather than future monarchs destined to rule. Princess fairy tales have lasted ages and teach women about goodness, mercy, kindness, power, perseverance, and strength in a world trying to whistle songs of death past little ears.
I think you're forbidden to suggest that there are "evil women" in the world, or that they bear responsibility for the harms caused by their words. But it is a prominent feature of the old stories, for what are doubtlessly wicked and patriarchal reasons.

Jacksonian Foreign Policy

An interview with one David Reaboi, a former member of the "New York city avant garde" jazz scene, until he was present at 9/11. Present at the creation, as it were. His insights on foreign policy thought on the right are worth hearing.

Wretchard on Governance

Read it all.

Update on British Self-Defense Case

From no less than Kim du Toit, we learn that the police have decided not to prosecute the elderly man who successfully defended himself from home invasion. However, the police are also not doing much to protect him against apparent revenge attempts by the career criminal relatives of the dead invader.
So in defending himself from two murderous intruders, he now has to live his life cowering behind boarded-up windows, in fear of reprisal from the dead asshole’s relatives; because while the Britcops are very efficient in arresting the law-abiding, they’re completely incompetent when it comes to protecting them. And of course, there is no way in hell Our Hero is ever going to be allowed to own a shotgun to protect himself....

So when our local would-be gun controllers confiscators talk about “reasonable U.K.-style gun laws”, please note that this would be one of the outcomes for us law-abiding folks.

Viking Sunstones

A detailed article on the subject of the legendary stones.
The team simulated 3600 voyages taken during the spring equinox, the presumed start of the open seas travel season, and the summer solstice, the longest day of the northern year....

When navigators took readings every 4 hours, their ships reached Greenland between 32% and 59% of the time. Readings every 5 or 6 hours meant the ship had a dramatically poorer chance of making landfall. But for voyages on which the seafarers took sunstone readings at intervals of 3 hours or less, ships made landfall between 92% and 100% of the time, the researchers report today in Royal Society Open Science. In addition to the frequency of readings, key to a successful journey was using the sunstone for an equal number of morning and afternoon readings, the researchers say. (That’s because morning readings can cause a ship to veer too far northward and afternoon readings can cause it to veer too far southward, sometimes missing Greenland altogether.)

Crowder Does Enjoy Driving



Privilege


An idea isn't necessarily bad just because the person who came up with it is rich or privileged in certain ways. However, there is a valid criticism when -- as here -- the idea's plausibility depends on the very access to wealth or privilege that isn't always present for others.

There is another issue around the analogy between police and maids. I imagine the police wouldn't appreciate being analogized to maids for the rich, but they do sometimes speak of 'cleaning up the streets.' They don't mean this literally, in terms of sweeping the sidewalk. They mean they are arresting and throwing people into prison, so that those people -- in the analogy, the trash -- are not on the streets anymore. Who are those people who are analogically 'trash'? Not the rich!

So the issue isn't just that the suggestion is 'have the maid do it' when not everyone can afford a maid. Another issue is that not everyone can rely on the maid to think of them as one of her clients.

Of course, one could counter-argue that no one would benefit from a good maid as much as those who currently find themselves surrounded by trash. Surely that's true, as long as the maid is reliable in discerning the trash from the clients who need help with the cleaning.

Fact-checking the fact-checking

Well, this is very meta, but seems a useful tool.  Real Clear Politics analyzes the methods of a number of fact-checking organizations such as Politifact and Snopes.

A New Model for Sportswriting

There's some promise here.
When I worked at NHL.com, we had to write these “Why the [TEAM NAME] will win the Stanley Cup” pieces before every postseason that were just nightmares, especially when you didn’t believe what you were writing... We were guaranteed to get 15 of 16 of these stories wrong every spring yet we did them anyway.

Six years later, I’ve found the perfect antidote to that insufferable optimism—telling you why your team isn’t going to win the Cup. I’m guaranteed to get 15 of 16 correct! You can’t beat those odds!
I don't know much about the current state of hockey, but the model he's hit upon is clearly valid.

A voice and a heart

From a Gutenberg project I'm working on, this excerpt from Browning's An Epistle Containing the Strange Medical Experience of Karshish, an Arab Physician, "the startled utterance of the Syrian contemporary of Jesus of Nazareth":
"... think, Abib; dost thou think?
So, the All-great were the All-loving too!
So through the thunder comes a human voice
Saying: "O heart I made, a heart beats here!"

The NRA and Race

It's a point we've featured here before, but it's worth hearing it again.

The NRA, from its very beginnings, took seriously the issue of black Americans' right to defend themselves with firearms. The worst that can be said about them is that they could do more, for example in cases like Philando Castile's; but that wish for more happens in a context in which very few are doing anything to protect their rights at all. Many, in fact, are doing the best they can to strip their rights away.

Nonsense, Mr. Khan




"There is never a reason to carry a knife"? The knife is one of the most universal tools in human history. There are hundreds of reasons to carry a knife, which is why everyone everywhere has typically done so.

Self-defense is a valid reason, for that matter. The collapse of order in your city, Mr. Khan, is a more than adequate reason by itself. But for goodness sake, don't try to sell me on "never." I carry a knife everywhere, and I find it endlessly useful. Other people who have neglected to carry a knife very regularly ask to borrow mine.

Why don't you try establishing a civilization in which you don't have to ban ordinary useful tools in order to have peace and good order? The British used to know how to do that.

Middle-Earth Announces Heavy Tariffs On Narnian Imports

MINAS TIRITH, GONDOR—Kicking off a major trade war between the two kingdoms, the Middle-Earth Trade Federation has announced heavy tariffs on the import of Narnian steel, sending the stock market into a freefall Thursday...

Bee Stings Google for Easter

Google Pays Respect to Jesus's Empty Tomb with Empty Homepage

Happy Dance

Speaking of MercyMe ...


I had a teacher once who told me, "I can't sing worth anything, but I can sure make a joyful noise."

The Left's Enemies Must Be Crushed

The head of Twitter endorsed this article on eliminating the political opposition, so you might want to read it.

It's not well-argued, and there's almost nothing of value in its extremely loose historical analogies. The endorsement thus isn't based on the notion that this is a tightly argued piece that maps out a plausible way forward. The endorsement is of the overarching vision of a nation where only Democrats exercise political power, where Republicans and conservatives are as powerless as in California, and where 'the wrong side' is crushed and subordinated.

California accomplished this, the author says, so the nation as a whole can as well. There are in fact substantial road blocks to doing that in the rest of the country, but you might usefully ask how California became so reliably Democratic. The answer is straightforward: Democrats endorsed mass immigration, Republicans opposed it, and the massive number of immigrants voted for Democrats as a result. It's actually completely unlike the historical analogues chosen by the author, i.e., the Civil War and the FDR era that arose in the Great Depression. Those political outcomes were the result of calamities that persuaded people to accept a new order. In California, they just imported enough new voters to tip the scales.

California also exported a lot of Republican voters, of course, as they fled the state for Texas or other friendlier climes. In the envisioned scenario, there would be nowhere to go.

The Great Leveler

On Jordan Peterson's recommendation, I'm about to start "The Great Leveler," an attempt to analyze how much income inequality has occurred from 9,000 B.C. through the present.  The general consensus is that the author is descriptivist not prescriptivist and has no political agenda to push.  His overall conclusion is that income inequality is persistent, interrupted only by cataclysms like war and pestilence, which foster an equality by general immiseration.

It's interesting to read the most positive and negative reviews, as I usually do before taking a chance on a book:  about the same number of negative reviewers object that his political bias is obvious.  Some, however, object that he is betraying a bias to the left by arguing that inequality must be bad, without explaining why or noting that what's important is how tolerable life is for those on the bottom.  Others object that he is betraying a bias to the right by arguing that equality can be achieved only by violent disaster, whereas all sensible and compassionate people know that inequality occurs only when bad men use violence.  The positive reviews tend to find him apolitical, whether the reviewer betrays a disposition towards the left or the right.  The author himself apparently offers no suggestions other than to be careful what we wish for.

A Historical Analogy

Safety Brief

Have a great time otherwise.

"I'm the Majority" - the Law Abiding Citizen

Four minutes that perfectly explain the gun issue.  Thank you Mr. Mark Robinson of Greensboro, North Carolina.  I'll say no more and just get out of his way...

Run Devil Run


Pueblo Sin Fronteras

More looking-glass-world news coverage this week.  President Trump announced that there would be some really unpleasant consequences to Mexico if a caravan of illegal immigrants from Central America were ushered politely through Mexico to the southern U.S. border, and magically, they called the march off and dumped the participants into Mexico City.  Now it seems that there is an annual caravan of this type, organized by a group called "Pueblo Sin Fronteras" (People Without Borders), whose website asks for donations but doesn't give any information about where it's based or who runs it.  PSF explained that the halt had nothing to do with Trump, whatever you might have assumed, but was a rational response to the fear of the dangers of an arduous train ride that normally forms the next link in this standard trek.

You might think that the news coverage would stress the fact that this is an annual organized attempt to challenge the U.S. borders and to spin up favorable news coverage for open-border enthusiasts, but instead the coverage is . . . strange.  This NBC story, for instance, explains that President Trump is misleading everyone into thinking that there's a large organized group of illegal immigrants being shepherded through Mexico on their way here, because it's really an annual publicity stunt that's been going on for years, what's the big deal?  Snopes takes the same strange view:  you may have heard that there's a caravan, etc., but a quick look at the facts shows that it's just the usual annual, etc.  What's more, no one is planning an illegal entry.  Instead, they intend to ask for asylum, as usual.  It's true that, in order to ask for asylum, they have to present themselves to immigration officials inside the U.S., having first crashed the border, but what's the big deal?  Why is Trump being a meanie all of a sudden?  The whole purpose of the annual march is to highlight the plight of people on an annual march to crash the U.S. border, and suddenly you guys want to make it harder?

I think "People Without Borders" is a better description of us than of the organization that organizes the annual caravans.  PS, as the Washington Examiner points out, there is also an American organization called People Without Borders that facilitates assimilation of legal immigrants, but it is getting flak from people who have confused it with Pueblo Sin Fronteras.  PSF's Facebook page is short on background but identifies itself as an "International Migrant Outreach Collective," whose "product" is "humanity."

Amazing Grace


This song in one form or another has come up in my life several times over the last week. Might as well put the Dropkick Murphy's version up.

Being Terrible

A confession.

I Can Only Imagine

Also a good movie, though of the two I preferred "Paul, Apostle of Christ."


If you aren't familiar with it, the song "I Can Only Imagine" launched MercyMe's career in the Christian music world and I believe is the best-selling Christian single ever.


UK Holds 78 Year Old For Defending Himself

A pensioner in London is under arrest after stabbing one of two men who invaded his home and assaulted him.

The injustice of this is apparently not obvious to British authorities. One begins to suspect it is the desired future for some of our fellow Americans, too.

Paul, Apostle of Christ


It's really pretty good, I thought.

Dissembling at the Edge


C'mon, ma'am. We all know you really do care whether we live or die.

The California Secession

States control their own ballots for their own state and local elections, and they can let non-citizens vote if they want to do. However, in Federal elections, they must ensure that only citizens vote. If they knowingly register non-citizens to vote without ensuring that those non-citizens can be excluded from Federal elections, they're out of order. What's to be done about it?
Imagine a better alternative. Suppose that President Trump announces today that the new California law has made all future elections unconstitutional and illegal, because foreigners are now allowed to tilt the outcome. Neither he nor the Republican House and Senate will accept the credentials of anyone elected by California (one of eight states, incidentally, that have more registered voters than voting-age citizens).

Imagine after November's vote that California's two Democratic senators and 53 members of Congress (39 of whom are Democrats) are not seated until a new California election purges all illegal aliens and other foreigners from the voter rolls in federal elections. No California presidential votes will be counted in 2020. Imagine the federal government requiring voter IDs and declaring it a felony punishable by permanent forfeiture of future U.S. citizenship if a non-citizen votes illegally in any federal election.
I can imagine that, but what's the mechanism for not counting the votes of Presidential electors appointed by California? Does the Office of the Federal Register have the authority to do that? Would they exercise it?

Two Against the Conventional Wisdom

This first one shouldn't be a surprise. Maslow's famous hierarchy of needs suggests that only people who have succeeded at fulfilling more basic needs will have attention for ideology. It takes a high degree of resources to have time and attention for the processes of radicalization, which involve study and thought. All the same, it will be a surprise, because the basic assumption of many is that some sort of actual injustice is behind radicalization: poverty and its resentments.

The second one isn't surprising either, since the numbers they're putting up mirror the population far better than the ones the NYT ran. In a high-stakes election like 2016, it makes sense that the population would turn out in numbers that are more representative than less. But, again, it'll be a surprise even though it shouldn't be.

Swinging Hammers

London has surpassed New York in murder in spite of nationwide gun control laws that would make an American blush. So, what's next? "London mayor looks to Glasgow's anti-knife unit."

Not that there aren't already knife controls, too.


The UK has followed Pakistan and Bangladesh in introducing "acid control" laws aimed at common household chemicals, which for some reason people have been throwing in each other's faces.

Whether this succeeds or fails, expect to be reading soon about "hammer control laws" and "common-sense limits on how large a rock you can own." Unfortunately the only way to make the rocks smaller is with hammers, so those laws will be a bit at cross-purposes.

The Interesting Story of Otto Skorzeny

How Otto Skorzeny Went from Hitler's Favorite Commando to Israeli Hitman

It's a compelling story, though possibly his funerals gave me the biggest surprise.

On July 5, 1975, Otto Skorzeny died at the age of 67 from lung cancer. He had two funerals, one in Madrid, and the other at his family plot in Vienna. At both, he received a full Nazi send-off with Nazi veterans giving him the Nazi salute and singing some of Hitler’s favorite songs.

Of course they would. But I have this naive ... feeling ... that after WWII ended and the horrors of the holocaust were revealed, the Nazi veterans would have been too ashamed to give the Nazi salute or celebrate Hitler. I know that's not true or realistic, but it's still there.

Ugly's Son

The surname MacLeod (pronounced mc-loud) (Scottish Gaelic: MacLeòid) means son of Leod. The name Leod is an Anglicization of the Scottish Gaelic name Leòd, which is thought to have been derived from the Old Norse name Ljótr, meaning ugly.
The man might be, but the pipes are not.

Easter

I can't improve upon AVI's Easter post, which brought attention to an aspect of the story I hadn't thought about before. I'll simply refer you to it.

Happy Easter, all.

Baby Welsh Dragon Cloned

It's cute!


H/t: The Bangor Aye.

The Big Short

I just finished listening to The Big Short, which was pretty good. It was odd not to hear the least mention of the role of the Community Reinvestment Act in the mania to issue loans that no one seriously expected to  be repaid.  It also was odd, in all the discussion of the confusion of guys going short who wondered "who are the crazy people who are taking the long side of this bet?"--never hearing any mention of the appetite of Fannie Mae et al. in buying up the junk mortgages.  Possibly they had a smaller role than I had gathered.  In every other ways, it's a very informative discussion of how structured finance worked and how deliberately opaque all the terms were.  There is a more comprehensible explanation of how badly the rating agencies dropped the ball, and the consequences of their dereliction, than I've seen before.

Back on this Side of the Sea

The trip to the desert went as well as could be hoped, and better than expected. I’ve touched down on American soil, and with one more hop will be home.

Special thanks to Thomas for remembering Zell Miller. Though I never met him, he was an important man in my life. I wish we had many more like him. He will be missed. His kind is passing from the world. They will all be missed.

A Nice Set and an Interview with Nathaniel Rateliffe

Earlier this month, Seattle KEXP had the band on to play a few tunes and to interview them. Apparently, they were getting ready to pack it in and get jobs when the song SOB took off. The songs are from the new album, I believe.


A two-minute hate for "privatization" and "Kochs"

This Politico coverage of the sacking of VA secretary Shulkin is bizarre.  I must be so far in the conservative echo chamber that I'd lost sight of how even moderately leftist people view the dangers of allowing vets to go outside the nonfunctional VA system to get actual care from actual private doctors.  To Politico, apparently, this is "privatizing VA benefits while leaving taxpayers with the bill."  If the point is to provide vets with benefits, I'm at a loss to see what's wrong with using taxpayer funds to pay private doctors.  Isn't that what Medicare does, or theoretically does?  Usually we see complaints about the juxtaposition of "privatizing" with "taxpayer" funds when it's a pseudo-investment, as in infrastructure, and the upside is on the private side while the downside is left to the taxpayers.

Google Actually Has More Data on Us than My Paranoia Had Suggested

Over in The Guardian, Dylan Curran goes through many of the different kinds of data Google has on its users and how that data is collected. Some interesting bits:

Google stores your location (if you have location tracking turned on) every time you turn on your phone. You can see a timeline of where you’ve been from the very first day you started using Google on your phone. ...
Google stores search history across all your devices. That can mean that, even if you delete your search history and phone history on one device, it may still have data saved from other devices. ...
Google stores all of your YouTube history ... 
Google offers an option to download all of the data it stores about you. I’ve requested to download it and the file is 5.5GB big, which is roughly 3m Word documents. 
This link includes your bookmarks, emails, contacts, your Google Drive files, all of the above information, your YouTube videos, the photos you’ve taken on your phone, the businesses you’ve bought from, the products you’ve bought through Google … 
They also have data from your calendar, your Google hangout sessions, your location history, the music you listen to, the Google books you’ve purchased, the Google groups you’re in, the websites you’ve created, the phones you’ve owned, the pages you’ve shared, how many steps you walk in a day …

He gives links to see Google's files on you for each of these kinds of data, and others. Creepily, Google apparently keeps information you have deleted.

And then ...

Manage to gain access to someone’s Google account? Perfect, you have a chronological diary of everything that person has done for the last 10 years.
I thought I might have avoided some of this by not being logged in to Google most of the time, which is a good step. Then I noticed that when I visit this blog, I always have the option to post, and thus must be signed in. Oh well. Guess I'll change that now.

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats Have a New Album Out


Falconry, Kidnapping, and Syria

Robert F. Worth has an interesting article in the New York Times about a band of kidnapped Qatari falconers and the ransom paid for them. Here is a taste:

A week later, the money still impounded, the Qatari team left Baghdad in the same jet that had brought them. They were now accompanied by two dozen Qataris, including members of the ruling Al Thani family, who had been kidnapped during a hunting trip in southern Iraq 16 months earlier. The story of what happened on that trip has not been reported until now. It entails a ransom deal of staggering size and complexity in which the Qataris paid vast sums to terrorists on both sides of the Middle East’s sectarian divide, fueling the region’s spiraling civil wars. 
...
To Arab falconers, the houbara bustard — a bug-eyed, long-legged creature about the size of a large chicken — is the king of game birds. It is a fast flier with an unusual defense: When cornered, it vomits an oily green substance that can temporarily blind an attacking falcon or hobble its wings. In the days before oil was discovered in the Arabian desert, the houbara’s seasonal return every fall was met with celebratory poetry and long hunts on camelback. The Land Rover made things a lot easier, but chasing the houbara, whose stringy flesh is said to be an aphrodisiac, remains one of the hallowed pursuits — along with thoroughbred stallions, huge yachts and French chateaus — that occupy the minds of Persian Gulf royalty. 
In late November 2015, a large group of Qatari falcon hunters left Doha in a column of 4-by-4 vehicles and headed south. Crossing the Saudi border, the convoy turned north, traversing a portion of Kuwait and continuing on to their destination, the southern desert of Iraq, 450 miles from Doha ...

Rest in Peace, Zell Miller

Zell Miller passed away last Friday.

Miller served his nation in the Marines, then served the State of Georgia as a state senator, lt. governor, governor, and US senator. He was a lifelong Democrat who, in my opinion, did what he believed was best for the nation rather than his party.

He also wrote some interesting books. Two that might interest those at the Hall are A National Party No More: The Conscience of a Conservative Democrat and Purt Nigh Gone: The Old Mountain Ways, a book about Appalachian history and culture.

Remembering who got elected

I've always liked John Bolton.
Ronald Reagan famously said that no war in his lifetime ever started because America was too strong.



Overseas

I'll be away overseas for a week or so. Keep the faith.

Scott Pruitt strikes again

The man environmentalists love to hate has instituted the un-heard-of rule that EPA regulations must be based on public data.  Is there no end to the science-bashing by Trump appointees?

Curling and Cars

I am only showing this video ...


because it makes this one funnier ...


although I do have to feel bad for the folks caught in that.


Crimean Tom

Today, Wikipedia's "Did you know ..." section mentioned a hero of the Crimean War. From the full entry on Crimean Tom:

During the Crimean War British and French forces captured Sevastopol from the Russians on 9 September 1855 after an almost year-long siege. Lieutenant William Gair of the 6th Dragoon Guards, who was seconded to the Field Train Department as a deputy assistant commissary, led patrols to search the cellars of buildings for supplies. Gair noticed a cat, covered in dust and grime, that was sat on top of a pile of rubbish between two injured people. The cat, unperturbed by the surrounding commotion, allowed himself to be picked up by Gair. The cat, estimated to have been 8 years old when found, had survived within the city throughout the siege. 
Gair took the cat back to his quarters and he lived and ate with a group of British officers who initially named him Tom and later Crimean Tom or Sevastopol Tom. The occupying armies were struggling to find supplies, especially of food, in a city much-deprived by the year-long siege. It is said that the officers noticed how fat Tom was getting and realised he must have been feeding off a good supply of mice nearby. Knowing that the mice may have been themselves feeding off hidden Russian supplies they followed Tom to an area cut off by rubble. Here, they found a storeroom with food supplies that helped to save British and French soldiers from starvation. Tom later led the officers to several smaller caches of supplies near the city docks.

St. Patrick's Day Movie Recommendations

So the family has decided that we are to stay in this evening and watch a movie.
I'm well equipped with Guinness and Tullamore Dew, and my lovely Mrs. has prepared some fine corned beef.
I can think of a few obvious suggestions for St. Paddy's Day movies- The Quiet Man for instance, but I think I'd get vetoed on that one.


I suspect you all might have some suggestions...


So?

With Dems like this . . . .

If the Democrats take back the House or Senate with Democrats like Conor Lamb, what will the House and Senate look like?
[W]ill Democrats run moderates who demand Nancy Pelosi resign and who hail their Second Amendment cred in other races this year, all of whom refuse to criticize Donald Trump? Will they even run one more challenger who follows the Lamb pattern? Not terribly likely, which is why Lamb’s win may not mean much at all seven months down the road.
On the other hand,
[L]et’s not pretend he was basically a Righty. He opposes the tax cuts, supports Big Labor, opposes Obamacare repeal, opposes mainstream abortion restrictions (despite his pro-life song and dance), and is strongly opposed to entitlement reform. He’ll be a fairly reliable vote for the Democrats on most issues, even if he was strategic about playing up certain cultural differences.

Sleazy FBI agents

This kind of thing really does not look good.
Newly discovered text messages obtained by The Federalist reveal two key federal law enforcement officials conspired to meet with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) judge who presided over the federal case against Michael Flynn. The judge, Rudolph Contreras, was recused from handling the case just days after accepting the guilty plea of President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser who was charged with making false statements to federal investigators.
The text messages about Contreras between controversial Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) lawyer Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, the senior FBI counterintelligence official who was kicked off Robert Mueller’s special counsel team, were deliberately hidden from Congress, multiple congressional investigators told The Federalist. In the messages, Page and Strzok, who are rumored to have been engaged in an illicit romantic affair, discussed Strzok’s personal friendship with Contreras and how to leverage that relationship in ongoing counterintelligence matters.
“Rudy is on the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court]!” Page excitedly texted Strzok on July 25, 2016. “Did you know that? Just appointed two months ago.”
“I did,” Strzok responded. “I need to get together with him.”
“[He] said he’d gotten on a month or two ago at a graduation party we were both at.”
Contreras was appointed to the top surveillance court on May 19, 2016, federal records show.
The pair even schemed about how to set up a cocktail or dinner party just so Contreras, Strzok, and Page could speak without arousing suspicion that they were colluding. Strzok expressed concern that a one-on-one meeting between the two men might require Contreras’ recusal from matters in which Strzok was involved.
“[REDACTED] suggested a social setting with others would probably be better than a one on one meeting,” Strzok told Page. “I’m sorry, I’m just going to have to invite you to that cocktail party.”
“Have to come up with some other work people cover for action,” Strzok added.

Review: Birra Etrusca

Dogfish Head brewery, in partnership with Birra del Borgo and Baladin, and biomolecular archeologist Patrick McGovern, have produced a reproduction of an ancient ale from the 8th century B.C. This, as far as they can tell, is what people in Italy drank before the arrival of wine.


It may be hard to imagine Italy before wine, which is itself of great antiquity. Indeed wine itself is at least eight thousand years old. However, it did not exist everywhere eight thousand years ago, and it is currently thought to have been spread into the Mediterranean regions of Europe by the Phoenicians. By the time of Homer, of course, wine was already a mental fixture in southern Europe.

The drink is refreshing, fruity in character. It features hazelnut flour as well as wheat (of heirloom varieties, they note, although I doubt any of our heirloom wheats are as old as the beverage they're aiming at here). It draws additional sugars for fermentation from honey and pomegranates, plus other fruits.

If you come across a bottle, and you're interested in exploring ancient things, it's worth a try.

Irony

My meter is pegged.

From The Blaze:

https://twitter.com/theblaze/status/974355843515895808

Eric Hines

The Hazards of Listening to Children

What they lack in worldly experience, they do not make up for in knowledge of history.


H/t: 5Bravo.

Leaders and the led

Arthur Herman on "Why Tillerson Had to Go":
Trump thought he was getting a lion in Tillerson. Instead, he was getting a Saint Bernard. Like the breed, Tillerson may be large and imposing at first glance; but he is no fighter, least of all against the bureaucratic mentality that permeates the U.S. State Department.
Here we can stipulate a third point. Virtually every secretary of state since Cordell Hull has suffered one of two fates. Either he or she becomes the president’s representative to the bureaucracy — and when necessary the ruthless enforcer of the chief executive’s will in Foggy Bottom — or he or she becomes the bureaucracy’s representative to the president, and assumes the role of bringing the State Department’s views to the chief executive’s attention — even at times serving as an advocate of those views.

Profiling

More than one profile, really. Scientific American gives this one:
According to a growing number of scientific studies, the kind of man who stockpiles weapons or applies for a concealed-carry license meets a very specific profile.

These are men who are anxious about their ability to protect their families, insecure about their place in the job market, and beset by racial fears. They tend to be less educated. For the most part, they don’t appear to be religious—and, suggests one study, faith seems to reduce their attachment to guns. In fact, stockpiling guns seems to be a symptom of a much deeper crisis in meaning and purpose in their lives.
But there's another profile that these men fit: they're particularly good citizens.
Crime rates involving gun owners with carry licenses have consistently been about 0.02% of all carry permit holders since Florida’s right-to-carry law started in 1988.... People with concealed carry licenses are:

5.7 times less likely to be arrested for violent offenses than the general public
13.5 times less likely to be arrested for non-violent offenses than the general public
Its as if they respect the rights of others -- in spite of all those alleged crises of meaning and stuff.

Better "17s"

A public school teacher of my long acquaintance posed this the other day. I didn't understand the "17" reference until today, but the 'protests' made a lot of the 17 because that was the number of people killed while police on the scene absolutely refused to do their jobs and stop murders in progress.

Unlike the 'protests,' here are some things students could do that might actually make a difference.


That's all probably too hard. Virtue signalling is easier, especially when the path has been paved for you by adult organizers.

Reason Magazine: "No."

Today, all across the country, adults who oppose the 2nd Amendment are herding school children out before cameras to pose with signs suggesting that the students oppose gun rights. Reason magazine has a thoughtful answer.
Where this lands us is that even if today's protesters get their way and legislators vote to impose restrictions on gun ownership and self-defense, that doesn't mean that those of us who value those rights will change our conduct. Statutes aren't like the law of gravity—we get to choose whether we're going to abide by them, or else actively oppose them and sabotage their enforcement....

The track record on disobeying such laws is very clear. Residents of Connecticut and New York defied requirements that they register their so-called "assault weapons." Gun owners in Colorado ignored mandates that they pass all their person-to-person sales through the background check system. Even the French and Germans flip the bird to laws that gun-haters can only dream of imposing in the United States, owning millions of illegal firearms that supporters of restrictions wish they didn't have.

Exercising your liberty in total contradiction to restrictive laws is a good thing, by the way. Nothing limits the power of the state like the outer boundaries of people's willingness to do what they're told. ...

I don't begrudge today's protesters their right to voice their opinions, even as they call for restrictions on my own rights. Their rights to free speech and free assembly are, after all, among the rights that aren't subject to popular opinion or debate. I even wish them good weather and a pleasant experience.

But they need to be aware that, just as I would never try to impose limits on their liberty, I and people like me will never submit to the restrictions that they demand.
The same people in favor of gun confiscation argue that immigration laws shouldn't be enforced by local police because the consequent refusal to talk to police will make policing that community impossible.

Forest Clan

A Finnish band whose name thus translates sings a drinking song.

How's Your Hearing?

A sociologist talks to rural voters for eight years. His results?
Robert Wuthnow
They believe that Washington really does have power over their lives. They recognize that the federal government controls vast resources, and they feel threatened if they perceive Washington’s interest being directed more toward urban areas than rural areas, or toward immigrants more than non-immigrants, or toward minority populations instead of the traditional white Anglo population.

Sean Illing
But that’s just racism and cultural resentment, and calling it a manifestation of some deeper anxiety doesn’t alter that fact.

Robert Wuthnow
I don’t disagree with that.

...

Sean Illing
I’m still struggling to understand what exactly these people mean when they complain about the “moral decline” of America. At one point, you interview a woman who complains about the country’s “moral decline” and then cites, as evidence, the fact that she can’t spank her children without “the government” intervening. Am I supposed to take this seriously?

Robert Wuthnow
It’s an interesting question. What does it mean for us to take that seriously?

...

Sean Illing
Which is why I’d argue that the divide between rural and urban America is becoming unbridgeable. We can talk all we like about the sanctity of these small communities and the traditional values that hold them together, but, as you say, many of the people who live in these places hold racist views and support racist candidates and we can’t accommodate that.

Robert Wuthnow
Yes, this is one of the most difficult aspects of the discussion we’re now having about morality in America. What counts as moral varies so much from place to place. In the South, for example, you have clergy who are vehement about abortion or homosexuality, and they preach this in the pulpits every Sunday. But then they turn a blind eye to policies that hurt the poor or discriminate against minorities.

Sean Illing
I know a lot of people who don’t live in rural America are tired of being told they need to understand all these resentments.
I'd have thought you'd have had to have worked harder at something before it tired you out.

Sounds like they've got their candidate for 2020 all lined up, though. She, at least, sees the world just the very same way that they do.

Road Trips

I'm home today, but I've been on the road an awful lot lately. More to come! It's pretty exhausting.

In point of fact, the next two or three months look pretty exhausting.

All the same, good things come to those who work for it -- well, at least, that's the way to lay your bets.

The Shape of Water

I saw the movie The Shape of Water recently. I really only have a couple of comments about it.

First, it seems to be a remake of The Creature from the Black Lagoon, only if the creature were the good guy.

Second, a quick way to get a grasp on the politics of a movie is to look at who the bad guys are. If the bad guys are essentially normal, patriotic Americans dressed up with evil motivations and disgusting habits, you're watching a left-wing movie. A somewhat less-frequently-helpful method is to see who the good guys are.

In Shape, both methods are useful. The bad guys are US government agents and soldiers during the early Cold War. The good guys are a mute woman, a black woman, a Soviet scientist / spy, a gay man, and the creature.

There's more that could be said, but I'll leave it at that.

Forest for the Trees

In testimony last November before the panel, Erik Prince was questioned extensively about the January 2017 Seychelles meeting and whether it was an attempt to set up secret communications between the Trump administration and Russia. As Prince furiously denied that was the case, he also did not reveal that George Nader -- a Lebanese-American businessman and Middle East specialist with ties to the Trump team -- also attended at least one meeting there, raising fresh questions among Democrats about whether Prince misled the panel when testifying under oath.
If the meeting had been about "setting up secret communications between the Russians and the Trump administration," that would mean that there were not any extant communications. The meeting was in January 2017, only days before Trump would become President. Where's the 2016 collusion if he had to set up back-channel comms at as late a date as this? If you prove the thing you're asking about, you've proven that 2016 collusion probably didn't exist.

A possible counter argument: perhaps they'd had such comms before, but they'd become compromised and had to be abandoned. If that were the case, though, the same intelligence community that's been leaking like a sieve here would have leaked this too.

Dispatches from Kennesaw

I passed by Kennesaw, Georgia last night on my way home from the Dropkick Murphys concert near Atlanta. (If you have the opportunity, they put on a great live show.) It's now a full-fledged suburb of Atlanta, not the quiet little town it was when it first adopted the law described in this article.
“In Kennesaw, Georgia, local law says that ‘every head of household residing in the city limits is required to maintain a firearm.’

"‘If you're going to commit a crime in Kennesaw and you're the criminal -- are you going to take a chance that that homeowner is a law-abiding citizen?’ asked Kennesaw Mayor Derek Easterling."
The violent crime rate is below two percent all these years later.

Runoff

The Texas primaries were today.  In my four-way race, I came in first by 3 votes and will face a run-off on May 22 with the guy in second place.  We both got about 32% of the vote.  The other guys got 24% and 12%.  Since the fellow I'm running against is basically the establishment candidate, I like my chances for picking off the votes of the other two.

Otherwise, all the incumbents in my county were re-elected, despite all the talk about the upheaval because of the storm.  The seat I'm running for is open, as the current commissioner elected not to run again.

Against Conformity

An academic from 'low backgrounds' asserts her claim not to have to adopt the mores that rule in the Ivory Tower.
The image is no longer unsullied simplicity but befouled by bigotry, misogyny and cruelty. This too is a stereotype, and one that, however different, achieves force precisely in its distance. I wrote about this just after the 2016 presidential election, and was surprised by how quickly the contempt directed at the poor rural voter came my way. A friend of mine summed up the new atmosphere: ‘No one wants to read about poor rural people struggling to walk upright.’ This too works to keep the ivory tower pristine, for even fewer now are likely to confess low origins.

Academia’s representations of the poor and rural inspire an oppositional impulse in me – a resistance to seeing people like mine as people like that, as people tidily captured, whether quaint or corrupt, pitiable or pitiless. Assimilation in academia entails the denial of one’s own experience and history. It demands epistemic sacrifice, a willingness to shed complexity and, along with it, possibilities. It’s the possibilities I begrudge the most.

Stripping out the Christianity

There's a piece at the Federalist arguing against the authenticity of the new "A Wrinkle in Time."
Lee seems to feel that the Christian faith of L’Engle is not a big deal, and that it’s something that should be moved on from.... A story by a Christian author who made deliberate choices to incorporate Christian themes in a story about good vs. evil is a story with Christianity as a central theme, not just some minor element to be shrugged off.

The Christianity of “A Wrinkle in Time” is not implied or subtle, but rather masterfully and beautifully interwoven throughout the whole story. It’s a shame if the motivations and understandings of the characters are stripped from them. At the climax of the book, when the main character, Meg, is discouraged and needs hope, it is the Bible that is quoted to her: “The foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
The culture as a whole is trying hard to shrug off Christianity, so it's not surprising that they wish to do so here. Nor is this the first time this has happened. Though C. S. Lewis (mentioned in the piece) and L'Engle were explicitly attempting to tell Christian fairy tales that would reinforce the faith, other authors for whom Christianity was central have also seen it stripped of its place in their works.

To take just one example, consider the centrality of Christianity to Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur. Malory's sources are clear about Arthur's status as a Christian king. The whole book is built around the Christian liturgical year, so much so that you won't realize that scenes take place in winter or spring except by the feasts cited. The Quest for the Holy Grail makes up the dramatic center of the work, beginning at the high water mark of the secular Arthurian kingdom and hastening its downfall as so many knights -- successful at establishing worldly goods and attaining worldly virtue -- are destroyed by the pursuit of spiritual perfections of which they fall far short. Though the destruction of Arthur's kingdom is eventuated by Lancelot and Guinevere's sin, and Gawain's sin of pride and wrath in pursuing vengeance against them, the pursuit of the Holy Grail weakened the kingdom as a practical power; it stored up treasures in heaven for the martyrs, but at substantial earthly cost.

Yet go and find any version of the Arthurian story told since the 1970s, and you'll find that some sort of paganism is presented as the real moral core of the work. Arthur is secretly a worshiper of Mithras, or really the hero(ine)s were pagan goddess worshipers, or Merlin was secretly a pagan and guided Arthur around a benighted Christianity, or....

Indeed, the one easy counterexample is Tolkien. Tolkien's great work differs in that it barely makes reference to the Christianity it nevertheless assumes as basic to its structure. This seems to have been a conscious decision on Tolkien's part. You can engage with Frodo and Sam's quiet faith based on the stars being beyond Sauron's reach; you don't need to believe in a transcendent God. You can examine the heroism of Gimli and Legolas, or their friendship across differences of species and culture and history. Aragorn's acceptance of his need to strive heroically against the winds of fate is noble in a way that a Roman or a Viking would appreciate. Only occasionally, in the whispers of Gandalf, do you get the idea that there is a hidden power directing the world, a "Secret Fire" before whose worn and tired servants even Balrogs cannot prevail.

Even at the end of the book, you have only received a hint that Gandalf is one of those beings like the 'Wrinkle in Time' messengers. If you don't read further into the legendarium, you'll never be told that Gandalf is not just a 'wizard,' but a Maiar, a kind of lower angel. Tolkien hid it for them, for reasons of his own.

The Powers of a King

Conservative Review points out that yesterday was supposed to be the end of the DACA program, except that the courts have so far said that the President isn't allowed to end a program created purely by the action of the previous President.
Yet thanks to a political system that has crowned district judges the kings of our society, the very underpinnings of the self-governing nation established in the Declaration of Independence have now been abandoned. We have district judges who can unilaterally make denizens of aliens – the power of a king, according to Alexander Hamilton in Federalist #69.
The relevant section of Federalist 69 is about why a president is preferable to a king.
The President of the United States would be an officer elected by the people for FOUR years; the king of Great Britain is a perpetual and HEREDITARY prince. The one would be amenable to personal punishment and disgrace; the person of the other is sacred and inviolable. The one would have a QUALIFIED negative upon the acts of the legislative body; the other has an ABSOLUTE negative. The one would have a right to command the military and naval forces of the nation; the other, in addition to this right, possesses that of DECLARING war, and of RAISING and REGULATING fleets and armies by his own authority. The one would have a concurrent power with a branch of the legislature in the formation of treaties; the other is the SOLE POSSESSOR of the power of making treaties. The one would have a like concurrent authority in appointing to offices; the other is the sole author of all appointments. The one can confer no privileges whatever; the other can make denizens of aliens, noblemen of commoners; can erect corporations with all the rights incident to corporate bodies. The one can prescribe no rules concerning the commerce or currency of the nation; the other is in several respects the arbiter of commerce, and in this capacity can establish markets and fairs, can regulate weights and measures, can lay embargoes for a limited time, can coin money, can authorize or prohibit the circulation of foreign coin. The one has no particle of spiritual jurisdiction; the other is the supreme head and governor of the national church! What answer shall we give to those who would persuade us that things so unlike resemble each other? The same that ought to be given to those who tell us that a government, the whole power of which would be in the hands of the elective and periodical servants of the people, is an aristocracy, a monarchy, and a despotism.
I've highlighted three areas in which we've gone astray.

1) The Iran Deal was a treaty governing nuclear weapons that was effected without any input from the legislature -- the Corker-Cardin bill set up a means for Congress to express disapproval, but Democrats in the Senate filibustered a vote, so no vote was ever taken on approval or disapproval. The 2/3rds majority consent, required by the language of the Constitution, wasn't seriously considered as a standard the Obama administration would attempt to meet.

2) The 'denizens of aliens' was the intent of DACA. The courts are merely affirming Obama's right to rule as king, such that his successor by democratic election may not undo his fiat.

3) At this point most of the regulations on commerce originate in the executive. At some point the legislature consented to the delegation of its authority to the executive, and now most things affecting commerce that have the force of law are created undemocratically by the executive bureaucracy.

Serious problems, all, and it's just one paragraph of one of the Federalist papers.

UPDATE:

Oh, and as for the power of declaring war, Obama's actions in Libya never once passed any sort of 'by your leave' by Congress.

Mill Your Own

Reason has an interview with a guy who can help you make your own 1911s at the house.

Yankees With Guns

A good piece in the NYT, by a native of New Jersey, on why she bought a gun.

Some Appropriate Music for Leaving DC

Or, music for expressing one's feelings towards the governing class after a week of examining their exploits. It puts a man in a mood.



Language warning.

I'm back in the true South now, headed for home.

Jimmy Buffett Sings a Cowboy Song

And with a cowboy ...

Great Big Sea

Trekking Through DC

I'm away north for a bit, trying to wrestle with some of the things I can affect within our national government. I'll be back in a while, perhaps by the weekend.

The weird hormone argument

USA Today follows a trend I'm seeing more often in recent years, to explain human failings in terms of testosterone.  When the father is absent from the home, we're told, young men can't channel their innately destructive male hormones.  Now it seems, however, that even young women don't do well in fatherless homes, and we can hardly blame their unchanneled testosterone for that.  Nor does it make much sense to blame the testosterone of the absent father, which presumably isn't polluting the home from his new location across town or a couple of states away.

What does this leave?  The mother, who is still present?  Does she have toxic hormones?

Such a lot of silliness to avoid the idea that having both a mother and father present is a pretty good idea whenever you can pull it off, and not because of their complex chemical interactions.

Not a bad argument

The problem with twisting legal arguments into a pretzel is that that loose may come back around and kick you in the butt:
A coalition of 20 states has filed a lawsuit alleging ObamaCare is unconstitutional.
They’re claiming that since the GOP eliminated the tax penalty associated with the individual mandate, that ObamaCare itself is no longer constitutional. …
The GOP tax law “eliminated the tax penalty of the ACA, without eliminating the mandate itself. What remains, then, is the individual mandate, without any accompanying exercise of Congress’s taxing power, which the Supreme Court already held that Congress has no authority to enact,” the complaint states.
“Not only is the individual mandate now unlawful, but this core provision is not severable from the rest of the ACA—as four Justices of the Supreme Court already concluded.”

What's a guy gotta do to get arrested in Broward County?

“We’ve accomplished reducing the arrests. Now it’s ‘how do we keep that up without making the schools a more dangerous place.’"

The thing that goes down

Once again we face the spectacle of legislators writing bills about weapons they know nothing of. They may as well outlaw weapons that are scary or icky.

The problem with public-sector unions in a nutshell

From HotAir, better today than it's been lately:
The authors are correct in citing the cost of these retirement packages as a problem. It’s the primary driver which has nearly sunk New Jersey’s state government and embroiled Chris Christie throughout his entire tenure as governor. So one way to look at this (if you happen to be a liberal) is to say, as the authors do, that strong unions are able to push back against cuts to benefits.
Well, that’s a dandy solution if you happen to be one of the people receiving those benefits or planning your retirement around them. But it doesn’t do anything for the tens of millions of people in the private sector who have little chance of landing a job that offers anywhere near that level of retirement stability. It also does nothing to magically make more money appear in state and municipal budgets to cover these skyrocketing expenses. The authors attempt to claim that such expensive pension plans are justified because “many public-sector jobs offer lower salaries than their private-sector counterparts. As a result, public employees tend to have far more stable and secure retirements than similarly situated private-sector workers."
No citation is offered for this incredible claim. If you look long and hard, you can probably find a handful of cases where it’s true, but for the most part and in nearly all cases, public sector workers earn more than their private-sector counterparts. And I did offer a linked citation for that. Perhaps even more embarrassingly, it’s from… The Washington Post.
What they should have been asking was why there was never anyone at the table arguing on behalf of the taxpayers when these labor agreements were originally crafted.

"Not according to this kid . . . aaaaaaaand I trust this kid"

Deputy Scott Peterson's counsel is floating the theory that he had a good reason not to go inside the Florida school building. It's not easy to square, however, with the eye-witness testimony of a horrified student.
Note the sequence of events described by senior Brandon Huff. He told reporters that Peterson didn’t move even while other teachers were running into the building, including Aaron Feis, who lost his life shielding his students.

Now you tell us

Senate Democrats are shocked, shocked to learn that politicizing the Supreme Court may not have been an ideal strategy.
“If stare decisis means anything, it must mean that a precedent should not be overturned simply because a differently composed court emerges,” the senators wrote. “Decision-making begins to look like prize-taking when precedents are reversed as Court majorities shift.” …

Jonathan Haidt Talks about Three Hopeful Signs at Universities for 2018


Col. Schlichter and the New Rules

I like Kurt Schlichter's stuff, generally speaking. Right now he is pushing government regulation of businesses going against conservatives:

The liberal elite is using its social and cultural ties to those at the helm of big companies to essentially blacklist the NRA, and thereby the tens of millions of Americans who support gun rights. But oppression is oppression whether it’s done by a government bureaucrat or a corporate one, and our principle of non-interference in business assumes business stays out of politics. But now National, Hertz, and others are cutting ties to the NRA, and liberals are advocating banks do the same. Their intent is clear – what they can't do in politics they will simply do by not allowing the representatives of people whose politics they don't like access to the infrastructure of society. And we're not supposed to do anything about it because, you know, free enterprise and stuff.  You know, our principles.
I think he has more of a point with companies like Google. Not giving a discount to a particular group isn't the same thing as denying its members "access to the infrastructure of society." On the other hand, an algorithm that keeps traffic away from a site because Google doesn't approve of its politics kinda does, to a point. Then again, there's always Duck Duck Go.
No. They are exercising political power. We have our own political power, and we need to exercise it - ruthlessly. ... 

Ouch


"As long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours, that we are fighting, but for freedom - for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself."