Supreme Court Nominee

Now there's a move afoot--I have no idea how serious it is--to skip a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Supreme Court nominee, whomever she might be, and take the matter straight to the floor of the Senate for an up or down vote.

That certainly would be an interesting answer to the Progressive-Democrats' stall tactic of invoking the two-hour rule on Committee hearings (although the rule can be waived on a case by case basis by a privileged motion being voted up).

Hearings aren't required for nominations; they've just been habitually done. The Progressive-Democrats, though, with their performances on the last several Republican nominee hearings, have destroyed the utility of such hearings. On the other hand, skipping the hearing might have negative impacts on some of the more borderline Republicans.

Eric Hines

My take on the Breonna Taylor debacle

With the recent acquittal of two of the two detectives in the raid on the apartment of Breonna Taylor and her boyfriend Kenneth Walker, things are going to get violent in Louisville tonight (and apparently already have).  And I think we can all agree that while anger may be appropriate, burning and looting the town is not (and would not ever solve anything).  But I have some things to say about the incident that sparked this, and I'll put them below the fold.

U.S. death rate down

 I've been wondering if the "death from all causes" rate was going to drop in 2021, as a result of a virus whose defining characteristic may be its ability to carry off vulnerable and/or elderly people with unusually short life expectancies.  Are we already seeing the trend begin? The September number took a real dive.

Does this really play the way they think it does?

Kamala Harris's campaign managers are said to be looking forward to her grilling the President's nominee for the Supreme Court, based on her riveting question in 2019 to a candidate (later confirmed) for the U.S. District Court for Nebraska:
“Since 1993, you have been a member of the Knights of Columbus, an all-male society comprised primarily of Catholic men,” Harris began. “In 2016, Carl Anderson, leader of the Knights of Columbus, described abortion as ‘a legal regime that has resulted in more than 40 million deaths.’ Mr. Anderson went on to say that ‘abortion is the killing of the innocent on a massive scale.’ Were you aware that the Knights of Columbus opposed a woman’s right to choose when you joined the organization?”
Way to score points. He belonged to an all-male group composed solely of Catholics! Also an all-Catholic group composed solely of men.

If I'd been Ms. Harris's campaign adviser, I'd have suggested that she be less specific about the terrible things the Knights of Columbus believe, maybe sticking with "fringe religious fanatical notions you crazy racists all agree on." Reading out phrases like "abortion is the killing of the innocent on a massive scale" can only cause people, however unconsciously, to entertain thoughts about the moral gravity of this controversy.

"Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of a group that opposes the killing of the innocent on a massive scale?"

Cuomo sounds comparatively sane

It's a tall order, but Don Lemon brings out the rational side of [correction] Fredo Cuomo:
“We’re going to have to blow up the entire system,” Lemon said.
“I don’t know about that,” Cuomo reacted, who argued that Americans just have to vote.
“You know what we’re going to have to do?… You’re going to have to get rid of the electoral college,” Lemon continued. “Because the minority in this country get to decide who our judges are and who our president is. Is that fair?”
“You need a constitutional amendment to do that,” Cuomo replied.
“And if Joe Biden wins, Democrats can stack the courts and they can do that amendment and get it passed,” Lemon shot back.
* * *
“Look, this [S. Ct. appointment] is a short-term win,” Cuomo said. [I]f they get this judge, it’s a win because if he wants people to vote for him, if he doesn’t deliver a nominee and it doesn’t get acted on by the Republicans, they’ve got trouble.”
Cuomo continued, “I know that people say, ‘Well in races that are close.’ Who’s voting or thinking about voting for a Republican who doesn’t want them to pick a judge right now?”

Political Philosophy and Honor

The American Mind just re-posted an interesting essay by this title, by one of Leo Strauss's students, Harry V. Jaffa. Below is their introduction to the essay. Click over to read it.

This September, the American Political Science Association gave its annual Leo Strauss Award for best doctoral dissertation in political philosophy to Elena Gambino for her “‘Presence in Our Own Land:’ Second Wave Feminism and the Lesbian Body Politic.” When the award was founded, Strauss’s student and Distinguished Fellow of the Claremont Institute Harry V. Jaffa wrote that “the prize will…discourage, rather than encourage the emulation of Leo Strauss.” Jaffa is quite roundly vindicated by this latest development, and so we reprint here his essay, originally published in Modern Age, Vol. 21, No. 4, Fall 1977 and reprinted as the appendix to How to Think About the American Revolution (Durham: Carolina Academic Press, 1978) and again in Crisis of the Strauss Divided: Essays on Leo Strauss and Straussianism, East and West (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2012).–Eds.

And it introduced me to a new word:

meliorism (n)

1. The belief that the human condition can be improved through concerted effort.

2. The belief that there is an inherent tendency toward progress or improvement in the human condition.

Parents Just Don't Understand

And neither do some Senators.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D, NY) says it's total BS that the Progressive-Democrat-proposed $1 trillion in Federal Wuhan Virus stimulus monies aimed at State and local governments would benefit public sector unions. Whether public sector unions should or should not benefit is a separate matter.

I'm being generous, though, in suggesting that such an intelligent woman actually misunderstands.

Adding a trillion dollars, or any amount of money, to a budget means—work with me, now—that budget has those added dollars to spend. Earmark the trillion for specific purposes, or bar it from being used for public unions. Do that by sending the money as cash and tracking serial numbers. That still lets the recipient government move a different [trillion] of dollars from a different part of its budget to benefit its public unions. That's the fungibility of money. It can be moved around.

Then the Senator said this in all seriousness:

We need to fund government so that we can continue to grow the economy….

Here are the Constitutionally authorized reasons for funding the government:

to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States

Nothing in there about "growing the economy," not even under that general Welfare part. What is the general Welfare of the United States is explicitly defined by the clauses of the rest of Article I, Section 8.

Indeed, as has been demonstrated over the course of our history and across a broad range of nations, the way to grow the economy is to have a free market, capitalist economy with minimal government involvement.

In fine, the State and local governments don't need the stimulus money; they need to step back, (in many cases) end the lockdowns, and let the private economy function.

Eric Hines

2020 Democrats Vs. 2016 Democrats


End Threats to Pack the USSC?

 I've been thinking about Democratic threats to add seats to the USSC so they can fill them with progressive justices, and I wonder if the best solution is to end that idea with a Constitutional amendment setting a specific number of justices.

That number wouldn't have to be 9. Back in 2018, Glenn Reynolds suggested 59, with the new 50 being chosen by the states' governors and confirmed by the Senate.

But the point would be to stop this "We'll pack the courts!" nonsense.

So what do you think?


We'd all be lucky to have a birthday greeting recorded for us by Mark Steyn.

Blackberry Smoke

 Apparently these guys have been playing for 20 years, but I only recently heard of them.

Amish Trump Parade

Not the Bee (the Babylon Bee's real news sister site) has video of the Amish turning out on horseback and in carriages in a pro-Trump parade. It's short and kinda fun, if you are into horses and Trump, or the Amish.

Get the Supreme Court back up to 9

This is the plainest and most sensible treatment I've seen of the issue whether the President should nominate, and the Senate leadership should immediately try to confirm, a replacement for the Supreme Court seat vacted by Justice Ginsberg's death.

Love this guy

Thomas Sowell via AceHQ:
Prices are important not because money is considered paramount but because prices are a fast and effective conveyor of information through a vast society in which fragmented knowledge must be coordinated.

You may be onto something

A NatureIndex article explores the problem that "scientific" writing is increasingly impenetrable.
“It is also worth considering the importance of comprehensibility of scientific texts in light of the recent controversy regarding the reproducibility of science,” they add. “Reproducibility requires that findings can be verified independently. To achieve this, reporting of methods and results must be sufficiently understandable.”
To which the authors of several recent articles replied, "Your tiny minds cannot hope to refute our elite brilliance.  You must bow to the science, and send us more grant money."

We may never understand the motivations of these orcas

These justice-involved young orcas need to turn their lives around. It's not impossible to imagine, scientists tell us, that their coordinated group behavior is purposeful. We might say "orca-strated." It's important to look at the root causes:
But orcas are still captured by whalers in some regions and sold for consumption or captivity, while others get caught in fishing nets and gear. In areas with high boat traffic, toxic waste, increased underwater noise pollution and a higher risk of collisions are all threats to these sea mammals.
After the coronavirus pandemic hit, nationwide lockdowns and restricted economic activity provided a temporary reprieve — and some are hypothesizing that orcas are just “pissed off” that humans are back in their waters.
“If we are talking about whether killer whales have the wherewithal and the cognitive capacity to intentionally strike out at someone, or to be angry, or to really know what they are doing, I would have to say the answer is yes...."

A Man I Understand

 "On the Meaning of an Oath," or, why a man who decided he could never become an American is a closer brother than many who do bear the title. 

William Barr makes heads explode

Daniel J. Flynn:
Aside from the truth, the consistent chord Barr struck involves process, a concept foreign to ends-justify-the-means fanatics. The people deputize their representatives and not strangers in lab coats to make rules, cops and not protesters to enforce rules, and the attorney general appointed by the president and not faceless bureaucrats to run the Department of Justice.

The Abraham Accord

Matthew Continetti sees signs of foreign policy sanity breaking out in the Democratic party:
The irony is that Trump's opponents are ready to accept this "very positive thing" despite warning against and objecting to the policies that contributed to it. Through his personal relationship with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump reaffirmed that there is "no daylight" between the United States and Israel after an eight-year caesura. He defied conventional wisdom when he moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, when he withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear deal, when he cut off aid to the Palestinians, when he recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and when he ordered the lethal strike against Qassem Soleimani. But the catastrophes that the foreign policy establishment predicted would follow each of these measures never materialized. What emerged instead were the Abraham Accords and a growing alliance against Iran.
It is in the realm of foreign policy that Trump's deviations from political norms have had the most positive and irreversible consequences. If he becomes president, Joe Biden may mistakenly try to revive the chances for Palestinian statehood by getting tough on the Israelis. He may attempt to resuscitate the moribund Iran deal. But it is highly doubtful that he will rescind the Abraham Accords, or withdraw recognition of Israel's Golan sovereignty, or return the U.S. embassy to Tel Aviv. He won't have the support for such decisions. And he won't have any good reason to make them. Anyone who has read the news lately understands that a strong and engaged Israel is good for security. Her enemies are our enemies.
I doubt his conclusion about a Biden administration. My prediction is that Pelosi would wait for Biden to go down for his nap, send a boatload of aid to Iran's nuclear program, then find an open bomb salon that could outfit her with a Palestinian suicide vest.


Recall that Oracle and ByteDance have a proposal on the table for Oracle to take a minority partnership position in ByteDance's TikTok.  In response to objections to that, some

Trump administration officials are looking to give American investors a majority share of the company that will take over the Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok[.]

Senators Marco Rubio (R, FL), Rick Scott (R, FL), Thom Tillis (R, NC), Roger Wicker (R, MI), Dan Sullivan (R, AK), and John Cornyn (R, TX), object to that, too.

Any deal between an American company and ByteDance must ensure that TikTok's US operations, data, and algorithms are entirely outside the control of ByteDance or any Chinese-state directed actors, including any entity that can be compelled by Chinese law to turn over or access US consumer data.

The Senators are absolutely correct. Any fraction of ownership by a People's Republic of China company that's greater than zero is too much; giving, as it would, the PRC's intelligence community access to all the data TikTok scoops up from the individuals and businesses that use it.

That intelligence access, too, was explicitly made an on-demand access by a PRC law enacted in 2017.

Eric Hines

When people take your mea culpa seriously

Princeton president Christopher Eisgruber announced recently that Princeton was a hotbed of racism, perhaps forgetting that that would actually be illegal. In response, the U.S. Department of Education has opened a formal Title VI inquiry.
Eisgruber has put Princeton in a box. It either must formally admit to engaging in unlawful discrimination, which might well result in serious financial penalties, or it must admit, in effect, that Eisgruber was blowing smoke when he copped to systemic racism at Princeton — an admission that surely would enrage the militant students and alumni Eisgruber has been working so hard to appease.


I cannot recommend this book about the Great Flood stories highly enough.  I'm only a little over halfway through, perhaps because I have it in Audiobook form, and the mosquitos that were mysteriously absent for a year or more are back in vicious multitudes.  But try these paragraphs from early in the book and see if the author is not irresistible:

In 1985 a cuneiform tablet was brought in to the British Museum by a member of the public for identification and explanation. This is in itself was nothing out of the ordinary, as answering public enquiries has always been a standard curatorial responsibility, and an exciting one to boot, for a curator never knows what might come through the door (especially where cuneiform tablets are involved).
On this occasion the member of the public was already known to me, for he had been in with Babylonian objects several times before. His name was Douglas Simmonds, and he owned a collection of miscellaneous objects and antiquities that he had inherited form his father, Leonard, Simmonds. Leonard had a lifelong eye open for curiosities, and, as a member of the RAF, was stationed in the Near East around the end of the Second World War, acquiring interesting bits and pieces of teablets at the same time. His collection included items from Egypt and China as well as from ancient Mesopotamia, among which were included cylinder seals--Douglas's personal favourite--and a handful of clay tablets. It was just such a selection of artefacts that he brought to show me on that particular afternoon.
I was more taken aback than I can say to discover that one of his cuneiform tablets was a copy of the Babylonian Flood Story.
Making this identification was not such a great achievement, because the opening lines ('Wall, wall! Reed wall, Reed wall! Atrahasis...") were about as famous as they could possibly be: other copies of the Flood Story in cuneiform had been found since Smith's time, and even a first-year student of Assyriology would have identified it on the spot. The trouble was that as one read down the inscribed surface of the unbaked tabley things got harder, and turning it over to confront the reverse for the first time was a cause for despair. I explained that it would take many hours to wrestle meaning from the broken signs, but Douglas would not by any means leave his tablet with me. As a matter of fact, he did not even seem to be especially excited at the announcement that his tablet was a Highly Important Document of the Highest Possible Interest and he quite failed to observe that I was wobbly with desire to get on with deciphering it. He blithely repacked his flood tablet and the two or three round school tablets that accompanied them and more or less bade me good day.
This Douglas Simmonds was an unusual person. Gruff, non-communicative and to me largely unfathomable, he had a conspicuously large head housing a large measure of intelligence. It was only afterwards that I learned he had been a famous child actor in a British television series entitled Here Come the Double Deckers, and that he was a more than able mathematician and a man of many other parts. The above programme was entirely new to me, as I grew to manhood in a house without television, but it must be recorded that when I gave my first lecture on the findings from this tablet and mentioned the Double Decker series a lady jumped out of her chair with excitement and wanted to know all about Douglas rather than the tablet.

It's a puzzlement

 Minneapolis city council ponders the deep question "where did all the police go?"

Jim Treacher's take on it:  remember when it was wrong to complain that you couldn't get enough police protection?