The Stone Games

I will be encamped this weekend at Stone Mountain for the Scottish Highland Games. Come wha' dare.

The King Is Dead: Rest In Peace

The old way was to say, "The King is dead; long live the King." But I do not know that Thailand would be best served by another king. I just know it was well served by the last one. Many years ago when I was watching PACOM/SOCPAC issues professionally, I was continually impressed by how much better off Thailand was than its neighbors -- and how much that seemed to have to do with the wise guidance and steady hand of a good king.

Tolkien would have approved.

Cody Jinks

Tolkein's Reply to a German Publisher in 1939

From an article at Open Culture:

... It didn’t take long after the [Hobbit's] initial success for Berlin publisher Rütten & Loening to express their interest in putting out a German edition, but first — in observance, no doubt, of the Third Reich’s dictates — they asked for proof of Tolkien’s “Aryan descent.” The author drafted two replies, the less civil of which reads as follows:
25 July 1938
20 Northmoor Road, Oxford

Dear Sirs,
Thank you for your letter. I regret that I am not clear as to what you intend by arisch. I am not of Aryan extraction: that is Indo-Iranian; as far as I am aware none of my ancestors spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy, or any related dialects. But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people. My great-great-grandfather came to England in the eighteenth century from Germany: the main part of my descent is therefore purely English, and I am an English subject — which should be sufficient. I have been accustomed, nonetheless, to regard my German name with pride, and continued to do so throughout the period of the late regrettable war, in which I served in the English army. I cannot, however, forbear to comment that if impertinent and irrelevant inquiries of this sort are to become the rule in matters of literature, then the time is not far distant when a German name will no longer be a source of pride.

Your enquiry is doubtless made in order to comply with the laws of your own country, but that this should be held to apply to the subjects of another state would be improper, even if it had (as it has not) any bearing whatsoever on the merits of my work or its sustainability for publication, of which you appear to have satisfied yourselves without reference to my Abstammung.

I trust you will find this reply satisfactory, and

remain yours faithfully,

J. R. R. Tolkien

Thrust and Parry

For anyone who likes to read dueling opinion pieces:

Pete Spiliakos's article The Constitution as a Coward's Shield and Barbarian's Rock, which I posted about earlier purely in terms of constitutional rhetoric, was primarily an attack on Trump.

That attack was parried by Julie Ponzi over at American Greatness.

The Constitution as a Coward's Shield and a Barbarian's Rock

Pete Spiliakos at First Things brings up something I've noticed as well over the last decade.

The Constitution is important. ...

But the Constitution (like the Federalist Papers, and Declaration- and Founder-worship in general) has played a larger role in conservative rhetoric than a mere defense of the clear provisions of the document could do. Defense of the Constitution has become a rhetorical crutch. It has become a substitute for an agenda that is relevant to the issues of the day.

This is understandable. ...

Talking about health care policy (any health care policy) will also involve tradeoffs. It is much easier to talk about how, as president, you will protect the beloved Constitution, than to talk about how you will seek to change health coverage in the direction of catastrophic coverage (which will make some health insurance recipients nervous) and how you will seek to make it easier for new market entrants to disrupt existing providers (which will make existing heath care providers very cross). Better to mumble some things about tort reform and then go back to talking about the Founding.


If you make people choose between constitutionalism and their everyday concerns, the Constitution will lose.

I've met a number of conservatives over the last decade or so who were much more interested in discussing the issues of 1773, or 1803, or 1860, than they were the problems of the current day.

I'm absolutely not one of those people who think the Constitution is obsolete. It wasn't written for the times but for humanity, and humanity hasn't changed all that much. But the world does change, and if conservatives hope to influence the nation they'll have to address today's issues in ways consistent with the Constitution. And not just propose solutions, but convince a majority of Americans that those solutions will produce a better future for them than the alternatives.

But I think I'm preaching to the choir, here. Still, something to watch for.

Police Should Always Be Citizens

I have written that police work, done right, is similar to being a full-time good citizen.
Cattle get out of the fence? If your real neighbors are off at work, that's OK: there's a full-time neighbor you can call to help you catch them and get them out of the road. Somebody break into your neighbor's house? There's a full time member of the community to come take a report and serve as a witness in court, so that your neighbor can get their insurance agency to pay their claim. Same if there is a car wreck: here's a full time citizen who's ready to render first aid and serve as a witness to what happened in court.

If there's a crime, all citizens have the power to make an arrest and bring the offender before a magistrate, as well as to testify as to what happened. Even detective work is just citizen work -- which is why there are private detectives, just as bounty hunters are just using the ancient power of citizens' arrest. It's just that few people have time to spend trying to figure out a crime that happened in the past, and we benefit from having forensic resources that cost money (and require training), so we pool our resources and designate someone to get training we all pay for. But it's citizen work.

There's a riot? All citizens should get together and, guided by the officials they have commonly elected to take charge, help restore order.
The Blue Model of policing -- to adapt WR Mead's term -- is that police are instead a kind of tax-collector and agent of a distant state. The police then end up becoming divided from a citizenry that has some reason to think of them as a hostile force. That is deeply unhealthy for a nation committed to self-governance, and the natural friendship between the citizenry and the police-as-good-citizen is lost.

But worse yet is this idea, h/t D29, to have us policed by people who aren't citizens at all:
Allowing work-authorized non-U.S. citizens to work in state and local law enforcement, particularly in jurisdictions with large immigrant populations, can enable agencies to more closely represent the diversity of their community. Especially as agencies work to serve communities with a large percentage of limited English proficient (LEP) residents, excluding officers who are not U.S. citizens may significantly limit the number of applicants who speak languages other than English....
That is a deeply dangerous and terrible idea, for reasons I am surprised are not immediately obvious to the author.

Corruption in Matters of Life and Death

In the wake of an earthquake in Haiti, where poverty means that such natural disasters are systematically worse in their human toll than elsewhere, the Clinton State Department's first concern was who was a Friend of Bill.

The Trump Tape

Trump has come in for regular condemnation from me, on this page, on this exact point. I don't know that I believe he is really guilty of sexual assault, although the Epstein stories make that more plausible. I suspect that he is mostly guilty the exaggerated bragging that is common for him, and that he has a low enough character that he thought of this kind of bragging as the sort of thing that would impress other men in a positive way. That it might strike us as a pathetic lie instead probably never occurred to him; or perhaps his companion was also of such low character as to have actually been impressed.

It would appear that we are going to have one of these two disasters as President. What a tragedy for the nation.

The Least of Rings

If you were to ask most people to name the least dangerous, most beneficial branch of the Federal government, I suspect many would name the Food and Drug Administration. After all, the desire to have a safe and clean food and water supply is the #1 argument fielded in favor of a strong regulatory state. Those whose family members might have benefited from drug treatments or other therapies banned by the FDA might not view it in such a positive light, of course. Still, even there the FDA's reputation is one of being overcautious in keeping Americans safe on average -- though in effect they condemn many to death who might at least have a chance with some experimental therapy.

Should your opinion of the FDA be roughly aligned with this view, you will find this report in Scientific American to be shocking.

Irritating New Spin: It's Tyranny to Jail One's Opponent

Well, yes it would be, if jailing her were done as an exercise of political will.

No, if it was done because she broke the law. It's the President's job to see that the law is faithfully executed, a fact apparently forgotten in recent years.

Tyranny lies just as much in not enforcing the law on the connected as in any potential for unfair enforcement against the disfavored. Tyranny, and its attendant corruption, are just what we are witnessing in Clinton's case now.


Both presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and former President Bill Clinton have ties to convicted pedophile and Democratic donor, billionaire Jeffery Epstein and "Sex Slave Island."

Clearing Browser Tabs to the Right

I haven't had much time to write for the last couple of months, but when I've come across articles I thought might make a good post, I've kept the tab open. So, now I have about 50 million tabs to open when I start my browser -- time to clear them out.

Oh, look! I can see you don't have enough links! Here, let me help ...

The Claremont Review of Books has a round-up of their articles on the election, which includes Angelo M. Codevilla's excellent "After the Republic," which we discussed here, as well as Publius Decius Mus's "The Flight 93 Election" and a bunch of other good stuff I've been working through.

Christopher Caldwell in the article Les Deplorables explores the rising use of censorship against the right in France. Coming soon to a former republic near you! (And he includes the lovely phrase panier de pitoyables.)

Here's a 2004 article you've probably seen explaining how FDR's policies prolonged the Depression by 7 years.

Arthur Chrenkoff is back!

R. R. Reno at First Things argues that "Globalization has a unifying dimension, which we rightly applaud. At the same time, though, globalization is associated with economic and cultural changes that are dissolving inherited forms of solidarity—the nation foremost, but local communities, as well, and even the family. This dissolution encourages an atomistic individualism, which in turn makes all of us more vulnerable to domination and control."

George Will argues that Congress should impeach the IRS commissioner.

Until Phyllis Schlafly passed away, I hadn't heard of her Eagle Forum.

The Myth of the Southern Strategy (from 2006).

Neo-neocon's "The Essential Trump," a collection of her writing on the man.

Dr.'s Mayer and McHugh's recent report on gender and sexuality: "Examining research from the biological, psychological, and social sciences, this report shows that some of the most frequently heard claims about sexuality and gender are not supported by scientific evidence. The report has a special focus on the higher rates of mental health problems among LGBT populations, and it questions the scientific basis of trends in the treatment of children who do not identify with their biological sex. More effort is called for to provide these people with the understanding, care, and support they need to lead healthy, flourishing lives."

Prof. Paul Gottfried at the Imaginative Conservative gives CINOs a good old-fashioned "How dare you, sirs!"

The End of the Liberal Tradition? A New Paper Suggests Young Americans Are Giving Up on Democracy

Today's Tech Oligarchs Are Worse Than Robber Barons (they're more like Skynet ...)

Whew! Well, that's a start.

Oh, look! Another article ...

Back from Boston

So, did I miss anything?

Another Set from Ray Stevens to Close Out the Weekend

The Killing Machine

Here's an interesting, longish article on Che Guevara's bloody life. One thing that stood out that seems relevant to us today was:

The urge to dispossess others of their property and to claim ownership of others’ territory was central to Guevara’s politics of raw power. In his memoirs, the Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser records that Guevara asked him how many people had left his country because of land reform. When Nasser replied that no one had left, Che countered in anger that the way to measure the depth of change is by the number of people “who feel there is no place for them in the new society.”

How successful have the leftists been in implementing change here?

We Don't Know Each Other

I started thinking about this when Ymar and I got into a bit of a tiff. He made some incorrect assumptions about me that were irritating. After going back and forth a few times, it occurred to me that there's no particular reason his assumptions about me should have been right: We don't really know each other.

It isn't just that we've never met. Most of us post anonymously here because we don't want to be known. At the least, there is some group of people, co-workers or family or potential future employers, that we don't want to know our thoughts.

I don't know about anyone else here, but in addition to using a pseudonym, I also do a few things when I write or comment that I hope help to obscure my analog identity. For example, there are subjects I don't comment about because I'm known in professional circles for expertise in them. I avoid using examples from my life or talking about jobs I've had. I also don't post photos of named places geographically close to where I live.

So, it only makes sense that we don't know each other because we don't want to be known by random strangers, or by people who may be looking into our analog lives. And yet, I think we do want the regulars here to know us, and we want to know them. We may even think we do know them. Many of us have been commenting here for 10 or 15 years. I consider all of the regulars here friends, although it's a strange sort of friendship.

I also believe that this has contributed to some of the intractable disagreements we've had over the years. In analog life, I would probably know a lot more about a friend, where they grew up, what work they'd done, something about their family, etc., before I got into serious political or philosophical discussions with them. Knowing things like these doesn't often change what I say to friends, but it does change the way I say them. And, of course, the whole dimension of non-verbal communication is cut out.

There have been some significant disagreements in the comments over the years, and at those times I have regretted that we weren't at the pub or in the park hashing them out where we could more easily make ourselves understood, and where we could have a good idea of where things stood between us when the discussion was over. There have been some arguments, especially I think with Cass and Tex, where, at the end, we all just abandoned the thread, and I wondered if I had offended someone.

Analog discussions provide immediate feedback that can quickly be used to adjust our expectations for what comes next. If I unwittingly say something that's going to cause trouble, there's usually a facial reaction that warns me we might have a disagreement or misunderstanding. Then I can act accordingly, maybe explaining more or quickly analyzing what I said to look for problems, and I will know to take my interlocutor's next comment with the understanding that we may have a problem. Not so in blog comments, when I may unknowingly post something that's going to cause trouble and not have any warning of that fact until reading the reply. Blog discussions leave so much out that we normally depend on.

In the last few years I've tried to adjust the way I comment to account for these things, but especially when I'm tired, I still forget and comment as if everyone here knew me and I knew them.

I have often wished we could have a Hall gathering somewhere, a day or a weekend of getting to know each other. Unlikely, given the distances I think lie between us and the problem of coordinating our varying schedules. We can't even seem to schedule a book-club-style discussion. But maybe not impossible.

The Mississippi Squirrel Revival

A good church story for Sunday morning.