A Local Monument

Cauliflower emerges from the shadows

It must be the paleo craze.  My bad luck:  just when I discovered that I really enjoy cauliflower cooked in some surprising new ways, the demand soars and the supply crashes.  What we need is price controls.

And That's That

The VPC-written assault weapons ban in Georgia is officially dead.
House Speaker David Ralston said Friday that legislation to ban assault weapons in Georgia will not become law on his watch.

“As long as I am speaker of this House, I will not use any of our valuable time taking away the constitutional rights of our citizens,” Ralston told reporters at an impromptu news conference, making the end of the first five days of the 40-day legislative session.

"Hillary Clinton Doesn't Trust You"

That is true in so many ways. Why did she ever decide to put up a personal email system? Because she didn't want her emails to become public records, which would allow the American public to judge her performance. Why did she invent the weird story that the Benghazi attacks were a spontaneous response to an internet video -- in an area where internet access is extremely spotty? Why did she work so hard to cover up her husband's sexual improprieties? Why, finally, is she apparently incapable of expressing herself to American voters without seeming like she's putting on a calibrated, artificial act?

Set all that aside. For now, let's talk about health care.
Hillary Clinton's campaign has spent the past few days indulging its worst instincts. It blundered into a dumb attack on Bernie Sanders, but rather than back down it raised the stakes. The result has been a reminder, to liberals, of what they like about Sanders and mistrust about Clinton.
This is the beginning, by the way, of a strongly pro-Clinton article. This is as good as it gets for her: an article headlined "Hillary Clinton Doesn't Trust You." You're supposed to realize by the end that you're the problem, and that you should do more to earn her trust. Maybe then she will quit lying to you, and start taking you in to her confidence about how she is going to organize your life.

Point, Counterpoint

It is true that by this definition, young people today are mostly not very cool. On the other hand, it may be that 'being cool' is something that a certain earlier generation or two significantly overvalued.

I mean, I don't think so. But maybe I'm just too old to appreciate the joy of singing along to whatever the current corporate-generated pop songs are, in a large crowd of people who are just like you in nearly every way (but "diverse!"). I never meet anyone who is just like me, and rarely meet anyone who is approximately like me. Maybe there's something to be said for the experience.

For Eric Blair

Best Insults from Ancient Rome.

I think the "still broke" one is the best, or at least the one for which I can think of the most applications today.

Um, Mr. Boot...

Max Boot offers a rather tendentious description of the choice facing Republican voters in foreign policy:
This, then, is the choice confronting Republican primary voters in 2016: Whether to continue the traditional, Reaganesque foreign policy that has been championed by every Republican presidential nominee for decades or to opt for a Jacksonian outlook that is as crude and ugly as it is beguiling....

[L]ong experience shows that America has been most successful in achieving its objectives in precisely those places—such as Germany, Japan, Italy, South Korea, Bosnia, and Kosovo—where it has kept troops for decades and fostered new regimes to replace the old. Occasionally, as in Grenada or Panama, the U.S. can achieve its objectives and pull out. But in numerous other instances, such as Haiti, Somalia, Lebanon, and Iraq, an overly hasty pullout has sacrificed whatever gains U.S. troops have sought to achieve.
Of the successes, Grenada is not 'Reaganesque' but actually Reagan's policy.

The close second of the successes is Panama, which his former Vice President did. So the two examples of 'occasional' successes of the Jacksonian type are the two most Reaganesque successful policies.

The commitment to long stays are all someone else's, whether successes or failures. Germany and Japan are Trumanesque, and were already long solidified by the time Reagan got there. South Korea is much the same. Bosnia and Kosovo are Bill Clinton's projects, well after Reagan had retired from the stage.

Among the failures, Clinton's were Haiti and Somalia. The Iraq pullout was Obama's decision.

Lebanon is the only one of the failures that can be laid at Reagan's door, and that mission was a United Nations force. Reagan withdrew at the same time as the French, who made up a strong component without which we'd have had to have committed forces much more heavily to a conflict in which our local allies were collapsing. If the argument is that we should have made an Iraq out of it, OK, but there's no reason to suggest that such a policy would have been "Reaganesque." What Reagan himself chose to do was the opposite.

Reagan himself took a Jacksonian approach in Grenada and won; his VP later became President and did the same thing in Panama, and won. Reagan took the internationalist approach favored by Bill Clinton in Lebanon and lost. Perhaps he could have won if he'd doubled down, but that isn't what he himself chose to do.

So the most obviously "Reaganesque" policy really is the Jacksonian policy. Reagan kept his Long, Twilight conflict cold, and used hot war only when victory could be had quickly or when there was a large international coalition backing the play. George H. W. Bush did the same thing -- Panama, but also the Gulf War with its huge international coalition. The other policies may be wise or foolish, but they aren't "Reaganesque."

Why Would Anyone Need a .50 Caliber Incendiary?

One of the weirder features of the Georgia bill -- the one that convinces me it was probably written by the VPC, and is just being farmed out to legislators around the country -- is its focus on '.50 caliber incendiary' rifles. That's a strange thing to be concerned about, given that the things have been used in almost no crimes. VPC has an extensive list of cases "involving" .50 cal rifles, but they're almost all cases in which the involvement is limited to the police having seized one pursuant to another investigation. There are only four cases in twenty years in which one may have been fired in a crime, and some of those are dodgy (e.g., the Branch Davidian case, in which suspiciously little evidence survived -- here's a Democratic Underground forum in which DU gun control advocates are convinced by the evidence that the rifles may not have existed).

Still, you can -- as they might well like to do -- turn the question around. OK, so maybe they're not a pressing threat in our city streets, but they are very powerful and could conceivably be used to do harm. Why would you need one?

FPS Russia is here to help you out.

That's a machinegun, of course, but a rifle would work better -- you could place your shots with care, so that very little of the firewood was destroyed. I suddenly realize how much this would streamline my firewood production cycle.  Too, it would allow me to drop the tree from an adequate distance that I could eliminate the risk of death from having the tree fall on me.  It's a lifesaving implement!

I've dropped trees that hung up while falling with a .30-30 before, but this is a whole new concept!

BLM & Reckless Burning

A video from the protesters out West showing BLM agents burning fires that destroyed summer feed, cattle, and the homes of ranchers. Now, this is taken from the perspective of the protest movement, so of course it shows what things look like from their side. Still, you can see them burning a family's house down through reckless fire-setting. You can see the burns on the cattle.

It may be that there's more to this case than the charges against an individual family -- or the questionable tactics of the group that is protesting in Oregon. This starts to look like a much bigger deal that needs attention.

UPDATE:  Local Fire Chief resigns, supports the armed protest.
The Harney County fire chief resigned Wednesday because he says he no longer trusts the local government. Chris Briels stood next Ammon Bundy, the leader of an armed group that has taken over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Burns, and announced he had turned in his resignation to county Judge Steve Grasty.

Briels accused the Bureau of Land Management of land grabbing and supports the effort to hand over the land to ranchers, but he also feels betrayed by Grasty and other members of the county government, a first sign of fracture among local leaders.
Sounds like the Fire Chief has some beefs of his own with the BLM.

UPDATE: Fire chief says he caught FBI agents masquerading as militia and harassing locals to make the militia look bad.

UPDATE: The Pacific Patriots Network, an organization of III% and militia in the northwest, sent a team a while ago to try to negotiate a settlement between the Oregon protesters and the Feds. They've made a proposal that would be hard for the NYT wing to sneeze at:
Carrying guns, they presented a resolution to the FBI and local law enforcement calling for the return of land to the people of Harney County—and surprisingly, recommended co-management with the Burns Paiute Tribe.

Burns Paiute tribal chairperson Charlotte Roderique has stated to the media her irritation with Bundy and his “militia” supporters goal of “giving back the land to ranchers.” “It’s been validated we’ve been here since 15,000 years ago,” she told ICTMN. “These people are ignorant of the history and that they don’t think about the statements they are making. They are misinformed.”... In light of this [proposal], Roderique says, “we are not adverse to a land transfer however, it’s not something that you would just do. There would have to be financial arrangements made. Accommodations for people who work there. We’d be interested in co-managing the refuge to protect our sites out there.”
So, that's a "yes," plus an opening position for further negotiations.

Swinging For The Fences

Six female Democrats from urban districts here in Georgia have introduced a new gun control bill, as expected. What I didn't expect was that they'd go whole hog to this degree: the bill would, I estimate, convert something like a majority of Georgia families into felons.

This is because the define their terms in such a way as to make felonies out of the possession of the most commonly owned rifles, and magazines of the standard size that come with the most commonly owned handguns. Indeed, even magazines that 'can be converted' to hold more than ten rounds are felonies to possess. Not every family in Georgia owns firearms, but I'd guess that half or so do, and most of them will fall under the proposed ban. Which, by the way, would forbid you from selling the guns you own -- you'd have to surrender them, if I read it correctly, or be a felon.

(But the President isn't trying to take your guns! That's just paranoia talking!)

I'll keep an eye on it, but frankly, I don't think it'll even get a vote before a single house. It's totally out of order with the state of Georgia.

DuffelBlog: Navy Downgraded to "Regional Force For Good"

[T]he contentious “catch and release” of 10 Navy sailors in Iranian waters prompted a rapid decision on it.... “We thought about playing it off as a stunt raising awareness for the ‘Hands Up Don’t Shoot’ initiative,” a Navy public affairs official admitted, “but ultimately we decided to just pull a Blackwater and re-brand instead.”


Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus revealed another spin during a press conference, remarking that “this historic event with Iran proves that women can be prisoners of war just as well as men can. I look to the Marine Corps to emulate this shining example.”
The administration and its allies have been particularly disgraceful in the last 24 hours.

By the way, it's not quite true that there's no difference in how men and women were treated as prisoners of war. You can easily spot the female American sailor in these pictures because she was forced to cover her hair.

The Hell You Say

State of the Union:
In today’s world, we’re threatened less by evil empires and more by failing states. The Middle East is going through a transformation that will play out for a generation, rooted in conflicts that date back millennia.
No way! I heard Vox say just yesterday that George W. Bush caused all that Sunni/Shia stuff.

By the way, the site hosting the transcript of tonight's SOTU? Vox.

I don't really care what the man has to say after seven years. Facta non verba, or, if you like, 'Your actions speak so loudly I can't hear what you are trying to say.'

Music For The Wasteland

The current hit video game Fallout 4 carries forward its series' conceit of a future post-nuclear America that longs for its civilizational apogee. One of the ways in which this is displayed is an affection for mid-century American music, which are broadcast on wasteland radio stations (an innovation in Fallout 3, but the affection was there from the very beginning: the introductory music to the original, way back in the 1990s, set the tone).

Two of the songs chosen for this version are of interest given the "Game Gate" event that was ongoing while Fallout 4 was in construction. The designers were burned a little bit by the "Gamer Gate" flame wars, as when they released their trailer they took some flak for having defaulted to a male character. In fact, as with all of their recent stuff, you can play male or female characters without any difference -- both are not only equally capable, they are treated as exactly the same in terms of the way their stats work. The series makes no distinction between straight and gay relationships, either: all characters who are 'romanceable' are just as willing to go with a guy as a girl. Both of these conceits are extremely unrealistic, but you'd have thought they'd have satisfied the radicals that Bethesda was on their side. Not quite!

In any case, of the many songs they pulled from America's musical history for their wasteland radio, two deal with women's frustrations against men. Both of them happen to represent a significant improvement over the way male/female frustrations often express themselves today.

I like this one even better:

Maybe a subtle comment from the game designers: none of this stuff is new, but we used to be able to recognize that members of the opposite sex are both occasionally infuriating and also wonderful. You can't expect to fix the underlying tensions, and sometimes you may need to shout about it, but in the end we go together.

News blackout officially over

When it was Muslim refugees terrorizing Germans on the street, it took days for the story to come out, and then only when the social media buzz got too loud to ignore.  That problem's all fixed, now, since "right-wingers" are now loose in public.  Reuters is all over it now, with Tuesday-morning reports of Monday-night outrages.

Forty Days and Forty Nights

The Georgia Legislature is back in session. An attractive feature of our system is that it can only convene for 40 days a year. They can run 24 hours a day if they want, or they can convene for one hour in the afternoon, but they can only convene on forty days a year. The rest of the time, they have to leave us alone.

This is the second of a two-year session, so bills that didn't make it during the last 40 days can be brought up again this year. Of these, the most important is Georgia's Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Its importance can be seen in the fact that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution insists on referring to "religious liberty" in scare quotes, not just in editorials but in its news stories as well.

The bill is of course opposed by all right-thinking people, including the Republican Governor, the Republican speaker of the house, major Georgia corporations such as Coca-Cola, the newspaper, the entire Democratic party as far as I can tell, and a large swathe of the Republican party that is aligned with Atlanta instead of the rest of the state. It is just for that reason it is needed: the current environment is hostile to traditional religious liberty exercises by a large plurality, perhaps even a majority, of Georgia's citizens. They're unfashionable Christians it's true, including many evangelicals. Their expressions of these liberties are often though ugly by those right-thinking folks. Still, their rights are their rights, and the courts are plainly in need of instruction on how important those rights happen to be. The fact that there's such a unity of opinion among the powerful that is dismissive of their traditional rights is a very good reason to toughen legal protections for those rights.

The rest of the big-ticket items are shockingly libertine for Georgia: medical marijuana, alcohol brewery liberalization, legalizing casinos, clarifying online gambling laws to make it easier to engage in Fantasy Football, and of course efforts to increase social spending on transportation and public health care.

It's not the state I grew up in, to be sure. No gun control bills on the horizon so far, although that's sure to change.

Get Out, Vox

I was reading Vox's "explainer" on the Saudi-Iran feud. It's only half bad for the first part, and much of my disagreements with it for that first part are about the interpretation of the facts rather than the facts themselves. Then they get to this:
There is indeed a religious division between Sunni and Shia Islam, going back to the first generations of the religion's founding in the seventh century. You can read about those ancient religious differences and how they opened here, but the truth is that this is not terribly relevant to today's violence.

Sunni and Shia have gotten along fine for much of the Middle East's history, and the Sunni-Shia divide was just not so important for the region's politics. In the 1980s, for example, the biggest conflict in the Middle East was between two Shia-majority countries — Iran and Iraq — with Sunni powers backing Iraq.

That changed in 2003, when the United States led the invasion of Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein.
You're trying to blame the Sunni/Shia feud on George W. Bush? Are you kidding me with this nonsense?

That throwaway line about Iraq being a 'Shia-majority country' in the 1980s is intended to suggest that maybe Iraq was some sort of Shi'a democracy. In fact the whole power structure was based on Sunni domination of the Shi'ites. Saddam represented a minority that ruled over a majority it feared. The intense brutality of Saddam's regime is all about the Sunni/Shia feud. His war against Iran is explicable in part because of Iran's attempts to establish and promote radical Shi'a groups that would back its own sectarian revolution. Saddam had a feud with Iran for the same reason Saudi Arabia does: because Iran is trying to export its revolution across the Middle East, using this very Sunni/Shia divide as a rallying cry.

In 2003, I attended a briefing by Physicians for Human Rights, which had accompanied British forces in the south of Iraq during and after the invasion. They had interviewed families in these heavily Shi'a regions to learn about the human rights abuses Saddam used in those areas. They reported that one in three of the households they met with had a family member who had been disappeared by the regime. This repression of Shi'ites was intense and ongoing, and in fact had gotten worse in the years running up to the war.

I think Saudi Arabia is winning, currently. Partially I think Foreign Policy is right that the oil war they're starting is going to play to their strengths against Iran's weakness. They've also managed to bring Pakistan -- the only current Islamic nuclear power -- in on their side diplomatically. Iran will have to weigh that carefully in terms of further escalations, whereas Saudi Arabia wins if it can de-escalate the crisis into a cold war fought with oil prices.

Nevertheless, the Kingdom is playing a weaker-than-expected position because the United States has suddenly changed sides. Maintaining the illusion of the "Iran deal" is so important to the Obama administration that it's ignoring Saudi Arabia's explicit call for the United States to help de-escalate the situation. The Pakistanis got asked after we ignored the invitation to play the role of big dog.

The solution to North Korea

According to Theodore Dalrymple:
The North Korean regime is all-or-nothing. You can’t worship Kim Il Sung (President for Eternity) just a little. The leaders are either in power or they are dead. Neither of its immediate neighbors wants the regime to collapse, fearing a flood of starving refugees more than they fear an all-out attack. It is difficult to know what the best policy toward such a state should be, Seoul being only an artillery barrage away from it.
Perhaps we should offer the 1,000 highest people in the hierarchy (and their families) a golden asylum in Estoril, Rome, and France in general—the resorts of deposed European monarchs such as King Zog of Albania—and promise China and South Korea to share out evenly whatever refugees the collapse of the regime would result in. The Koreans are just the kind of immigrants Europe needs: hardworking, docile, intelligent, capable, and probably immunized against ideology by their long experience of it. They would be bewildered at first, but would soon find their feet and become an asset to their new countries.

And Who's Going to Enforce This Curfew?

“What real impact would a curfew have?” you might ask. Certainly it would send the message that we are taking men’s behaviour seriously and that it is no longer acceptable. Certainly it would allow women to move about more safely at night — on campus, in their homes, at bars, at the bus stop. Certainly it would name the problem. It would say, unequivocally, “The problem is you, men. You are the problem, and therefore, it is you who must be stopped.”

Think of it as a mass grounding for men.
After a designated period of time, we’ll allow them back on the streets after dark to see how it goes. If the sexual assaults and harassment continue, well, it’s back to the curfew.

I mean, really, they asked for it.
The writer is from Canada, where perhaps men might accept 'being grounded' without complaint (or even, it being Canada, with apology).  Good luck enforcing such a curfew on American men.

Also, by the way, what happens if the men who refuse the curfew in Canada are the same demographic who caused the problems in Germany? Canada has just made a big deal about accepting a bunch of them. They allegedly sang them a song that was sung to Mohammad right before he killed a bunch of Jews in the town that accepted him.
The idea of the song is that it is being sung to welcome Mohammed to Medina after he fled Mecca. So it is a song about migration. Except that after Medina welcomed Mohammed -- the first Muslim refugee, you might say -- he killed all the Jewish men and enslaved the women.
Well, then, I guess the song is on point! But instead of directing concern in that direction, let's 'ground' Canadian men, so they won't be around to help when the issue of this policy comes to the fore.  Who else might be there to help, if the Canadian men did accept the curfew?  Who would be there to enforce the curfew on those non-Canadian men who refuse it?

It's the virus in the wild. They really can't see it.

The Twelve Battles of Arthur

Cattle raids, a historian suggests.
King Arthur’s legendary battles were fought over food for his people - not land or gold - after a volcanic eruption caused a global famine 1,500 years ago, a Celtic history expert has claimed. Andrew Breeze said a massive volcano eruption in El Salvador in 535 AD spread ash into the atmosphere, obscured the sun and ruined harvests - meaning that Britons were left starving. The British academic claims Arthur’s mission was actually to rustle cattle from neighbouring tribes in Scotland, and he became a hero for helping the people of Strathclyde survive a famine.
There's a small problem with this hypothesis as a complete explanation, which has to do with the reality of the Saxon migration. Evidence from graves shows that there was one, and that it reversed during a specific period around the time associated with any historical Arthur.

Still, it might be a partial explanation for some of what went on.

Prison '16 Update: No Obama Endorsement for Hillary Clinton

Not in the primary, at least.

UPDATE:  FBI expands its inquiry into Clinton Foundation corruption.
One intelligence source told Fox News that FBI agents would be “screaming” if a prosecution is not pursued because “many previous public corruption cases have been made and successfully prosecuted with much less evidence than what is emerging in this investigation.”...

[I]n the Clinton case, the number of classified emails has risen to at least 1,340. A 2015 appeal by the State Department to challenge the “Top Secret” classification of at least two emails failed and, as Fox News first reported, is now considered a settled matter.


Fox News is told that about 100 special agents assigned to the investigations also were asked to sign non-disclosure agreements, with as many as 50 additional agents on “temporary duty assignment,” or TDY. The request to sign a new NDA could reflect that agents are handling the highly classified material in the emails[.]

Oh, Come Off It

I understand that the rhetorical point here is that American conservatives are all horrid racists, but this is nonsense.
Seven years into the Obama presidency the right feels the same way about President Obama as I would if I woke up tomorrow and a talking horse were president. I'd be like, "Seriously? This horse is the president? Well, that just doesn't make any sense. Lemme see that horse's papers. I know I saw them before, but I just want to see them one more time."

The big difference between me and the right is that after seven years of the Mr. Ed presidency I think I would start to settle in and believe it was true. But to the loudest members of the GOP, something still doesn't feel right about this Obama character being President. So they can't trust anything that comes out of his mouth.
You know what else the President said? He said that if you liked your plan, you could keep it.

The President also said that he did not have sex with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.

The President also said "Read my lips, no new taxes."

Treating Barack Obama's word as suspect isn't to treat Obama as a suspicious figure somehow holding the noble office of the Presidency. It's to treat him exactly as Presidents have shown for decades that they ought to be treated. To question whether he's lying to you is to treat him exactly as you would treat a President if you are a free citizen and want to remain one.
And let me be clear about something else, gun owners. I want President Obama to want to take your guns away. I don't trust you with your guns.
Duly noted.