British tribes

I'd love to see the same analysis done in the U.S., to see whether it would corroborate the findings in David Fischer's excellent book, "Albion's Seed."  With so much frontier to settle, the U.S. findings presumably would be more smeared out towards the west.

Le Sacre du Printemps


We got through with half a rank of wood left, which can form the first part of next winter's firewood.

St. Chesterton

Apparently there's a movement. If it's proper, though, there will be miracles. Although possibly he is a case like Aquinas: the writings are the miracles.

What's It Like To Live Like A Viking?

Ingrid Galadriel Aune Nilsen, Master of Arts, explains how becoming a full-time Viking re-enactor has changed her views on modern society. Her English is labored, so you'll have to be patient. It's still interesting what she thinks.

The ideal of a 'functioning democracy' in the Viking Age isn't so far fetched. The Icelandic sagas suggest that it worked more often than not.

"A Fantastic Opportunity For You To Assert Your Dominance On Everyone Around You..."

"...which improves your life."

Content warning for those of you who don't share Tex's sense of humor.

"Kant is a Moron"

That's the headline of all the articles about this act of graffiti.
The Russian word used is a relatively mild term of abuse for a slow-witted or foolish person, and could also be translated as "loser," "dumb-ass," or "chump". The vandals did not, however, leave any accompanying critique of Kant's thinking to justify the smear on his intellectual powers.
I asked a Russian-speaking comrade about this, and he tells me that the actual word needs context. It's apparently a term that is of particular origin in the criminal community in Russia, which thinks of itself as pursuing a life worthy of a man because it isn't subordinate or groveling. This term refers to someone who deserves to be robbed, because they are the kind of person who slaves away to pay taxes and be lived-off by others.

Thus, the proper translation is more like "Kant is a sucker," which is much more defensible than him being a moron -- or even "Kant is a square," which is actually true. Kant is the squarest of squares.

What we meant to say . . . .

Does the DOJ actually answer to anyone?  It seems possible it may.

Welcome to the Happiest Place on Earth!

I think we discussed the NY Post article debunking claims that Scandinavian countries are happiest. Gallup has come up with a new way of asking the question.
Gallup tallied the “yes” responses to five questions from roughly 1,000 people in each country surveyed. The questions included:

Did you feel well-rested yesterday?
Were you treated with respect all day yesterday?
Did you smile or laugh a lot yesterday?
Did you learn or do something interesting yesterday?
Did you experience a lot of the following feelings during the day yesterday? How about enjoyment?
So where is the happiest place on earth? Latin America!

The Simpsons were right again.

By this standard, if you are interested, the Scandinavian countries have precisely the same level of happiness as the United States (except for Denmark, which scores a point lower).

Class Leadership

So I saw this story about a student banned from class for challenging the commonplace '1 in 5' sexual assault statistic. This is hardly a rogue position, as challenges have appeared in very mainstream publications such as the Washington Post and TIME.

Nevertheless, I assume the teacher was responding less to the challenge and more to the mode of challenge. That's a matter of taste, to some degree: academia is supposed to be able to sustain robust but civil disagreements, but what constitutes the boundaries of "civil" are very much under contest. The excerpts from the professor's letter suggest that other students were highly uncomfortable, and that he had issued multiple warnings before the ban. Online student-reported feedback suggests that he's a good professor: he rates near the top in all categories except "easiness," where he rates at the bottom. This is exactly as it should be. I'm inclined to trust his sense of his environment.

Besides, it sounds as if the professor's claim that there were sexual assault survivors in the classroom is extremely plausible:
Despite its small size, Reed’s students reported the most sex crimes of all colleges and universities in the state of Oregon during 2010–2012 and ranked third in the number of reported assaults per 1,000 students in the country in 2012.
Sounds like part of the reason the student's mouth was such an issue is a complete failure of the college to uphold other standards. That's neither the student's nor the professor's fault, but it can't help but be a factor here. Reed as an institution bears the real shame in this story.

No Wonder It's Hard to Develop Virtuous Citizens

Related to Grim's recent post that discussed developing virtues in our citizenry, I recently ran across an article in the New York Times by philosophy professor Justin P. McBrayer that considers one reason why it's difficult to do today. The article is a quick read, so I'll let you take in the rest there, but the problem begins with this:

When I went to visit my son’s second grade open house, I found a troubling pair of signs hanging over the bulletin board. They read:

Fact: Something that is true about a subject and can be tested or proven.

Opinion: What someone thinks, feels, or believes.

Hoping that this set of definitions was a one-off mistake, I went home and Googled “fact vs. opinion.”

I agree with McBrayer that a lot of young people today end up with a serious case of doublethink. On the one hand, they insist that things like sexual morals are merely personal opinions. On the other, they are great devotees of social justice, which is nothing but a system of morality. It's very strange. His partial explanation for why that is sounds true to me.

Ah, youth

From James Taranto:
The headline in London’s Guardian the other day was certainly eye-catching: “Privatising BBC3 Would Be as Pernicious as Isis Destroying Iraq’s Historic Sites.” It seems like an overstatement but turns out not to be much of a statement at all. Here’s the first paragraph of the commentary, by Stewart Lee:
When so-called Islamic State destroyed historic sites in Iraq, I was wary of making judgments of other cultures, and gave these exuberant young men the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps shattering the statues was mere high spirits, like when Greeks trample wedding crockery? Or perhaps it was the fault of MI5?
We strongly disagree with Lee on ISIS, but it does sound as though he’s right that privatizing BBC3 wouldn’t be the least bit pernicious.

Douthat on Marriage

A helpful inquiry.
The first counterargument is about men: It concedes that there is a modest upward post-’60s trend in household income, rather than a steep decline, but it argues that focusing on the general trend ignores a collapse in earnings for low-skilled men.... As I said in the column, a modest version of this argument makes sense to me. Less-educated men haven’t seen the same gains as their female peers in recent decades, male-dominated sectors of the economy have declined relative to the female-friendly sectors, and so some lower-income men clearly do look relatively less appealing as partners, less “marriagable” in strictly economic terms than they would have in 1960.

At the same time, though, even in a world where women are earning more on their own, the strictly-economic advantages of the two-parent family and the potential costs of single parenthood are still very significant, and they get more significant, not less, as you go down the ladder of income and education.

...the issue is this: The men dragging down the overall low-skilled wage average since the ’60s are primarily recent immigrants, whose numbers have dramatically increased relative to mid-century, and whose wages are low by American standards but obviously much higher than the wages earned by their fathers and grandparents in their countries of origin.
I think that's right. Marriage is still very beneficial for those who can keep its disciplines. The working class is being damaged by both a collapse in public morality, and also by an immigration-heavy policy that makes American workers compete with immigrants who are willing to accept much less (as well as by globalization, which allows companies to hire non-American workers in the cheapest parts of the world).

Currently the politics are such that there's no possibility of controlling immigration or reducing globalization. Those who control the political class in our country are completely in favor of both of those things, as they benefit financially from them. The one thing we can really do to help the poor and working classes, then, is to encourage public morality.

That society should find ways to support the development of virtues in its citizens has been a commonplace idea since Plato. That it remains a perennial issue doesn't imply, I think, that there's no solution to it: it implies that something about human nature always requires a focus on developing virtue and avoiding vice.

How to do that, though? The working class is unlikely to take lessons from the government, because it is manifestly obvious that the government isn't concerned about their good: the policies of both political parties are dead-set on opposing the good of the working class in immigration and globalization, and dead-set on pursuing the good of their donor class instead. The Republican politician's game of pretending to oppose amnesty only makes them less credible with everyone. Similarly, the implementation of Obamacare has been a disaster for the workers of America, as we've often discussed: the only jobs available in much of the country are 24-hour-a-week part-time gigs, or temporary/seasonal labor, that avoid the law's mandates. The government has presented this as "help" for the worker, but it's clearly the opposite in effect.

You can make the argument in the hope of persuading people, but the working class is less likely to read political blogs (or the New York Times, for that matter). Churches are a good option in some places, less in others. In any case, they need more than persuasion: virtue development is hard. In many cases a young, poorer, married couple lacks models for success -- their parents may well have been divorced -- and therefore doesn't know what skills they need or how to develop them. We don't teach them in schools, instead handing them condoms and telling them to be 'safe' while working it out for themselves.

Where's An Actuary?

It occurs to me that this offer is one that it would be enlightening to test with data. Leaving the politics to the side entirely, is it a good deal?
A local attorney said he is giving his employees a $50 bonus each month if they choose to conceal carry.

“I was like so you’re going to give me $50 to carry a pistol? And he was like, yup that’s what we’ll do. Well sign me up,” said paralegal for Puryear Law P.C. Elizabeth Payne.

Carrying her gun at work gets her $50 extra each month from her boss.
Now carrying a pistol exposes you to a certain amount of risk. Even with near-perfect use, the danger that you will accidentally shoot yourself or someone else is higher if you handle a firearm every day than if you don't ever handle one. (So much higher that, even in Iraq, the Army made everyone inside the wire except guards on duty carry in condition green -- magazine not loaded, chamber empty, rifle on safe). Assuming you are properly trained and that you obey correct safety rules, however, the risk is not great. On the other hand, the consequences are potentially substantial: major medical bills or wrongful death lawsuits are quite expensive.

So, if I were an actuary writing you an insurance policy, would I charge you more or less than $50 a month to cover you for the additional risks?

Obviously that leaves out questions about how dangerous your neighborhood is, etc. It's also not about the politics: if you're a law-abiding American citizen, I fully support your right to keep and bear arms as you please. I'm just interested in how the money works out. Is $50 a good deal? Should a rational economic actor who is not otherwise inclined to carry, and who lives in a safe neighborhood where the firearm is unlikely to otherwise be useful to them, take such a deal if offered?

Because We Stole It, Obviously

Headline: "Why was a 9th century Viking woman buried with a ring that says ‘for Allah’ on it?"

Israel and Iran

We have come to an odd passage with yesterday's election. United States policy is now formally opposed to the elected government of Israel, which has (with a few exceptions) been an American ally of long standing. Some state that the world is no longer bound to defend Israel. I wonder what precisely that is intended to mean, since the "world" of international diplomacy has typically been strongly critical of Israel at the UN and elsewhere. Nevertheless, commentary expects Israeli isolation to deepen. Perhaps the pressure is intended to grant the President some cover to fail to veto a Security Council resolution that would lead to Israel being declared a rogue state, or a criminal regime, or placed under punishing sanctions. That would represent a shock to the seven in ten Americans who view Israel favorably, a figure which suggests that the administration is acting against the will of a clear majority of Americans.

In Iran, on the other hand, we have a longstanding enemy that continues to pursue nuclear weapons while also backing terrorist groups across the region. Yet our policy seems strangely aligned with them. We are both working to assist Iraq's government against Daesh. Yet the Maliki government is heavily Iranian influenced, so much so that its army is now fighting alongside Iranian-trained Shi'ite militia. Furthermore, Maliki has broken the accords with Sunni Iraqis that we helped to negotiate and often pledged to ensure. It was at one time US policy to ensure that those agreements were fairly kept, which might have prevented the breakout success of Daesh in Western Iraq in the first place. Meanwhile, Iran seems happy with our proposals on its nuclear policy, proposals made in spite of the clearest possible signal from the US Senate that it will not ratify that deal and might even overturn it with veto-proof majorities. Here, too, the administration is out of order with the democratic will of the American people in a serious way.

The unifying factor here is an apparent preference to hurt our friends and help our enemies, in defiance not only of the well established character of these relationships but the sense of the majority of the American people and their representatives.

Not a suicide pact yet

And never again, I hope:
Netanyahu [told] the country that left-wing groups funded by foreign money were busing Arab voters to the polls in order to elect a left-wing government led by his Zionist Union rival Isaac Herzog. Netanyahu’s opponents interpreted this as an appeal to racism. . . . But a critical mass of voters viewed the prospect with alarm not because they’re racists but because a government that relied on the votes of anti-Zionists that favor Israel’s dissolution was something they considered a danger to the future of their country…. They may not like Netanyahu but today’s results demonstrates that there is little support for a government that would make the sort of concessions to the Palestinians that President Obama would like. They rightly believe that even if Israel did make more concessions it would only lead to more violence, not peace.

St. Patrick in Germany

Another Long Video

Forty-one minutes with Jim Mattis. I assume no introductions are required.

A Documentary for St. Patrick's Day

If you have an hour or so this evening, you might enjoy it.

We will do what we always do on St. Patrick's Day here at the Hall, and have a showing of The Quiet Man a bit later.


A liberal writer ponders why other liberals are welcoming an increasing role for religion in public life.
Going back to Jefferson and Madison, the idea behind separating church and state has been to prevent the state from forcing taxpayers to pay for other people’s religious practices. Fair enough. But in order to get religious conservatives to go along with that principle, secular liberal thinkers felt they had to give them something in return. And what do religious conservatives want? They want to be able to express their deepest religious convictions in the public sphere. They want to pray at town meetings, to place religious symbols in government buildings and on public lands, and, more generally, they want the state to acknowledge the importance—and perhaps also the truth—of their religious heritage.

So here we have the makings of a compromise: Liberals would get a ban on state funding of religion, and conservatives would get state-sponsored religious recognition...

Except that the Roberts court, like the Rehnquist court before it, isn’t interested in taking this deal. In exchange for greater acceptance of religious practice and symbols in the public square, they have given up, well, nothing. In a series of 5–4 decisions, conservative majorities have rejected the ability of taxpayers to challenge state funding of religion...

If giving up your side in exchange for nothing looks like a shoddy compromise for liberals, what else might explain acceptance of Justice Kennedy’s new coercion principle[?]
See, the legislature is where you go to make compromises with the other side. When you try to fight your battles in the courts, you're going to get decisions on one side or the other. That's the nature of the beast.

The preference for waging war against conservative ideas in the courts is based on the hope that the battlefield itself is biased against conservatives. This follows from three ideas: 1) The judiciary must, in order to do their jobs, be highly educated. 2) The academy has largely been captured by liberals, which means educated people will have been taught to think by liberals most of the time. 3) As a consequence that re-enforces the bias, peer pressure among the highly educated is to conform to left-leaning ideas. Thus, the courts are much better ground for locating the real power of government than the legislature in which the general population gets most of the vote in selecting representatives. If the courts will just go along with stripping legislatures of the power to create laws that transgress against the principles of the left, it doesn't matter very much if you win or lose elections. When you win, you can pass new laws in line with your principles. When you lose, you can relax because the courts will throw out new laws that you'd oppose.

Unfortunately, there are some disadvantages to this approach. One of them is this one: when the court goes against you, it generally goes all the way. The other one is that politicizing the courts damages the legitimacy of two whole branches of government. The author really wants the courts to come up with political compromises here, in order to rewrite the laws in a way that would satisfy everyone. That's a legislative function. Should the courts take over the legislative function while also embracing the power to set aside legislatively-enacted laws that violate principles held by the educated elite who make up the judiciary, the court has effectively gelded the legislature. The legislature will not be respected as a co-equal branch of government if its power is completely co-opted by the courts.

By the same token, since Federal judges are not elected (and in this court serve lifetime terms) their decisions have no democratic legitimacy. When the legislature rewrites the law, it does so with the direct involvement of the people's representatives. Those representatives, should they defy the people's will, can be replaced at the next election. Unelected judges who cannot be replaced ought not to perform the legislative function in a republic that claims to draw its legitimacy from the will of the people.

So, grammercy for coming up with a viable compromise. I think people might go along with it. Take it to the legislatures, and at the state and local level as well. Make the argument. Point out that Jefferson and Madison are on your side. You might convince some people. Stop trying to get the courts to alter the playing field such that laws you don't like are forbidden to legislatures. Instead, play fairly and talk with the people with which you disagree instead of suing them.

Crazy idea, I know. But I'm pretty sure it's how the system was supposed to work.

Well, Obviously

When large groups of female students on a campus claim they feel unsafe if they cannot utilize their constitutional rights to carry a firearm, does it cause a massive uproar and immediate shift in policy? When pro-Palestinian students rally, chanting phrases that make Jewish students feel unsafe, does the student body call an emergency meeting with the plan of silencing the pro-Palestinian students?

Of course not.

But, when a single Muslim student calls a movie like ‘American Sniper’ racist...
Islam isn't a... oh, why bother.

The Rifle Team at Harvard

Increasingly I find myself reading news stories and thinking, "We talked that all through ten years ago." The important lesson may be that blogging is a waste of time.

Today the story that is wasting my time and energy is this story about Ivy League schools taking up rifle teams. Yes, fully ten years ago we had that all out here at the Hall.
[I]f any pale student glued to his desk here seek an apology for a way of life whose natural fruit is that pallid and emasculate scholarship, of which New England has had too many examples, it will be far better that this sketch had not been written. For the student there is, in its season, no better place than the saddle, and no better companion than the rifle or the oar.
Francis Parkman wrote that. If you don't know who he was, you should look him up. If you're a Harvard man and you don't know, your school has failed you: as it has if it produced you without teaching you to shoot a rifle or use an oar.

In Celebration of Blogger's About-Face

...some sexually explicit content.

Seriously. Don't watch that at work. :)

Good News For The Clinton Administration

The White House said the cleanup of FOIA regulations is consistent with court rulings that hold that the office is not subject to the transparency law. The office handles, among other things, White House record-keeping duties like the archiving of e-mails....

Unlike other offices within the White House, which were always exempt from the Freedom of Information Act, the Office of Administration responded to FOIA requests for 30 years. Until the Obama administration, watchdog groups on the left and the right used records from the office to shed light on how the White House works.
No more of that!

Premise Good, Conclusion Bad

Crooked Timber draws our attention to a new British law called "Prevent" that seems to impose serious restrictions on the kinds of political ideas you can advance in certain public spaces. There's some sort of exemption for institutions of higher education, since professionals might need to study dangerous ideas. However, they are still meant not merely to monitor but to "engage and consult students on compliance with their Prevent duty."

So, Grim Can Start Posting All That Sexually Explicit Content Again

An update on the Blogger porn content policy
This week, we announced a change to Blogger’s porn policy stating that blogs that distributed sexually explicit images or graphic nudity would be made private.
We’ve received lots of feedback about making a policy change that impacts longstanding blogs, and about the negative impact this could have on individuals who post sexually explicit content to express their identities.
We appreciate the feedback. Instead of making this change, we will be maintaining our existing policies.


It's not always clear what we mean by it:
That fossil fuels are finite is a red herring. The Atlantic Ocean is finite, but that does not mean that you risk bumping into France if you row out of a harbor in Maine. The buffalo of the American West were infinite, in the sense that they could breed, yet they came close to extinction. It is an ironic truth that no nonrenewable resource has ever run dry, while renewable resources—whales, cod, forests, passenger pigeons—have frequently done so.

Something Short and Sweet on a Monday Afternoon

H/t the Anchoress

Collective guilt for thee, not for me?

There was a piece to a National Review article that I saw on Ace's page that touched on the idea that the protesters and inciters in Ferguson have some level of culpability in the shooting of the two officers outside of police headquarters there.  And it's an article worthy of reading.  But I think both Ace and the author (Andrew McCarthy) missed a salient point.  While the usual suspects in Ferguson are complaining about being tarred with the brush of the shooter (just as they did with regards to the ambush assassination in New York City), they have no problem tarring all officers in those police departments with collective guilt.  We hear about "command climate" and "institutional racism" and all manner of reasons why the entire structure is corrupt.  And yet when someone from within their ranks (quite literally) shoots a cop, suddenly it's "bad actors" and "we had nothing to do with it".

So which is it?  Is everyone on both sides culpable for the actions of "bad actors" from within their ranks, or are we to judge individuals on their own merits and faults?  Because I have no stomach for the hypocrisy of either side claiming that they should be held to different standards.  Last time I checked, we have a system where everyone is equal before the law.

That "Unprecedented" Letter from the Republican Senators to Iran

Over the weekend, I had a liberal acquaintance link the following image on her Facebook:

And while I normally have a great deal of tolerance to publicly post ideas I disagree with, this one bothered me, specifically because I happen to know a bit of history about this very question.

You see, during the Carter Administration, the President (through his State Department) negotiated a treaty with the Soviets.  The name of this treaty was the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty II Treaty of 1979 (more commonly known by the acronym SALT II).  And, generally speaking, the treaty was pretty bad for the US.  It committed us to limitations in the very systems most feared by the Soviets, and in return they "promised" to limit the same classes of weapons (which they lacked the technology to duplicate on the scale we had).  Before ratification before the Senate occurred, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan.  So the Senate balked.  And in 1986, they flat out repudiated the treaty, and it was dead.

So, what would happen if 47 Senators told the "Russians" that they "shouldn't trust us" because we "wouldn't keep our end of the deal?"  Well, I don't know about the exact number of Senators that killed SALT II (but I do know that it was Democrats who held the majority in the Senate in 1986, so that should tell you how bad the deal was), so it may not have been 47.  And they didn't tell the "Russians" since it was actually the Soviet Union back then.  And as for "they shouldn't trust us" I think the author is saying that "we won't ratify this piece of dreck" is saying "not to trust us" because we "wouldn't keep our end of the deal", but if that's how the Iranian theocratic dictators want to take it, I don't really care.

So I basically summarized all this, linked to the details of the treaty and called it a day.  Strangely, no debate followed.  I guess pithy quips via image macro are only so clever when there's no competing history to refute them.

Yeoman Farmers

It used to be when a Kennedy would marry, we'd get a whole set of stories about how they were "American royalty," and this wedding was therefore somewhat like the marriage of prince so-and-so to some duchess or other.

Nobody anywhere thinks that about Dakota Meyer marrying Bristol Palin. Dakota Meyer has a better claim to the virtue of courage, at least, than any prince I can think of who has lived since the Hundred Years War; Palin is certainly from a family of high political connections among a certain political party. Yet I think it's fair to say that no one would mistake them for royalty.

Even better, no one would mistake them for people with aspirations toward being royalty. That's the real difference.

That no one would make the comparison might be a way in which some people look down on them as not being fit for membership in the aristocracy. That they would be horrified by the comparison says something about their own character. The something said is deeply American.

Good luck to a young couple. Marriage is hard, but it can be wonderful.

Why Our Enemies Are Doing Well

The answer is straightforward:

* Social insularity: Our leaders know fellow insiders around the world; our enemies know everyone else.

* The mandarin’s distaste for physicality: We are led through blood-smeared times by those who’ve never suffered a bloody nose.

* And last but not least, bad educations in our very best schools: Our leadership has been educated in chaste political theory, while our enemies know, firsthand, the stuff of life.


[W]hen new blood does enter — through those same “elite” institutions — it’s channeled into the same old calcium-clogged arteries. And we get generals with Ivy League Ph.D.s writing military doctrine that adheres cringingly to politically correct truisms and leaves out the very factors, such as the power of religion or ethnic hatred, that prove decisive. Or a usually astute commentator on Eastern European affairs who dismisses Vladimir Putin as a mere chinovnik, a petty bureaucrat, since Putin was only a lieutenant colonel in the KGB when the Soviet Union collapsed and didn’t go to a Swiss prep school like John Kerry.

That analyst overlooked the fact that Hitler had been a mere lance corporal. Stalin was a failed seminarian. Lenin was a destitute syphilitic. Ho Chi Minh washed dishes in the basement of a Paris Hotel. And when the French Revolution erupted, Napoleon was a junior artillery officer.
Certainly it's the weak and the poor who have the most interest in overturning any given system. But Peters, though not wrong, has only half the answer. The problem isn't just that the elite is both insular and so detached from the real world as to be largely immune to the pain their bad decisions cause. That's true, but it's not the whole truth.

The other half of the problem is the old problem of scale. We talk about this here often under the heading of Schumpeter's economic principle; it's more familiar to military science as the OODA loop. Our institutions are so large and so intricate in their approval chains that there's a huge advantage in terms of how fast a decision can be made and acted upon for streamlined organizations. Putin just issues orders, after all. ISIS isn't very big. USEUCOM or USCENTCOM has to socialize a plan among all their staff sections, who reach down to subordinate commands for input and then hash out a plan among themselves before they present it to their general. Most likely, he will need to push that plan up to the Pentagon if it represents a radical change to existing strategy. They have their own process before an answer comes back down, and the easiest answer is to push the suspense for the decision to the right while we ask a few more people. If the change requires a change from an interagency partner, their bureaucracies have to get involved too.

Even if the President were replaced with someone with new-blood ideas and the will to enact them, the bureaucracy would still have to go through at least a basic staffing process to ensure that it carried out the decisions in an orderly fashion. Because the bureaucrats are part of the existing order, there will be many who drag their feet or otherwise resist firm leadership (remember the CIA's campaign of leaks to the press about Bush's programs?).

In the absence of firm leadership from a President with such ideas, the system is almost too ossified to move at all. This is a real issue even for those leaders who are correctly motivated and trying to do the right thing.

What has to be done to address these challenges is to create a new way of responding to them -- one that isn't part of the bureaucracy, and that doesn't answer to it. A lot of the success of the special operations community comes from the fact that it operates on a much shorter chain. Were Congress to issue a letter of marque to a private organization tasked with fighting ISIS, that organization could act with Congressional authorization without any need to be directed by the State Department or the other executive bureaucracies at all.

It's absolutely true that we need new blood from outside of this elite, people who are more familiar with and in more direct contact with real life. We also need for them to be able to move fast and hard. They need to be able to make a call and make it happen with the same speed that our enemies can leverage. Otherwise, even our great strength and wealth will but little avail us.