Obsession

I'm not sure it's healthy for someone like me to watch a video like this.  It's like dangling heroin in front of an addict.

"Democracy Failed Georgia"

So says Ms. Abrams, as she admits defeat.
She did, however, announce plans for a "major federal lawsuit against the state of Georgia for the gross mismanagement of this election and to protect future elections from unconstitutional actions."

Even in acknowledging defeat, Abrams insisted her speech was not giving a concession and instead delivered a series of sharp criticisms of Kemp....

"Under the watch of the now former secretary of state, democracy failed Georgia," Abrams said of Kemp, who served as the state's chief elections officer for nearly a decade before resigning after overseeing his own contest.

"Make no mistake, the former secretary of state was deliberate and intentional in his actions," Abrams said. "I know that eight years of systemic disenfranchisement, disinvestment and incompetence had its desired affect on the electoral process in Georgia."
So no hard feelings, then. We'll just shake hands and carry on.

You made a good bargain, Georgia. You don't want to be governed by someone with this much anger inside them. Kemp's a scoundrel, and you'll need to keep a watch on him. But he'll only cheat you. He won't set out to punish you.

One Afternoon on Twitter

In which a sitting Congressman threatens to nuke the territorial United States if citizens don't peacefully surrender their firearms.

Democrats Always Win Recounts That Change Election Results

It's a statistically insignificant number, though: three, out of all the thousands of statewide elections between 2000 and 2015.

Joe Bob Briggs: Resist the Campus Speech Nazis

He's happy because a group from Colorado State came down to one of his recent shows.
Colorado State may not be high on your list of trendsetting institutions, but anyone who follows political-correctness battles is well aware of it. To use just one example, the “Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Associated Students of Colorado State University” (yes, that’s a thing) recently said that students shouldn’t use the phrase “Long time, no see,” because it’s offensive to Asians....

That’s why the Colorado State students and professors and ex-students who came to my show mean so much to me. You don’t come to one of my shows if you believe in any of the “diversity and inclusion” rules. You don’t come to one of my shows if you believe in censoring social media or kicking people out of school because they hold unpopular views. You don’t come to one of my shows if you believe that anytime someone says, “You triggered me,” we should all stop talking and hug the complainer. This makes me think that much of the campus political-correctness movement is just intimidation of people trying to get through college without getting called out. It makes me think they all know it’s bullshit and just ignore it like you ignore a loud preacher on the subway. It makes me think that most people still believe in letting every American say whatever the heck every American wants to say, using whatever words he wants to use, and to hell with the public scolding.
There's a lot more at the link, including some hilarious examples.

Sore Losers are Still Losers

The Abrams campaign prepares a very novel lawsuit to try to force Georgia to hold an entirely new election, since she now appears to have lost the last one.

She's alleging massive voter suppression efforts, but frankly those are not in evidence. Kemp set up a system that could be easily cheated, which is why I've been very critical of his performance as Secretary of State. But if he were going to cheat, he'd have given himself a comfortable margin of victory that would have forestalled this recount/lawsuit approach. He could have cheated, certainly. The evidence strongly suggests that he did not, though he remains at fault for having set up a system in which we can have so little confidence.

Georgia should fix its systems for the next election. All the same, it's time to call this one. He's almost twenty thousand votes ahead of the runoff number, and more than fifty thousand votes ahead of her. That's ballgame.

UPDATE: 'Georgia's governor's race "stolen,"' according to Democrats. The Post author explicitly treats similar Republican claims as "baseless" and "without evidence," while saying these claims are being made on much stronger grounds. I concede Kemp's dubiousness; but I notice that "without evidence" is a stick that the press is increasingly using against conservatives, frequently in error (or often, I suspect, maliciously).

Trump-Appointed Judge Sides CNN

It's just the temporary restraining order, but I find the logic amazing all the same.
The judge also found that Acosta suffered “irreparable harm,” dismissing the government’s argument that CNN could simply send other reporters to cover the White House in Acosta’s place.

The suit by CNN alleges that Acosta’s First and Fifth Amendment rights were violated by suspending his hard pass. While the judge didn’t rule on the underlying case, he signaled they were likely to prevail in their claims.
Having spent a fair part of my life going into and out of secure facilities, I find it stunning that a judge would rule that someone has a Constitutional right not to be forbidden from one. Revocation of a prior clearance to enter falls, surely, under the authority of the executive branch. Article II of the Constitution says "[t]he executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America." If Trump were to give the order personally, I can't see how it could be outside the scope of the President's authority; but were he to delegate it, well, that's how all executive authority works. If a base commander can revoke your clearance to enter his base, whoever is delegated similar authority over journalists can do it.

Nor do I buy that it does 'irreparable harm' to a journalist to be reassigned, which is all that would result if this one permanently lost access to the President. OK, go cover the UK Prime Minister instead. CNN does both, and having been kicked out by Trump would only improve Acosta's standing in the eyes of European leaders he might be assigned to cover instead. What's the harm?

Supposedly there's some due process issue, but I can't think what it would be. Secure facilities have a right to refuse entry to anyone, or to remove anyone, prior to whatever process of review there is for that decision.

The judge isn't a partisan against Trump, being a Trump appointee. I make no such accusation; but what an amazing decision to have reached, even on the temporary order. He has to make a judgment that success in the main suit is likely, and I can't see any basis for thinking it at all likely.

The Battle of Hastings, Oversimplified

Plus background and how it changed the English language.

Changing the Rules

Florida keeps rolling in scandal.
A day after Florida's election left top state races too close to call, a Democratic party leader directed staffers and volunteers to share altered election forms with voters to fix signature problems on absentee ballots after the state's deadline.

The altered forms surfaced in Broward, Santa Rosa, Citrus and Okaloosa counties and were reported to federal prosecutors to review for possible election fraud as Florida counties complete a required recount in three top races.

But an email obtained by the USA TODAY NETWORK-Florida shows that Florida Democrats were organizing a broader statewide effort beyond those counties to give voters the altered forms to fix improper absentee ballots after the Nov. 5 deadline. Democratic party leaders provided staffers with copies of a form, known as a "cure affidavit," that had been modified to include an inaccurate Nov. 8 deadline.

One Palm Beach Democrat said in an interview the idea was to have voters fix and submit as many absentee ballots as possible with the altered forms in hopes of later including them in vote totals if a judge ruled such ballots were allowed.

U.S. Chief Judge Mark Walker ruled Thursday that voters should have until Saturday to correct signatures on ballots, a move that could open the door for these ballots returned with altered forms to be counted.
I guess it's fine to set aside the rules established by the state legislature if some judge says so. Until some other judge says otherwise. Why do we have laws at all? We could just ask a judge to rule on any conflicts that occur, since they're apparently going to set the laws aside whenever they feel like it.

Aristotle tried to warn us about that.
Now, it is of great moment that well-drawn laws should themselves define all the points they possibly can and leave as few as may be to the decision of the judges; and this for several reasons. First, to find one man, or a few men, who are sensible persons and capable of legislating and administering justice is easier than to find a large number. Next, laws are made after long consideration, whereas decisions in the courts are given at short notice, which makes it hard for those who try the case to satisfy the claims of justice and expediency. The weightiest reason of all is that the decision of the lawgiver is not particular but prospective and general, whereas members of the assembly and the jury find it their duty to decide on definite cases brought before them. They will often have allowed themselves to be so much influenced by feelings of friendship or hatred or self-interest that they lose any clear vision of the truth and have their judgement obscured by considerations of personal pleasure or pain. In general, then, the judge should, we say, be allowed to decide as few things as possible.

SEAL Accused of Various Improprieties

According to the newly unearthed charge sheet, dated Oct. 2, Gallagher faces charges of premeditated murder for allegedly stabbing the wounded ISIS fighter "in the neck and body with a knife" on May 3, 2017. He's charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon for shooting two noncombatants, one male, one female, with his firearm on separate occasions in June and July of that year.

In three charges of novel specification, Gallagher is accused of posing for a picture with a human corpse, completing his reenlistment ceremony next to the corpse and operating a drone over it, according to the charge sheet.

These alleged crimes are charged the same day he is accused of killing the detainee; Task and Purpose reported that evidence introduced by the prosecution includes photos appearing to show Gallagher posing with the murdered man and the knife he allegedly used to kill him.

Gallagher also allegedly used Tramadol Hydrochloride, a prescription-only pain reliever, and possessed Sustanon-250, an injectable testosterone, according to the charge sheet.
This is one of those occasions when the military justice system is quite different than the civilian one. If he were entitled to a trial by his peers -- meaning by other special operators -- I suspect that the 'shooting at noncombatants' charge wouldn't have a chance. You just don't know who the combatants are in places like Iraq.

The murder charge? I'm not sure that one would fly either. If it can make sense to put a 'security round' in a fighter to make sure he doesn't blow a hidden suicide vest, or come at you from behind once you've moved past him, it could make sense to knife him down too. Depending on the circumstances, that could be an appropriate thing to do. It would be wrong to torture a wounded man to death once the area was secure; it might be right to finish him off while the area was not secure and the operation was ongoing, especially if stealth was a concern.

Discipline is the soul of an army, as Washington said, and it's important to hold people to standards. It could be that on a full account of the circumstances his fellows would convict him. There are at least some readings of the most serious charges, though, that I could see a jury of peers accepting under some circumstances.

That isn't how the military system works, though.

"Facebook Betrayed America"

The New Republic is not happy with Team Zuck. And they are swinging for the fences: the allegations don't stop at treason, but include also complicity in genocide.

Bikers and Fake Ballots

The source for this story is Gateway Pundit, which Wikipedia's community has decided to call "a far right fake news site." Still, they're also a very plausible source for a story that originates with Bikers for Trump. I'm going to bold what I take to be the crucial facts alleged.
According to the letter sent by [Bikers for Trump leader] Cox’s lawyer Derek A. Schwartz, while outside the Broward Supervisor of Elections main office, Cox and other members of Bikers for Trump learned of twelve colored plastic zip tie tags that were each stamped with a seven digit serial code.

“The tags were discovered by other citizens on the ground near the loading dock area outside the BSOE building,” the letter explains. He then went on to provide the serial numbers and the color of the tags.

“It is my client’s understanding and belief that these tags may have been used by the BSOE to secure and seal ballot boxes and/or bags on the night of the election prior to transporting the ballots to the BSOE office. Based on where these tags were found, my client believes these tags were likely illegally removed from the ballot boxes and bags prior to being delivered to the BSOE’s office,” the letter continues.

Schwartz goes on to state that “if these tags were used to seal ballot boxes and bags and improperly removed, then the chain of custody of the ballots in the boxes and bags was broken and the ballots were subject to tampering and manipulation.”

It goes on to request that Bondi’s office immediately determine if any of the tags were used to secure ballot containers, that they find out who removed them, as well as who authorized the removal. The letter additionally requests information about how many ballots were related to the tags, what the serial numbers correspond with and which polling locations they came from.

“My client believes that each ballot box or bag can hold up to 2,500 ballots. Based on having 15 tags, that could mean that approximately 37,500 ballots have been tampered with,” the letter states.
What's of interest to me is the specificity of the claim. Assuming GP is accurately reporting a real letter, then the claims being made are quite actionable. There should be a list of serial numbered tags assigned to various sites, so it should be possible to determine relatively quickly whether tags with those numbers were in fact assigned to this county.

If it's a completely false report, that should also be immediately obvious to prosecutors.

There's middle ground, I guess, where you could have taken note of the tags used on election day, and then made up a report about having found those tags in the loading dock area. Then the prosecutors would quickly discover that the tag numbers were legitimate, but might find that tags corresponding to those numbers were accounted for at the end facility. Then you'd have a big problem, as you'd have to try to investigate a false theory that fake tags had replaced the real tags, and that would be impossible to disprove. It's the kind of thing that could ground a conspiracy theory that the election was stolen.

Of course, it could be true that there's a ploy to counterfeit these tags. The fact that you couldn't prove it wasn't true wouldn't prove that it was, but you might possibly prove that it really was true. Then people should be going to prison.

Well, keep an ear out, and remember the source.

UPDATE: Some of you have been suggesting that Florida needs a Battle of Athens moment. It occurs to me that there are some similarities in having Bikers for Trump staking out this voting area.

By the way, the Washington Times has confirmed the story, and has a photo of the tags.

Another "Break Up America" Story

While reading this I was thinking about the WWI videos that Tom posted below, which (like last weekend's WR Mead article) reminds that in Eastern Europe the breakup of the old empires into nation states was a liberation. Just as Huns or Poles might have viewed the end of the old empire as a kind of liberty, so too might Californians appreciate being freed from the tyrannies of a disproportionately-rural US Senate. So too might Alabama's residents enjoy being cut loose from the kind of liberal courts that impose such strange rules upon it all the time.

There are definitely things I would miss, especially the ease of travel and the freedom to move anywhere in what is now America. But it might be that at least some of those things could be retained in a new arrangement.

Strange Days, II

A school district punishes a teacher for what we used to call 'doing the right thing.'
A Florida school district allowed a self-described transgender female student regular access to the boys’ locker room, with no advance warning to the boys or their parents. The first time she walked in, she caught “boys (literally) with their pants down, causing them embarrassment and concern by the fact that they had been observed changing by an obvious girl,” says a complaint letter to Pasco County School District from Liberty Counsel, a pro-bono constitutional law firm.

With a “gag order,” school administrators forbade teachers from talking about the change, and ordered a male P.E. teacher to supervise the potentially undressed girl in the Chasco Middle School locker room, the letter says. When he refused to “knowingly place himself in a position to observe a minor female in the nude or otherwise in a state of undress,” administrators told him “he will be transferred to another school as discipline for ‘not doing your job in the locker room.'”
I note that the law firm mentioned has been placed on the SPLC's list of hate groups. I checked because they used the phrase "an obvious girl," which is so big a violation of PC-speak that I figured they'd be there, and they are.

Strange Days

A judge at a Naturalization ceremony tells the new citizens to boycott the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the nation they just elected to join.
Her speech to the new citizens, to the extent that I could hear it, was appalling. Sounding like a Democratic Party ward boss, she urged the new citizens to vote as soon as humanly possible. She made voting sound like a tremulous act of self-defense against the country they had just joined. The exhortation, needless to say, gave off a strong anti-Republican, anti-Trump whiff.

Then she started in on some ludicrous riff about the First Amendment, encouraging the new Americans to exercise that right as robustly as possible, including by “taking a knee.” Huh?

So here we have a federal court judge, who just turned a room full of foreigners into American citizens, and her first piece of advice to them is: boycott the American flag you have just been handed. It was depressing and infuriating as hell.

In the past, a judge who dispensed such nihilistic advice to new Americans would be impeached.
Congress will have a lame-duck session before that becomes impossible.

Against Sins of Openness

The American Mind proposes an interesting reading:
The postwar era has been characterized by a de-regulatory consensus. This has a cultural dimension. In the 1950s, mainstream liberal writers bemoaned “organizational man” and wrote about the “lonely crowd.” More and more people came to reject legally (and socially) enforced racism—the epitome of bad cultural regulation. These concerns about intrusive and unsustainable regulation intensified in the 1960s.... Sexual liberation was but one part of a much larger project of cultural de-regulation, championed mostly by the center-left, but often with the center-right’s cooperation. (See the history of no-fault divorce....

The de-regulatory consensus also had an economic dimension. In 1945, sixty-five percent of American GDP went to the war effort. Our economy was regulated by production goals, price controls, and all manner of central planning. From the time Truman released Detroit from military production quotas, the American economy has been on a trajectory of de-regulation.... As the Soviet empire was crumbling in 1990, George H. W. Bush addressed the United Nations. He urged a global effort to create a future of “open borders, open trade, and, most importantly, open minds.” This formulation could well serve as the postwar era’s catechism, which, again, I must emphasize rested upon a center-right and center-left consensus. By the time Barack Obama had become president, Bush’s formulation was thought to express a metaphysical truth...

Today’s populism rejects the de-regulatory, “openness” consensus. Building the “beautiful wall” was one of Trump’s most effective campaign slogans. It is the image of closure, not openness. Trump backed this up not only with promises to combat illegal immigration, but to also rip up free trade agreements and build a wall of economic protectionism. All of this was laced with un-nuanced, pro-American rhetoric. Meanwhile, Trump addressed social conservatives with blunt directness. He did not reiterate conservative pieties about appointing judges who will “respect the constitution.” Instead, he said he would appoint pro-life judges. He did not promise to protect religious freedom; he promised to say “Merry Christmas.” He repeatedly, pungently, and unapologetically violated the canons of political correctness, which is the police arm of the cultural de-regulation project.
I would have said that political correctness was the police arm of a regulatory project: it doesn't intend to stop people from judging, but to pass judgments (sometimes quite harsh ones, which can destroy careers or ruin lives). Still, there's a point to be made here:
Conservatives like the word “freedom.” That’s a better word than “open,” which has utopian connotations of limitless and borderless existence: we are the world! But we need to learn from Trumpian populism. At the end of the postwar era, the meaning of “freedom” has become libertarian and de-regulatory, almost a synonym for “open.” As a consequence, conservative voters — voters who want to renew and restore something solid and enduring in America — no longer thrill to our rhetoric of freedom....

The postwar era is ending. The center-left politics of cultural de-regulation no longer commands widespread support, which is why it has to rely on a punitive, hectoring political correctness. The center-right project of economic de-regulation is losing its appeal, especially in its global aspects. Voters are rebelling. They want national reconsolidation, cultural stability, and relief from ever-intensifying economic competition. We see it in Europe. It’s happening in the United States. I say, thank goodness.

A Lost City of Trojans

Following the Trojan War, the victors forced captured Trojans to build themselves a new home south of Corinth. It prospered, but was lost sometime after Rome destroyed Corinth during its capture of Greece. Now it has been found:
On Tuesday, the Greek culture ministry announced Korka's team had found "proof of the existence of the ancient city" of Tenea. An image of the excavation site released by the ministry depict stone walls, the remains of what were likely houses from the settlement nearly 3,000 years ago.
More at the link.

An Almost Nuclear Iran

The seized Iranian intelligence cache proves to contain some explosive details (pun intended, though I suppose this is no laughing matter).
“The U.S. was issuing statements that it would take a year at least, perhaps two years, to build a deliverable weapon. The information in the archive makes it clear they could have done it a lot quicker,” said Albright. He added that the French government, which was then saying Iran could achieve a weapon in three months, was much closer in its estimates.
If Iran goes nuclear, we'll finally find out if that "Death to America" and "Death to Israel" stuff was just rhetoric, I suppose.

A Message from Tracey Ullman

Ullman's message is brought to you, on this occasion, by Jessica Valenti.

WW1 Oversimplified

This fellow has a series of videos that are mostly educational but also comically oversimplified. In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1, here's his take on that:

Part 1


Part 2

Nationalism and WWI

Wretchard is discussing the question of whether nationalism or internationalism was responsible for the First World War. I'm old enough to have been educated by confident teachers in both propositions. 'Nationalism caused WWI' was taken to be the definitive argument some decades ago; as Wretchard points out, we understand a little more about it now.
It might be argued it was the international system with its entangling alliances and secret treaties that dragged the world kicking and screaming to slaughter of the trenches.... a world without firebreaks can internationalize a local incident that might otherwise have remained isolated. It was precisely the telegraph, railroad and even the invention of corned beef that made "some damned fool thing in the Balkans" able spread like wildfire. Once the finger of Serbia had been caught in the mangle the entire European arm was pulled into the meat grinder, inevitably and inexorably.
The focus on nationalism as an evil was made more plausible to teachers as the educational establishment moved left, for the great Soviet cause was internationalism. Nationalism, in the absence of entangling alliances and mobilization plans that thrust British troops to the German front, might well have turned there as here into isolationism. It might have inclined the Brits as the Swiss to avoid the war, because it wasn't their people's business and they would prefer to be left alone.

Imperialism, another Soviet bugaboo, is a better candidate for blame than nationalism. The British people could sit out a world war, but the British Empire couldn't.

In any case, Wretchard points out (as our Eric Blair has long argued) that WWI destroyed the foundations of Western civilization; we may yet die of it. I saw someone post something yesterday to the effect of, 'if we don't have nations, if we don't have children, if we don't have borders: they all died for nothing.' Maybe that's right, as Wretchard notes:
It's instructive to note that even a century has not proved enough time for Macron's EU to recover its religious, national and erotic confidence. In the quartet of leaders formed by May, Macron, Merkel and Trump only the Donald has children. To Macron at least, national ideals have become demons. And as for religion -- perhaps that is a subject best left untouched for the present.

Veterans Day

Have a good one, you who have earned it.