DB: Congress Cuts Enlisted Pay to Fund F-35 Stereo System

Congress has passed a new law that will cut pay for all enlisted servicemembers by two percent. The money saved will fund a “wicked baller” speaker system for the F-35 Lightning II, according to program managers.

“We were really looking for something that would set the F-35 back another five years,” said program spokesman, Vice Adm. Tom Skazanski. “Now we’ll have to redesign the entire cockpit to fit the system in there, and even then I doubt it will work.”...

The contract was settled after a lengthy bidding war between “Fat Leonard” Francis and an eBay user based out of Azerbaijan. Still, the department does not know where it will get the stock it needs, as most of the technology involved has been obsolete for decades.

Six Principles

Jeff G. at Protein Wisdom -- there's a name that rings a bell, though it's been long enough since I last heard it that I can't remember why -- has a proposal for a unifying set of principles for a new political party. He has brief explanations of what he means by each of the six of them. It's not the worst set of suggestions I've ever heard.

I'll take the liberty of quoting his principles and explanations at length because, after all, he's trying to start a new party and probably wants you to read all of this more than he cares where you read it. Besides, it's a relatively small excerpt of a much longer post.
1) Individual liberty
2) Federalism and representative republicanism
3) Constitutionalism
4) Judicial originalism
5) National sovereignty
6) Free-market capitalism

These are the foundations of a new and potentially revolutionary party, one that does not react defensively to being principled nor considers “purity” in defense of its core beliefs anything but solid earth upon which to pitch its tent. Anyone can join this party; but to do so they must accept as inviolable the 6 foundational platform items. The price of admission, in other words, is a belief in the social compact upon which this country was founded. Nothing more.

1) Individual liberty: the Constitution exists to constrain government and delineate its proper function. It is a physical realization of the ideas found in the Declaration of Independence, chief among which is the concept of natural rights that government exists to protect but can never remove. These are individual rights. And as such, the perversity of contemporary nationalism — which attempts to homogenize the state around a national government that claims to stand in for a supposed collective will — is rejected. We are a nation of individuals. Not of individuals subservient to a mythologized nation state.

2) Federalism and representative republicanism: Those powers not enumerated as belonging to the federal government belong to the several states. Period. No longer will the states be satellite clients of a federal government whose prime lawmaking function now flows from the Executive branch through an unelected and untouchable bureaucratic apparatus. States and the citizens of those states will choose representatives to speak to their interests. Direct democracy was considered a danger by our Founders and Framers. Our party will hold caucuses, not primaries. We will work to choose those we believe will reflect our interests most rigorously. We won’t be held hostage by open primaries or preference polls open to those swayed solely by name recognition, incumbency, or temporary emotional pique. One goal of the party will be the repeal of the 17th Amendment — a result of a prior populist push that rendered the current Senate redundant. Too, we will use the power of recall to thwart those who wish to run under our brand but then refuse to govern as it demands.

3) Constitutionalism: We are a nation of laws. Equality before the law is a central conceit of Constitutionalism and to the very idea of equality as we understand it. Equality of outcome is anathema to individual liberty as a social project. We are born of the American Revolution, not the French Revolution. We are a propositional nation, not a tribal one. Those beliefs that prove incompatible with the Constitution are to be rejected and never willingly imported: Fabian socialism, Marxism, communism, Maoism, Sharia — these are alien and destructive parasitic political philosophies seeking a host in our body politic, with the long-term hope of hollowing out the host to make of it a puppet disguised in Constitutional garb. Religious freedom is not freedom from religion; tolerance is not a right never to be offended; a well-regulated militia is not a delimiting descriptor but rather an all-encompassing one, etc.

4) Judicial originalism: long-time readers of protein wisdom will know instantly how this plank is perhaps the most crucial in the platform. In the absence of some metaphysical force that can arbitrate all disagreements in textual interpretation, the best we can do is embrace the very model that performs our Constitutionally prescribed lawmaking function: law is written and ratified by a legislature made up of corporate agency that intends; law is therefore to be conceived of as a fixed product of that intention — albeit within the conventional constructs we abide by when it comes to judicial interpretation. To that end, the role of the judiciary is to as closely as possible determine that intended meaning and appeal to it as the fixed meaning of any law. Laws are made by a specific collection of individuals in a specific spatio-temporal context. They mean what they mean, not what they can later be made to imply. Stare decisis is often the bane of judicial conservatism. No more. Deference is given to the Constitution, not to some faulty misrepresentation of its meaning by those inclined toward linguistically incoherent hermeneutics.

5) National sovereignty: We are a nation state. We can and must determine our own parameters for national autonomy. And that determination belongs to the people through their representatives, not a unitary Executive. Thus, we are entitled to control immigration, provide whatever obstacles to it we think in our best national interests, and remove those who have broken our laws — including secreting themselves into the country illegally, whether through border jumping or visa overstays. Our foreign policy will be designed to reflect our national interests. The Reagan model of Kirkpatrick/Weinberg will hold in check the impulse toward Wilsonian democracy projects and neoconservative nation building exercises. But it will also recognize the importance of allies and of American presence in international relations.

6) Free-market capitalism:
Milton Friedman and Thomas Sowell. Ted Cruz at the FTC. This is to be vigorously juxtaposed against the destructive forces of corporatism and crony capitalism preferred by the two major parties, their lobbyists and donors, and influence buyers like Donald Trump. Such “capitalism” is the foundation of liberal fascism, which is the political stage nearly all proto-socialist countries eventually settle into, with government choosing winners and losers, rewarding friends, punishing foes, and using mere caprice to determine policy. It fights to quell competition at the behest of those already at the latter’s top. It is an attempt to kidnap and zip-tie to a radiator the Invisible hand. The idea that Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders might be allowed to dictate where a company settles or whether or not it qualifies for “punishment” is, to put it as clearly as I can, batshit crazy.
I of course agree with all of these principles. The only problem is that these are -- aren't they? -- the same principles we've been fighting for all along. In 2010, we were making these arguments. In 2004, we were making these arguments. In 1994, we were making these arguments. Today, no candidate for President represents any part of any of these arguments. The three remaining candidates and, I should add, all of the top vote-getting candidates from either party have stood for opposing principles across the board.

I don't think the American people want this anymore. We do, of course. But Trump voters don't. And Clinton voters don't. And Sanders voters don't. The Republican leadership in the House and Senate don't -- they're the ones floating the President on TPP and T-TIP, just to point to one way in which they oppose points 5 and 6. The Democrats certainly don't -- they're directly opposed to all of them. With a very few honorable exceptions, the whole elected government plus all the remaining candidates -- and all likely Supreme Court nominees from any of these candidates -- are against these principles. Large parts of the civil service are opposed to most of these principles.

That is not to say these aren't the right principles. It's just to say that there may no longer be any hope of defending them. Democracy has spoken, repeatedly, against everything we believe. It doesn't seem that we're heading down the road toward a new discussion of what principles ought to animate America, either. It seems as if we're headed down a road in which, like Brazil, American voters are chiefly divided by race, with the Republicans under Trump rushing to fulfill on the white side the strategy the Democrats have long leveraged with non-white voters. Clinton voters are cheerful and happy to accept a woman who is demonstrably on the take of what they call "the 1%," and who has clearly violated American law on numerous occasions, provided she'll keep the benefits flowing to their cliques.

American politics seems to be becoming less rational, in other words. It shows every sign of becoming more driven by irrational forces like racial identity -- which, like 'transgender identity,' doesn't even point to anything actually biologically real -- or by naked interest in extracting for one's own a bigger piece of the Federal pie. I doubt the efficacy of a new rationalist attempt to explain political principles and hope people will be persuaded by the arguments.

I wish it were otherwise.

To Undermine and Subvert

I've been back in graduate school for a while now, and this summer I'm taking an English literature course. The syllabus states that one of the course objectives is to "undermine and subvert" the traditional narratives of "American hegemony and mythology." In both the objectives and the description of the required research paper, it is made clear that we are to use post-structuralist approaches to the readings.

Post-structuralism, according to the All-Knowing Wikipedia, is associated with theorists such as Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Judith Butler, Jacques Lacan, Jean Baudrillard, and Julia Kristeva. Wikipedia continues:

In the post-structuralist approach to textual analysis, the reader replaces the author as the primary subject of inquiry. This displacement is often referred to as the "destabilizing" or "decentering" of the author, though it has its greatest effect on the text itself. Without a central fixation on the author, post-structuralists examine other sources for meaning (e.g., readers, cultural norms, other literature, etc.). These alternative sources are never authoritative, and promise no consistency.

This is apparently typical in English literature today.

Friday Night AMV

Ain't nothing to it. Ha!

Redistribution that works

From Thomas Sowell remarks in 2012:
The history of the 20th century is full of examples of countries that set out to redistribute wealth and ended up redistributing poverty. The communist nations were a classic example, but by no means the only example.
In theory, confiscating the wealth of the more successful people ought to make the rest of the society more prosperous. But when the Soviet Union confiscated the wealth of successful farmers, food became scarce. As many people died of starvation under Stalin in the 1930s as died in Hitler’s Holocaust in the 1940s.
How can that be? It is not complicated. You can only confiscate the wealth that exists at a given moment. You cannot confiscate future wealth — and that future wealth is less likely to be produced when people see that it is going to be confiscated. Farmers in the Soviet Union cut back on how much time and effort they invested in growing their crops, when they realized that the government was going to take a big part of the harvest. They slaughtered and ate young farm animals that they would normally keep tending and feeding while raising them to maturity. . . .
Knowledge is one of the few things that can be distributed to people without reducing the amount held by others.

Sturgill Simpson in the News

He's got an ally in NPR, it looks like, as they've covered him several times. Good.

California Primary Takes New Importance

Bernie could win it all if Republicans cross over and vote for him in California, which some of you might want to do. He has his problems and downsides, but he is at least an honest man.


No offense, but I'm not at all convinced this isn't backwards.
The Democratic Party has become, to a significant extent, an anti-racist party. The Republican Party has not.

In an anti-racist party, politicians who demonize historically discriminated-against groups are either forced into retirement or, at the least, forced to apologize. Obviously, what constitutes bigotry is not always self-evident. But if many of the members of a historically discriminated-against group perceive something as bigoted, that’s usually a good hint.
So, which Democratic leaders have been forced to retire for having made racist remarks? Who's the Democratic Party's Trent Lott?

Lott was the Senate Majority Leader. There's no way that a Democrat of similar standing will ever resign for making bigoted remarks, and it's not because they don't make them. I'm not going to reprint the remarks at those links, but if you need proof of the claim, follow the links.

The Republican Party has been effectively more anti-racist than the Democratic Party by the standard of actually forcing its leaders to resign over racist remarks. They may do this because they think racism hurts them more -- as David French says, they're sensitive to the charge that they're shot through with xenophobia. Being 'on the right side' gives Democrats cover to act out without consequences. Joe Biden or Harry Reid can say things that would cause a Republican to wither on the vine, and nothing happens to them at all.

The reason that party leaders are not endorsing Trump right now is precisely because they are appalled by him. Some of it may be tactical, but some of it is not. It's also tactical to try to claim that Democrats are the anti-bigotry party. The evidence does not support this conviction.

Governor Deal's Veto Statement

I have been harshly critical of Governor Deal for several years, for what I take to be good reasons. Nevertheless, in the interest of fairness, I want to put his veto statement in front of you. It is thoughtful and rooted in the right way: in an understanding of the Founding and the traditions of our nation. I don't think he has understood the argument of his opponents, or else he is raising a straw man by suggesting that his opponents' position can be characterized as a demand for an absolutely unrestricted right to keep and bear arms. No one is proposing eliminating restrictions on violent felons keeping and bearing arms -- indeed, the NRA worked hard to help get Project Exile passed into law.

However, leaving the straw man fallacy aside, he has an argument that I will present for your consideration. It's a long piece, so I'll put it after the jump.

Bernie Sanders: Clinton Runs a Money-Laundering Scheme

Nice to see that the Senator from Vermont is still punching. Also nice to see that Vox can't quite explain the charge away.

Well, That's Encouraging

In an article on the lies around the Iran deal -- which were truly infuriating to behold -- an explanation of why they get away with it.
As Rhodes admits, it's not that hard to shape the narrative. "All these newspapers used to have foreign bureaus," Rhodes said. "Now they don't. They call us to explain to them what's happening in Moscow and Cairo. Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington. The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That's a sea change. They literally know nothing."

Are You Kidding Me?

Headline: "Spies Worry Candidate Trump Will Spill Secrets."

Oh, that's a great reason to consider voting for Hillary Clinton, who is currently under investigation for exposing thousands of classified documents through unsecured email on a ramshackle private server.

David French is Right

He is right about the problem, and also about the solutions.
First, it is absolutely vital that conservatives stay firm in their opposition to Trump. For at least a generation, the Left has been arguing that American conservatism is shot through with racism, sexism, and xenophobia. And now millions of Americans will face the difficult task of rebutting charges of hateful bigotry while supporting a man who gives aid and comfort to avowed racists, incites violence, and can’t even consistently disavow the Klan. Trump is the destroyer of conservatism, and he will taint all who take his side....

Fifth, the best solution for rolling back the extraordinary growth, power, and increasing corruption of the federal government is the convention of states, the Article V remedy for a runaway president and an out-of-control Congress. If two-thirds of states submit an application for a convention to propose constitutional amendments, then any proposed amendments can be ratified by three-fourths of state legislatures — circumventing the federal government entirely.
I think conservatives can demand of our elected representatives a pledge to impeach and remove Trump, should he be elected, at the first sign of illegality or abuse. It would be healthy to formalize opposition to Trump in this way. For one thing, it would put him on notice that he will have no leeway as President. For another, it would help draw a distinction between Trump and those conservatives down-ballot that would minimize the damage to conservatism as a philosophy. It would be a firm expression of disapproval combined with a positive remedy. It would be a rejection of his viciousness, especially towards women, which I expect will only intensify in its ugliness as he campaigns against Ms. Clinton.

"Want To Feel Like A Man? Act Like One."

Not the worst advice.

Al vs. Marcy

Trump proved that many of the party’s moderates and establishmentarians hate the thought of a True Conservative nominee even more than they fear handing the nomination to a proto-fascist grotesque with zero political experience and poor impulse control. That goes for the prominent politicians who refused to endorse Cruz, the prominent donors who sat on their hands once the field narrowed and all the moderate-Republican voters in blue states who turned out to be #NeverCruz first and #NeverTrump less so or even not at all.

Finally, Trump proved that many professional True Conservatives, many of the same people who flayed RINOs and demanded purity throughout the Obama era, were actually just playing a convenient part.
This is the Nathan Deal lesson. What I think Douthat gets wrong is the idea that voters didn't notice. Trump's appeal was that he really wasn't one of the party elite. He really is someone they can't control. His wild, outrageous statements serve as proof that he isn't under anybody's control. No handlers would have let him say the things he's said.

So the general election is set. If you're wanting a preview, here it is:

The Sea Rises Higher

For the White Horse knew England
When there was none to know;
He saw the first oar break or bend,
He saw heaven fall and the world end,
O God, how long ago.

For the end of the world was long ago,
And all we dwell to-day
As children of some second birth,
Like a strange people left on earth
After a judgment day.

For the end of the world was long ago,
When the ends of the world waxed free,
When Rome was sunk in a waste of slaves,
And the sun drowned in the sea.

When Caesar's sun fell out of the sky
And whoso hearkened right
Could only hear the plunging
Of the nations in the night.

End of the World

With Ted Cruz gone, there is no happy ending to this race. The best hope now is Trump plus impeachment of Trump. Otherwise, catastrophe.

Nathan Deal is 2 for 2

With today's veto of campus carry, Nathan Deal -- Republican Governor of Georgia -- reminds us of why the Republican Party is about to die nationwide. People turn to folks like Trump because the professionals have shown that they cannot be trusted. In this election, Governor Deal has personally betrayed the people who voted for him with vetoes on the two issues they cared most about: the Second Amendment, and religious freedom. The Legislature passed strong, considered legislation on both grounds. Nathan Deal personally killed them both.

When the party dies at the polls in November, and we face decades of a Supreme Court that simply rules conservative opinions unconstitutional, know that it was because of continual betrayals like this. Nathan Deal was once a good man, but his time in Washington with the Republican elite ruined him.

Please Don't Do This

The American Family Association(!) has decided to send male activists into women's bathrooms at Target.

Don't do this. It's such a bad idea. It's completely out of order with the values you are supposed to represent, and it's wrong to violate your own values to make a point.

Snowden on Secrecy

He doesn't provide a convincing explanation of why he only leaked US secrets, and not those of America's enemies. However, it is possible to sever that question -- the one that suggests he is guilty of treason -- from the basic argument that constitutional freedom requires occasional unauthorized leaks. Especially where the government is engaged in unconstitutional behavior, sometimes (he argues) bringing the matter before the public is the only hope for correction.

"A Dark Time in America"

Dennis Prager writes:
Every distinctive value on which America was founded is in jeopardy.

According to Pew Research, more and more young Americans do not believe in freedom of speech for what they deem “hate speech.” Forty percent of respondents ages 18 to 34 said they agreed that offensive statements could be outlawed.

According to a series of Harvard polls, 47 percent of Americans between 18 and 29 believe that food, shelter, and health care “are a right that government should provide to those unable to afford them.” That means that nearly half of our young believe they have a legitimate claim on the labor and earnings of others for life’s basic necessities. More than half of young Americans do not support capitalism — the source of the prosperity they enjoy and the only economic system that has ever lifted mass numbers of people out of poverty.

When young Americans see pictures of the Founders, they do not see the great men that most Americans have seen throughout American history. They see white males who were affluent (now derisively labeled “privileged”) and owned slaves.

The belief that certain fundamental rights are God-based — a view held by every American Founder and nearly all Americans throughout its history — is reviled outside of conservative religious circles and held by fewer and fewer Americans. The view that male and female are distinctive identities — one of the few unquestioned foundational views of every society in history — is being obliterated. One is deemed “a hater” just for saying that one believes that, all things being equal, a child does best starting out life with a married father and mother.

The ideas that America should be a “melting pot” or that all Americans should identify as American are now unutterable in educated company....

In addition, virtually every major institution is in decay or disarray.

Masculinity Is Not About Women

I can see why, in a discussion led by Paglia and Althouse, women would be the focus. I don't object to women being the focus of a discussion between women. I just think this is the wrong way to think about the problem they're interested in thinking about.

Paglia: "[M]asculinity is constantly being eroded, diminished, and dissolved on university campuses because it allows women to be weak."

Althouse: "In my way of looking at it, "allows" is the wrong word. I think we need to consider whether masculinity is constantly being eroded because it serves the purpose of making women weak."

So, here's the problem with both of these statements: masculinity has nothing to do with whether or not women are weak. It can enable weakness in women. It can also enable and support strength in women. Or women can become strong on their own, or not.

Let me give you an example. Last week I was out riding my motorcycle, and I came across a bull calf who was out in the road. Naturally, I stopped and chased him out of the road -- loose cattle are a danger to cars as well as motorcycles, and I felt it was my civic duty to help resolve a danger to the community.

Protecting the community from a danger is only part of my duty in a case like this, though. There is also a 'Golden Rule' duty to try to help the livestock owner recover the animal. I would certainly want someone to help me if I had livestock who got out on the road, so I ought to help others.

So, I went to the nearest farmhouse and knocked on the door. A woman of about 85 appeared, and I explained the situation. She got her daughter -- a woman in her mid to late fifties, I should think -- and the two of them agreed it was certainly their young bull and that they needed to deal with it. Neither of them had any idea how.

"My husband's gone to Mississippi," the younger woman explained. "He won't be back until Friday."

Now, this is cattle country in rural Georgia. There's plenty of masculinity in the men who work livestock. Here are two women, though, who had allowed the men in their lives to do the hard work of dealing with the cattle to such a degree that they honestly didn't know how to move an animal in the direction they wanted it to go. If they had any rope, they didn't know where it was. It took an hour and a half to push that bull calf back into its fence with the rest of it herd, while trying to keep the herd from coming out through an open gate.

This is not necessary. Had my wife been there, she could have helped me move the animal and we'd have done it in a few minutes.

What's the point of this story? The strength of the man has little enough to do with the strength of the woman. I don't doubt that the cattlemen who were off in Mississippi are manly enough. But their manliness if anything supported the women not learning to do this sort of work, even though they were part-owners of a herd of cattle. They never developed the muscles or the skills because they never had to: their husbands did that sort of thing.

Would you get stronger women if you made the men weaker? I doubt it. Nor is strong masculinity a bar to strong women, as my wife proves. She was a tough girl when I met her, and our years riding along together have not weakened her any.

What I think is that the business of making strong women has nothing to do with men or masculinity one way or the other. A weak man might mean that a woman had to be stronger in order to carry the weight he wasn't carrying. Or it could do what Althouse and Paglia both think it does, which is allow for (or usefully produce) weak women.

But it's not really a question about the men. There's not necessarily a close relationship between masculinity and the strength of women. Masculinity is about the strength of men, which is a good in itself. It's worth pursuing even if it does nothing for women at all. Nor does attaining it excuse women from developing their own character, skills, and capacities. Strong women are not, as these two ladies argue, functions of the strength of the men. Strong women have to be built independently. For the most part, they have to decide to build themselves. Providing them with the right kind of man is not going to do any part of the work.

Good News, Bad News

South America is looking a lot like it's going to need some sort of American intervention. That always goes well, and hardly ever produces generations of resentment.

Still, there is good news:
The encouraging news from Latin America is that the leftist populists who for 15 years undermined the region’s democratic institutions and wrecked its economies are being pushed out — not by coups and juntas, but by democratic and constitutional means. Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina is already gone, vanquished in a presidential election, and Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff is likely to be impeached in the coming days.

Government Makes Everything Worse

Via Wretchard, every industry touched by government gets worse. The graph points to one specific example, the massive increase in administrators in health care over the last decades. Like any other product, your health care gets more expensive the more salaries have to be paid to produce it. If you were just paying the doctor, the cost would be whatever the doctor thinks his time is worth, plus the cost of any medicines, tests, or supplies. If the doctor needs an assistant, her time has to be factored into the cost as well.

(An aside: I just employed that new academic standard of alternating the genders of pronouns to refer to nonspecific persons that Jason was asking about the other day. Notice how it looks exactly like an offensive assumption that a doctor would be male and his assistant a woman? But if you turn them around, the alternative construction will offend other people just as well. It's a terrible answer to the question of replacing 'he' as the universal standard for a person of unspecified gender. I think the old standard is better, but even the ungrammatical "they" for a singular individual of unspecified gender is better than this.)

So if the doctor needs four assistants to manage all the paperwork, now you're paying five salaries for however long the doctor is seeing you. Even if the other costs remained flat, your bill has to be several times higher than it was just to cover the needful salaries of the administrators.

Regulation does this across the board because there are always costs of compliance to regulations. Everything gets worse the more you regulate it.

Take a Closer Look

Andrew Sullivan thinks this is a Platonic moment:
And it is when a democracy has ripened as fully as this, Plato argues, that a would-be tyrant will often seize his moment.

He is usually of the elite but has a nature in tune with the time — given over to random pleasures and whims, feasting on plenty of food and sex, and reveling in the nonjudgment that is democracy’s civil religion. He makes his move by “taking over a particularly obedient mob” and attacking his wealthy peers as corrupt. If not stopped quickly, his appetite for attacking the rich on behalf of the people swells further. He is a traitor to his class — and soon, his elite enemies, shorn of popular legitimacy, find a way to appease him or are forced to flee. Eventually, he stands alone, promising to cut through the paralysis of democratic incoherence. It’s as if he were offering the addled, distracted, and self-indulgent citizens a kind of relief from democracy’s endless choices and insecurities. He rides a backlash to excess—“too much freedom seems to change into nothing but too much slavery” — and offers himself as the personified answer to the internal conflicts of the democratic mess. He pledges, above all, to take on the increasingly despised elites. And as the people thrill to him as a kind of solution, a democracy willingly, even impetuously, repeals itself.

And so, as I chitchatted over cocktails at a Washington office Christmas party in December, and saw, looming above our heads, the pulsating, angry televised face of Donald Trump...
Wait a second. Who better fits this description, Trump or Clinton? Let's break it down into its elements.

1) Being given over to pleasures and whims, especially food and sex.

2) Reveling in 'the nonjudgment that is democracy's civil religion.'

3) Attacks the rich and promises to fight for the poor, even though he (or she) is actually very much part of the wealthy class.

4) The wealthy elite seek a way to appease him or her.

5) Promises to cut through the paralysis and 'get things done.'

6) Offers a relief from democracy's choices.

7) Pledges to take on the elites above all.

Now I'll grant that (1) is a far better description of Trump than Clinton. But what of the rest? Is Trump "nonjudgmental"? That's not something I've heard before.

As for 3 and 4, who's the one who keeps promising to take on Wall Street even though she has grown quite wealthy? Who is the one who is paid off with massive speaking fees by the wealthy elite? By vast donations from oil-rich states who wanted to curry her favor as Secretary of State?

As for 5, who is the one who promises to be a "Progressive who Gets Things Done"? That was her big line from the first Democratic debate (that and being an enemy of Republicans).

Which of the two is promising to strip choices away from the democratic legislatures of the land? That's been the modus operandi of Clinton's faction since Roe v. Wade. It's how they've proceeded on all moral questions, in pursuit of this 'nonjudgment that is democracy's civil religion.' They have marched so far and so fast that whole sections of moral legislation are now declared to be unconstitutional, so that no democratic mechanisms can touch them.

As for the last one, which one is running as the candidate who will take on the 'one percent'? Which one is running as the candidate who will take on illegal aliens? They're not the elite.

Trump is a problem, but he's not the only problem. There's a demagogue in each of these races. Sullivan is clear on the danger Trump represents, but he is blind to the peril on the other front.

A Very Good Question

H/t Instapundit, a question about eugenics:
[Author Adam] Cohen takes [Catholic] opposition for granted, never exploring the meaning or roots of natural law and why it drove the church to quash sterilization in states such as Louisiana and New Jersey. Rather than confront sterilization on moral or philosophical grounds, Cohen bases his opposition on scientific grounds: Carrie Buck had a sixth grade education, sterilization alone couldn’t eliminate “feeblemindedness,” Jews, it turns out, are pretty smart (they just didn’t know English when the eugenicists gave them IQ tests). It is convenient that eugenics makes for crappy science, but what if it had checked out?
What if it turned out to be true that you could substantially improve humanity by forcibly sterilizing large groups of people? According to US Supreme Court precedent, it's totally constitutional for the government to forcibly sterilize you.

So if it's legal, and the science showed that it worked, would it be moral? Not according to natural law theory, but today the left rejects that -- and it does so on what it takes to be scientific grounds. Specifically, natural law theory looks for purpose in nature, and the current leading theories in biology reject that things evolve for reasons. It's all random. There is thus nothing that is "unnatural" in the sense that it could be said to violate some sort of "natural law" -- not blinding the eyes, nor deafening the ears.

If the Constitution and the law do not protect you, and the science is on the other side, should we simply accept the morality of such practices? The Church says no, but a religious moral law cannot be the foundation for any American laws under the current reading of the anti-establishment clause. What protection remains? Merely the fact that science hasn't quite worked out how to do it yet?

The Gov't Hates Transparency

Over at Real Clear Markets, Tara Helfman writes of how the government fought tooth and nail to avoid discovery in a Fanny/Freddie case.

Wanna Go See a Movie?

Update: Looks like no one's interested, so I'm making other plans. Maybe next time.

The team that put together Range 15 is having one last push to fund their soundtrack before the movie is released on June 15. As an incentive, there are a number of perks for different levels of donation, from $10 on up, but the one I'm interested in is a private screening at Ft. Hood (bottom of the sidebar) with Mat Best, Nick & Tom from Ranger Up, Rocco, Tim Kennedy, Jarred (I should probably know who he is, but I don't) and some other cast members they didn't name but whom we should all assume will be awesome. Plus, it would be a real pleasure to meet and hang out with folks from the Hall.

That donation is $150. The date is just given as "May," so I assume if anyone wants to do it, we should probably decide sooner rather than later. UPDATE: Reading through their blog, it looks like May 14 at 8:30.

If you're up for it, let me know in the comments and we'll work out the details.


Update 2: If you can't go to this, it will be in theaters June 15th.

The Cathedral of May

A day celebrated here each year, as the fullest glory of springtime. The long and painful summer is coming, and fast, but for now there remain some good days ahead.

I've only seen one hummingbird this year, so far. The wife is worried that they might have had some sort of die-off event. I wonder if the truth isn't just that the flowers are so rich this year that so far they have seen no need to approach the feeders.

UPDATE: Many people are reminding me that today is also the anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death. Another thing to celebrate!

The Most Honest Speech of the Year

According to Vox, the only time Obama's really honest with us is when he pretends to be joking.

Self-Defense is Not the Issue

A blogger called Justin Curmi is writing about the Bill of Rights. He proposes an interesting lens: that controversies about the Constitution be re-evaluated in the light of the Preamble's "Five Aims." The blogger apparently has dyslexia, so let us excuse minor errors in spelling and grammar. He says that we should ask of any proposed reading the following questions:
Does is promote Justice?
Does it ensure domestic Tranquility?
Does it ensure the common defence?
Does it promote the general Welfare?
Does it secure the Blessings of our Liberty and Posterity?
So when he gets to the 2nd Amendment, he finds that there is clearly a right to keep and bear arms. However, he says, these arms should be kept only for the purpose of revolution. Self-defense should be illegal.
The main problem with the notion of self-defense is it imposes on justice, for everyone has the right for a fair trial. Therefore, using a firearm to defend oneself is not legal because if the attacker is killed, he or she is devoid of his or her rights. In addition, one’s mental capacity is a major factor in deciding whether a man or woman has the right to have a firearm.
This is not a terribly-well considered position. First of all, the right to defend one's self is fundamental to the first of the five aims -- the promotion of justice. How can it be just to ask someone to suffer assault, rape, or murder so that they do not deny their murderer or rapist the right to a fair trial? In fact, the right not to be murdered or assaulted is more basic than the right to a fair trial before being punished for one's murders or assaults. This can be seen by a simple thought experiment: in an ideally just world, no one would receive a fair trial for murder because no one would commit murder. However, in the same ideally just world, everyone would have their right not to be murdered actively respected. Thus, the right to a fair trial only comes into play when something has gone wrong. The right not to be murdered is merely a statement of what the ideally just condition would be.

Nevertheless, self-defense is not the real point of the 2nd Amendment at all. The real point of the 2nd Amendment is just what it says -- the security of a free state. A distributed defensive capacity among the citizenry is the best guarantee of a free state, and the state of freedom, against several common threats. It represents a better defense against many forms of terrorism than other options, such as massive surveillance of the population or a vast increase in police controls, because it better respects the state of freedom. It also means that terrorists (to include mass shooters of any stripe) have a harder time predicting where they will encounter resistance.

Thus, the carrying and use of arms defensively ensures all five of the "Five Aims." It promotes justice by reducing the incidence of violations of justice like murder and assault. It helps to ensure domestic Tranquility by making crime more dangerous and costly, which reduces crime rates. It is all about the common defense. The reduction in crime and increase in justice promotes the general welfare. And, compared with increased government control of our lives, it protects our free state against common dangers in a manner more consistent with securing the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.

When you stop your own murderer, it's only by-the-way that you're defending yourself. What you're really defending is the common peace and lawful order. You're doing a just and good thing that will improve the whole society. It is always right to defend a citizen from being murdered, after all. It's merely incidental that the citizen happens to be yourself.

A Brutal Assessment

A book review of a new history of Clinton and Obama's time together is not complimentary. Well, not to the subjects of the history. The review is quite complimentary of the book.
There are many in-depth books dealing with individual aspects of U.S. foreign policy in recent years, but for a single work encompassing the Obama administration’s engagement with the world, it is hard to imagine one better. From the Arab Spring to the resurgence of Russia to the Iran nuclear deal, Landler reveals a president obsessed with making history, and a secretary of state weighing every move in light of her personal advancement. Really, “Alter Egos” could just be called “Egos.”


The president liked running foreign policy out of the West Wing, Landler explains, and “Clinton had trouble penetrating Obama’s clannish inner circle.” That inner circle was devoted to finding symbolic, legacy-building opportunities for the boss. Ben Rhodes, Obama’s foreign policy whisperer, regarded outreach to closed societies such as Cuba as “exactly what a history-making president like Obama should be doing,” Landler writes, and threw himself into secret negotiations with Havana. Obama saw the Iran nuclear agreement as a once-in-a-generation achievement and pursued it accordingly. And he fretted that historians would remember him for the wrong thing. “I don’t want to be just remembered as the drone president,” he said to a top adviser in 2012.
Obama's disastrous legacy in foreign policy has grown more and more clear as we have neared the end of his presidency. It's easy to see why. If one's motivating foreign policy principle is self-aggrandizement, everything else is to be sacrificed so that you can have a complimentary footnote in the books to be written after you die.

The irony is that, in fact, history will remember Obama as the president who unraveled the world and left it on fire. And the drone president, of course.

Another CAS Option: Erik Prince's "Thrush"

War is Boring describes it as a "fighting crop-duster." But if the enemy has no air force -- and no MANPADS, as Eric Blair notes -- why wouldn't this be a smart idea?