US Army Birthday & Flag Day

The "Betsy Ross" Flag

Flag of the US Army

Happy Birthday.

Say, What is the Purpose of Education?

A strong article, with several parts too good to excerpt. What is that education supposed to accomplish? What is it for?

Finding Lois' Emails

Dr. Althouse agrees with the National Journal that a special prosecutor is wholly warranted by the IRS' claim that it has lost two years of Lois Lerner's official email traffic. She has a good point: after decades of noting that 'it's the cover-up that kills you, not the crime,' it's worth asking how bad the crime has to be to justify such a blatant, obvious cover-up.

Or maybe you'd want us to believe that there was no crime. Fine. A special prosecutor can look into that too. I expect we'll all of us feel better about accepting that conclusion at the end of an independent and thoroughgoing investigation.

"Your father is passing"

Firedog Lake ran this clip from "To Kill a Mockingbird" and invited readers to pick a favorite fictional father.  Atticus Finch is a popular favorite in the general population, and deservedly so, but what struck me about the reaction on this particular site was the tepid response.  A few commenters picked ineffectual dads from comedies, but most seemed uncomfortable with the very idea of fathers and changed the subject as quickly as they could.

I couldn't find the exact clip from Firedog Lake, which included Atticus shooting the mad dog, but here is a good one:

I've always had a soft spot for the dad in "Have Spacesuit, Will Travel."

Bidding Wars

So, there's nothing surprising in this, except that the mechanism is laid out in easy-to-grasp terms.
Throughout the day, partners would make requests for connection, what Gottman calls “bids.” For example, say that the husband is a bird enthusiast and notices a goldfinch fly across the yard. He might say to his wife, “Look at that beautiful bird outside!” He’s not just commenting on the bird here: he’s requesting a response from his wife—a sign of interest or support—hoping they’ll connect, however momentarily, over the bird.

The wife now has a choice. She can respond by either “turning toward” or “turning away” from her husband, as Gottman puts it. Though the bird-bid might seem minor and silly, it can actually reveal a lot about the health of the relationship. The husband thought the bird was important enough to bring it up in conversation and the question is whether his wife recognizes and respects that.

People who turned toward their partners in the study responded by engaging the bidder, showing interest and support in the bid. Those who didn’t—those who turned away—would not respond or respond minimally and continue doing whatever they were doing, like watching TV or reading the paper. Sometimes they would respond with overt hostility, saying something like, “Stop interrupting me, I’m reading.”

These bidding interactions had profound effects on marital well-being. Couples who had divorced after a six-year follow up had “turn-toward bids” 33 percent of the time. Only three in ten of their bids for emotional connection were met with intimacy. The couples who were still together after six years had “turn-toward bids” 87 percent of the time.


American contractors in Iraq held off an ISIS siege until they could be evacuated by the Iraqi Air Force.
The attacking ISIS forces approached the base in trucks Wednesday and called through loudspeakers for all private security forces and Iraqi special military to leave immediately or die.

The U.S. private contractors in touch with WND reported that after hearing the broadcast, the private security forces and the Iraqi military defending the base dropped their weapons and ran.

The American contractors collected the weapons left behind and were able to hold off further immediate advances.
The report suggests that there may still be a hundred Americans to be evacuated, but the report is 21 hours old at this writing. The contractors were there to help the Iraqi Air Force prepare to receive the F-16s we promised to the Iraqi government, which suggests they are mostly USAF veterans.

A Momentous Week For Deaths

The American Legion's "Burn Pit" has a feature called 'Famous Deaths for the Week.' Last week's deaths include Alexander the Great, Hardicanute, Robert E. Howard, Andrew Jackson, and others.

Friday Night AMV

Yeah. Just burn it to the ground.

Nuts in Congress

David Brat is so eccentric, he thinks the State has a monopoly on violence.  Wait, never mind, almost everyone thinks that, going back to Max Weber.  Well, he's so crazy he thinks there's an essential tension between libertarianism and conservatism, which can be resolved only if we think humbly and honestly about which issues we're willing to license the State to enforce by violence:
Let me add one more definition to the picture to heighten this tension. In economics and political science, it is common to define the government as the entity that holds a monopoly on violence. This definition goes back to Max Weber, but it is used by recent Nobel laureates in economics as well. It does not mean that the State alone uses violence, but it does mean that when push comes to shove, the State will win in a battle of wills. If you refuse to pay your taxes, you will lose. You will go to jail, and if you fight, you will lose. The government holds a monopoly on violence. Any law that we vote for is ultimately backed by the full force of our government and military. Do we trust institutions of the government to ensure justice? Is that what history teaches us about the State? Or do we live in particularly lucky and fortunate times where the State can be trusted to do minimal justice? The State's budget is currently about $3 trillion a year. Do you trust that power to the political Right? Do you trust it to the Left? If you answered "no" to either question, you may have a major problem in the future. See Plato on the regime that follows democracy. 
So now, I hope you are feeling even a bit more ill-at-ease. The logic above is inescapable for a Christian. If we Christians vote for what we consider to be good policies, we are ultimately voting to ensure that our will is carried out by the most powerful force on earth, aside from God. The U.S. government has a monopoly on violence, and that force underlies the law of the land. 
Do we have the right to coerce our fellow citizens to act in ways that follow our Christian ethical beliefs?

Darn Tea Party crackpot partisan ignoramus.

Reason #1,186 for home-schooling

1,186.  Home-schooling may decrease your chances of having your parental rights terminated when your kid twirls a pencil and someone thinks it looks like a fancy gun move from an old Western, and then school officials notify DCS, which demands a psych evaluation, and then a second psych evaluation when the first one comes back "What are you, kidding me?"
“We never know what’s percolating in the minds of children,” Vernon Schools Superintendent Charles Maranzano said in an interview, defending the principal’s actions. “And when they demonstrate behaviors that raise red flags, we must do our duty.”
Government is the thing we all do together.

Fingernails on blackboards

Hillary Clinton has a peculiarly unpleasant style.  Here she is sparring, and finally quarreling, with an NPR interviewer who's trying to pin her down on whether she always supported gay marriage, but didn't think she could afford to admit it until recently, or instead was a gay-basher who only recently came around.  Clinton tries to argue that the whole country was against gay marriage until recently, so you can't blame her for being a johnny-come-lately, which the NPR interviewer isn't buying for one minute.  In the last two minutes, Clinton's snide side comes out loud and clear.

For what it's worth, my views on gay marriage were fully formed in the 1970s, so I guess I was several decades ahead of Her Inevitableness, even though I'm a bitter clinger and actually carry a "Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy" card in my wallet.

Probably Because the MPs Have Already Fled the Capital

"Iraq parliament fails to reach quorum for emergency session."

So if you can't rely on the Iraqi Army, which is abandoning its posts and uniforms, and you can't rely on the parliament, on whom do you rely? The answer for the Kurds is the Peshmerga, whom they've deployed to secure Erbil and halt the ISIS. What's the obvious answer for Maliki? The US has already turned him down for airstrikes, though our government may be reconsidering. But he may make another, rather obvious choice.

You guys in the Interagency who were 'caught off guard' but are now trying to plan a response: what are the consequences of that choice? What can you do -- will you do -- to stop it from being made? What will you do if he makes it?

Some of These are Good Lessons

25 skills dad should teach, which of course means that dad better know them himself.

On the topic, Cass has a video today.

Honorable professions

In Venezuela, the government is completely cool with you if you're a prostitute, but not if you moonlight as a currency trader.


Regarding tonight's defeat of Cantor, who will not be missed, InstaPundit quotes and comments thus:
He was also free of rancor toward Cantor, whom he judged a good man in a way that appeared authentic. This impressed me even more. Did we have an actual citizen politician here – and, incredibly, an intelligent one? Skeptical old me began to think of Frank Capra movies. Brat even had the diffident, bespectacled look of Jimmy Stewart.
Well, Stewart was actually kind of a tough guy. We’ll see.
Kind of?


John Derbyshire writes about the problems of memory:
My family moved from cramped rented rooms to a spacious new house a few days before my third birthday. I remember the move in some detail; and I have half a dozen memories of the rented rooms.

At least I think I have. One of Fernyhough’s themes is the unreliability of memory. There are true things we remember; there are stories we were told that somehow end up among our memories; there are dreams and imaginative flights we take for true memories; and there are second-order memories—memories of having remembered one of the preceding.
I am not sure what my earliest memory is, nor even when they came to be, but I do remember things that I can block out as being before five: the horrid shag carpet (of which I have recently discovered photographic evidence), swimming lessons at a very early age in a very public pool, a brown home with a hex sign on it that I was later told was in the old neighborhood.

I have a few early memories, and some later memories, but increasingly I find I have few or no memories at all of my early life. Even as a teenager -- a period I gather imprints carefully on most people -- it's hard for me to recall how things were, except for particular moments that were impressive. Even at the age of twenty, which Derbyshire's piece suggests is all-important, I can't readily remember anything: I'd have to chase it down, map it out, and see if anything occurred based on the data I could pull together.

And yet I have broad stories that aren't really memories, but must have been built out of them at some point: stories about how things were or what they meant.

Theories of Theories

So apparently according to my 20-something associates this article is a huge anti-gay slur, which is surprising because it's an article about how straight women suffer less relationship violence if they engage in stable marriages to men vice a series of boyfriends.

I'm not sure I understand what the connection is supposed to be, really, but apparently it's really offensive. You shouldn't consider it at all, even if you limit marriage to a "straight" context, which obviously would be totally wrong and immoral (you are expected to dispense with essentially all human history here).

So, you know, don't read it. Or if you do, don't think about it.

The Tea Party is de--. . . oh, wait.

Eric Cantor, Republican House majority leader, outspent his little-known opponent in the primary for his Virginia congressional district by 15 or 20 to 1, and lost his race today by about 45%-55%.  Virginia has a "sore loser" law that will prevent Cantor from running against the primary winner, David Brat, as an independent.

Brat is a thorough-going economic conservative of the Cato Institute stripe.  The Republican Party leadership is going bats.

Against Scientism

Apparently this Tyson person is important in some context, because his face has been popping up on my screen a lot. I assume at least some of you know who he is. I gather he is reputed to be an intelligent fool, for reasons this article lays out.

A Reasonable Question

When national security adviser Susan Rice claimed that Bergdahl had served with “honor and distinction,” members of his unit felt compelled to speak out, because the word “honor” actually means something to them. So did others who joined a dangerous manhunt in a warzone. The rest of us have no reason to prejudge the facts in this case, but those who served with Bergdahl have every right to present their version of events.

The Bergdahl case reveals a disturbing gap between the White House and military culture. After Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers corrected the administration’s false narrative, anonymous White House aides accused them of engaging in “Swift-boating.” Consider that a moment. While the White House (still) claims that Bergdahl served with “honor,” aides now impugn the motives of those who served beside him — and who stayed at their posts. Particularly in a time of war, why are these attacks not a firing offense?

The Jungle

California has adopted what are sometimes called "jungle primaries":  open to all comers of any party, and the top two face off against each other.  Here's a result I wouldn't have expected.  This Brookings article argues that incumbents are far more likely to face a challenge in a jungle primary:
This might be the biggest change we’ve seen so far this year as the result of the top two system.  In a traditional primary system a distant second place finish is an outright loss.  No wonder that the expectation of coming in second in a primary against an incumbent is usually deemed to be not worth the trouble.  Many potential challengers fail to take on incumbents.  But in the new system even a distant second place finisher gets his or her name on the ballot in November which gives them the opportunity to draw votes from an electorate with higher turnout.  This means a primary run is more viable and in the general election the incumbent might be more vulnerable.

Aussies to the rescue

Antipodean trends:  Australia seeks global allies to combat President Obama carbon-tax initiative:
[Australian Prime Minister Tony] Abbott’s conservative Liberal-National coalition won a landslide victory in Australia's elections last year, on a limited government platform that included repealing the country’s carbon tax and cutting green energy and global warming spending.
Abbott’s government is set to slash global warming spending by 90 percent over the next four years. Efforts to repeal the country’s carbon tax have also moved forward as Labor Party Senators have begun to buckle under pressure to get rid of the tax.
“The carbon tax is an act of economic vandalism,” Abbott said in March. “You can’t trust [Labor] anywhere near an economy.”
A study from last year by Dr. Alex Robson, an economist at Griffith University found that after just one year, the carbon tax increased taxes on 2.2 million Australians while doing nothing to decrease the country’s carbon emissions.
Robson’s study also found the carbon tax raised electricity prices 15 percent while the country’s unemployment rate shot up by 10 percent after the carbon tax was implemented.

"The day I left my son in the car"

Like many Americans my age, I read this story with a sense of awe at the difference between my own childhood and the norm today.  Are things really more dangerous now?  Neighborhoods are more anonymous, for the most part, but then statistics say the real danger is from family and friends rather than from strangers.  One thing of which there can be little doubt is that our culture feels more entitled to intervene in decisions between parents and children.

I'm curious whether the parents in the Hall will think the mother was in the wrong.  The comments in Salon are a tall drink of crazy.  "So what if your child isn't suffocated or abducted!  He could be maimed by the power window mechanism!"  What do I know?  I'm over-anxious even about my dogs.  Who am I to think I'd have been brave about children?  Still, I'm glad I grew up when kids were still allowed to go into the woods alone.

Balance of power

After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Germany abandoned most of its nuclear power generation.  At the same time, the U.S. ramped up its natural gas production from the shale revolution.  Now German plants find themselves at a disadvantage in competing against U.S. manufacture.
Thanks in large part to Germany's decision to phase out nuclear power and push into green energy, companies there now pay some of the highest prices in the world for power.  On average, German industrial companies with large power appetites paid about 0.15 euros ($0.21) per kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity last year, according to Eurostat, the European Union's statistics agency.
In the United States, electricity prices are falling thanks to natural gas derived from fracking - the hydraulic fracturing of rock.  Louisiana now boasts industrial electricity prices of just $0.055 per kWh, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data.
German companies are responding by shifting production to the U.S.  It seems unfair, but with any luck the new U.S. energy policies will fix all that.

An Interview with M. Le Pen

SPIEGEL: Do you want to destroy Europe?

Le Pen: I want to destroy the EU, not Europe! I believe in a Europe of nation-states. I believe in Airbus and Ariane, in a Europe based on cooperation. But I don't want this European Soviet Union.

SPIEGEL: The EU is a vast project for peace. It has helped ensure 70 years without war on the Continent.

Le Pen: No. Europe is war. Economic war. It is the increase of hostilities between the countries. Germans are denigrated as being cruel, the Greeks as fraudsters, the French as lazy. Ms. Merkel can't travel to any European country without being protected by hundreds of police. That is not brotherhood.

SPIEGEL: You now intend to head to Brussels only to fight the system.

Le Pen: And why not?
She is the daughter of the more famous (at least in America) Jean-Marie Le Pen.


You will of course hear from Acts 2 today, as is proper.

But for me, I always think of Sir Thomas Malory's work this day.
“The king stablished all his knights, and gave them that were of lands not rich, he gave them lands, and charged them never to do outrageousity nor murder, and always to flee treason; also, by no mean to be cruel, but to give mercy unto him that asketh mercy, upon pain of forfeiture of their worship and lordship of King Arthur for evermore; and always to do ladies, damosels, and gentlewomen succor upon pain of death. Also, that no man take no battles in a wrongful quarrel for no law, ne for no world’s goods. Unto this were all the knights sworn of the Table Round, both old and young. And every year were they sworn at the high feast of Pentecost.” (Le Morte d'Arthur, pp 115-116)