The High Water Mark

Here is a sixteen-year-old German girl who has the courage to tell the world, and her government, what she thinks about the migrant policy. Specifically, she is terrified.

Listening to it shortly after reading Mark Steyn's piece (hat tip D29), I have to wonder if she will be the last generation of German girls who feel free to speak in public on this subject.
The German Chancellor cut to the chase and imported in twelve months 1.1 million Muslim "refugees". That doesn't sound an awful lot out of 80 million Germans, but, in fact, the 1.1 million Muslim are overwhelmingly (80 per cent plus) fit, virile, young men. Germany has fewer than ten million people in the same population cohort, among whom Muslims are already over-represented: the median age of Germans as a whole is 46, the median age of German Muslims is 34. But let's keep the numbers simple, and assume that of those ten million young Germans half of them are ethnic German males. Frau Merkel is still planning to bring in another million "refugees" this year. So by the end of 2016 she will have imported a population equivalent to 40 per cent of Germany's existing young male cohort.
This girl may live to see a very different Germany than the one that made her believe that she could express her views about the men who frighten her for the world to see. One wonders what that Germany will do to her.

Common Ground: Sources

We spend a lot of time in the Hall arguing with each other, and that's good. I've learned a lot that way and enjoyed the back and forth. However, occasionally I get into an argument where, by the end of it, I feel like I understand my interlocutor less than when I started.

So, for a few posts, I'd like to focus on finding and establishing some common ground. For this first one, I'd like to talk about the sources of our beliefs. I assume everyone has been influenced by their experiences, but those are not easily shared. Hence, I'd like to focus on books, essays, articles, movies, songs, anything we can link to or directly share in some way.

For me, John Locke's Second Treatise of Civil Government has been influential, and the basic ideas of natural rights and social contract are very appealing to me. Embarrassingly, I have to admit I've never read the whole thing, only summaries and commentaries. However, it's not terribly long, so I've made reading it one of my goals for the spring. Wikipedia has a decent treatment, I think.

Another important influence has been Frederic Bastiat's The Law. It's a short read, and the bumper sticker summary might be something like "All Government Is Violence: Vote for Less." ("Vote for the minimum necessary" would be more accurate, but that's getting too long to fit on a bumper sticker readable by anyone but the worst tailgater.)

Finally, Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, which I read a couple of decades ago and should read again. Two much more recent books that have influenced me are Milton Friedman and Anna Jacobson Schwartz's A Monetary History of the United States (summarized here on Wikipedia) and Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson.

Yeah, it's mostly old stuff. I am an ex-Progressive; there came a point now about 15-20 years ago where I decided I was no longer a Progressive, but didn't know what I was. (I still haven't quite worked that out.) I did admire the Declaration of Independence, so I started with the Revolutionary period and started reading. Those ideas still make the most sense to me.

What have been some important sources of your political beliefs?



Big dad points

I want one.

The perils of pot

It has been known to cause just a trace of paranoia.  The dispatcher kept a straight face.

The late unpleasantness

My sister put this together, so all the references to relatives are the same for me:


These are my great-great grandfather (from my mother's Yankee side of the family), Asa Gates White, born 1817, and his third wife, a spinster schoolteacher named Martha Bush Keyes, born 1826.  The Keyes and White families were friends.  Like Asa, Martha was born in Morgan County, Ohio, and later moved to Wabaunsee, Kansas.  Wabaunsee was founded by Congregationalist abolitionists from the East just after the Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed in 1854.  Its schools, where Martha taught, are noteworthy for having always been integrated, 100 years before Brown vs. Board of Education.  Later, Asa and Martha moved to San Diego, while Asa's children stayed in Kansas.

My grandfather, Harlow Ferguson, was Asa Gates White's grandson.  In 1891, when Harlow was six years old, he and his older sister Bernice were orphaned in Kansas, and their grandfather Asa died a month later in San Diego.  Asa's widow Martha was left responsible for the orphans' care, but whether because she barely knew them or because she lived at such a daunting distance, she did not send for them to California. Instead, Harlow was sent to live with a schoolteacher in Wabaunsee, presumably a family friend of Martha.  In later years he hired out to a number of different families as a farmhand.  He never again saw his sister Bernice or left Kansas.  Bernice, though a protestant, was sent to a Catholic orphanage to live; we have no further news of her.

The White family traces its origins back to Elder John White, a Puritan and one of the founders of Cambridge, Mass.  Asa Gates White served the Union Army in Company K, 6th Iowa Cavalry, from 1862-1865.  My father's family, on the other hand, the Kilpatricks, were completely Southern, having emigrated to Virginia in the 18th century from Ulster, and then spread through the South along with the cotton culture.  All able adult Kilpatrick males (too many to list, but including two great-grandfathers) fought for the Confederacy.  Only when both my parents ended up in graduate school in 1944 at Berkeley did the Northern family join with the Southern.  Eighty years before, their ancestors had been fighting each other, sometimes in the same battle, opposite sides.

Maybe Not

The Marine Corps Times suggests that vets should pursue 'more secure' gun laws.

Maybe. Whose security? What is being secured? What is being secured? Liberty, or something else?


How this election is about an argument between Woody Guthrie and Donald Trump's dad.

Jacksonians, or Authoritarians?

In contrast to Walter Russell Mead's ideas about Jacksonians, a fellow named Matthew MacWilliams, Ph.D. student in political science at U. Mass. Amherst and presumably future expert on authoritarianism, has a very different take on Trump's supporters. He claims that he has found one variable that predicts an individual's support for the Donald:

... Trump’s electoral strength—and his staying power—have been buoyed, above all, by Americans with authoritarian inclinations. And because of the prevalence of authoritarians in the American electorate, among Democrats as well as Republicans, it’s very possible that Trump’s fan base will continue to grow....
Authoritarianism is not a new, untested concept in the American electorate. Since the rise of Nazi Germany, it has been one of the most widely studied ideas in social science. While its causes are still debated, the political behavior of authoritarians is not. Authoritarians obey. They rally to and follow strong leaders. And they respond aggressively to outsiders, especially when they feel threatened. From pledging to “make America great again” by building a wall on the border to promising to close mosques and ban Muslims from visiting the United States, Trump is playing directly to authoritarian inclinations.

Not all authoritarians are Republicans by any means; in national surveys since 1992, many authoritarians have also self-identified as independents and Democrats. And in the 2008 Democratic primary, the political scientist Marc Hetherington found that authoritarianism mattered more than income, ideology, gender, age and education in predicting whether voters preferred Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama. But Hetherington has also found, based on 14 years of polling, that authoritarians have steadily moved from the Democratic to the Republican Party over time. He hypothesizes that the trend began decades ago, as Democrats embraced civil rights, gay rights, employment protections and other political positions valuing freedom and equality. In my poll results, authoritarianism was not a statistically significant factor in the Democratic primary race, at least not so far, but it does appear to be playing an important role on the Republican side. Indeed, 49 percent of likely Republican primary voters I surveyed score in the top quarter of the authoritarian scale—more than twice as many as Democratic voters.

And how does one determine how authoritarian an individual is?

In addition to the typical battery of demographic, horse race, thermometer-scale and policy questions, my poll asked a set of four simple survey questions that political scientists have employed since 1992 to measure inclination toward authoritarianism. These questions pertain to child-rearing: whether it is more important for the voter to have a child who is respectful or independent; obedient or self-reliant; well-behaved or considerate; and well-mannered or curious. Respondents who pick the first option in each of these questions are strongly authoritarian.

Based on these questions, Trump was the only candidate—Republican or Democrat—whose support among authoritarians was statistically significant.

MacWilliams points out other demographics Trump could appeal to and then states:

So, those who say a Trump presidency “can’t happen here” should check their conventional wisdom at the door. The candidate has confounded conventional expectations this primary season because those expectations are based on an oversimplified caricature of the electorate in general and his supporters in particular. Conditions are ripe for an authoritarian leader to emerge. Trump is seizing the opportunity. And the institutions—from the Republican Party to the press—that are supposed to guard against what James Madison called “the infection of violent passions” among the people have either been cowed by Trump’s bluster or are asleep on the job.

So the question of why Trump is doing so well is a hot one, it seems. MacWilliams is obviously excited about his discovery, and it is interesting. Still, the social sciences are overwhelmingly neo-Marxists of one flavor or another, I hear, and I wonder if this 4-question test doesn't indicate something besides what they claim.

For example, looking at the questions, instead of authoritarians, might we call them rule-abiding citizens? They believe not only that they should abide by the laws, but that their politicians should as well. Maybe instead of moving to the Republican Party "as Democrats embraced civil rights, gay rights, employment protections and other political positions valuing freedom and equality," they moved because the Democrats increasingly embraced a lawless, anti-democratic, authoritarian, even elitist, ruling style.

I don't know, really. It's just a very interesting contrast with Mead's analysis.

Searcy fix

Now that "Justified" is over, I'm missing Nick Searcy:
Said @jaketapper to @HillaryClinton, "Will you see '13Hours'?" Hillary: "Nah, I already slept through it once."

The Nature of Representation

How should we choose a particular representative to vote for, and how should representatives do their jobs?

For the first time in my life there is a candidate that I closely identify with as a human being, and that makes me ask, what is the proper way to think of representation? If I voted for someone just because he would best represent me as an individual, it would be Ben Carson. But I know he probably isn't the best candidate for the nation.

So how should we vote? Should we choose the best representative for us as individuals, or the best representative for the nation?

On a related note, Eric Hines and I got into the question of how representatives should do their jobs in a discussion about Cruz. He pointed out that senators represent states, and the representatives of one state are not beholden to the voters in another. However, this brought up another question for me: Should a senator do what is best for his state or, if there is a conflict, what is best for the nation?

A Canadian Jacksonian

The Party Pulls Together

DWS: Hey, I've been thinking, and maybe we do need one more debate right before Iowa -- and prime time, too!

Biden: Hey, I've been thinking, and you know socialism is a real problem.

They're getting nervous.

Nobody Really Disagrees With This, Right?

Former New York City Mayor and U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani said Wednesday he doesn't think there is any way Hillary Clinton should be able to avoid facing an indictment for the "secretive and highly classified" government information found on the private email server she used while secretary of state.

"[There are] 13 violations of federal law that she arguably committed," Giuliani [said]... "They treated it — in the case of Petraeus — as a major crime, and his actions are a hundredth of hers," said Giuliani. "She misrepresented about it. She's lied about it. She said she had no top secret material. It's absurd."

And as Clinton "destroyed 34,000 emails," Giuliani said that he would have argued, as a prosecutor, "that's evidence of a guilty knowledge . . . the destruction is evidence of guilty knowledge, evidentiary principle that you can use against someone when they're in a situation where who knows what's on those 34,000 e-mails."
If you have been following the story at all, surely you can't dispute any of that. Her survival as a viable political candidate depends on the fact that so few really believe that our system of law can work to hold her to account. If she rides that long enough to get elected, it'll be another four years of Attorneys General who won't enforce the law on her, or her allies.

What would that do to the country? Can anyone be so unpatriotic as to consider electing her given that?

A Giant in Pakistan

A chemistry lecturer known as 'The Protector' died saving his students by firing back at Taliban militants during a deadly attack on their university that left 30 dead and dozens injured today. Gunmen stormed the Bacha Khan University in Pakistan in an assault that echoed a horrifying Taliban massacre on a nearby army-run school and previous attacks against girls' education, notably the failed assassination attempt of Malala Yusufzai in 2012 in the same province....

The father-of-two opened fire, giving them time to flee before he was cut down by gunfire as male and female students ran for their lives. He was known to his pupils as 'The Protector' because he was a keen hunter and kept a 9mm pistol at school, possibly in light of previous militant attacks.

The Purge Continues

Oxford Students Union votes to remove statue of Cecil Rhodes in order to shame him and itself over the colonial past.

Winter Storm State of Emergency

I assume Grim's Hall readers are quite adequate to the task, but for what it's worth, Governor Deal has just declared a state of emergency.

What About Subversion?

Michael Rubin at Commentary asks why we allow immigrants (especially, in this case, from Iran) to remain in the United States if they betray their new citizenship by acting as subversives for Iran? It's not a new problem. During the Cold War the Communists had a very active program to infiltrate the United States with subversives. Much subversion is protected First Amendment activity. You can say what you want, print what you want, organize for the purpose of effecting political change, and in the case of Iran's revolution, your freedom of religion entitles you to adhere to revolutionary Shi'a Islam if you want. You can advocate for the non-violent transition of the United States to a Communist country, or to an Islamic one.

We don't have a good answer, and I doubt we're going to develop one given that we never did before. Protecting our liberties is generally accepted as more important than protecting ourselves from subversive acts by immigrants. Besides, why get worked up about native Iranians who advocate for Iran when you have Vox and the New York Times?

UPDATE: None of the freed Iranians in the 'prisoner swap' elected to go home to Iran.

No More Ethanol!

Them's fighting words, Trump.

I am tired of losing small engines to E10 gasoline, and E15 gasoline can't even be run in motorcycle engines safely. I am also tired of having to drive out of my way and pay a premium for non-ethanol gasolines, when every station in America could just as readily stock them.

With the Iran-Saudi oil war ongoing, oil prices are going to collapse to levels that could be destabilizing, especially in Latin America. Let's go back to pure gasoline. No more corn in my tank.

Maybe He Was A Lumberjack In His Spare Time

Mexican drug lord 'El Chapo' had one of those scary .50 caliber rifles -- one he obtained through President Obama's "Fast and Furious" program.

Via Instapundit, a reminder that the ATF wanted to use their avoidance of American gun control regulations in "Fast and Furious" as a pretext to push for more gun control regulations. Criminals don't obey the law, and it appears Federal agencies don't either.

Nobody's 'Too Big To Jail,' You Know

The headlines describing this as 'Beyond TOP SECRET' are not quite right -- Special Access Programs are technically "TOP SECRET" programs, but there are then further restrictions on access. That's actually not unusual for military programs: we already knew she had TS/SCI data in her emails, and SCI represents a TOP SECRET level of information that is further compartmentalized. In fact, the disagreements about whether SCIs are SAPs is sufficient that I'm not clear on whether this is even new information: the IG report may simply be acknowledging the two TS/SCI emails we already knew about, although FOX News says that is not the case.

In any case, it's big money. If it's additional to the two emails we already knew about, it's huge. If it's a confirmation that the IG considers those two emails to be TS/SAP, it's still really big because it confirms she violated security with incredible recklessness. Violated it for, let us remember, mere personal convenience and to shield herself from being subject to the ordinary public scrutiny that American officials lawfully owe to American citizens.

Radio Derb on "Spree Killings"

John Derbyshire, who has occasionally published books on math in addition to becoming a social pariah, works out the numbers.
Spree killings are anyway only a tiny proportion of gun deaths. There are about 30,000 gun deaths a year in the U.S.A., two-thirds of them suicides. Of the ten thousand or so that aren't suicides, spree killings are a fraction of one percent. If you add up the spree killings for 2015, for example, there were 3 in Chapel Hill in February, 9 in Charleston in June, 2 in Lafayette in July, and 14 in San Bernadino in December; total 28. Out of 30,000.
Round it to thirty, and you've got an easy figure: one in a thousand.

W. R. Mead on Jacksonians

This is a powerful essay.
For President Barack Obama and his political allies in particular, Jacksonian America is the father of all evils. Jacksonians are who the then Senator had in mind when, in the campaign of 2008, he spoke of the ‘bitter clingers’ holding on to their guns and their Bibles. They are the source of the foreign policy instincts he most deplores, supporting Israel almost reflexively, demanding overwhelming response to terror attacks, agitating for tight immigration controls, resisting diplomacy with Iran and North Korea, supporting Guantanamo, cynical about the UN, skeptical of climate change, and willing to use ‘enhanced interrogation’ against terrorists in arms against the United States.

He hates their instincts at home, too. It is Jacksonians who, as I wrote in Special Providence back in 2001, see the Second Amendment as the foundation of and security for American freedom. It is Jacksonians who most resent illegal immigration, don’t want to subsidize the urban poor, support aggressive policing and long prison sentences for violent offenders and who are the slowest to ‘evolve’ on issues like gay marriage and transgender rights.

The hate and the disdain don’t spring from anything as trivial as pique. Historically, Jacksonian America has been the enemy of many of what President Obama, rightly, sees as some of America’s most important advances. Jacksonian sentiment embraces a concept of the United States as a folk community and, over time, that folk community was generally construed as whites only. Lynch law and Jim Crow were manifestations of Jacksonian communalism, and there are few examples of race, religious or ethnic prejudice in which Jacksonian America hasn’t indulged. Jacksonians have come a long way on race, but they will never move far enough and fast enough for liberal opinion; liberals are moving too, and are becoming angrier and more exacting regardless of Jacksonian progress.

Just as bad, in the view of the President and his allies, Jacksonians don’t have much respect for the educated and the credentialed. Like William F. Buckley, they would rather be governed by the first 100 names in the phonebook than by the Harvard faculty. They loathe the interfering busybodies of the progressive state, believe that government (except for the police and the military) is a necessary evil, think most ‘experts’ and university professors are no smarter or wiser than other people. and feel only contempt for the gender theorists and the social justice warriors of the contemporary classroom.

Virtually everything about progressive politics today is about liquidating the Jacksonian influence in American life. From immigration policy, touted as ending the era when American whites were the population of the United States, to gun policy and to regulatory policy, President Obama and his coalition aim to crush what Jacksonians love, empower what they fear, and exalt what they hate....

There’s another obstacle in the face of a Jacksonian rising: Jacksonians have been hard hit by the changes in the American economy. The secure working class wages that underpinned two generations of rising affluence for the white (and minority) industrial working class have disappeared. That isn’t just about money; the coherence of Jacksonian communities and family life has been seriously impaired. These are the points Charles Murray makes in his harrowing Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010; they have been recently reinforced by studies documenting a holocaust of lower and lower middle class whites.

These devastating changes, utterly ignored by an upper middle class intellectual and cultural establishment that not so secretly hopes for a demographic change in America that will finally marginalize uncredentialed white people once and for all, make Jacksonians angry and frustrated, but they also make it harder to develop an organized political strategy in response to some of the worst and most dangerous conditions faced by any major American demographic group today....

Jacksonian America is rousing itself to fight for its identity, its culture and its primacy in a country that it believes it should own. Its cultural values have been traduced, its economic interests disregarded, and its future as the center of gravity of American political life is under attack. Overseas, it sees traditional rivals like Russia, China, North Korea and Iran making headway against a President that it distrusts; more troubling still, in ISIS and jihadi terror it sees the rapid spread of a movement aiming at the mass murder of Americans. Jacksonian America has lost all confidence in the will or the ability of the political establishment to fight the threats it sees abroad and at home. It wants what it has always wanted: to take its future into its own hands.
Working out how to make that happen is the real problem. The Trump candidacy is at best a mask. Donald Trump is not really a Jacksonian: he is a Trumpist. Jim Webb was a Jacksonian. I am, apparently. Trump is not, and offers no actual hope of making real the promise of genuine self-government.

The governor of Texas has a program that sounds as if it might work, by limiting Federal power and thus empowering the states in a way that, where majorities do exist, the people can 'take their future into their own hands.' If not that, still stronger medicine seems the only answer.

Nemesis Approaches

Nemesis... was the spirit of divine retribution against those who succumb to hubris (arrogance before the gods). Another name was Adrasteia, meaning "the inescapable".
Can you feel her coming through the chilling winter air?
The declaration came as an add-on to anti-Wall Street rhetoric she deployed in response to attacks on her acceptance of vast monies from Wall Street:

"There should be no bank too big to fail and no individual too big to jail."

Even worse, her campaign tweeted the aphorism...
"There should be no bank too big to fail and no individual too big to jail." —Hillary #DemDebate

— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) January 18, 2016

Thoughts on the US Navy/IRGC debacle

Note: these are my thoughts alone and reflect no one else's opinion outside of the voices that live in my head.

It Is An Important Question

"Will Hillary Clinton get prosecuted?" is most searched question on Google ahead of the Democratic debate on Sunday night. "Will Hillary Clinton win the nomination?" is second and "What did Hillary Clinton do that is illegal?" is the third.

Good Point

[T]he problem with this assumption [that Muslims are inferior] is contained in this Polish joke my cousin Tony Zbrowskis told me 50 years ago. But first, do you speak Polish?


How does it feel to be dumber than a Pollack?

And so it goes with Arab Muslims and the Muslims. They speak our language, we do not speak theirs. They have their own alphabet and unlike the Cyrillic alphabet, it is not easily translated into the Western alphabet. Arab Muslims come here not as poor people looking for an opportunity to reach the upper class through hard work, but as students and the like from upper crust families. They study us. They know us. They speak our language and know are culture. They study our government. They do not seek to assimilate. Why would they? We are decadent.
The author goes on to state that liberals think they can use Muslims to further the liberal agenda, but that Muslims will use them instead. I'm not sure he rightly captures the spirit of the thing. The Marxist binary continues to animate the Left in our society, but it is now several binaries of oppression and domination: rich/worker, male/female, white/black, colonialist/oppressed. The last one in particular was a late addition to Marxism -- Lenin wrote a book about it, decades after Marx was in the grave -- but it is wholly out of date now. Colonialism started dying as soon as WWII ended. At least people keep being born male or female, for the most part. The colonial/oppressed model is vastly out of date.

Having these categories of thought blinds you to what is going on. You think you are doing your duty, for being a friend to the weak is 'the duty of a true knight, at least.' But the people designated as 'the weak' aren't so weak anymore: have you seen Dubai?

Yet the categories do not change. They cannot.

The oppressed cannot be the oppressor: that would be a logical contradiction. But human beings are not logical objects. We can oppress here, and be oppressed there: and that my father was oppressed does not mean his son is. Nor vice versa.

The logic of the arguments seems so convincing. The only question is whether the logic applies to the real world.

UPDATE: No kidding from Australia -- "anti-terror laws could prevent teaching from Koran," say Muslim clerics.

What Are "New York Values"?

On 9/11, I discovered much to my surprise that I was very angry about an attack on New York City. It wasn't obvious that I ought to be. My entire life had, after all, been marked by the New York Times remarking on my home and everything I loved in tones most suitable for 19th century anthropologists describing weird savages who practiced cannibalism and head-shrinking on their tribal enemies. I always had the sense that New York had settled itself in judgment against Georgia and the South. Why should I love or defend anyone who hated and despised all I cared about? And yet I did, for reasons that were hard to identify.

Equally hard to identify is exactly what this phrase means, "New York values." I have no idea what the Senator from Texas means by that.

It's a strange place. I've only been there twice, at very different times. The first time was in the 1980s, when it was dangerous and weird. The last time was just a few years ago, when it was gentrified and not very weird at all. It means a lot of things to a lot of people.

As for me, I enjoyed the Cloisters, and then I left. It's not for me. Is that because its values are not mine? Maybe. Maybe not. I don't know how to tell you what it values, or if it values anything. People value things, and there are too many people there. How could you name a coherent vision from such a multitude? America is e pluribus unum, but not New York: it remains many, and if you come back in a decade or two it will be another many, different from before.

UPDATE: Stephen L. Miller proclaims himself a proud New Yorker, and tries to explain what he thinks New York is all about.
At its best, New York is a real, functioning, unglamorous, unforgiving machine. And it’s all of that despite what the balance in your account says. It’s not Times Square on New Year’s Eve. It’s the hidden neighborhoods, tucked out of the reach of the sightseers. It’s the concrete canyons filled with natives hunkering down in hooded jackets and earplugs, not the European visitors searching for Mad Men or the Kardashians. New York is the person on the subway with an overstuffed bag and unfashionable walking shoes, just trying to get to and from work or home. It’s the wind-bitten locals rolling their eyes at the throngs of out-of-towners....

And you have to be able to love it. All of it.
That's New York at its best, according to someone who says he does love it!

I'm glad you're happy, really. I'm just even more glad that I can stay a very long way away from any place like that.

There's No Substitute for a .50 Cal

Apparently Mythbusters got to this 'can you fell a tree with a machine gun?' thing a while ago. They determined that yes, you could, in 45 seconds.

So that's 2,250 rounds, which at $0.50 a round is $1,125 for the tree.

Looks to me like it takes about three .50 BMG hits to knock down that tree in the clip below. Now, BMG is a little more expensive -- about $3 a round -- but that still works out to $9 for the takedown. If it takes four or five hits, it's affordable.

Sounds to me like there's no choice but to prefer the .50 BMG rifle for lumberjack work.