Always hatin on the cauliflower

What's a woke folk to do?  If we plant cauliflower in our community gardens, we're guilty of colonialism.  If we plant yucca and plaintains, we're culturally appropriating.  If we plant no community gardens, we're murdering Gaia and propping up Big Agriculture and capitalism, assuming we don't live in a produce desert.  What's left?  Planting in our own back yards?  Elitist pigs!  How dare we elevate ourselves over tenement dwellers, us and our land-grabbing culture?

If we grow no food, at least we can watch a culture consume itself.

Acting straight

This is one of those articles that send you to the thesaurus looking for an interesting new synonym for "unhinged."  Greta LaFleur worries that Pete Buttigieg's Norman Rockwell treatment on the cover of Time Magazine represents the triumph of "heterosexuality without women."  In this context, being straight has less to do with literal sex than with the awful sort of acting-white contagion that might lead black kids to do well in school in order to improve their lives and the futures of their communities.

We have oreos and bananas and apples as slurs for blacks or Asians or Native Americans who act too white.  It will be trickier to devise a slur for gays who act too straight, but I imagine someone's working on it.

Darth Vader takes over the Energy Star

It's hard to imagine a more irritating virtue-signal than Energy Star ratings, which apparently measure the degree to which an appliance lards on a lot of stupid options in an expensive cyborg brain that will only break expensively and often, while doing a poor job of whatever the appliance is supposed to do by restricting its use of water and power.

So I was delighted to see that the Koch brothers' evil plan to take over the universe has now advanced a step by bagging a coveted Energy Star award.  In a few days, no doubt, we'll see this award reversed as abruptly as some university department's ill-considered extension of a speech invitation to a wrongthink reactionary.

The smug party

In my distant youth I was taught to associate smugness with Republicans, not Democrats.  As Tucker Carleton hilariously put it earlier this year, Republicans always denied they were the party of the rich.  "We denied by the poolside, at the club.  'Boy, another bourbon, please!'"  I instinctively associated the Democrats with individual rights, dignity, and freedom as well.  Somewhere in the 90s all that changed for me.

A Quillette article ruminating on the existential shock of the Australian election included this chart showing the realignment of conservatives and liberals according to educational attainment, which tells us a lot about educational trends in the last few decades:

What the election actually shows us is that the so-called quiet Australians, whether they are tradies (to use the Australian term) in Penrith, retirees in Bundaberg, or small business owners in Newcastle, are tired of incessant scolding from their purported superiors. Condescension isn’t a good look for a political movement.
Combine this scolding with the demented balderdash emanating from ivory towers, and you've got a good recipe for people shaking their heads at the Church Lady and switching to another station.

How Much Is a Dragon Worth?

For aspiring knights and dames and hobbit-adventurers, Forbes staff writer Michael Noer does the analysis.

Last year, to quell lingering suspicions that we simply “make-up” the net worth numbers for the Fictional 15, our annual ranking of the richest fictional characters, I decided to publish the calculations behind my evaluation of Smaug’s fortune, the dragon from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit (See “How Much is a Dragon Worth.”)

Taking into account a variety of factors including the estimated length of a dragon (64 feet), how many scales he has on his belly (822), the percentage of air in the treasure mound (30%) and the price of gold, silver and diamonds I estimated the ancient wyrm to be worth $8.6 billion.

The Internet disagreed.

Citing errors in everything from the value of the “Arkenstone of Thrain” to the price of mithril armor, Fictional 15 fans critiqued nearly every aspect of my calculation, usually concluding that I had vastly underestimated the old flamethrower’s net worth. One reader, gvbezoff, pegged Smaug’s wealth to be $870 billion, calling it a “conservative estimate.” For context, that’s about 12.5 times richer than Carlos Slim Helu, the planet’s richest non-fictional being.

Still, I am man enough to admit to making a few imaginary errors. So I carefully recalculated Smaug’s net worth taking into account the comments on last year’s post. And the Internet was right. He is worth a lot more than $8.6 billion. $53.4 billion more in fact. Let’s go point by point:

Click over for the point-by-point analysis if you wish.

Worst places to live

Someone has figured out the worst towns to live in for all fifty states.  Most of them are pits for the usual reasons of poverty, joblessness, and crime, but some states, like Nebraska, apparently are so uniformly liveable that all the surveyors could find to complain about is that residents didn't have ideal access to fresh produce.  The case against Derry, New Hampshire, is particularly thin:  the cost of living is high in this well-employed, safe little town.  In one Utah town--horrors--the nearest hospital was 10 miles away.  I wish.

At least no one mentioned limited Starbucks accessibility or the over-prevalence of Chick Fil-A.  Two other subjects studiously avoided were demographics and politics.

I have decided to ride up and join Rolling Thunder with some of my old comrades. I will be a week or so. There may be updates from the road.

There Is No Such Thing as "Scientific Proof"

A helpful reminder from Psychology Today.

Nothing But Process Crimes

Byron York says what I have also been thinking: Mueller's failure to find a single plausible Russian agent, or even coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, largely puts paid to this saga. Most of the convictions were guilty pleas that weren't court-tested; many of them were for process crimes, that is, crimes that didn't exist until the investigation itself created them.

The "obstruction!" talk is an attempt at another process crime. There's no underlying crime whose investigation could be obstructed (to say nothing of the glaring absence of formal and even legal modes of obstruction, such as the exercise of executive privilege vs. Mueller). Impeachment is a political process, and you can in a sense impeach for anything you want, but it makes no sense to impeach a President over allegations of a process crime.

I am beginning to think that the Republican congressman who joined calls for impeachment is really working for Trump. It'll be even harder to ignore calls from the hard left base with a Republican siding them, but on the House side where his apparent defection doesn't change the math. Either the Democrats give in and spend the 2020 election season failing to remove the President in the Senate trial, or they refuse and demoralize/split their base going into the 2020 election cycle. Either way, Trump comes out ahead.

They should bury this and "Move On" as quickly as possible. But maybe they can't, with the flipside investigations into how the investigation came to be coming due.

The View from Hornyhead

No trail to the summit, just a long push through the brush to reach this summit at the southwestern corner of the Middle Prong wilderness, Nantahala National Forest. The last hundred plus vertical feet are a real fight, bare stone precipices rather than anything you can walk upright. It's a long way from anywhere. Too bad there aren't more places left that are.

The real problem with fake SAT scores

You may have thought the real problem with monkeying around with measurements of scholastic aptitude was that lying to ourselves only leaves us with less trustworthy information to guide our actions with.  No, no.  The real problem is that jimmying the SAT scores to reflect the impact of adversity only obscures the real point, which is racial quotas, because they alone can purge the sin of slavery.  Well, maybe racial quotas and a healthy dollop of reparations.  Apparently only pitifully demoralized liberals still think measurable adversity is the real problem.  Besides, how would you measure it?  Quit wasting time and show us the money.

By the way, remember when "SAT" stood for "Scholastic Aptitude Test," before we started to pretend it was simply three neutral letters chosen more or less at random?  "Scholastic" raises all kinds of uncomfortable issues, as does "Aptitude."  "Test" produces anxiety.  Soon we'll have to call it "banana," and we'll have to get to work on that hateful term "score."

Climate what?

We were talking recently about the exhausting task of updating terminology in order to stay among the elect in the field of woke.  The Guardian style guide is right there to help us:

The new terms aren't mandatory (yet).  This is just a heads-up to would-be members of the elect, like a warning that the network will be down between 4 and 5 pm for updating.  The true woke don't wait for written orders, anyway.  They are exquisitely sensitive to more vague and preliminary currents than that: a frown, a slight turning away, a decrease in invitations to the right parties, signs that your own head could be next on the chopping block.

I applaud "climate crisis," with its built-in urgency scrubbed of any specifics, and "climate breakdown" is admirably content-free, but what's with "climate heating"?  I thought the whole idea of "climate change" was to avoid the embarrassing lack of evidence for increased Btu's.  Heating is such a stark term, no nuance, no subtlety.  If "change" sounds too cuddly or Obama-like, surely they could try "disruption" or "shock."  We've had a good run with "trauma" and "bombshell" lately.  Climate annihilation?  Climate Ragnarok?  Climate weasels-ripped-my-face?

More tipping points

I suppose if Nigel Farage becomes Prime Minister, he'll be accused of collusion with China.

Update:  Green party takes an unexpected drubbing in Australian elections.

Tipping which way?

The Washington Examiner marshals evidence that voters worldwide are wearying of expensive and unconvincing policies to address climate whatever.  The Guardian finds it equally obvious that we're on the cusp of a worldwide conversion to true belief and deep sacrifice.

Or maybe the sides are just sorting out and we're about to go to war.

They don't need to be green or nude, either

From Powerline's always excellent "Week in Pictures," including a round-up of headlines (many involving our hero, "Florida Man"):  Cocaine in the Thames is another problem eels don't need, says wildlife expert.

As Zippy the Pinhead used to say, "Toreador pants are something that make your feet look big, too."

Uptick in law enforcement?

Maybe I'm just paying more attention, as a result of anxiety over a corrupt Deep State, but it's both alarming and encouraging to see four corrupt American defense or intelligence officials go to jail this year for spying for the Chinese between 2010 and 2017.

Maybe party time is over.  Joe diGenova said recently that some of the RussiaGate offenders ought to retain five lawyers apiece.  I'm thinking five law firms apiece, but we'll see where all this goes.  We should have the IG report soon.  The FISA court fraud alone is a big deal.  After that, we'll see where U.S. Attorney Durham's efforts lead us, given that his powers are broader than the IG's:  he can subpoena non-government employees.

I'm a little surprised no one has yet panicked and turned state's evidence.  These guys ain't Gordon Liddy.

The Great Awokening

This Quillette article points out that not all true believers in the new Woke religion are cynical charlatans, because "[s]incere belief and status motives often conspire."
Because it allows a person priority access to crucial and coveted resources such as money and mates, the desire for status is probably a fundamental human motivation. And because that desire is primitive and powerful, many social practices and activities function at least partially to delineate status relationships. These can be analyzed as status systems and operate in predictable ways because, whatever its diverse manifestations, status has some invariant features. Most importantly, it is inexpansible. That is to say, its supply does not grow. Unlike the economic pie, the status pie remains roughly the same across time. Therefore, players in the status game inevitably inhabit a zero-sum world. If one person’s status goes up, then another’s must go down, which explains why people are exquisitely sensitive not only to gains in their own status, but also to gains in other people’s status. Another’s triumph inevitably rearranges the distribution of a finite and precious resource.
And the zero-sum game explains why "people in Woke culture expend so much effort sending signals to each other and so little quietly working to improve people’s lives."

RIP Mr. Kelling

A founder of the "Broken Windows" approach to police work has died.
The endgame for much of academia and for “progressives” is to eliminate proactive policing in minority neighborhoods. These critics remain wedded to the idea that crime can be lowered only by solving its alleged root causes: racism and poverty. Kelling asserted the opposite: that constitutional, responsive policing is the best hope that law-abiding residents of high crime areas have to live free from fear, a right that people in safer neighborhoods take for granted. Portraying the police as a force for evil is one of the most destructive consequences of the 1960s revolt against traditional authority. George Kelling’s empirically based wisdom revived the understanding that protecting public order is an essential and humane function of government—and that the viability of cities rests on respect for the law.
Mr. Kelling probably wouldn't have thought much of the "expressing pain in a bodied way" approach.

A Song on a Lute

This is a song without a long history, but it does have a history: it's from a 1990s video game called The Elder Scrolls: Arena, but was included in 2011's The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim as well. Skyrim, like the Conan movie of a few posts back, paid a real composer to produce a real score. This piece isn't part of that score, though, just an acoustic update of a tinny version written for early 1990s IBM PC sound cards. It's a surprisingly nice piece of music, considering.

The full soundtrack (which doesn't include this piece, but the true compositions) is here. Some of it is extraordinary.


Today I learned of a Freudian concept with a built-in Kafka trap.
Among the intellectual defenses against analysis are a refusal to accept the logic of emotions, attempts to refute the theory of psychoanalysis,[19] or speculating about one's own problems rather than experiencing them and attempting to change.[20]...

A woman in therapy continues to theorise her experience to her therapist – 'It seems to me that being psycho-analysed is essentially a process where one is forced back into infantilism...intellectual primitivism' – despite knowing that she 'would get no answer to it, or at least, not on the level I wanted, since I knew that what I was saying was the "intellectualising" to which she attributed my emotional troubles'.[33]
I'm often critical of the theory of psychoanalysis, especially Freudian analysis. It's characteristic of Freudian theories that you can't prove you aren't sick; they used to make movies about that, back when involuntary psychiatric imprisonment was a thing. You say you don't have an Oedipal complex, sir? Well, that's a sign that you're repressing it, and that's even more dangerous!

Here we get a pure form of the Kafka trap, though. The Kafka trap is (as I imagine all of you know) the kind of a trap in which declaring your innocence proves your guilt. The only way to prove yourself correct is to admit guilt, in which case, of course, you're declared guilty. In this case, the very act of questioning the validity of the theory under which you stand accused proves that you're guilty of the accusation. That blog post describing a Kafka trap would certainly be said to be an act of 'intellectualization'; any attempt by the author to refute the theory, for example in order to establish that this was a correct description of the world rather than a psychological defense mechanism, would be taken as evidence that they were involved in psychological defenses.

That's a problem because, as always, Freudian concepts are fielded as weapons.
Generally, you can only intellectualize when your body and life are safe. So it makes sense that people who are white, male, heterosexual, or able-bodied, are quickest to adopt intellectualization, while those who are brown and black, non-male, queer or who have a disability are so clearly angry, sad, and scared.

As a white female, I was raised with this idea that if you want to be heard, you have to be emotionless. It’s infused in our culture, that the rational, emotion-free argument is the best type of argument. The qualities of detached rationality are generally attributed to white men, and so white men are unconsciously taught to believe themselves to be fair and unbiased arbiters of all situations. Which is how you get seven white men signing away the healthcare rights of women around the world....

Then I became both a therapist and a feminist, at the same time.... I got called a bitch and accused of PMS-ing and laughed at and mocked–but I also found my people. I found whole humans who knew that we cannot bring ourselves to any conversation without bringing our bodies and real emotions.
The opening assumption is wrong, but I can see why she assumes it. Just the other day a feminist on a college campus flew into a rage and physically attacked some anti-abortion protesters. (Not for the first time.) This would be said to be 'expressing her real, deep pain,' in a 'bodied' way; which is to say, the violence would be licensed. And, indeed, the police did not even handcuff this slight female who repeatedly punched a man in the head. The news report describes her as having been 'arrested,' but if you watch the video you see the police explaining that they're just giving her a citation "which is the same thing as an arrest." Except for the arresting. So for her, it probably does seem like she can only intellectualize if she feels safe; when she doesn't feel safe, she must 'act out her real feelings' using her 'body.'

But if a man like me lashes out violently at another person, the police are going to respond very differently. We would certainly be arrested -- actually arrested, taken away in chains and booked -- and possibly not released on bail before the trial, if a judge considered us at risk of lashing out violently again. As I've related before, the last time I got pulled over the cops immediately assumed bracketing fire positions, hands on their guns.

For a man like me, the ability to set aside emotion and respond intellectually is the only thing that creates safety. If I respond with my real emotions and body, I might well get killed by defense mechanisms society has built for that express purpose. As the recent book The Goodness Paradox points out, civilization and morality seem to have come to be in order to license and enable the killing of strong males. A male who cannot restrain his 'real emotions' and 'body' is subject to potentially deadly force by police, at essentially all times.

So I guess in that sense it is a 'defense mechanism,' but not a Freudian one. It's a real defense. It creates actual safety where otherwise there is grave peril. And that's not a bad thing, all psychoanalysis aside.

This Should Be Interesting

Twitter has chosen a stunning graphic to highlight that SAT story.

Over/under on how long it will remain up? I'll go with an hour.

The privilege index

The annals of IQ insanity:  college admission boards rely on SAT scores because professional educators associate high IQ with probable academic performance.  Somehow they intuited that high school GPAs weren't 100% reliable at signaling IQ.  SAT scores, in contrast, correlate with fantastic fidelity to IQ.

We barely are allowed to think, let alone talk, about what IQ is and why it might be valuable (but it doesn't make you a good person!).  Nevertheless, experience keeps confirming uncomfortable theories that it has something to do with competence in academic, technical, or cognitive tasks, which, for now, we still sort of think is a good thing, at least in the neurosurgeon who's about to operate on us.  Also, competence in those brainy areas--whether or not we're prepared to admit it is useful to society or praiseworthy in any way--correlates well with financial success and level of education.  What's worse, it seems to run in families, which means that on the whole it also correlates well with the financial success and education of one's forebears.  The horrifying cherry on top is that it correlates strongly with race, the uncomfortable implication being that race also must have something to do with inherited qualities, not all of which can be scrubbed away by the right research filter.

Well, we can't have that.  What we need is an adjustment to SAT scores for adversity.  What qualifies as adversity?  Among other things, all the background conditions that correlate strongly with low SAT scores, such as parents with all the economic, professional, and educational characteristics of groups with low SAT scores.  But that's no good, because the idea of parents sneaks back in that uncomfortable concept of inheritance.

Inheritance doesn't tell you everything by a long shot.  SAT scores give a pretty sharp picture of a college-bound student's horsepower; circumstances give a fuzzy one, though strongly correlated.  We ought to be ignoring the fuzzy signal and using the sharper one.  Instead, we're pretending that the fuzzy signal is some kind of contraindication, if not an outright thought crime for which we have to do penance.

If IQ matters, inheritance is going to favor some students over others, an advantage that also will be broadly reflected in their circumstances.  If IQ doesn't matter, we ought to chuck the pseudo-IQ tests and make college admission a free-for-all:  a simple lottery, or racial quotas, or even an expansion of the wide-open public school system to age 22.  Or, heck, federally mandate lifelong free education for anyone who still feels he hasn't reached his full potential as a neurosurgeon.

This guy was general counsel for the FBI?

James Baker, former GC for the FBI, is a confused man.  A contributing editor for the website Lawfare, he posted a rambling account of his spiritual conflicts in opposing our dangerous president.  Hatred, he counsels us, hasn't worked, as evidenced by the president's stubbornly steady poll numbers.  Why don't we try love?  By love, he doesn't mean something warm and fuzzy, he means full-throated bold opposition, in the tradition of Martin Luther King.  Maybe that will bring Trump's polls down at last.  Throw in some Dalai Lama, perhaps even lethal force, if spiritually appropriate.  Whatever works.

At the same time, he's troubled by damage to his beloved FBI's reputation.
One of my dearest relatives, who happens to be a supporter of the president, asked me last year, “Jimmy, is everyone at the FBI corrupt?” I was dismayed.
It's possible that Baker, whose mind apparently is more unhinged than wonderfully focused by the prospect of his own hanging, would do well to give both hate and love a pass for now and concentrate on honesty, both internal and external. Some of this swirl of love and hate might come into sharper focus for him.

Isaiah 6:8

A brief movie review of Fury, which I just got around to seeing this weekend.

This was one of the harder movies to watch that I've seen, which means that it is a good war movie. There are several war crimes executed by good men, which is an accurate depiction of the nature of war. They do right sometimes, wrong often, and they're the good guys. They die well. It is honest about the brutality and the hardness of it all, and the ways in which they can come to love it.

The hardest scene to watch, though, is of an impromptu dinner party with some German locals. Half the tank crew wants to have a moment of normality and decency; the other half is so harmed and haunted by what they've done that they can't stand it, and try to destroy it. They're sorry, but they can't, and it's because they're too hurt to pretend things can still be normal.

It isn't an art film. It's not a masterpiece. But it's honest and it's direct, and that's not nothing.

J. Roddy Walston & the Business

A young group with an interesting sound.

I liked this one better, though it's more erotic than we usually do here.

Giving or Taking?

Jared Diamond, a noted historian, says it's basically even money whether civilization will utterly collapse by 2050. What are those numbers based on?
Today, the risk that we’re facing is not of societies collapsing one by one, but because of globalization, the risk we are facing is of the collapse of the whole world.

How likely do you think that is? That the whole network of civilization would collapse?

I would estimate the chances are about 49 percent that the world as we know it will collapse by about 2050.... At the rate we’re going now, resources that are essential for complex societies are being managed unsustainably. Fisheries around the world, most fisheries are being managed unsustainably, and they’re getting depleted. Farms around the world, most farms are being managed unsustainably. Soil, topsoil around the world. Fresh water around the world is being managed unsustainably. With all these things, at the rate we’re going now, we can carry on with our present unsustainable use for a few decades, and by around 2050 we won’t be able to continue it any longer. Which means that by 2050 either we’ve figured out a sustainable course, or it’ll be too late.
Well, I could say that collapse has a 50% chance of occurring: either it will, or it won't.

On the other hand, he has some surprisingly positive things to say about the role of corporations.
I see that corporations, big corporations, while some of them do horrible things, some of them also are doing wonderful things which don’t make the front page. When there was the Exxon Valdez spill off Alaska, you can bet that made the front page. When Chevron was managing its oil field in Papua New Guinea in a utterly rigorous way, better than any national park I’ve ever been in, that certainly did not make the front page because it wasn’t a good picture.
That sounds suspiciously like sanity. So maybe give him your ear, and see what you think.

Everything not mandatory is forbidden

I grew up in Houston, famous for its lack of zoning.  In most cities, that's an unthinkable heresy.  Blue-state types naturally embrace zoning as part of the cradle-to-grave involvement of government in virtually every aspect of life that otherwise might be guided by free choices between buyers and sellers, a/k/a vicious dog-eat-dog capitalism or, to troglodytes like myself, the free market.

All-powerful zoning predictable screws up market to the point that people are shocked to discover that housing prices are insane and there are an inexplicable number of homeless people whom society has failed to provide with attractive housing options.  California is the poster child for this kind of thing.  Having noticed that mandatory zoning has led to an unreasonable fraction of developable land's being set aside for single-family homes, today's activists have executed an abrupt about-face and announced that single-family zoning must be replaced by multi-family zoning in order to redress past inequities.  One might think this kind of change might be pursued locally by changing the standards of the zoning committees, but why trust them to do that when you can ask the state government to make it mandatory for all cities?  So they'll change from mandatory single-family to mandatory multi-family:  anything but let the market adjust to what buyers and sellers want to do with their land.  How would they know what's good for them?

Running Out the Guns on Abortion

Georgia's heartbeat bill was signed last week. Today the Alabama state legislature passed a law that is clearly unconstitutional under current SCOTUS jurisprudence just precisely in order to provoke a court challenge. Frankly, if I were the governor of Alabama -- the actual governor is a woman, by the way -- I would veto it in spite of all the reasons to oppose abortion. The Georgia law may not survive constitutional challenges either, but at least it aims at being a workable law: it defines the beginning of human life as the beginning of the natural heartbeat (philosophically indefensible, that, but it does track the equally wrong but actually legal standard for death as the end of the natural heartbeat). All legal protections start there.

Not citizenship, though, which requires the child being born under the 14th Amendment. The earliness of the heartbeat also means that abortion may not practically be an option for most mothers, which is going to be hard for the SCOTUS to swallow. I don't think the votes are there to support repealing Roe and Casey yet -- I'd expect Roberts to defect, and Kavanaugh perhaps given his commentary in the confirmation -- but the approach is defensible. Establish that the child is a legal person, alive and entitled to an equality of rights.

The Alabama law doesn't even try to construct workable standards. The legislature was clear that its intent is to provoke, rather than to craft a law that could apply to practical cases in the world. That is not the purpose of legislation, and there definitely aren't the SCOTUS votes to win given that it defies every single aspect of the extant jurisprudence. I would think a governor would rather not take a case like that to court.

Academia as a subprime mortgage broker

Allen Farrington at Quillette, on academia:
Parkinson’s Law holds that a task will take as long as the time allotted to complete it. It seems to be a kind of social equilibrium theorem applicable to any complex organisation. Normally such organisations would simply collapse under the weight of their own bureaucratic inefficiency, but academia is different. It will never be allowed to collapse because education is a right.
* * *
Peter Thiel has given a uniquely scathing critique of the insanity of this system. . . . It is effectively a Ponzi scheme. No wonder Thiel calls college administrators subprime mortgage brokers. They get a cut on selling pieces of paper that are only as valuable as we all pretend they are.
All the local governments here just approved a county Economic Development Corporation, in the belief that a unified mouthpiece for rightthink from community leaders will attract new business and jobs. How it will achieve this goal remains murky, beyond the intention to bribe prospective employers with tax abatements, but there is much enthusiasm for "enhancing the workforce." Although it's unclear what anyone proposes to do to enhance the workforce beyond what we'd normally expect from public schools, the idea may be to create a para-academic institution in which useful knowledge is imparted to a select group of youngsters who want to learn it and can be expelled if they fail to learn or if they disrupt the classrooms too much. If that's the plan, I'll probably get on board, while regretting that we still have to fund the public schools with sky-high ad valorem taxes. Vouchers would let the parents choose the schools that produce results that suit their families, and watch the non-functioning schools die on the vine.

OK, we'll quit exposing you to wildfires

PG+E entered its second bankruptcy last year when it was threatened with $30 billion in damages from the horrific Camp Fire conflagration.  Now it's determined never to cause anyone that kind of disappointment again:
The Camp Fire in November, along with fires from the prior year, exposed PG+E to an estimated $30 billion or more in claims from blazes, hastening its January bankruptcy. Since then, the utility giant has been under pressure to better ensure that its equipment won’t spark fires. Earlier this year, PG+E said it would widen the scope of its power shutoffs to include high-transmission power lines, potentially impacting nearly 10 times the number of customers compared to an earlier plan.
Of course, there will be new kinds of disappointments.

John Adams vs. the Mob

I was eager to bring myself up to speed on America’s revolutionary history.

The most memorable story I heard during that tour was of a young John Adams, a future U.S. president, successfully defending Thomas Preston, a Captain of a redcoat British regiment who’d been accused of ordering the aforementioned massacre after British soldiers were hit with rocks and snowballs. When the administration of Acting Governor Thomas Hutchinson put Preston and his men on trial, Adams agreed to serve as defence counsel, despite the fact he’d already staked out a reputation as a leading Patriot. Years later, he would declare that “the part I took in defence of [Captain] Preston and the soldiers, procured me anxiety and obloquy enough. It was, however, one of the most gallant, generous, manly and disinterested actions of my whole life, and one of the best pieces of service I ever rendered my country. Judgment of death against those soldiers would have been as foul a stain upon this country as the executions of the Quakers or witches.”
Part of a piece chiding Harvard, and defending the ideal that even those accused of serious crimes deserve a proper defense. This ensures that the state exercises its power only when it has properly proven the charges, not merely when it has raised serious charges.

We could use more rather than less of that. The recent Mueller investigation was characterized by serious charges being used to justify extraordinary exercises of power (e.g., violating the attorney-client privilege of the President of the United States in order to raid his home and office, seize his documents, and read them). These accusations were rarely tested in court because of the plea bargain process, in which very easy terms were offered for a guilty plea compared with the severity of the punishments if you dared to contest the charges. A man of adequate honor might refuse to plead guilty when he was not, but perhaps not; given the ruinous cost of an extended defense to his family, even a man of high honor might choose to prefer harm to himself over harm to his family.

A lawyer might now begin to worry about offering a defense, if he might himself become the target of a prosecution or persecution thereby. We need more capability to defend those accused of serious crimes in an actual court-tested case, not a lessened capacity. This is a pillar of our liberty that is under tremendous stress.

Medicare For the Whole World, Courtesy of the US Taxpayer

You're just making things up now, Senator.

Easter Snow

A bit past Easter, but my mother said it was snowing where she was yesterday on Mother's Day.

These are the Uilleann Pipes, quite different from the great pipes usually featured here.

Biden vs. AOC

I'm not inclined to be mean to the young lady from Brooklyn, or the Bronx, or whichever part of NYC she's supposedly from; I can't be bothered to remember much about them anyway, though I know from visiting that the Bronx is in the north and Brooklyn is in the south. Still, she's a celebrity of a sort within the party, so when she decides to go hard against the presumptive nominee it's interesting.


How does a government act when it genuinely wants its existing labor force to thrive?  From a Claremont article about Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán:
“[W]e want a Hungarian Hungary and a European Europe,” he said. So he sought alternatives to Muslim migration that would allow him to keep Hungary’s full-employment economy from stoking inflation. He has stepped up efforts at reintegrating into the economy the backward but considerably more fecund Roma minority. He has lowered the minimum school-leaving age from 18 to 16. He has remobilized retired people. He has pushed the unemployed onto workfare.
And he has made it possible for the German factories that are the backbone of Hungary’s manufacturing economy to ask for up to 400 hours of paid overtime from their workers annually. So short of labor is Hungary that two strikes in January 2019—one in the 4,000-strong Mercedes plant in Kecskemét, one at the vast Audi plant in Györ, with 13,000 employees—ended with 20% and 18% raises for workers, respectively. In the past year Hungary has (very discreetly) offered residence to Venezuelan refugees of Hungarian background. And Orbán has drawn up a plan offering a $30,000 loan to first-time mothers that gets written off when the mother bears a third child, and grants every woman who raises four children an exemption from income tax for the rest of her life.

Beautiful, Warlike Music

The 1982 Conan the Barbarian movie transcends its genre at times, and in several ways, but never more than in the beauty of the score.

Someone made a good decision in hiring a real composer to write a real composition. It raises the movie -- sometimes good, often clever, sometimes silly -- fully into the realm of art.

Glenn Reynolds is Right

The Sage of Knoxville:
BETTER THAT THEY SHOULD BE VICTIMS? Students who tackle shooters die as heroes. Some experts worry ‘we’re setting our kids up to be martyrs.’ “”We’re asking children to make executive decisions, life-and-death decisions.” We’re not asking them to. Life is forcing them to. And this isn’t unusual, but rather — since these “children” are teenagers — the norm for human existence. You could join the Roman legions at 14.

It is?

@Comey: "Reasonable," "totally normal step" to plant undercover sources in a political campaign.
Was that supposed to be reassuring, hoss?


A response to the Defend/Defeat piece that Google hated so much.
I welcome the determination of Williams and the Claremont Institute to protect the nation against the deleterious ideas and illiberal political aims of the purveyors of identity politics and political correctness. But I worry that the Claremont campaign proceeds from a flawed understanding of the ideas Williams hope to defeat and misconstrues the imperatives of prudence arising from the regime he wishes to preserve.

It is a theoretical and rhetorical error, I believe, to liken multiculturalism to slavery and communism.... the ideas that Williams groups under the multiculturalism label present an incoherent cluster of demands for power by resentful members of the elite which masquerade as a quest for social justice by the disadvantaged.
That's OK, because the bulk of Americans are now too badly educated to recognize incoherence. They're ripe for the picking.

Big if True

The claims in this piece are explosive.
[Concerns that the Steele memorandum had many false claims] were flagged in a typed memo and in handwritten notes taken by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Kathleen Kavalec on Oct. 11, 2016.

Her observations were recorded exactly 10 days before the FBI used Steele and his infamous dossier to justify securing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to spy on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page and the campaign’s contacts with Russia in search of a now debunked collusion theory.

It is important to note that the FBI swore on Oct. 21, 2016, to the FISA judges that Steele’s “reporting has been corroborated and used in criminal proceedings” and the FBI has determined him to be “reliable” and was “unaware of any derogatory information pertaining” to their informant, who simultaneously worked for Fusion GPS, the firm paid by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Clinton campaign to find Russian dirt on Trump....

[Kavalec] quoted Steele as saying, “Payments to those recruited are made out of the Russian Consulate in Miami,” according to a copy of her summary memo obtained under open records litigation by the conservative group Citizens United. Kavalec bluntly debunked that assertion in a bracketed comment: “It is important to note that there is no Russian consulate in Miami.”

Kavalec, two days later and well before the FISA warrant was issued, forwarded her typed summary to other government officials. The State Department has redacted the names and agencies of everyone she alerted. It is unlikely that her concerns failed to reach the FBI.
Emphasis added.

John Kerry and the Logan Act

Way back in 2004, when this blog was still young, I wrote a piece on John Kerry breaking the Logan Act. At that time I didn't realize that the Logan Act was a dead letter, nor that John Kerry's entire career was built on Logan Act violations and, indeed, outright treason in Paris when he met with the North Vietnamese to negotiate, while a serving naval officer, without the permission of his chain of command. Even then I knew Kerry wouldn't be prosecuted for it.

Sally Q. Yates apparently knew something else, because she used the Logan Act to go after Michael Flynn and George Papadapolous. The Mueller report scuttles the law, though, making clear that it is a baseless and probably unconstitutional law that has never been enforced in 200 years.

Today President Trump stated that John Kerry should probably be prosecuted, because he's actively working to prevent diplomatic engagement between the United States and Iran. Well, he won't be. The man has made his whole life out of this particular sort of perfidy. In just this way he rose to Senator, Secretary of State, and almost -- very nearly -- President of the United States. Treason prospers.

Death Prayers

Raven's suggestion of last week that we should have prayers for dying well got me to thinking of good examples. Our culture is not rich with them. One example that came to mind was the 1999 film 13th Warrior. Ironically, perhaps, both of the prayers are not Christian; both are nevertheless excellent.

Both are also too long. These are prayers to say when you have time. But an abbreviated version might do well.

Oddly Enough, The Answer Proves to Be "Yes!"

Past performance is no guarantee of future results, I guess.

Odd, I Haven't Heard Much About That

A school shooter in Colorado turns out to be a "juvenile female, transitioning to male." Or, as the UK Metro puts it, a "schoolboy."
Sources told the station that the unnamed boy’s motive went ‘beyond bullying and involved revenge and anger towards others at the school,’ adding ‘that at least one of the suspects was involved in legal and illegal drug use and had been in therapy.’
Yes, well, the legal drugs will have been hormone injections -- testosterone, especially. What might be the psychological effects of injecting lots and lots of testosterone into someone who is already unstable enough to feel they need "therapy," and who also uses illegal drugs?

The Harms of Immigration to Migrants

A piece on the hardships it creates for migrants themselves begins with an admonition.
In a recent interview with a French magazine, Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, said it is wrong to use the gospel to defend illegal immigration. The reason many priests, bishops, and cardinals will not say so is because they are “afraid of being frowned upon, of being seen as reactionaries.”

Sarah is not afraid of that. “It is better to help people flourish in their culture than to encourage them to come to a Europe in full decadence,” he said. “It is a false exegesis to use the word of God to promote migration. God never wanted these heartbreaks.”
In Europe, a lot of immigrants are from the Islamic world. I've spent a lot of time listening to Muslims talk about all this, and they are keenly aware of that decadence. It is their most legitimate complaint against the West, the degree to which the decadent parts of our culture corrupt their own.

Of course, some of that bleeds over into areas where they are assigning the name of 'decadence' to things like allowing women to walk around with their hair showing. You'd think there would be a happy middle ground between purdah and public grotesques, but perhaps there is not. Free individuals may choose to do right, which is the blessing of liberty; but they may also choose to do wrong, which is part of the price.

In any case, I'm glad to hear a Cardinal point out that this is a misuse of the gospels.

Contempt versus Contempt

Attorney General Barr was held in contempt today by the House Judiciary Committee for not doing something he is legally forbidden from doing, according to a law passed by Congress. The law states that knowingly violating the rules pertaining to grand jury secrecy may be "punished as contempt of court."

There's a rock and a hard place for you: choose either contempt of Congress or contempt of court. Barr made the right decision, though, because Congress in the current moment merits contempt. My former Congressman says as much himself.

Battle Axes and Boat Axes

A fun article on the history of the axe in Scandinavia. They still do a great job. The best axes I've ever owned are made by Gränsfors Bruk. They take an edge so sharp that you're liable to cut yourself by looking at it.

One I don't have but might like to own is the "Gränsfors Outdoor Axe," whose description I find amusing. "The Gränsfors Outdoor Axe was developed with the help of survival expert Lars Fält, and is ideal for those who want to use an axe in different ways when out and about in the countryside." Why yes, I can think of "different ways" I might use such an axe "while out and about in the countryside."

Flaming madness

I knew I was in trouble when I read this summary of the Fed's reluctance to transform the U.S. monetary policy in preparedness for possible future climate-change shocks:
[A]ccording to the Fed, severe weather isn’t new and climate change isn’t their responsibility. The American agencies that oversee the financial system have decided to ignore climate change. . . .
nodded in relieved agreement, then noticed that it was the furious summary of a Hawaii senator who pronounced it "garbage." And noticed that it was featured in a Wall Street Journal article that seemed to agree with the honorable senator, in part because:
Research from some regional Fed banks has pointed to considerable disruption in coming years if nothing is done to mitigate rising global temperatures, which scientists broadly agree are driven by human activity.
The devil you say!  Research points to a future problem if nothing is done?  Do these awful conservatives want us to ignore research about the future now?  I realize the existing climate data don't yet support the catastrophic predictions placed before a breathless public over the last two decades, but if you research the future instead of letting yourself be distracted by the boring present and past, you can see there is some very alarming news out there.  Something's got to be done.  Each federal agency must stand by to do its part.

Fed Chairman Powell doesn't actually adopt the bare-knuckled rhetorical style of the Hawaiian senator's summary.  Instead, he seems to be trying to smooth this panic over rather than talking plain sense to spooked, irrational people who probably would only become more hysterical in the presence of declarative statements in plain English. He makes some friendly noise about how severe weather events sometimes have an impact on the economy, and the Fed stands ready to take them into account, as usual, if they happen at some point. He also "played down climate-change issues as a high-priority issue for monetary policy." What criminal lassitude! Doesn't he know that
Some regional Fed leaders have said the central bank may need to take on the issue more aggressively, as some central banks in Europe are doing. Philadelphia Fed leader Patrick Harker said last November that “there is no question we’re going to have to start factoring this more and more” into how the central bank thinks about the future of the economy.
Well, I'm second to none in my admiration for European economic policy, and I'm all for factoring things into how we think about the future of stuff, and aggressive action is always best even if you don't know quite what to do.  Nevertheless, I found the following foot-dragging approach a bit easier to understand:
Others at the Fed believe climate change isn’t something that matters much for monetary policy. “It’s hard for me to imagine the climate changing sufficiently to affect the next three to five years and how we look at the potential growth rate of the U.S. economy,” Minneapolis Fed leader Neel Kashkari said in a March interview.
It looks like we've got some virtuous, caring people who find it easy to imagine how something might have an effect on something else, even if they find it hard to let us know what they're imagining about it these days and why we should care. Then we have some bad people who are finding whatever it is rather harder to imagine, and who in any case can't see that anyone has entrusted them with the task of letting their minds wander in those regions, lost, let alone jacking with the nation's monetary policy in an effort to have an effect on something that may or may not happen according to predictive models that have failed abjectly over the last 20 years.

But . . . but . . . what about preparedness? Really, if these guys must engage in preparedness, I'd rather they geared up to combat the known, predictable, and even currently tangible effects of redistributivist socialist nonsense in aid of further nonsense.

So Much To Do

This one is about the passing of time, and the weight of it amid so many things to do. The song is a kind of miracle, because it conveys all that in just three minutes.

I think the effect comes from the subtle hinge in the music that begins at 1:27, in which there is an orchestral swell in what has heretofore been a very simple song about very ordinary things. It's brief, but the effect is transformative. The song is suddenly not the same, not at all.

The Irish punk band Flogging Molly achieved a similar effect in "Death Valley Queen," this time at 2:29 into a four-minute song. They are less subtle, but they're a punk rock band. In this case, they do it through a simplicity, followed by a swell.

Both songs, in their way, convey emotion with power through these alterations and contrasts.

Income Inequality Falling Without Getting Poor

The usual way that those concerned about 'income inequality' try to reduce it is by raising taxes on the prosperous, thus forcibly lowering the ceiling. The current economic growth is showing a better way: raising the floor.

No More Bans on Ancient Technology

A New Jersey politician wants to ban bags. Paper, plastic, whatever. Plastic straws of course, too. The UK is strongly considering banning knives with points, including the most common chef knives in the world. Pretty much every kitchen has an 8 to 11 inch chef's knife with a point. There's a good reason for that. These knives are extremely useful for a broad range of daily cooking tasks.

The plastic bans at least point at something novel. You could plausibly argue that plastic poses a unique technological risk that we are only now beginning to appreciate. But societies somehow managed to co-exist with the near-universal possession of knives for thousands of years. You can surely figure this out without banning the things.

Maybe we should have a ban on politicians. At least the ones who want more bans.

Georgia to Enact "Heartbeat" Bill

Governor Kemp has decided to sign the "Heartbeat" legislation passed by the Georgia legislature. He'll sign it tomorrow, though it won't go into effect right away due to the way Georgia law operates. The law intends to ban abortion once a heartbeat is detected in the child; it will of course immediately be challenged in court once it comes into effect, and we'll see what becomes of that.

Planned Parenthood is protesting tomorrow, also of course. I notice that their new banner features a hijabi as the central figure, which is remarkable. Islamic opinions on abortion are generally moderate compared to American positions, holding neither that abortion should be always forbidden nor, as Planned Parenthood would have it, permissable to the moment of birth (or even after). But this is just left-leaning virtue signalling, not theology; Planned Parenthood wants to signal support for diversity as well as abortion.

Defend / Defeat

If you didn't read the essay "Defend America -- Defeat Multiculturalism" when I linked it a week or so ago, you might want to before it's gone. Google has demanded the essay's removal from the internet.

Don't Boss Him, Don't Cross Him

This was the album that Willie Nelson put out when he finally got full creative control of his work.

The studio didn't like it, but it was a blockbuster success. It's one of the core albums of the inception of Outlaw Country. If you've never given it a half an hour, you might want to do.

Welcome to Cinco de Drinko

Be sure to avoid cultural appropriation during any festivities today. Remember that your own culture is already a festival of conviviality!

Actually, I guess the buccaneers were also busily appropriating stuff from the Spanish... who had been appropriating it from the Incas and the Aztecs... who had been appropriating it from weaker tribe nations... hmm. Perhaps a 'festival of appropriation' is what's been going on all along.


A Clancy Brother trying on a North Carolina accent. He gets it about right, for the mountain folk.

It's funny about the mountain folk, because they diverge from the typical Southern accent quite a bit. In the valley they say "Ya'll," like anywhere in the South; but in the mountains, they say "You'uns" for the same purpose.

More Toxicity

Instapundit responds to an article on how toxic manhood means that women are worn out from doing all the 'emotional labor' in their relationships. "ANYONE WHO THINKS THAT WOMEN DO ALL THE “EMOTIONAL LABOR” has never been married to an actual woman."

Boy, that's the truth. No woman who's been married for any length of time is likely even to take offense at the suggestion. We all know how much weight we've had to put on our partners at times.

There's less to this issue than it seems even where it bears weight. It's definitely true that I'm not always in touch with my feelings, and that my upbringing is partly responsible for that. The major inflictors of 'you should be less sensitive; you should not be emotional' were women, in especial my schoolteachers. I'm not even mad about it. Sometimes the best we can do in life still involves hurting other people. Life is like that. Sometimes, we have to hurt them a little to help them in other ways.

This is one of those cases. Frankly, emotional children are more work, and these ladies had 27 kids to handle and try to teach something too. It was in their interests to suppress emotions in whatever way they could, and for that matter it was in our interests that they should succeed. Otherwise, we wouldn't learn as much -- possibly nearly nothing, if they were unable to convince any of the 27 little heathens they were saddled with to please just let it go, sit down, shut up, and pay attention.

Nor is it all bad to be able to do that. Just to give one clear example, the day my father died I sat right next to him while he died. Half an hour later I needed to drive my mother, my wife, and a child through rush hour traffic in Atlanta. I could do that safely because of this very capacity to suppress emotions. Not only their safety depended on it, but the safety of everyone driving a car around the one I was driving.

In any case, the article may be right that men have fewer friends than they used to do; I think of "Bowling Alone" as a model of that. But it's not true for me; I have some very good friends. Some of them are even men, so those men have at least one good male friend too.

War for Profit

This is a strange cast of characters. Erik Prince makes sense; but Steve Bannon? James O'Keefe in Qatar, working against the impoverished and enslaved Bangladeshis and Pakistani workers?

Of course, it's The Intercept, and their quality is a mixed bag. Some of their stuff is really solid, but this may not prove to be.

Spygate and Anti-Democracy

A few links that go together in my mind.

One: A summary of yesterday's NYT story about spies being deployed against Trump campaign figures; and another, separate story about Ukraine admitting that they were asked for damaging information about Trump's campaign.

Two: Both California and Washington state have bills aimed at forcing Trump either to release his tax returns, or not appear on the ballot. California tried this once before, but the bill was vetoed as unconstitutional. Since it was declared so by the governor rather than a court, however, they're free to try again.

Three: Facebook and its allied platforms banned a host of conservative voices, as well as Louis Farrakhan. While the latter is far from my favorite person, defending his freedom of speech is important just because it is how you defend the principle that speech should be free. Loathsome speech has to be defended in order to secure the whole.

Four: Anti-populism as anti-democracy. This last really should be read in full.

From the Rooftops

Colonel Kurt.
Our first responders are awesome, but it takes nothing away from their heroism to point out that the title “first responder” is a misnomer. The citizens on site are the first responders. And they should be ready to respond. We all should. Personally.

Some duties of citizen should never be outsourced. If you are an able-bodied adult, it’s your duty to know how to stop the bleeding and give CPR until the pros who do it for a living arrive. And it’s your duty (and right) to defend yourself, your family, your community and your Constitution. With guns – effective guns, which sometimes means your concealed pistol and sometimes means the guns that those who want you defenseless call “assault weapons.”...

It’s your duty to be prepared to defend our community. Your duty. Yes, being a citizen of a free country is sometimes hard. Too bad. Tighten up and be ready and able to pick up a weapon. Whether it’s a riots and disaster, or whether it’s some scumbag who decides to shoot up your house of worship or a shopping mall, it’s on you.
That's it. That's right.

Two Very Unpopular Ideas From the Federalist

The Federalist has two pieces today forwarding ideas that are explosively unpopular with the campus left, and the activist left in general.

1) "The Moral Case for Israel Annexing the West Bank -- And Beyond."

2) Christina Hoff Summers facing off with a popular #MeToo activist in front of an activist crowd.

Venezuelans Regret Gun Ban

After Brazil elected a new president partially on his promise to restore gun rights to a people oppressed by criminals, Venezuela may do so once it gets rid of the oppression of its dictator. This article was written in December, before the current chaos, but it captures the popular sentiment that the ban was a mistake.

Eli Lake writes, today, about the right of the people to overthrow a dictatorship and restore lawful government.

Antifa Buying Cartel Guns

Why? According to the left, you can buy legal guns more easily than birth control.


The article says the US 'backs' the coup -- or restoration of the lawful government, depending on which side you're on -- but so far it seems like 'backing' is limited to some praise on Twitter. Call me when the 75th Rangers show up.

This is rich, too:
On the sidelines of the recent Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping discussed Venezuela on Sunday and "highlighted that it is totally unacceptable when anyone tries to topple authorities in a third country, attempting to use force and illegal international pressure against a sovereign state, in order to change the leadership there," according to Peskov.
Taiwan and Ukraine will be so relieved to hear of your principled stand, comrades.

Ancient Wild Ruins

If any of you have the opportunity to travel in Wales, here is a guide to some things that are worth seeing.

"Mermaid" To Challenge Susan Collins

Susan Collins' decision to vote for Brett Kavanaugh -- who, by the way, turns out to be innocent of all of the charges hastily arranged against him in an attempt to destroy his life and career -- had prompted a challenger for her Senate seat.
On Facebook, Kidman is described as a "criminal defense attorney by day and radical fat queer/performance artist/model/musician/activist most other times." On Spotify, Kidman is "Bee Kay Esq." and the biography is the same. Five songs with collaborator Mr. Gadget use "inhuman instruments to give voice to human vulnerability with beats that invite just enough dancing to feel slightly less dead."

On the website for the Maine Educationalists on Sexual Harmony (MESH), Kidman is described as a "queer feminist lawyer, mermaid, writer, activist, and artist."

Mermaid is "an artistic identity, not a serious identity," Kidman said.
Thank goodness for that.

Confederate Memorials are War Memorials

Well of course they are. What else would they be?
[Judge] Moore finds the issue to be so clear-cut that "if the matter went to trial on this issue and a jury were to decide that they are not monuments or memorials to veterans of the civil war, I would have to set such verdict aside as unreasonable..."
I'm not a big fan of judges setting aside jury verdicts. All the same, what else could a reasonable person conclude? Maybe judges should or shouldn't have the power to set aside a jury verdict; I think I'd tend to side with the jury, all things considered. But if we allow, for the point of discussion, that a judge might exercise reasonable judgment -- well, what else would he rule, than than a war memorial is a war memorial?

These are strange times.

"Lock Her Up"

Donald Trump ran on the mantra, and it may have won him the election; it certainly won him this debate.

So why hasn't he locked anyone up, even when there are clear and demonstrable crimes? Angelo Codevilla answers the question.
Politics is not responsible for the non-application of Section 798 to Brendan and Clapper. It is difficult to imagine that the public would not approve massively the straightforward application to prominent men of a law that is so unambiguous, which is the foundation of arguably the main part of U.S intelligence, and which has been applied countless times to ordinary people.

Rather, the absence of real politics—of real competition between opposing sides in American life—is the culprit. What we see is that those in the upper echelons of American life, whether they call themselves Republicans or Democrats, have greater loyalty to the ruling class to which they belong than to any law or institution. The refusal to apply Section 798 to Brennan and Clapper —the fact that they are free men —is simply the most obvious manifestation of the fact that we have a ruling class, that it is coherent, and that it has yet to be challenged in any serious way.
Time for a change.

NRA Board in Executive Session

LTC(R) Ollie North announced yesterday that he will not be returning as President, and prosecutors in New York announced subpoenas related to charges Colonel North made about misuse of funds by the longstanding NRA leadership. Today, the board has gone into an executive session that has so far lasted six hours.

As I've mentioned before, I know Ollie North. I met him in Iraq, spent some time with him there, and have spent time with him on other occasions here. I trust him, and know him to be a man of honor. My strong assumption is therefore that he is going to prove to be on the right side of this. If he says there's been dirty business going on there, the audit he called for is warranted and wise.

The NRA is an extremely important civil rights organization, and I am angry that anyone would put it at risk for any reason -- but especially if it was done for personal profit. We'll have to keep an eye on this story and see how it shakes out. The best source I know of right now is this journalist's Twitter feed.

UPDATE: Few public changes announced at the end of the closed-door session. Keep your eyes on the ball.

Death of the Calorie

I was surprised when this article, allegedly on nutrition science, began with an armed kidnapping in Mexico. But it is in fact about nutrition science, and it's one of the more interesting and useful things I've read lately.

Architecture for Architects

Would you volunteer to live in one of these houses?

No Church in Sri Lanka

John Rendon reports that, a week after the Easter attacks, churches in Sri Lanka are conducting televised services rather than in-person ones because of security concerns. Hard to receive Communion over the television set.

The Martyr of Passover

Echoing the Easter massacres, though fortunately on a much smaller scale -- a single gunman, a single death -- another attempt to profane the most sacred. Or, more properly, to argue about what is and is not sacred; and to sacralize, in the old way with blood, that which the enemy holds sacred into something sacred for you. The Easter bombings were intended to be like the transformation of Hagia Sophia from basilica into mosque; this, an attempt to transform the day that God passed over the Jews into a day for killing them in the name of a mythical race.

Fortunately, even in California, an armed citizen -- an off-duty Border Patrol officer, by reports -- was there to stop it. And fortunately, in America unlike in Sri Lanka, the enemy sought to do his work with guns instead of bombs. There's not so much you can do with bombs, not even if you are armed and brave. As long as they stick to guns there is a fighting chance.

These attacks are attacks on a particular religion, but they are also attacks on the American ideal of religious liberty: on the idea that it is all right for you to be a different faith from me, that I don't consider it my business just as long as you grant me the same courtesy. The enemy isn't just an enemy of Christians here or Jews there; they are our common enemy insofar as they feel it proper to turn people into blood sacrifices in order to exert control over us.

We must oppose all of this sort because our cause is liberty. Non enim propter gloriam diuivias aut honores pugnamus set propter libertatum: quam nemo bonus nisi simul vita amittit.

Trump at the NRA

The President offered a welcome sentiment today:

"[T]hat American liberty is sacred, and that American citizens live by American laws, not the laws of foreign countries."

That's right. I'm hoping to help other nations attain protections for their own natural right to keep and bear arms, of course. Whether they do or they do not, though, I intend to pass those rights intact to my grandchildren and to future generations.

Others disagree. We can expect a fight. It is a fight I mean to win, or to die in.

Trend Lines

Compare and contrast the trend lines for school shootings for all schools, versus schools with armed teachers.

Well, it's empirical. It could change tomorrow. Still and all, so far it's a striking delta.

Elvis is Everywhere

Joe Bob Briggs writes about threats to sell Graceland to Dubai.
But as I say, I qualify as an amateur expert on Elvis’ place in world history since I was an actor in a critically trashed 1989 movie called Great Balls of Fire, a Jerry Lee Lewis biopic filmed entirely in Memphis and vicinity. My character was Dewey Phillips, the pioneering radio personality who had a show called Red, Hot and Blue on WHBQ in the 1950s. In my youthful zeal for background research, I sought out every newspaper article, recording, and reminiscence about this disc jockey who had been the first to broadcast an Elvis record. (The song was “That’s All Right,” although he also played the flip side, which was “Blue Moon of Kentucky.”) And what I discovered was that a phenomenon like Elvis could only have occurred in the Mississippi Delta of that era.
He has a brief but plausible argument for why Memphis had to be the place where rock n' roll was born. It touches on the current debate about 'cultural appropriation' by raising a contrasting point that is often missed. It also gives rock n' roll a kind of locality, a place and time where it belongs, which is harder to appreciate now that it has become so universalized. Even the United Arab Emirates wants a piece of Elvis.

Here's the song, by the way. I have to admit I always thought this was a Grateful Dead tune, because in my own youth their version of it was so much more prominent. I didn't realize until reading Joe Bob today that it was an Elvis tune, let alone his first radio hit.

Why Notre Dame?

The DB had a funny joke about Trump sending the 82nd Airborne to secure Notre Dame -- the joke being that he sent them to the university, not the French cathedral. Not everyone who is out of place at Notre Dame is part of a satire, however. Consider the new director of gender relations for the student government.
[A fellow student] expressed concerns that [the director]’s condemnation of Catholic sexual ethics would affect her policies as director of Gender Relations at Notre Dame, where at least 80 percent of the students are Catholic.

[She] had said in a now deleted tweet: “I see the [Catholic] faith as inherently against female empowerment and sexual freedom.”

She also tweeted, “Catholic marriage isn’t about love, it was conceived to make licit the illicit act of sex for the purpose of procreation (evangelization).”
I'm leaving out the names of the students because, though not minors, they are still young and figuring things out. The ideas are worth criticizing, but I don't want to engage in any sort of personal attacks on someone so young.

That said, if that's how you feel about things, Notre Dame might not be the right place for you. I know: she chose the place just because she wants to take a hammer to the Catholic faith. That's also why she seeks a position in student government, which ordinary students completely ignore because it has very little real effect on anything. It's merely a platform for activism, and some people were raised to believe -- or came to believe -- that activism is good in itself.

Minding one's own business is another good, in part because it allows people who disagree to get along. When 80% of people in your community agree, they represent the norm in your community, and as a dissenter you should consider trying to get along with them -- or else finding a new community that better fits your view of what is right. It's a big country, and there are lots of communities that do, pretty much no matter what you believe.

Who was really playing footsie with the Russians?

Kim Strassel is doing good reporting on the Steele Dossier, just when Mueller and his fellow-travelers are most desperately trying to cover it with a pillow.  The link is to a HotAir summary, in case you don't want to deal with the WSJ firewall.
How did Mr. Mueller spend two years investigating every aspect of Russian interference—cyberhacking, social-media trolling, meetings with Trump officials—and not consider the possibility that the dossier was part of the Russian interference effort?
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz and Attorney General William Barr may answer some of the questions Mr. Mueller refused to touch. Thanks to the special counsel we know Republicans weren’t playing footsie with Russians. But thanks to BuzzFeed, we know that Democrats were. America deserves to know how far that interaction extended.
Some more from another good investigative reporter, John Solomon, about the Ukraine-Democrat team.

Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day

I didn't see this yesterday. The article about it over at PJ Media begins:

Today, April 24, marks the “Great Crime,” that is, the genocide of Christians—mostly Armenians but also Assyrians—that took place under the Islamic Ottoman Empire throughout World War I.  Then, the Turks liquidated approximately 1.5 million Armenians and 300,000 Assyrians.

Most objective American historians who have studied the question unequivocally agree that it was a deliberate, calculated genocide ...
Here is the Wikipedia article on the subject.

Defending Democrats

Tex's favorite radical, Jordan B. Peterson, has co-authored a piece in today's Wall Street Journal. It argues that, actually, we should relax a bit about the apparently crazy things going on in the Democratic Party because most of the party doesn't support those things.
Yet many Americans remain worried that the Democrats are readying to Make America Unrecognizable, and the party shares some of the blame. They’ve hardly shouted themselves hoarse decrying socialism and have let it hinder the pragmatic idealists among them. If Democrats want the privilege of governing, they need to assert more effectively the values that center the party in every sense of the word.

There are encouraging signs. Take the realistic legislation proposed by the caucus since taking the majority. House Resolution 1 targets corruption, H.R. 2 focuses on infrastructure, and H.R. 3 aims to reduce prescription drug prices. The sole gun-control bill, H.R. 8, is a bipartisan initiative requiring violent-history checks for buyers, a policy supported by 92% of Americans and 69% of National Rifle Association members.
I can't agree that HR1 is encouraging. HR1 is mostly a wish-list of voting reform measures designed to hamper Republicans and help Democrats. It might be fairly said to "target corruption," but only in the sense that it is itself an attempt at corrupting the voting process in order to ensure preferred outcomes. One of the proposals, for example, is to eliminate the ability of states to cross-check voter registrations to ensure that someone isn't registered to vote twice. There can be no purpose for such a proposal except to enable people to be registered to vote twice, which strongly suggests an interest in getting people to vote twice.

It also includes the 'ensure felons can vote' proposal we were discussing yesterday. Getting more convicted criminals involved in our politics does not seem like the obvious way to avoid corruption in our politics. There are things to like about HR1 -- the paper ballot requirement, say -- but as a whole it's an unsupportable power grab.

HR8 may intend what they claim, but its method is to ban me from selling guns to you, or you to me. I could only transfer my firearms to someone licensed by the Federal government, who would then operate under whatever controls the Federal government saw fit in transferring them to you (or, more to the point, not transferring them).

Still, I'll grant that these early bills represent priorities, and that some of them are somewhat less radical than the stuff being talked about loudly on Twitter.

Supporting their argument somewhat is this collection of anecdotes from vulnerable swing-district Democratic representatives who went home to talk to their constituents.
“In the big spectrum of everything, people are still deeply concerned about prescription drug prices... about the opportunity to get their kids education. They’re wanting to see Washington focused on immigration reform.”...

And in another challenge for Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her deputies, vulnerable members couldn’t escape questions on some of the key issues that have divided the new majority, such as “Medicare for All,” the “Green New Deal” and the party's response to Rep. Ilhan Omar’s criticism of Israel.... At Delgado’s event in Hoosick Falls, N.Y., a woman angrily complained about transgender rights while a man raised concerns about the anti-vax movement fueling a measles outbreak in the state....

[There is] “10 times the amount of interest” on issues like health care, immigration and student debt than on impeachment or investigations into Trump.... The true metric of success is whether or not we’re able to push infrastructure and health care.”...

Most of these swing district Democrats are reluctant to embrace impeachment. [Rep.] Van Drew flatly rejects it[.]
So maybe there is something to be said for the proposition that they're much less radical than they present, and that there's some potential for pragmatic solutions on things like infrastructure. Dr. Peterson may be right about that; anyway, he is once again being radical by trying to calm the temperature and convince people they can find ways to work things out. That's an interesting approach for a man as radical as he is said to be.

Thinking Things Through

This young man is AOC's chief of staff.

He's arguing that felons should have voting rights, even while in prison. His first argument was "What's the reason NOT to let incarcerated people vote? Shouldn't the people most affected by unjust laws have some say in electing people to change them?" That's a bit hasty, since you would need first to establish the injustice of the laws. If the laws are unjust, then people imprisoned for violating them should be pardoned, and the laws repealed. Are all laws unjust? Hm, I like that idea; I'm not sure if it holds up to serious analysis, but it sounds good.

So his second argument (top link in this post) is that the Constitution speaks of voting rights similarly to the right to keep and bear arms, i.e., 'in terms of not being abridged.' Well, yes, except:

1) All of those references are conditioned to limiting specific infringements, e.g., 'not on the account of sex; not on the account of race.' The implication is that other sorts of infringement are acceptable. In terms of setting the voting age at 18, for example, the amendment explicitly says that you cannot abridge the right to vote on account of age for those who have reached the age of 18; but that is, itself, an abridgment on the account of age for those under 18.

The 2nd Amendment is not conditional: "The right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

2) As many commentators pointed out, taking this argument seriously would mean that even felons could not be disarmed while in prison. The 2nd Amendment is even more categorical than any of the voting rights amendments, so insofar as there's a parallel case for felons, you'd have to let them keep guns with them while they were in the Federal pen.

That's a more absolutist position on the 2A than I've ever advocated, but now that they've raised it... hey, you know, maybe I could go along with that too! Perhaps I've misjudged these young folks, with their bold ideas for repealing all laws and ensuring that no one is ever disarmed by the state.