'Why Barack Obama Should Resign'

Professor Glenn Reynolds is not joking around anymore. As a tenured law professor, his accusation that the President has betrayed his oath and is unfit for office bears considerable weight.

By sending — literally — brownshirted enforcers to engage in — literally — a midnight knock at the door of a man for the non-crime of embarrassing the President of the United States and his administration, President Obama violated that oath. You can try to pretty this up (It’s just about possible probation violations! Sure.), or make excuses or draw distinctions, but that’s what’s happened. It is a betrayal of his duties as President, and a disgrace.
Nor is he alone. Professor Althouse:
Gaze on that picture and see our government in a sad, shameful display, staged — presumably — to cajole the enemies of free speech into blaming a private individual instead of our country — our country, the caretaker of the freedom that allowed him to speak.
If the President were behind such an effort -- to send a photograph around the world that makes it look like we arrested the blasphemer -- then he really should resign. That is indeed a betrayal of his most basic duty.

I'm not sure there's any evidence that the President was involved. This may have been the work of local bosses who felt they were doing him a favor. They do not take oaths to uphold the Constitution, and so may avoid the blame that would befall him.

That said, what ought the President to do? On the one hand, there may be some reasonable suspicion that this fellow violated the terms of his probation. On that same hand, this is in no way a wonderful guy who symbolizes everything good about America. To judge by what we've seen of this film, and his prior conviction for fraud, he's kind of a jerk with whom we have no special reason to wish to be associated.

On the other, however, we are where we are. His movie has become the touchstone for the issue of whether America will give up a core freedom, and begin to restrict our liberty to speak in favor of avoiding blasphemy toward Islam.

Actually, it goes further than that. Since we certainly won't raise a general anti-blasphemy standard -- blasphemy against the Christian religion, for example, will continue to be a staple of the culture -- we are looking at something like a violation of the Establishment clause. Islam would be raised to the position of the only religion the United States will not allow to be blasphemed by her citizens. Islam would then be, in a real sense, the official religion of the United States: the one that we were obliged to respect.

That's a tough spot for the President. He needs to come down hard on the side of this filmmaker, in spite of the bad qualities of the man and in spite of the pain of riots around the globe. He has to do this even though the filmmaker isn't really personally deserving, and the 'work of art' being defended is barely worthy of the name at all.

Not that he will; but you can see why doing the right thing, here, would be very unappealing.

In Which We Learn that President Putin Really Is Brave

We've all seen the galleries of Putin photography. The man is a master of the art -- or else he employs one.

But until today, we didn't realize how much actual courage he had.
A lot of Russians had been skeptical about President Putin's highly publicized displays of environmental daring. They thought the tiger looked a little glassy-eyed, and suggested he might have been trucked in from a zoo.

"But I thought up these tigers myself," Mr. Putin said. "Twenty other countries where tigers live also started taking care of them. ... The leopards were also my idea. Yes, I know they were caught before but the most important thing is to draw public attention to the problem."

The president also confirmed that a stunt last year, in which he appeared to dive to the bottom of the Black Sea and discover ancient Greek artifacts, had been staged.

"Well of course they were planted!" he said. "Why did I dive? Not to show my gills off, but to make sure people learn history. Of course it was a set up."
Now that's courage. "Lightning threat? Nonsense. We just couldn't fill the space."

Freezing to death in a sandpit

    Mars Curiosity rover

A Song of the Trouvères

The Northern French version of the troubadours, the Trouvères inherited the love song from their southern brethren. Those had it, in turn, from... well, that's an interesting story, actually. For now, let's just have the song.

For the children

From Ricochet, this comment from a tutor observing the effects of the Chicago teachers' strike:
A minor vignette from the perimeter of the strike:  I tutor kids in the Chicago suburbs for a living.  Yesterday I had a first session with a girl in the city who is currently staying home because of the strike.  She said that there were some online homework assignments for her physics class we might have worked on, but their access to any online learning materials has been shut down. 
Meaning, the striking teachers won't allow the students to educate themselves, either. 
Now, I don't want to overstate this because I don't know all the details.  I don't know if the union or the district controls access to the site she was talking about.  Heck, I don't even know what the site is (although I assume it's the same webassign site that most other schools are using).  So it's possible that this was just a "caught in the crossfire" situation rather than a deliberate act by the union.  Or it might even be built into the union contract as an "in case of strike" clause.  I just don't know. 
But I was absolutely floored when she said that. 
For The Children!
In a perfect world, I guess striking teachers would figure out the best possible way for the kids to continue to learn on their own for the duration.  I'm not holding my breath.  I'm also not expecting journalists to try to look into this kind of thing.

Be Thou My Vision

In church we sing this as "Be Thou My Vision," but the old tune is "The Banks of the Bann."  I prefer the old harmony these guys use.  If people around here would sing in three-part harmony, I'd hang out more in bars.

Strong Horse

Eleven years to the day after the 9/11 attacks, a mob in Cairo attacked our embassy -- sovereign American soil -- and was allowed to tear down our flag. Security apparently knew they were coming, and had cleared the embassy of diplomatic personnel. They fired warning shots, but chose to allow our colors to fall to the mob rather than fire for effect. Perhaps they thought this would save lives, in the short run.

In Libya, another mob attacked a consulate. Another mob killed our ambassador and paraded his corpse in the streets. Three other embassy workers died as well.

Our response, for the first day, was limited to statements of sympathy with the attackers, and condemnation of the "abuse" of free speech. Only after the matter became politicized here at home did the US Embassy in Cairo retract its apologetic statements. Today we have progressed as far as a written statement from the President "strongly condemning" the "outrageous" attack in Libya. The Secretary of State has reiterated that America condemns insults aimed at the Islamic religion, but says also -- "let me be clear" -- that she likewise condemns the attacks on her diplomats.
It's high time I read Moby-Dick, a work I somehow escaped in my formal education and early life.  I've really been missing something:
"Grub, ho!" now cried the landlord, flinging open a door, and in we went to breakfast. 
They say that men who have seen the world, thereby become quite at ease in manner, quite self-possessed in company.  Not always, though:  Ledyard, the great New England traveller, and Mungo Park, the Scotch one; of all men, they possessed the least assurance in the parlor.  But perhaps the mere crossing of Siberia in a sledge drawn by dogs as Ledyard did, or the taking a long solitary walk on an empty stomach, in the negro heart of Africa, which was the sum of poor Mungo's performances -- this kind of travel, I say, may not be the very best mode of attaining a high social polish.  Still, for the most part, that sort of thing is to be had anywhere. . . .  
But as for Queequeg -- why, Queequeg sat there among them -- at the head of the table, too, it so chanced; as cool as an icicle.  To be sure I cannot say much for his breeding.  His greatest admirer could not have cordially justified his bringing his harpoon into breakfast with him, and using it there without ceremony; reaching over the table with it, to the imminent jeopardy of many heads, and grappling the beefsteaks toward him.  But that was certainly very coolly done by him, and every one knows that in most people's estimation, to do anything coolly is to do it genteelly.

The Annual Post: Enid & Geraint

Once strong, from solid
Camelot he came
Glory with him, Geraint,
Whose sword tamed the wild.
Fabled the fortune he won,
Fame, and a wife.
The beasts he battled
With horn and lance;
Stood farms where fens lay.
When bandits returned
To old beast-holds
Geraint gave them the same.

And then long peace,
Purchased by the manful blade.
Light delights filled it,
Tournaments softened, tempered
By ladies; in peace lingers
the dream of safety.

They dreamed together. Darkness
Gathered on the old wood,
Wild things troubled the edges,
Then crept closer.
The whispers of weakness
Are echoed with evil.

At last even Enid
Whose eyes are as dusk
Looked on her Lord
And weighed him wanting.
Her gaze gored him:
He dressed in red-rust mail.

And put her on palfrey
To ride before or beside
And they went to the wilds,
Which were no longer
So far. Ill-used,
His sword hung beside.

By the long wood, where
Once he laid pastures,
The knight halted, horsed,
Gazing on the grim trees.
He opened his helm
Beholding a bandit realm.

Enid cried at the charge
Of a criminal clad in mail!
The Lord turned his horse,
Set his untended shield:
There lacked time, there
Lacked thought for more.

Villanous lance licked the
Ancient shield. It split,
Broke, that badge of the knight!
The spearhead searched
Old, rust-red mail.
Geraint awoke.

Master and black mount
Rediscovered their rich love,
And armor, though old
Though red with thick rust,
Broke the felon blade.
The spear to-brast, shattered.

And now Enid sees
In Geraint's cold eyes
What shivers her to the spine.
And now his hand
Draws the ill-used sword:
Ill-used, but well-forged.

And the shock from the spear-break
Rang from bandit-towers
Rattled the wood, and the world!
Men dwelt there in wonder.
Who had heard that tone?
They did not remember that sound.

His best spear broken
On old, rusted mail,
The felon sought his forest.
Enid's dusk eyes sense
The strength of old steel:
Geraint grips his reins.

And he winds his old horn,
And he spurs his proud horse,
And the wood to his wrath trembles.
And every bird
From the wild forest flies,
But the Ravens.

It Befell in the Days of Uther Pendragon...

...when he was king of all England and so reigned, that there was a mighty Duke of Cornwall who held war against him long time. And the Duke was called the Duke of Tintagel.

Or let us put it in modern terms:
Geithner confesses the desperate nature of the situation. The government is broke. Geithner fears the world knows this when he says: "Suppose we have an auction and no one shows up?" Geithner knows that we cannot finance our deficits using traditional credit markets. The deficits are too large and the government has no credibility regarding the required spending cuts. Geithner was admitting that markets would not allow the US government to continue its profligate ways. That admission is major news[.]
Is it? It was, for Uther, that which destroyed his life and his kingdom: a duke who could not be brought to order. In our case, the rest of the world, expressing itself in financial markets, may be unwilling to continue to underwrite the order. Can we make peace, or can we not? Nothing rests on the question except the whole world.

Joltin' Joe Biden Rides Again

So, you've probably seen the photo. Hot Air has a caption contest. Here are some amusing entries:

The Clinton Bounce gone a little to far.

Just three words for you baby, made in the USA!”

I can be a lot more flexible after Obama loses the election .

On "Daddy"

A nice post from a lady who grew up out West. It's about her "Daddy," and how important he was to her life.

You Say "Remarkable"?

The Economist writes:
IT IS worth pausing from time to time to reflect on the remarkable features of the modern economy. As Deutsche Bank points out in its long-term asset return study, the longest series of bond yield data is for the Netherlands dating back all the way to 1517. In June, those yields reached a record low. Not just any old record, then, but a 500-year nadir. In America, yields go back only to 1790 but they too have been at all-time lows. The Bank of England was founded in 1694 but never felt the need to push base rates down so low; not in two world wars or a Great Depression. Nor did the Bank ever feel the need to expand its balance sheet to such a great extent (although Deutsche only has data back to 1830); currently it is around 25% of GDP....

Given this combination of economic circumstances, Deutsche is surely right to say that
"Anyone predicting the endgame is speculating outside the historical dataset."
Predictive analysis based on a historical dataset is always subject to the "Black Swan" problem of induction, but at least it's based on something. We are here in uncharted territory.


Did this young lady get into her mom's yogurt, which mom had carefully placed up on the dinner table while she had to leave the room for a moment?  The evidence is undeniable.  I have taken to calling her "Legion."  Actually, of course, she's considerably less demonic now than when she joined us early this year.

She's already managed to get herself snakebit this summer, probably by a cottonmouth.  It didn't make her very sick.  Our nextdoor neighbors' cat was struck by a rattlesnake on Labor Day, occasioning a frantic trip in to Corpus to the emergency vet, where they specialize in wildly expensive treatment for customers (like me) who are devoted to their animals beyond the point of financial good sense.  The local vet doesn't even carry antivenin, and had in fact told us that it wasn't available for cats.  Wrongo!  It costs a bloody fortune, but you can get it.  They gave the cat a three-day fentanyl patch, if you can believe that.  I agitated for one of those for my poor aunt in the nursing home for six months before I got it.  Fentanyl, the king of pain relief, is orders of magnitude beyond morphine.

But I must say, within a few days the swelling had disappeared.  The cat appears to have dodged all of the truly horrifying effects you often see with rattler bites, like necrosis.  The effects of an untreated rattlesnake bite are something I wouldn't wish on anyone, and I take this opportunity again to trumpet the virtues of inexpensive rattlesnake vaccine for your dogs.  (I gather there isn't a vaccine for cats.  Or people.)

Update a few moments later:  That's our erstwhile glass coffee-table top you see in ruins there. OK, so maybe she's not really that much less demonic.

They're he-e-e-re

Hummingbird Festival comes to our little town in mid-September every year:  it starts next Thursday.  We've been worrying a little whether it would be timed well this year, since the birds hadn't really begun flooding our feeders yet.  As of this morning, I have no more worries.  That little tolerable-front we had last night brought not only a trace of very welcome rain but a raft of hummers.  This morning, for the first time in recent memory, the low is 71 degrees, although it was a grueling 87 last night at bedtime.  Makes us want to get right out in the garden and catch up on some chores.  So, because I don't have usher duty until next Sunday, I'm declaring a church hooky day.

Naomi Wolf on Women

The main headline, in my view? The new science has established a radically new insight: that there is such a strong brain-vagina connection in women that many of the neuroscientists whom I interviewed called it "a single system".
I'm trying to imagine, just now, the most disdainful male chauvinist trying to come up with some argument against the 19th Amendment. Could he have come up with anything more vicious than this?

But wait! There's more.
More remarkably, few of us know that when a woman has an orgasm – and, even before that, when she feels empowered to think about pleasurable sex, anticipate it, focus on how to get it, and feels in control of and knowledgeable enough about her body to know she can probably reach orgasm during sex – her brain gets a boost of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Then, in orgasm, opioids and oxytocin are also released. This experience does not just yield pleasure, a fact that is well known; it also yields specific states of mind.

Dopamine is what I call the ultimate feminist neurotransmitter: it yields motivation and goal-orientedness, trust in one's own judgement and, most notably of all, in my mind, confidence.
That's funny. You know what causes "the ultimate feminist neurotransmitter" to be released in men's brains? Increasingly extreme internet porn.

Hey, he's also suggesting that manipulation of the sex-organs can rewire the brain! He's going one step further, though, and questioning whether this rewiring is a good thing.

So let's look at Ms. Wolf's terms. One can get, essentially for free, "motivation, goal-orientedness, trust in one's own judgment and... confidence." Is that good? Put another way, is it good to trust your own judgment more because you've spent a few hours dropping dopamine into your brain?

Put yet another way, what would justify your increased confidence in your judgment? Has your judgment improved in this way? Is your increased confidence, then, rooted in something real?

We get increased confidence in our judgment from drinking too much alcohol, too. Goodness knows I'm not against alcohol! (Nor sex.) Yet when a man thinks to himself, "I know people say that drinking ten beers is bad for your ability to drive, but to be honest, I feel even more confident of my driving ability now than before I started drinking," we can recognize that the artificial stimulant to his confidence is not a good thing. Can we make the same recognition here?

I wonder. Mark Steyn seems to have understood the problem.
Sexual liberty, even as every other liberty withers, is all that matters: A middle-school girl is free to get an abortion without parental consent, but if she puts a lemonade stand on her lawn she’ll be fined.
That does seem to be the spirit of the age. Or at least a very loud part of it.