Sweden Going Nationalist

The refusal by political elites to take cultural concerns seriously continues to provoke citizens. Sweden is one of the Scandinavian models for our own progressives, yet SWEXIT seems to be at hand. Do progressives think they can avoid provoking a similar reaction here, if it can't be avoided even in Scandinavia itself?

The headline writer attempts the usual trick of implying this is just a species of racism by altering a quote in the article for the headline. The headline reads, "I'm not a racist, but...", which might be read to imply that in fact the speaker really is a racist. What the speaker actually said is, "I'm not a racist because...." That's a different thought process. (UPDATE: Actually, it appears there are claims of both kinds in the article; my mistake.)

New Poll on Media Trust

According to CNN (so is it fake?), 51% of Republicans would say that the news media is the enemy of the people:

The poll from Quinnipiac University showed 51% of GOP respondents identified with President Donald Trump's "enemy of the people" line -- a result that reflected an ongoing partisan breakdown on the validity of the press.

If we change the wording to "certain news organizations are the enemy of the American people," then it jumps to 81% of Republicans.

Jesus Hanged Between Thieves

The Church is once again forced to face up to what it has recently allowed itself to become. There is no conclusion possible but that much of the hierarchy did more than look away from evil, but actively embraced it.

"Where Bikers Stare at Cowboys, Who are Laughing at the Hippies..."

"...who are praying they'll get out of here alive."

Washington Post: 'We have never seen a biker rally before.'

What do you want? The cartoon nipples are covered by the handguns. It'd pass Facebook's community standards.

Good Night, V. S. Naipaul

The famous author died two days ago, I have just learned. He has been mentioned in this space at least three times, most importantly to me because he wrote about the place where I grew up and a friend of my family. He wrote about them at a difficult moment, and was fair in his treatment. That is far more than most people were who spoke of that place at that time, and I have always appreciated it.

He also appeared here when he condemned the Islamic State. In addition to my own writings, Gringo mentioned his work in a series of comments on Communism and Catholicism in Latin America.

The obituary in the first link, above, celebrates him as savagely devoted to the truth, unsentimental and yet capable of great tenderness. This allowed him to think and to say powerful things. He lived and died an honest man, and few indeed can say that.

Who's doing the colluding, again?

RealClearInvestigation's Lee Smith continues to do good work on this.  More here.

A Historical Joke

This was billed as ‘the greatest joke you’ll never get,” but I assume all of you will get it.

Time Cop: I know you sent me back in time to kill baby Hitler, but I killed Woodrow Wilson instead.

Time Cop Chief: Who is baby Hitler?

Backwards on the Hurdy-Gurdy

This is said to be a medieval tune, but I haven't heard it before in decades of listening to early music. It's got an interesting structure, and I had no idea that you could do the trick with the backwards cranking of the hurdy-gurdy.

On Hardware Stores

I'm fairly certain that the local hardware store is a place where the denizens of the Hall feel familiar and comfortable.  Likely, it was also an important part of our youthful formation.  I remember going to the local hardware store with Dad, always eager to go look in the knife display to gaze longingly at the Buck knives,

or see what was new in the power tool section before going further in to get what we came for.  Here in the city, it was less a social environment than I'm sure it is elsewhere, but it was surely more social than many other places in the city.  Something about seeking help finding the part you needed or often the advice you needed to complete your home repair or project made for good neighborly connections in the course of that conversation.  In that vein, this is an excellent piece looking at the place of the local hardware store in American culture and society.

Bikers for Trump

There is a significant irony in having a bunch of bikers wanting to support you politically, and you telling them, "Sure, come hang out at one of my golf clubs."

On the other hand, it's working for him.
For a week every summer, tiny Sturgis, South Dakota mushrooms from a town of 7,000 to a metropolis of 500,000. Welcome to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, where hundreds of thousands of largely working class and middle-aged Americans make a pilgrimage during the first week of August to celebrate a particular subset of American culture.

Here, they can enjoy the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame, and the sprawling majestic sights of nearby Black Hills National Forest. Harley Davidsons are the bikes of choice, classic rock and country music blare, the beer flows, and the politics runs surprisingly conservative. The mainstream media has picked up on the story, highlighting the degree to which this particular demographic has tilted, almost entirely, to Donald Trump....

Working class heartlanders are not voting on transgender bathrooms, or safe spaces, or gay adoption, or historical preservation, or protection of endangered species, or gender-neutral pronouns, or university “speech codes”, or any of the other things that blue state elitists tend to find their way to.

They are looking for a candidate who wants them to have more money in their pocket, who says what he actually believes, and who is not going to let the Stalinist mentality of political correctness pervade his candidacy.
Bikers don't like Stalinists. Remember that the Hells Angels volunteered to deploy to Vietnam to fight Communists if they could go as a unit. For some reason, the government didn't take them up on the offer, but I don't doubt they meant it sincerely.

I've said here before that Trump's communication style is something he picked up in his World Wrestling days. He's been talking for a long time, but he used to go on Oprah. Since WWE, he's learned to talk like Hulk Hogan or Macho Man Randy Savage. Bikers love that. A lot of people do, really. That's why WWE is a big money entertainment industry.

But there's more beyond that. There's something about being the new Hulk Hogan; about wearing the confidence of 1980s America. It's almost magic.

Just compare the rhetoric. "The greatest world champion of all times." "I don't think I've ever seen...." And then Trump: "These are the most beautiful bikes that anybody has ever seen." (They aren't. There is a better collection of bikes over in Maggie Valley; but nobody thinks Trump is supposed to know anything about this. Nobody even pretends that he ought to know.)

People respond to that confidence in authority. Maybe they shouldn't. Maybe we should all be much more suspicious of such claims. But they do, and they especially do when it seems to be working out. Hogan kept winning his matches; Trump keeps boiling the economy.

The Second Amendment Also Protects Knife Carry?

This is the argument being forwarded by the founder of Knife Rights, Doug Ritter:
One reason is Knife Rights, whose mission is “to ensure a Sharper Future for owners of one of mankind’s oldest and most commonly used tools” and uphold the Second Amendment, which, Mr. Ritter argues, applies to knives as well as guns.
“As you will note, the Second Amendment doesn’t say ‘firearms’; it says ‘arms,’ ” he said.
He cited a 2013 article in the University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform authored by legal scholars Dave Kopel, Clayton Cramer and Joe Olson, which makes the case for constitutional protection for knives.
I'd say he has a fair point there (pun intended).

They've been around for ten years, and have apparently done some pretty good work

Knife Rights also has an app that gives guidance on knife laws in all 50 states- which if you are travelling, or live in a place like California (as I do), could be pretty handy (though it does cost $1.99).

The Economy is Much Better

The effects of that, if it continues, are likely to be 'tectonic.'

What About That New Gender Studies Factory in Budapest?

Hungary's government orders that no more gender studies classes be offered at its universities, as the degree is "useless" in the job market.

Well of course it's useless. That's because gender studies is intended to be the highest truth. The highest thing isn't supposed to be useful for anything else; everything else is supposed to be useful for pursuing it.

Good Dragon, Nice Dragon

...and then there's the other dragon. The Chinese produce a film that sounds at first as if it were a Sino-centric version of Act of Valor.
Somewhere in the Gulf of Aden, Somali pirates hold the crew of a container ship hostage on the ship’s bridge. The ship is trailed by a frigate, and elite naval commandos are now stacked on the ladders leading to either side of the bridge. A helicopter from the frigate makes an extreme maneuver, allowing a sniper on board to attempt an impossible shot, perfectly timed with the detonation of breaching charges. It is not SEAL Team 6, but the Chinese Jiaolong (Sea Dragons).
It's a great movie, the review at the US Military Academy's Modern War Institute says, right up until the end. But then...
The second dragon emerges only from the shadows in the final minute of the film, almost as if it were added as an afterthought, as if the film were viewed by someone in power who decided that the tone was too cooperative and insisted on the addition. In fact, the scene shows no individual characters, just ships at sea. After the events of the rest of the film, and thousands of miles away in the South China Sea, a flotilla of PLAN ships approaches what appears to be a smaller US flotilla of one Ticonderoga-class cruiser and two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers conducting a freedom of navigation operation. Alarms sound on the PLAN ships and a voice comes over the loudspeaker repeating in Chinese and English: “Attention! This is the Chinese Navy. You are about to enter Chinese waters. Please turn around immediately!” The second dragon is the one that makes and aggressively enforces destabilizing maritime territorial claims. This is the China that creates its own rules by ignoring the existing ones. The second dragon is the one that much of the world hopes to see fly away in favor of the first.
Don't bet on seeing the end of that second dragon. It's the real one.

Extremists Training School Shooters in New Mexico

"Extremists" is loose language, since no one is merely extreme; they are an extreme something-or-other. In this case, the author is clear about just what kind of extremists they were.
Siraj Ibn Wahhaj — son of radical imam Siraj Wahhaj, one of America’s most prominent Islamic clerics and Linda Sarsour’s mentor — kidnapped his own child in order to exorcise him of his physical disabilities that his father attributed to demonic possession.

A search for the boy led authorities to a remote compound in New Mexico, where local police found Siraj Ibn Wahhaj heavily armed. Court documents filed stated the compound served as a training camp to teach children to commit school shootings.
The author is herself a Muslim, one who isn't afraid to talk seriously about the issues her faith is facing. Indeed, joining the Clarion Project is a clear commitment to facing those issues head-on. She has, separately, some advice for Muslims running for office.

If Only There Were A Way of Aligning Pay with Perceived Value

Doctors make too much, argue the people who believe that fast food workers should be making $15 an hour.

Elite US Para-Athletes in Scotland

A friend of mine, Alexander "Tank" Armstrong, is over in Scotland right now introducing what he calls the 'adaptive' classes to Scottish Highland Games. Tank competes in Highland Games here in America, as well as in Strongman sports, in which capacity he won America’s Strongest Athlete with Disabilities this year. Born in Canada, he came to America to serve in the US Army before his injuries.

Normally one says something about how it's great to see people overcoming difficulties and not losing spirit in the face of serious injuries, and that's true enough. But for me Tank is always the guy who came to me when I was down and discouraged and buoyed me up. As is always the case with the best kind of men, he isn't just carrying his own weight even though his weight is heavy. Everywhere he goes, he's helping others to succeed also. That's what he's doing over there in Scotland, opening up an old tradition to a new class of competitor to whom it will mean a lot.


Glenn Reynolds: "The next step in criminal justice reform is fewer laws."

It's a great argument.

Empowering the Powerful

I've heard these people proclaim that they are on the side of the oppressed, but by definition you don't make people less oppressed by further empowering the powerful. Moves to silence opponents at best makes a new class of oppressed, but there's no reason to think it'll help the old class. Insofar as their interests differ from those of the powerful, they'll just become more oppressed than ever.

AVI often says that we never get to defend the people we'd rather, and that's true here too. Alex Jones is a lunatic. But the reason I know that he's a lunatic is that his speech was freely available for me to read and consider. If the first time I'd heard of him was today, I might think he had something good to say. Making him a martyr elevates him in a way that won't work to anyone's good.

Free speech has to be fought for. It's the best thing for everybody, even if some people think they're too powerful to need the guarantee.

America Should Be Happy to Have Sikhs

This affair prompts this most recent in the occasional Grim's Hall series on Sikhs. The Sikh faith is perfectly suited to America and her Second Amendment traditions.
One of the tenets of the Sikh religion is that adherents must carry on their person a knife, called a Kirpan. The Kirpan is a reminder that the carrier should have the courage to defend all those who are persecuted or oppressed.

In our enlightened, politically-correct times, however, this has caused some problems. The blade -- traditionally between six inches and three feet in length -- seems to be "intimidating" in the Age of the Common Man, and thus has been variously legally required to be "less than four inches", or blunted, or even sealed inside of its scabbard with glue.

I mention this because initial reports state that when Evil presented itself in his place of peace and began to slaughter those of his flock, 65-year-old Satwant Singh Kaleka did his level best to punch the ticket of the decades-younger murderer with what the Media has described as a "butter knife" -- a blunted blade, less than four inches in length.
Our stout-hearted Ambassador to the United Nations was a Sikh before becoming a Methodist. She is one of the shining lights of the current administration.

The US military has adapted its uniform code to allow for Sikh beards, as is right and proper given that Sikhs frequently seek out military service.

All people of the right should learn to recognize Sikhs and be glad to have them as part of our national experiment. Theirs is a faith with many excellent qualities, which produces fine people on a reliably regular basis. Make some room for them.

Testing Power & Privilege

There were some developments over the weekend in the NYT racism story. Noted African-American right-winger Candice O. posted exactly the same language that was used against "white people," except she swapped in "Jewish." Now according to the prevailing neo-Marxist "only the powerful can have racism" theory an African-American woman should be able to say whatever she wants without it being racist, as her group memberships mean that she is not privileged nor powerful. But she was suspended immediately, due to what Twitter in embarrassment later proclaimed was an 'error.'

Meanwhile, someone drew an interesting comparison between the cases of this writer and Papa John. Again, according to the prevailing theory, Papa John should have been too privileged to be held accountable: he was white, male, and extremely rich. Yet he was purged ruthlessly by his own company for mentioning a racial slur; she was promoted in spite of (or, a friend of mine mentioned privately, because of) hers. Who really has privilege here?

Iowahawk has a suggestion for evaluating these cases.

Voluntary-ish euthanasia

Bookworm Room muses on whether "free" medical care makes euthanasia a less dangerous policy.  The idea is that greedy family members might choose euthanasia over costly medical care, but the state would never make that kind of calculation, right?

Land use

Cool graphics.

Matter of Fact That Was The Name of the Place

The story behind the song George Will hated, "Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother." The author of the song explains how he was one of the hippies. The story is pretty amusing.

Faulty Scholarship

But not faulty in a surprising way. Just exactly in the way you'd expect. And for the reason we were discussing earlier this week, as applied to the discipline of sociology instead of social psychology. "Musa al-Gharbi’s research was published in the latest issue of The American Sociologist, a peer-reviewed journal that also recently published an article revealing that only two percent of sociology professors self-identify as conservative."

"NYT Hires Racist for Editorial Board"

From Patterico. "P.S. Kevin Williamson and Roseanne Barr, don’t get too excited. A different standard applies here." (For the record, Williamson is fine with it.)

This isn't a particularly important story. I'm just posting it because one of her trolling posts reads:
I dare you to get on Wikipedia and play "Things white people can definitely take credit for," it's really hard.

— professional twiter name (@sarahjeong) November 25, 2015
It's really not hard.


Other statements she made are not at all racist, but still pretty nasty. Of course, it's all protected free speech. And it's good to know whose side someone is on. We could hardly wish for more transparency.

Catechism Declares Death Penalty Morally Forbidden

I'm pretty sure that I don't agree with this decision, or the chain of logic behind it. As the article spells out, it's a long evolution for the Church (which has in the past practiced the death penalty itself). Previous Popes have all participated in the motion. It wasn't done quickly or without thought.

All the same, it strikes me as philosophically disordered, and unsupportable from revelation as well. It cannot be a violation of the dignity of the living to die in this metaphysical system, as the God who made all of the living built death into the experience as an unavoidable aspect of that life. Nor does it seem reasonable, in a faith whose scripture teaches that 'the wages of sin is death,' to refuse to pay the wage to someone who has shown a certain commitment to the sin. A workman, after all, is worthy of his hire.

Forgiveness of the soul is important, crucial, perhaps the greatest and hardest and key teaching of Jesus. But the body dies, and so necessarily that natural theology cannot reasonably be read as otherwise than suggesting that it is God's will that it should die. It is freedom, not life, that is the dignity that needs to be most carefully preserved. To preserve life instead of freedom, and indeed at the consequence of lifelong imprisonment and unfreedom, strikes me as a fundamental moral error. To give them the wage they chose to seek is to respect their freedom; to refuse them their wage, and instead imprison them for decades in conditions far more restrictive of liberty than even slavery is the true violation of their dignity.

I suppose I am in danger of falling into heresy. What remains to be decided, by me, is if I will to be.

Seizing Property without Consent or Compensation

Over in South Africa, there's a move on by the ANC to change their constitution to allow them to just take what they want. South Africa might be thought to have a particularly difficult history that explains this otherwise radical policy.

On the other hand, in Georgia, one of the two candidates for governor agrees with the general idea. She sponsored a bill to require the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to "seize and destroy" broad classes of privately-owned firearms. The bill did not suggest that any of these arms would be paid for; just taken, and destroyed. Both actions are said to be justified because they are 'in the public interest.'

Georgia might also be said to have a 'particularly difficult history that explains an otherwise radical policy.' The same candidate has called for the destruction of the monument carved into Stone Mountain, although in calmer moments she has also endorsed better, wiser ideas for dealing with the monument and the history of the site. (The idea was popular enough that a comedian's fake Facebook event to 'Witness the Implosion of Stone Mountain' was floating around for a while. Lest people think this is a simple proxy for race, a whole bunch of people I know -- all of them white liberals -- were enthusiastic about this event, which is how it came across my page.)

On the other hand, I've been listening to all the talk about America from the Left that's been going on these last few years. I'm wondering if there's any place in America, or the West, that they don't think of as having a 'particularly difficult history' that justifies radical policies. And it occurs to me that it's easier to effect all the most radical ones after you've effected the seizure and destruction of the people's arms.

Real ID

Georgia started doing this a few years ago, but I had bought an 8 year driver's license and wasn't minded to go back before it was necessary. My next one will be a Real ID, though. I just applied for it last week. It's actually no more painful to get than the standard ID, which required nearly as much documentation. In North Carolina, which offers both a Real ID and a non-Real driver's license option, it's just as onerous to obtain the one as the other. You might as well get the Real one, if you're eligible for it.

Confirmed: Twitter Social Psychologists Solidly Anti-Trump

Per our discussion of the other day, it was always very likely that this would occur simply because less than four percent of social psychologists are socially conservative. But they picked some outspoken ones, just to be sure.

Good to Know

BB Headline: "Ginsburg: ‘I Am Mentally Fit Enough To Serve Through The End Of President Eisenhower’s Term.'"

The Wisdom/Madness of Crowds

Another Maggie's Farm link this morning:  An interview with Peter Thiel, whom I don't think I'd heard of before.  Very interesting fellow, a gay tech venture capitalist from the Silicon Valley who supports President Trump.  He talks about a number of pendulum-swings, such as the initial benefits of centralized networking followed by the drawbacks of congestion, and the need to avoid both closets and ghettos in identity politics.

Seems only fair

If a society chooses simultaneously to refuse to look at individuals as individuals, and to adopt absurd notions about whether traditional groupings of individuals are based in reality or empty convention, what's a guy to do when he finds his insurance company wants to charge him more for auto coverage than it would charge a woman?

The story reminds me of the old Jeff Foxworthy routine about answering the door to a sheriff's deputy who wants to arrest him if he can't pay some outstanding tickets.  He protests he's broke.  The deputy asks if he can write a  check.  "No, I can't write a--wait, hold on.  A check?  Well, heck, yeah, I can write you a check.  I thought you wanted money."


We're watching President Trump address cheering crowds in Florida.  After describing triumph after triumph, including unheard-of employment rates among blacks, latinos, etc., he just remarked that people are always frowning and telling him he's not acting presidential.  He says he tells them, "It's a lot easier to act presidential than to do what I'm doing."

Finland Closes the Book on UBI

An experiment with giving everyone a basic income produces unsurprising results.
Before the experiment was approved by the government in 2016, KELA officials talked of paying 800 euros ($974) a month in unconditional income to a test group of working-age citizens. But by the time the program began early last year, the amount was whittled down to 560 euros: If extended to the whole country, the cost of the earlier proposal would have exceeded the Finnish government’s entire revenue....

It’s all but impossible to live on 560 euros in Finland.
So the proposed solution, of course, is a huge tax increase to cover an even more expensive program.
In a report on the future of work released earlier this month, the World Bank recommended the much more ambitious goal of considering UBI as a means of ensuring a “societal minimum” of welfare in a world of increasingly precarious employment and growing automation. If a society is to accept much higher taxes to pay for a basic income plan, it has to be for a revolutionary outcome, not a mere bump in employment numbers and a dent in the cost of social security administration.
'All the trials failed, so let's really commit to this approach' is not as inspiring as the authors seem to imagine.

A Call for Open Borders in USA Today

The Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965 was apparently not expected to have a big effect on actual outcomes in terms of who immigrated to America, but instead it proved to be a sea change that has rapidly altered the population since. For that reason, I'm doubtful of this author's claim that open borders would not lead to much change in our culture or values. I'm even more doubtful given this argument:
Even if values and culture change, so what? That happens in free societies. Who says America’s current values — some of them deeply evil — are the right ones?
"So what?" is bad enough, for those of us who think that there's something about the American way that is worth preserving. Indifference to such a heritage ought to be morally shocking, as much as a wastrel inheritor of a mere physical fortune who wastes the product of his ancestors' long labors without concern. Yes, such indifference should be shocking.

But then comes the naked assertion that our values are "deeply evil." That reveals the true motive, which is not in fact indifferent at all.

The War for Medieval Studies

Medieval Studies is the critical study of Europe’s self-identity. No understanding of the West is possible without it. Left-wing academics want to introduce the field to gender studies and race theory. When one Chicago professor publicly celebrated the Christian identity of the Middle Ages, she was branded a ‘violent fascist’ and ‘white supremacist’ — by other medievalists. Now Medieval Studies scholars are tearing their own discipline apart with witch-hunts, name-calling, boycotts and intimidation.
You may have concerns about the author of this piece, but his subject is another matter.
WHY I study the Middle Ages: JOY

Because I believe, with J.R.R. Tolkien, that, as creatures made in the image and likeness of a Maker, we are called by our Creator to participate as subcreators in the continuing work of creation and to be moved thereby to praise and thanks for the creation of which we are a part.

Because I believe in chivalry, science, romantic love, education in the liberal arts, the separation between Church and state, representative government, craftsmanship, markets, cities, written contracts, self-examination, self-improvement, self-defense, private property, the value of the individual, the dignity of merchants and laborers, and in caring for widows and orphans, the poor, the weak, the sick, for animals, and the natural world.
That's an impressive statement, and one that speaks of clarity of perception and thought. Clarity, also, of purpose. It is most admirable.


I'm always interested in self-defeating arguments:
Steyer, Democratic aides concede, appears to be the furthest along among the group [testing the early waters for a presidential run in 2020], with an email list that aides say now is more than 5.4 million strong, a digital-heavy focus to his operations, a layer of staff to help coordina[t]e his two main operational arms (the Need to Impeach campaign and the climate organization NextGen), and plans to use the August recess to continue barnstorming the country with town hall appearances. His message of impeachment has also placed him at the vanguard of the party’s anti-Trump fervor. But even associates are not sold on that as the best messaging construct.
“The ability to build a grassroots network around that issue is not insignificant,” said Joel Benenson, a chief strategist for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaigns. “The question is can you build a durable presidential campaign on impeaching the incumbent. Keep in mind if that’s part of your campaign it is an implicit acknowledgement that the incumbent is going to win.”

Welsh Knight Geraint Wins Tour de France

Geraint Thomas, MBE, has won the Tour de France.

Tolkien as Translator

The Medieval Roots of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms

If you have been a longtime reader of Grim's Hall, there is probably little here that you haven't heard before, excepting one or two historical sources I don't think I've cited. Well, that, and the ending call for a 'more viable strategy for gun control,' which is not among the desiderata of this author.

Some of us still see an armed society as a positive good. Some us still agree that arms are "the only true badges of liberty." In this as in many things, though not everything, our ancestors were right.

RBG is Probably Correct

There's been a lot of laughter about Justice Ginsburg's claim that she thinks she has 'at least five more years' to spend as she chooses. People should stop laughing. The actuaries are on her side. Her probability of dying this year is only seven percent, and her life expectancy is nearly seven years.

Once you make it to 85, the odds of reaching 90 aren't bad. They're better if you're female.

Hate Speech and Academics

I wonder if there's any possibility that this approach to 'hate speech' won't end up painting right-wing speech as more or less essentially hateful, while left-wing speech has to go as far as actually calling for people's murder to qualify? In theory the academics tapped to do this could come up with principles that apply evenly across the board. In practice, social psychology is well-known (thanks especially to the work of Jonathan Haidt) for having a bias against Republicans and conservatives that is by far the most prominent on social issues.
In the first survey, they repeated a more detailed version of Haidt’s query: How did the participants self-identify politically? The question, however, was asked separately regarding social, economic, and foreign-policy issues. Haidt, they found, was both wrong and right. Yes, the vast majority of respondents reported themselves to be liberal in all three areas. But the percentages varied. Regarding economic affairs, approximately nineteen per cent called themselves moderates, and eighteen per cent, conservative. On foreign policy, just over twenty-one per cent were moderate, and ten per cent, conservative. It was only on the social-issues scale that the numbers reflected Haidt’s fears: more than ninety per cent reported themselves to be liberal, and just under four per cent, conservative....

Over all, close to nineteen per cent reported that they would have a bias against a conservative-leaning paper; twenty-four per cent, against a conservative-leaning grant application; fourteen per cent, against inviting a conservative to a symposium; and thirty-seven and a half per cent, against choosing a conservative as a future colleague. They persisted in saying that no discrimination existed, yet their theoretical behaviors belied that idealized reality.
I suppose Twitter could recruit heavily from the less-than-four-percent of conservative social psychologists. Could, rather than is likely to do so. The skeptic in me suspects this is largely an attempt to give an academic whitewash to what is really a wholehearted attempt to suppress conservative speech and ideas in political discourse.

Decisions Great and Terrible

On "white people."

Ranking Psychopaths

If claims to expertise in economics and politics are dubious, as the last post discusses, the field of psychology has a witch-doctor quality all its own. In this case, it's even worse than usual: this is an economist writing on psychology! That said, the headline finding is plausible: "Washington, DC: The Psychopath Capital of America."
Ryan Murphy, an economist at Southern Methodist University, recently published a working paper in which he ranked each of the states by the predominance of—there’s no nice way to put it—psychopaths. The winner? Washington in a walk. In fact, the capital scored higher on Murphy’s scale than the next two runners-up combined.

“I had previously written on politicians and psychopathy, but I had no expectation D.C. would stand out as much as it does,” Murphy wrote in an email.
The whole piece is a festival of confirmation bias for me, so I'm disinclined to credit it as a piece of true knowledge. (What an odd thing to say: "I'm disinclined to believe it because I already believe it." But there we are.)

Wrong Question

Walter E. Williams asks "Can we trust experts?" That question is not the right question to ask in the current circumstances. It's premature, because two other questions need to be answered first.

1) Is expertise in this area possible?

2) If it is, how would we know who the experts are?

Both of these are old problems. The first one is Socrates' problem. The second one is the one that concerned Plato in his later political writings, starting with The Republic but also The Laws.

There are fields in which expertise is demonstrably possible. In ancient Greece, this kind of expertise was called techne -- the root of our word for 'technology.' It is a kind of craft knowledge, an ability to attain particular purposes. What Socrates wanted to know is whether those who claimed knowledge of things like the virtues could demonstrate their knowledge in the same way as shoemakers or shipwrights. It turns out that there isn't a clean break:
Still, by including commanding knowledge, the Visitor has left a middle ground between the purely theoretical and the practical. Certainly architecture is not practical since it does not directly produce anything, in the way carpentry does. However, it does give commands, whose effects are practical; thus, it is not for knowledge only, in the way in which calculation is for knowledge only. Insofar as architecture is an analogue for the political craft, the Visitor seems to be exploiting this middle ground[.]
Economics and politics would both like to think of themselves as possessing a kind of 'commanding knowledge,' akin to architecture. It is not clear that they do have this capacity, however, and we should insist that economists and politicians demonstrate a capacity for such knowledge before ceding to them any powers. We should certainly be ready to snatch away power from any of these so-called experts who prove to be incapable.

Even if that can be done, it still leaves the second problem. Let's say that economic expertise is possible, and that some small number of people really have it. How would I know who they are, if I don't have it myself? I can't judge directly because I lack the knowledge that I would need in order to recognize that they possessed it. I could trust the opinions of others who had the knowledge, but I have the same problem with identifying them. You are likely to end up exactly where we are, i.e., with a large class of mutually-reinforcing "experts" who affirm each other's claims to knowledge, but who really just agree with each other. If they're wrong, they are likely all wrong. Anyone they point to as another of their class is likely to be wrong too.

You might be able to judge from pragmatic experience, but that would require putting people in charge without being sure of their expertise (and, indeed, in spite of being told by all the experts that they were mad, fools, and the like). If they managed to produce good outcomes reliably over time, you could judge that they knew what they were doing.

I think we may be in the middle of such an experiment right now. It's a dangerous thing to do, but it may be the only way to discover expertise in the face of an established class of mutually-reinforcing pretenders to knowledge.

“On Convincing Sane People to eat Norse Food”

A friend who does SCA stuff sent me this article, which is somewhat amusing and has recipes. It also has links to many other useful resources on Viking-era food.

Making it a Priority

A new task force is established to ensure the Federal government gets right with religious liberty.
In contrast to the previous administration, which did not value religious liberty either at home or abroad, the Trump administration’s action should encourage all people of faith and belief systems. This particular emphasis and open commitment shows that religious freedom is a priority to the president. Everyone should appreciate that Trump and key Cabinet leaders are taking action to protect religious freedom.

As Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at the religious freedom ministerial last week, “The United States advances religious freedom in our foreign policy because it is not exclusively an American right. It is a God-given universal right bestowed on all of mankind.”


Mike Rowe on education and employment:
We've become slowly and inexorably and profoundly disconnected from a lot of very basic things that, when I grew up, I was really connected to – like where my food comes from, where my energy comes from, basic history, basic curiosity, you know?...
If we're not blown away by the miracle that occurs when we flick the switch and the lights come on; if we're not gobsmacked by flushing the toilet and seeing all of it go away; when we start losing our appreciation for those things, the gap deepens. And I think the gap right now is extraordinary.
There [are] 6.3 million jobs that are available as we speak. We have 75% of those jobs that don't require a four-year degree and yet we're still pushing the four-year degree as the best path for the most people, and it just happens to be the most expensive path. And a lot of people ... have enough common sense to realize that $1.5 trillion in outstanding student loans is a version of lending money we don't have to kids who can't pay it back to train for jobs that don't exist anymore, and that's crazy.

Does This Suit You, Grim?

Saw that Von Miller (Super Bowl 50 MVP and Chicken Farmer) came to the Espys in this get up-

Von Miller with a Carharttsuit at the ESPYs he is really a Denver legend
— stressewordlyfe(@JesseWordlyfe) July 19, 2018

and instantly, I figured we'd found the suit fit for our gracious host (perhaps less the gold chains).
So, what do you think, Grim?

Good deaths

An Ann Althouse discussion of utopian traditions yielded this interesting comment by long-time commenter Mike K, who I believe is the same fellow who leaves interesting comments at Maggie's Farm and who wrote a really entertaining memoir about his decades as a doctor:
My surgery professor, when talking about Euthanasia, coined the term "Cacothanasia as a word for a miserable death.
He also practiced some passive Euthanasia by omitting some drugs when end stage cancer patients were admitted to the hospital. For example, he would put stage IV breast cancer patients on steroids to induce a bit of steroid induced euphoria, then omit the steroids when they were unable to manage at home. The result was a sudden death from adrenal insufficiency. The oral steroids had suppressed their adrenals.

A blow against the bureaucracy

Small good news on the home front.  This little waterfront community never was what you'd call an economic powerhouse even before last year's hurricane.  Since the storm, people are somewhat more focused on the need to get jobs back, even apparently to the point of being willing to think clearly about what gums up the works.

A couple of weeks ago the local newspaper, which often eschews controversial topics, surprised me by splashing a story onto the front page about a coffee shop that everyone had thought was about to open in the central business district.  Locals were disappointed to read that a last-minute problem had developed during the final inspection.  The business owners had obtained a city building permit and thought they were on track, having spent months and a great deal of money getting ready to open.  During the final inspection, the Heritage District Commission abruptly turned them down, apparently because their building was (admittedly) utilitarian and charmless.  This coffee shop was not opening in the part of the Heritage District that most of us here think of as actually having any charm; it was on the fringes, a decidedly mingy area.

I assumed that would be the last of the coffee shop, but to my amazement someone staged a coup at this week's city council meeting and suspended the Heritage District Commission's powers, turning them over instead to the ordinary municipal planning/zoning staff.  If the story is accurate, the Commission was taken completely by surprise.  A number of residents appeared to testify about their horrendous experiences being strung along and generally dissed by the Commission.  Unless the reporting and the reaction on local Facebook groups is misleading, there is a public groundswell of revulsion against the Heritage District arcana and highhandedness, and of support for fledgling businesses.

I much prefer quaint old shopping districts, myself.  Even so, I can live without them if the price tag is capricious and unpredictable super-zoning overlays.  Those people get right up my nose.

No such thing

San Fransisco discovers that offering free lunch at the office distorts the market and is unfair to local restaurants.  Ve haff vays of making you enjoy getting out of your office and into the feces stench--that is, the fresh air--and step over junkies and needles and condoms to patronize one of our fine restaurants.

Next up:  city inspectors to rifle through your backpack on your way into the office and confiscate your brown bag.  Now go outside and play!

Never got past the title

Too bad WaPo is behind a paywall, because the title alone for this piece will make me smile all day:  "Trump Using Tariffs to Advance Radical Free-Trade Agenda."  (Link at RealClearPolitics.)  Have you been wondering how Trump critics reconcile themselves to a sudden concern about the evil of tariffs and a sudden enthusiasm for free trade?  It's finally possible to oppose the President, tariffs, and free trade all at the same time.

Variations on a Theme

By coincidence, I assume, Christina Hoff Sommers and Jessica Valenti both published pieces today that call for a version of feminism that helps men and boys. Sommers considers herself an "equity feminist," as opposed to the kind of feminism she defines as "gender feminism" (which would apparently include Valenti, though Valenti as far as I know doesn't use these terms; I gather she considers herself a "feminist" and Sommers "a foe of feminism"). So the philosophical basis for the claims is quite different, although they both end up endorsing the idea that feminism should do more for men.

Valenti thinks this is necessary, to be sure, in order to help women. Citing the same evidence of educational and social gaps that Sommers cites, she says:
This gap has made boys susceptible to misogynist hucksters peddling get-manly-quick platitudes and dangerous online extremist communities.... Feminism has long focused on issues of sexual assault, reproductive rights, harassment and more. But issues don’t hurt women, men do. Until we grapple with how to stop misogynists themselves — starting with ensuring boys don’t grow up to be one — women will never be free.
Sommers approach considers the men not to be necessarily the enemies of women:
But most women want equality, not war. Men aren’t their adversaries. They are their brothers, sons, husbands, and friends. We are in this together. A judicious, reality-based women’s movement could serve us all well into the 21st Century.
It is interesting to see the overlap, even though there remains a significant chasm between "Issues don't hurt women, men do" versus "Men aren't their adversaries but their brothers, sons, husbands, and friends."

Think Carefully

The ACLU has a message for you.
"Mass shootings create a pervasive sense of insecurity and anxiety that politicians and policymakers will inevitably seek to address," senior policy analyst Jay Stanley insists on the ACLU's Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project blog. As a result, he argues, "those who support expansive gun rights as a protection against excessive government power should strongly consider how much government intrusion and expanded power they're willing to trade for those rights."
I have considered the question, and the answer is, "The government is too strong and intrusive already." However, I reject the idea that disarming the law-abiding population is likely to make them less so -- or even to stop mass shootings. There are plenty of places like Brazil that have strict gun prohibition and also massive gun violence.

Reason magazine notes that, in addition to the Americas, there's the example of the UK:
Officials in the U.K. have already implemented probably every restriction on firearms that Stanley could imagine. The country has no "expansive gun rights," nor much in the way of advocates for them (not that London's rising violent crime rate cares). So there's no push for "government intrusion and expanded power," right?

Wrong. The British government has adopted what Edward Snowden calls "the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy. It goes further than many autocracies." The UK also requires Internet companies to take down "extremist" content and threatens legal penalties if they're not quick enough to do so.

Which liberties should our friends across the Atlantic stop advocating so that the government will stop hitting them, Mr. Stanley?

"Why Does Anyone in this City Need A Gun At All?"

I don't know, maybe because of terrorist attacks on an undefended populace?

I'm just spitballing, here.

Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani: My Great-Grandfather, the Nigerian Slave Trader

A very interesting family history, and it's at the New Yorker, of all places. Snippet:

My great-grandfather was given the nickname Nwaubani, which means “from the Bonny port region,” because he had the bright skin and healthy appearance associated at the time with people who lived near the coast and had access to rich foreign foods. (This became our family name.) In the late nineteenth century, he carried a slave-trading license from the Royal Niger Company, an English corporation that ruled southern Nigeria. His agents captured slaves across the region and passed them to middlemen, who brought them to the ports of Bonny and Calabar and sold them to white merchants. Slavery had already been abolished in the United States and the United Kingdom, but his slaves were legally shipped to Cuba and Brazil. To win his favor, local leaders gave him their daughters in marriage. (By his death, he had dozens of wives.) His influence drew the attention of colonial officials, who appointed him chief of Umujieze and several other towns. He presided over court cases and set up churches and schools. He built a guesthouse on the land where my parents’ home now stands, and hosted British dignitaries. To inform him of their impending arrival and verify their identities, guests sent him envelopes containing locks of their Caucasian hair.

Cuius regio, eius religio

Another Unherd piece, this time on the parallels between the Thirty Years' War and the storm brewing in the EU.  The author posits Hungary and Poland as the new Anabaptists:
If the Thirty Years’ War can he blamed on one man, it is the Habsburg emperor Ferdinand II, whose disdain for compromise with the Lutherans – let alone the more challenging heretics – turned conflict into all-out-war.
His solution to the tensions of the Empire was to impose the will of the strongest power – and its ideology – on the other states.
I wonder if Angela Merkel can think of anything like that in the EU today?

Sweden's Trump Moment

A Maggie's Farm link to an unusually cogent analysis of Trump's appeal (in the Guardian, no less) led me to the site Unherd.com, where I read some more of the author's work.  He has put some effort into understanding political trends all over Europe as well as the U.S., and has this to say about Sweden's version of the "bitter clinger" and "deplorable" remarks that so alienating American voters from the Democratic Party:
At the core of it, shifting Swedish politics is simple, and has little to do with either deindustrialisation, racist deplorables or bitter clingers – however emotionally appealing it is for progressives to blame these factors. Sweden’s highly generous refugee policy never had majority support among voters, including Social Democratic voters. Blue-collar voters who dared to express even mild protest were bullied and branded as hateful or ignorant by their own party. The only outlet for that built-up resentment has been the Sweden Democrats, and while in the run up to the election the Social Democrats have moved sharply to the Right on migration and crime issues, the mistakes of the past years may prove difficult to repair for this once invincible party.
It's a dangerous thing for political and social movements to let resentment build up.  Protests that aren't heard become more shrill and polarized.  Progressives instinctively understand this when the protesters are women or LGBTQs, but seem to lose their good sense when the protesters are anyone outside their own charmed circle.  It's a short step from "I can't be heard" to "this game is rigged" to "I'll support anyone who will shake this crummy system up."  There's a good reason the First Amendment was first.

Lasagna for Dinner

Full-fat cheese and butter are vindicated.

Vox Against Democracy

"Letting only the informed vote."

Mukasey on the Russian Moves

This analysis sounds right to me:
At the time of the hacking, virtually no one gave Mr. Trump any chance of winning. Mr. Putin is a thug, but he is not reckless. It seems unlikely he would place a high-stakes bet on a sure loser. Rather, he likely sought to embarrass the person certain to be the new president, assuring that she took office as damaged goods.
The Russians seem to have helped all three of the major campaings: Bernie's and Trump's, but also hers. The whole Trump/Russia dossier was built out of things that Steele paid Russian intelligence officers to produce against Trump (allegedly "former" officers, but once you're in, you're in for life). That she'd sought this aid from the Russians would be more leverage once she was President. It's a Watergate-level scandal that they could drop on the sitting President any time. That the Inevitable, Smartest Woman barely managed to limp over the line against the likes of Crazy Bernie and Mad Don would also make her look weak, and effected the Russian end of making our feel country divided.

I'll wager that the Jill Stein campaign will prove to have received help as well, and don't discount how effective that was -- Stein's margin in some of the close states may have tipped them to Trump. But I can't imagine he thought that Stein would accomplish that. The more obvious goal given the polling was simply to make the margin razor-thin, not to beat Clinton outright.

The rest of former AG Mukasey's piece is worth reading also, but that's the part that leaps out at me. The assumption shouldn't be that the Russians expected or even intended to defeat Clinton. It should be that they wanted to divide us, and weaken her. I imagine they were as shocked as the rest of us when Trump won on election night, and probably as panicked as many on the American left were.

I Suspect Some Of My Friends Feel This Way

Probably family too.

You don't know this guy, but really, you do.

Shinobu Hashimoto just passed away at the age of 100. Hashimoto was the screen writer on over 70 films, among such as:

1968 Hell in the Pacific (uncredited)
1967 Samurai Rebellion
 1966 The Sword of Doom (screenplay)
1962 Harakiri (screenplay)
1960 The Magnificent Seven (screenplay "Shichinin no samurai" - uncredited)
1960 The Bad Sleep Well (written by)
1958 The Hidden Fortress (written by)
1957 Throne of Blood (screenplay)
1955 I Live in Fear
1954 Seven Samurai (screenplay)
1952 Ikiru (written by)
1950 Rashomon (screenplay)

Yeah, you know this guy. Now many of those above were directed by Akira Kurosawa, which is how most people come to these films, but It's still amazing to me the influence that these films still have and will continue to.

I've seen all of the above, some multiple times.

The Page FISA Application

It's unique in that a FISA court application has never been made public before, even in a redacted form, so it's worth looking at carefully. Since this audience leans right, I thought I would link to some opposing views. Lawfare hosts David Kris' view, in which he holds that the release confirms his earlier view that the Nunes memo was deceptive and wrong. Meanwhile, here is a courteous but sharp dispute between Andy McCarthy and Bradley Moss over the propriety of the release and the quality of the information it provides.

UPDATE: McCarthy's column today: "The crazies were right, and I was wrong."

Meanwhile, an argument from evidence is made that Ali Watkins -- the disgraced NYT reporter who slept with her sources for access -- was given an unredacted version of this application, complete with Top Secret information, by one of her sources. If so, that's a serious violation of classification laws.

Russia vs. America: Two Views from the Left

Noam Chomsky vs. Thomas O. Melia push opposite lines on whether America is worse or better than Russia in terms of interference with elections. Chomsky points out that, in addition to electoral manipulation efforts by the CIA and others, America just overthrows countries and replaces their whole governments sometimes; Melia says much of what people like Chomsky are pointing to are efforts to improve democracy, and shouldn't be put in the same category as the CIA's activities (which he admits occur).

Chomsky dodges the fact that Russia also replaces governments it doesn't care for if it can, and has for decades; and just conquers nearby territories, sometimes, if it wants to do so. But there is a basic point here about which Melia is right that goes beyond that. America still has an ideology to push, which is liberty -- personal freedom, democracy, and the economic freedoms of capitalism. We'll see if that agenda survives the American Left's response to the Trump administration, but for now it is still what America does. Russia used to have an ideology when it was the Soviet Union; now it is just a gangster state trying to take for itself what it can. (Ironically, given the facts of the Communist ideology, this represents a substantial improvement in the character of the Russian state.)

America probably does interfere with other countries governance more often than Russia, and to a greater degree. It does so, however, in pursuit of a vision of the good. Is that adequate to excuse its violations of the sovereignty of other nations? That's a question that would require a lot of groundwork to explore.

Economics and Feminism

A very serious lecture, brought to you by Christina Hoff Sommers.

I think the basic assumption that bothers me most is that economists should somehow be in charge of something. She clearly views the profession of economist as being rightly of tremendous importance in shaping the world and ensuring just outcomes. In fact, economists just study what other people do and make theories about why it worked out that way. Some of these theories are better than others, but attempts to use economic theories to guide economic outcomes inevitably leads to worse economic outcomes. (For women, too.) Economists should stick to studying and thinking, and never be asked to run anything.

God Save the Queen

Johnny Rotten defends Donald Trump.

Because of Course

Tony Podesta was given immunity, to testify against a Trump campaign guy (Manafort).

As Ace says:
Meanwhile, Mueller has given yet another Hillary Clinton associate immunity, because Hillary Clinton associates are never prosecuted for crimes, only given immunity for them. Only people running against Hillary are prosecuted.
A similar rule: only judges appointed by Clinton or Obama hear Trump-prosecution-related cases.

Trailer for "Mayans MC"

This show is a spinoff of the famous 'Sons of Anarchy,' which had a great second season* from my perspective; I won't speak to the rest of the series. But this spinoff is worth giving a chance because it features Vincent Vargas of Range 15 / Art 15 fame. He's a great guy, and I hope whatever he works on does well.

* You might object, on moral grounds, to a show that glamorizes gangsters to whatever degree. There's an argument on that point at the link from the history of American cinema, and the crucial role that gangster movies have played precisely in dramatizing morality in the American context.


Speaking of Range 15 vets and new videos, here's Nick Palmisciano of Ranger Up's new project.

The Skills Gap

The CEO of Lockheed Martin, whose piece here was pushed out by the White House via its Twitter account, has some thoughts on how to address the skills gap within the context of helping American workers.

A glimmer

I give this Dutch writer a bit of credit for acknowledging that not all skepticism of popular scientific orthodoxy is an artifact of conservative troglodytism. He forces himself to admit that skepticism of GM foods and vaccines can come from all ranges of the political spectrum--implicitly even the left, though he never comes right out and says so.  Instead, he notes that suspicion about vaccines correlates with concerns about the morality of naturalness, while suspicion about GM foods is associated with ignorance.  He throws "religiousness" in there, but appears to means something like concerns about morality in general, and notes that whatever it is he's measuring probably is confounded with general ignorance.

Climate change skepticism, however, clearly has no explanation other than political conservatism. I doubt the writer even entertains the private suspicion that anyone with his eyes open would be a bit skeptical of many aspects of climate alarmism, and that the common thread there is the political bias (hint: not conservative) that prevents nearly everyone he associates with from closely examining the subject.

The writer finds it natural to gauge trust in science in large part on the basis of how enthusiastically someone supports federal financing of scientists.  How else would you know, right?

Even a Blind Squirrel Finds a Nut Now and Then

Ted Rall, very much not my favorite cartoonist, finds a point:

A Partial Answer to the Previous Question

James Comey:
All who believe in this country’s values must vote for Democrats this fall. Policy differences don’t matter right now. History has its eyes on us.
Really? Anyone who votes Republican this fall is un-American, according to the former head of the FBI?

UPDATE: Is Joe Lieberman un-American too? He's arguing against voting for the Democratic nominee this year.

Who Do They Think They Work For?

A question that has been much on my mind lately as well.
Who Do These Guys Think They Work For?
What was fascinating about Strzok’s behavior and demeanor last week was his defiant, smug, arrogant, biased, catch-me-if-you-can attitude. It was almost as if he felt he was protected and above the law, but most assuredly, he felt he was untouchable and above Congress.

Yet the FBI, as a division of the Department of Justice, is subject to the oversight of Congress. Congress established the Justice Department in 1789—and it could unmake the Justice Department if it wanted. Congress provides funding that allows the department and the bureau to operate, and Congress has not only the right to oversee the actions of the FBI but also the obligation to ensure the bureau acts within its legal authority. What we saw Thursday was a smug bureaucrat who clearly has forgotten that in a constitutional republic, power flows from the people to their duly elected representatives who are to do the people’s business, which includes funding—with the people’s tax dollars—the various departments and agencies, followed by oversight of those departments.

So when you see Justice Department lawyers and federal agents arrogantly suggest that Congress go pound sand and wait around for the FBI, they’re not just telling Congress off: they’re telling the people off. They’re also communicating that an institution, a creation of our constitutional government, is greater than the Constitution and more sovereign than the sovereign people.
There is more, but that is for me the central point.

"Trump is Right to Doubt Obama Intelligence Community"

A piece by a right-leaning journalist named Jordan Schachtel. I met him once on one of my trips to DC, and he struck me as committed to the mission of journalism, by which I mean that he's definitely trying to advance his political agenda (which is at the core of journalism: 'comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable'), but that he's not willing to sell out his credibility to do it. If he publishes something, he has some reason to think it's defensible.

That said, the Nunes report concluded many of the same things as the Obama-era "consensus" report, which were reaffirmed by the recent indictments announced by Rosenstein. The timing of the announcement of those indictments is surely political, and intended to bracket the President during his Helsinki meeting: indictments that will never lead to arrests, such as these, could be announced at any time or never. The President's refusal to be bracketed in this way by publicly doubting the community attempting the bracket is going to cost him politically, but makes a kind of sense. Yet the similarity of the Nunes report's findings mean that the facts are probably not going to stray too far from the ones laid out in the indictments.

What that says to me is that there's a real attempt by the so-called "Deep State" to break out of its constitutional limits, and control the man whom the voters via the Electoral College appointed over them. Their refusal to investigate the servers, mentioned by the President in his controversial answers yesterday, is proof that they are defying the constitutional order. The move to bracket a president in foreign policy is out or order, no matter how much wiser the lesser bureaucrats in fact may be than the President. Even if their assumption of superiority is entirely correct, this is not their proper role.

It also says to me that the President should probably climb down a bit on his rhetoric, and accept that the question of Russian attempts at meddling is reasonably settled. The fact that they tried these various methods of influencing our elections is as reasonably well established as it probably can be in such a contentious environment, and there is a severable question of securing our elections that should be taken seriously apart from the machinations of the insurgent bureaucrats. Both problems need solutions, not one or the other.

UPDATE: See discussion in comments on the division; the President seems to be 'revising and extending his remarks' along these lines in front of Congress today.

Cyberpunk 2020

It's just about on schedule.

Calls for a Coup

This isn't even the first time.

Anarchy as God's Law

This is an interesting argument, not so much the Biblical interpretation as the basic claim that Ancient Israel represents an anarchy made possible by the moral law codified by Moses et al. He goes on to suggest a religious interpretation of history in which having a king is a kind of divine punishment made necessary by the lack of the internal moral code that would enable society to function without a king; and having 'the stranger among you rise up to rule over you' is an even harsher punishment arising from an even deeper rejection of the moral law.

So the thing to aspire to is something close to anarchy; and the way to get there is through genuinely moral behavior, so that internal restraints take the place of externally imposed controls. I certainly like the idea. I wonder how plausible it is, however. My internal moral restraints won't stop a foreign army from rolling over me. Internal moral restraints might, if they are held widely by the population rather than by an individual, enable the kind of political friendship that would allow us to pull together to defy a foreign invader without needing a powerful government to direct the effort.

Of course, the kind of resistance that would enable would be insurgent, and therefore would resemble a slow repulse of a conquering power rather than the ability to prevent the conquest. Consider Scotland in its war of independence from 1286-1320s, say: think of the army that knelt at Bannockburn before Edward II: "They ask mercy, king, but not of you." So you still end up with the ultimate punishment of being ruled by the stranger, but with a means to restore the blessed condition of independence.

The Scots happened to do this in part by choosing a king, rather than accepting the one they were told was appointed over them: and that idea that a people had the right to choose a king was revolutionary in itself, at the time. It was an important step on the road to America, and to wherever the road leads after America.

Obama Apologizes for his "Utter Lack of Shame"

At least, I assume that's what he meant to say here. I'm still enjoying that plan he told me over and over that I could keep, except that it was canceled and the closest equivalent now costs me five times what the old one used to cost.

FOX News Grills Putin

One thing I noticed in yesterday's press conference is that the Russian media was there to advance their national agenda, while the American media was there to put their President on the spot. They succeeded in doing that, and he answered in a way that was as bad a fit as possible for the context he was in. He'll pay a price for that, I imagine, although raising the issue of why the Department of Justice won't examine the DNC or Congressional servers in that context may force an actual answer to the question.

FOX News, though, sent Chris Wallace to advance the American agenda in another context. He was quite effective, though Putin remains a master of propaganda.

Snitch culture

A pseudonymous ex-SJW writes about how the mob he helped create came for him:
Within the world created by the various apps I used, I got plenty of shares and retweets. But this masked how ineffective I had become outside, in the real world. The only causes I was actually contributing to were the causes of mobbing and public shaming. Real change does not stem from these tactics. They only cause division, alienation, and bitterness.

Neo-Neocon: Strzok and the Otter Defense

I think Neo-Neocon has correctly identified Strzok's inspiration for his performance before Congress.

What they been sayin

The press seems more impressed with the information in the Mueller indictments than they did when it came out in a Nunes report.

It's worse than we thought

The Babylon Bee discovers the real scandal.


What do fathers do for their children? Hardly anything, we’ve learned.
Children with involved fathers are less likely to break the law and drop out of school. Guided by close relationships with their dads, these kids disproportionately grow up to avoid risky sex, pursue healthy relationships, and hold down high-paying jobs. They’re unlikely to become homeless or rely on welfare and more likely to have higher IQ scores than their peers by age three. Longer term, they suffer from fewer psychological problems and may be less prone to obesity.
It’s like these masculine hangers-on in the childrearing process don’t appreciate that they are useless. Can’t they just make way?

A Child Beheaded by the Sinaloa Cartel — in Norcross, GA

Norcross. I’ve been to Norcross many times. It’s a nice little suburb. On Friday nights in the fall, they like to watch their kids play football. The local high school football stadium has an air raid siren it blows when they score a touchdown.

We need to send a message on this one that the cartels will understand.

No King but the Law

Adam of Bremen described the Vikings out of Iceland as having "no king but the law." So too we. The Trumps raise hackles among monarchists at the Washington Post. As the fellow says, we are not her subjects. There's a story about that some us were remembering long about, oh, ten days ago. Maybe you missed it.

Any American is the equal of the Queen of England, formally. She is a sovereign; we are, collectively, sovereign. We have no masters, and no laws but our own.

All the same, if you meet Queen Elizabeth you should be nice to her, not because she is the Queen of England but because, as the Queen of England, she had her Coldstream Guards play the Star Spangled Banner after 9/11 -- and sang along. Such an act of honor and friendship deserves to be remembered.

A Song of the Sea

Not one I've heard before, either.

Further Thoughts on a Proper Upbringing

Since I was just mentioning John Wayne, Cahill, US Marshal is on this weekend according to his fan club. They include a clip to help you decide if you might want to watch this movie, one in which he expresses a certain sentiment about the virtues that attain to a proper upbringing.

Two on Bayesian Probability

Bayesian probability holds, among other things, that probability is sticky: once the probability of an event rises to 1 or drops to 0, it stays there forever. Your weather forecaster defies this when they tell you that the probability of rain is 95% when it is already raining. But there is a lot more to Bayes, whose theories underlie much of our contemporary algorithms and science. Here's an introduction to his life:
For most of the two and a half centuries since the Reverend Thomas Bayes first made his pioneering contributions to probability theory, his ideas were side-lined. The high priests of statistical thinking condemned them as dangerously subjective and Bayesian theorists were regarded as little better than cranks. It is only over the past couple of decades that the tide has turned. What tradition long dismissed as unhealthy speculation is now generally regarded as sound judgement.
And here is a piece on application.
Bayesian statistics is two things: a useful technology and a bundle of mythology. A Bayesian data analyst almost never, and I mean almost never, inquires as to her degrees of belief: she makes mathematically convenient and not absurd assumptions and goes on. She tests the resilience of the outcomes she obtains by varying those assumptions—the prior probabilities, the penalties in a model score, etc.. Essentially, her “prior probabilities” are just a measure to guide through a search space of alternative possible values for parameters in a model or models. The measure is adaptive, in the sense that it alters (by Bayes Rule) as data are acquired. It is subjective, in the sense that there is no best adaptive measure for guiding search, but there are better and worse adaptive measures. Generally, the measures are nobody’s degrees of belief.

Rodents Eating Cars

Paul Ryan's Suburban was eaten by woodchucks. According to a Chevy mechanic I was talking with a while ago, this is an increasingly common occurrence. The reason (he said) is that the EPA has instituted regulations that require a certain number of car parts to be made out of organic materials rather than plastics. These smell like food to rodents because, in fact, they are food for rodents.

His recommendation to me was to make cheesecloth baggies full of mothballs, and attach them around your engine compartment with wire twist-ties where they won't cause problems with engine function. I don't know if this actually works, but it sounded plausible at the time he said it. You might give it a try.

Espionage is Illegal

At least, it breaks somebody's laws. The NSA and CIA do worse to the Russians every day than the stuff announced today by the Deputy Attorney General, in plain violation of Russian laws.

But OK, it's formally still a crime, and I suppose it's fine to charge people even though you can't actually arrest or try them. So, do these guys get to send lawyers and demand a day in court like the Russian firm that was indicted? Or do they have to appear in person to demand a day in court?

UPDATE: An interesting catch -- possibly a US citizen who might end up charged after all?

A Song for George Will

This apparently refers to a famous diatribe George Will wrote against blue jeans. It ends:
This is not complicated. For men, sartorial good taste can be reduced to one rule: If Fred Astaire would not have worn it, don't wear it. For women, substitute Grace Kelly.

Edmund Burke -- what he would have thought of the denimization of America can be inferred from his lament that the French Revolution assaulted "the decent drapery of life"; it is a straight line from the fall of the Bastille to the rise of denim -- said: "To make us love our country, our country ought to be lovely." Ours would be much more so if supposed grown-ups would heed St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, and St. Barack's inaugural sermon to the Americans, by putting away childish things, starting with denim.

(A confession: The author owns one pair of jeans. Wore them once. Had to. Such was the dress code for former Sen. Jack Danforth's 70th birthday party, where Jerry Jeff Walker sang his classic "Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother." Music for a jeans-wearing crowd.)
First of all, John Wayne wore a lot of things that Fred Astaire never did, including denim, and these are perfectly fit things for an American man to wear.

Secondly, I love that song. It's one of those songs for those of us from the country who enjoy laughing at ourselves sometimes.

Such a sense of humor never hurt anybody.

A Brutal Attack in London

Two teenagers, a young man and woman, are under arrest after the brutal beating of Sir Christopher Meyer. Meyer is a former ambassador to the United States, and has been talking up the need to get along with President Trump during the run-up to the state visit there. Police say this does not look like a robbery.

Of Course It Does

The Democratic bill to #AbolishICE contains this provision:
Pocan’s bill explicitly requires the commission to “[i]dentify appropriate means of ensuring that total Federal employment is not reduced with the abolition of ICE.”

CNN Report: Millions of American Voters May Have Colluded to Elect Trump

Babylon Bee, of course

A Christian's Job Interview

Tracy Ullman does something I didn't expect.

Silly Twitchy, Who Wouldn't Swim with Nurse Sharks?

Some fellow going by Greg P. over on Twitchy is making fun of a woman who got bit while swimming with nurse sharks:
PHOTOS: Instagram model thought it would be fun to swim with nurse sharks in the Bahamas and YOU’LL TOTALLY BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED NEXT
Well, this is also a common tourist thing, and most do not get bit. I have fond memories of swimming with nurse sharks, as it happens. Their skin feels a bit like fine sandpaper.

Yeah, she'll have a scar on her arm, and how cool is that? "Oh, that? Shark bite," will begin a number of interesting conversations.

Beware That, When Punching Nazis ...

Chris Ray Gun, of "Ain't No Rest for the Triggered" fame, gives us "Punch a Nazi."

Travel News You Can Use

A list of the oldest bar in every state. I have eaten (and drunk) at the Pirate's House in Savannah. It's a first class restaurant, especially if you like the local sea food.

Masks and Street Violence

The South has anti-masking laws already because of its attempt to limit the power of the Ku Klux Klan. A Federal law that proposes to do the same thing is drawing fire from Antifa, which resents the comparison between themselves and the Klan. Well, anyone would resent such a comparison. However, the state's interest in prosecuting those who organize for the purpose of violence and political intimidation is the same, even allowing for all relevant differences in ideology.

All the same, they have a novel defense.
In the current political climate, antifascists who speak out against fascism, racism, xenophobia, etc. are routinely harassed, threatened, and attacked by the far right, often supported by the police, who are notably exempted here. Families and friends of antifascists also become targets of far right violence. The wearing of a mask is an act of self-defense often necessary to ensure one's right to free speech.
I accept the validity of the claim that the police should not be allowed to mask themselves either. Just as with badge numbers, police officers should be identifiable in order to hold them responsible for the manner in which they use the power entrusted to them by the public. We should always be allowed to film the police, to know their names and ranks and offices, and to hold them accountable for any misuse of the authority they bear.

Is it really the case, though, that America is such a place that one must wear a mask to be able to exercise free speech? That is surely not true. No one is stopping either these or the far right from organizing rallies or marching. They are free to make their points, in person or in writing as they prefer. If they elect to make their points by punching people, say, or setting fire to cars, say, then there might be some legal consequences. But the state is unlikely to recognize a legitimate self-defense right for speech acts of this kind.

Still, there is a sense in which anonymity or pseudonymity is indeed defensively useful and can encourage better and fuller speech. It can also encourage abuse, and that needs to be robustly handled in order for it to remain worthy. But it's the same sort of idea as is at work here, where most of us communicate through a pseudonym in order to speak our minds freely in the age of Google. It's not obviously a ridiculous argument for public speech acts like rallies either. I wonder if there is a way to address it without empowering groups like the Klan.