What happens next

At David Foster's place, Lexington Green argues that Trump's campaign positions have been no more vacuous than most, and less so than many.  He believes Trump's critics, especially a Prof. Lipson, are unaccountably ignoring the President-Elect's fairly well fleshed-out position papers.
If Prof. Lipson wants to look like a genius-prophet to his readers, he should do what too few people have done: Read Trump’s papers and predict that bills will be introduced to do X, Y and Z. Astonished readers will say, “Professor Lipson, how did you know?” He can claim his methods are proprietary.

My Food is Problematic

"Although breastfeeding is assumed to be natural and a biological function, we problematize the practice as gendered and heteronormative."
You do that. I know a three-month-old who needs to eat every three hours, however, and she will not care what you think about how she does it.


From an Ace commenter:
I've been all anti politics at Thanksgiving because c'mon people can't we at least pretend for one day that there are more important things.
However. Someone reminded me that if you bring up politics and drive people off, more pie for you!
So my position is now this: Stake out the high ground next to the pie and then GAME ON!

Well that's just crazy talk

A Trump-supporting law professor wonders how nearly all his colleagues so thoroughly lost sight of the principle that ours is a government of laws, not men:
What this is supposed to mean is that we adhere to the original understanding of our Constitution and laws, and that if legal change is to be accomplished it is done not by judges or presidents, but by legislators or the American people, through constitutional amendments.

This is a New Approach

Can a section of the Constitution itself be unconstitutional? The answer is yes.
Used to be the idea was just to get the SCOTUS to ignore the parts of the Constitution you didn't like. Is the 10th Amendment unconstitutional? It's certainly impossible to square with the left's agenda since FDR. As far as I know, though, no one has argued that it is unconstitutional; they've just elected to act as if it didn't exist.

The Mars Tartan

Very good.
The list of essential items astronauts would need to pack for an expedition to the Red Planet, has just got longer after a leading space scientist has had his design for a Mars Exploration tartan – including a colour representing future human settlement on Mars – officially registered with the Scottish Government’s Register of Tartans....

Prof Cockell, who also runs an online course about the search for alien life, said: “I’m totally enthusiastic about Mars exploration and decided it would be fun to have a tartan for future Mars exploration. I also thought it would reflect that forward-thinking scientific aspect of Scottish culture.

“The tartan could be worn by those working on Mars, any Scottish people going to Mars and on Earth by those preparing for Mars expeditions such as training in extreme environments in Antarctica.”

But what about the children?

Useful advice for everyone melting down about how their children will cope with Trump's proposed cabinet appointees.  News flash:  your kids don't think your politics are all that cool.

"The End of Identity Liberalism"

And not a day too soon.
Recently I performed a little experiment during a sabbatical in France: For a full year I read only European publications, not American ones. My thought was to try seeing the world as European readers did. But it was far more instructive to return home and realize how the lens of identity has transformed American reporting in recent years. How often, for example, the laziest story in American journalism — about the “first X to do Y” — is told and retold. Fascination with the identity drama has even affected foreign reporting, which is in distressingly short supply. However interesting it may be to read, say, about the fate of transgender people in Egypt, it contributes nothing to educating Americans about the powerful political and religious currents that will determine Egypt’s future, and indirectly, our own. No major news outlet in Europe would think of adopting such a focus.
The author is mostly concerned about the effect on liberalism, but the effect on America is more significant. This division of America into hostile, tribal camps has done no one any good. That it is coupled to a governing philosophy that insists on one-size fits-all rules, rules that make no room for Federalism or regional differentiation, only makes it more explosive than it already was.

A Biker Post

Dallas also has some choice biker stuff going on. I talked with the owner of this fine bike, which is a tribute to a not-so-classic 1991 movie.

The owner of that bike also owns a very nice shop dealing chiefly in custom Harleys.  It's as good a motorcycle shop as I've ever strayed into.

After that the wife and I went out to what turned out to be a famous Biker bar.

Making America Great Again: In Victory, Magnanimity

So we took this trip to Dallas. The wife and I were walking along the Turtle Creek greenway, which is quite lovely for an urban park, when we came across this large statue that was visible at another park across the road.

"Who is that?" she asked.

I answered, "It's Robert E. Lee, of course."

"Why would there be a monument to Lee in Dallas?" she asked incredulously.

"I don't know," I admitted, "but I'm pretty sure that's him."

Sure enough.

This statue was personally dedicated by Franklin D. Roosevelt, who came to Dallas for the purpose. The park was built out by his WPA. If you think they were kidding about celebrating Robert E. Lee, they weren't. In addition to the giant equestrian statue, they built a 2/3rds-scale exact replica of his mansion in Arlington.

They also built a lot of stuff that looks a lot more like what I've seen of CCC/WPA projects around the country. This bridge is a good example. They built benches and picnic tables out of similar stone, all of which remain in beautiful shape.

The upshot of this is not that Making America Great Again means that we should resume the mid-century celebration of the military heroes of the Confederacy. No, the thing I want to point out is how magnanimous this action was coming from FDR. He was elected in a similarly heated election, and faced similarly heated opposition after coming into office. Many people thought his CCC was little more than his version of Hitler Youth, which he was going to use to impose totalitarian rule on the nation.

But he didn't do that. He put them to work. Not everything they did was the most obviously sensible thing to do, either. Even if you accept that building a monument to Robert E. Lee served a useful political purpose in unifying Americans and healing older divisions; even if you believe wholeheartedly that building lasting parks and public recreation areas beautifies the country in a worthwhile way; even then, it's not at all clear that anyone really needed a 2/3rds-scale replica of Lee's mansion.

It put people to work, though. It taught them useful skills. It did, in fact, beautify the nation -- as did the CCC's yeoman work on similar parks and monuments around the nation, such as the repairs to the Confederate fortress at Fort Pulaski, or their building of shelters for hikers on the Appalachian trail.

It also showed a way for Americans to join each other in being Americans.

Trump can't fall back on exactly what worked for FDR, and I'm not suggesting that he should. The method is what is important. Put people back to work. Build something good, something that will last, even if it's not the very most obvious and sensible thing. Do it in a way that celebrates America, even the parts of it you may not always truly love. Show magnanimity in victory.


They went too far . . . even for Oregon?

They went too far . . . for college students?  Well, maybe not, that's just a few hundred students pushing back and pointing out how unpleasant it is to have their college president declare their politics out of all human bounds.  But Oregon, golly, the statewide race actually went to an R.

"Still Crying Wolf"

The author of Slate Star Codex, which is a stellar example of blogging at its best, has a piece refuting the idea that Donald Trump is appealing to racism.

In general I think this author is worth considering carefully, and I note that he did not publish this piece until after the election precisely because he didn't want to sway people into voting for Trump. So this is an argument against interests, politically; but in favor of knowing the truth, which is the real interest of both the author and all true philosophers. You may think he's wrong, but he is clearly trying to be honest with himself.

I'm only going to quote a small subset of the argument, way down the page, because it's interesting in itself.
Suppose you’re talking to one of those ancient-Atlantean secrets-of-the-Pyramids people. They give you various pieces of evidence for their latest crazy theory, such as (and all of these are true):

1. The latitude of the Great Pyramid matches the speed of light in a vacuum to five decimal places.
2. Famous prophet Edgar Cayce, who predicted a lot of stuff with uncanny accuracy, said he had seen ancient Atlanteans building the Pyramid in a vision.
3. There are hieroglyphs near the pyramid that look a lot like pictures of helicopters.
4. In his dialogue Critias, Plato relayed a tradition of secret knowledge describing a 9,000-year-old Atlantean civilization.
5. The Egyptian pyramids look a lot like the Mesoamerican pyramids, and the Mesoamerican name for the ancient home of civilization is “Aztlan”
6. There’s an underwater road in the Caribbean, whose discovery Edgar Cayce predicted, and which he said was built by Atlantis
7. There are underwater pyramids near the island of Yonaguni.
8. The Sphinx has apparent signs of water erosion, which would mean it has to be more than 10,000 years old.

She asks you, the reasonable and well-educated supporter of the archaeological consensus, to explain these facts. After looking through the literature, you come up with the following:

1. This is just a weird coincidence.
2. Prophecies have so many degrees of freedom that anyone who gets even a little lucky can sound “uncannily accurate”, and this is probably just what happened with Cayce, so who cares what he thinks?
3. Lots of things look like helicopters, so whatever.
4. Plato was probably lying, or maybe speaking in metaphors.
5. There are only so many ways to build big stone things, and “pyramid” is a natural form. The “Atlantis/Atzlan” thing is probably a coincidence.
6. Those are probably just rocks in the shape of a road, and Edgar Cayce just got lucky.
7. Those are probably just rocks in the shape of pyramids. But if they do turn out to be real, that area was submerged pretty recently under the consensus understanding of geology, so they might also just be pyramids built by a perfectly normal non-Atlantean civilization.
8. We still don’t understand everything about erosion, and there could be some reason why an object less than 10,000 years old could have erosion patterns typical of older objects.

I want you to read those last eight points from the view of an Atlantis believer, and realize that they sound really weaselly. They’re all “Yeah, but that’s probably a coincidence”, and “Look, we don’t know exactly why this thing happened, but it’s probably not Atlantis, so shut up.”
Chesterton would say that the person denying the validity of the Atlantis theory has a doctrine against Atlantis, while the ancient-Atlantean person was the one being scientific and looking for evidence. Of course, evidence that tends to confirm a theory is not what we really want in science: no theory can ever be confirmed, after all. What we're really looking for is ways to collect evidence that would disprove a theory.

But that's not what we have here, or there, and there's an important question about what to do in these cases.

The Throwing of the Sword

A deputy came under violent attack the other day, but was saved by an armed citizen who stepped in and shot his assailant. Of course, the firearm used to save the deputy was seized as evidence. Presumably it will be returned when the investigation is complete.

A local gun store has given him another gun so he need not be unarmed.

I told you that story so that I could recite a bit from one of my favorite poems.
For Colan had not bow nor sling,
On a lonely sword leaned he,
Like Arthur on Excalibur
In the battle by the sea.

To his great gold ear-ring Harold
Tugged back the feathered tail,
And swift had sprung the arrow,
But swifter sprang the Gael.

Whirling the one sword round his head,
A great wheel in the sun,
He sent it splendid through the sky,
Flying before the shaft could fly--
It smote Earl Harold over the eye,
And blood began to run.

Colan stood bare and weaponless,
Earl Harold, as in pain,
Strove for a smile, put hand to head,
Stumbled and suddenly fell dead;
And the small white daisies all waxed red
With blood out of his brain.

And all at that marvel of the sword,
Cast like a stone to slay,
Cried out. Said Alfred: "Who would see
Signs, must give all things. Verily
Man shall not taste of victory
Till he throws his sword away."

Then Alfred, prince of England,
And all the Christian earls,
Unhooked their swords and held them up,
Each offered to Colan, like a cup
Of chrysolite and pearls.

And the King said, "Do thou take my sword
Who have done this deed of fire,
For this is the manner of Christian men,
Whether of steel or priestly pen,
That they cast their hearts out of their ken
To get their heart's desire.

"And whether ye swear a hive of monks,
Or one fair wife to friend,
This is the manner of Christian men,
That their oath endures the end.

"For love, our Lord, at the end of the world,
Sits a red horse like a throne,
With a brazen helm and an iron bow,
But one arrow alone.

"Love with the shield of the Broken Heart
Ever his bow doth bend,
With a single shaft for a single prize,
And the ultimate bolt that parts and flies
Comes with a thunder of split skies,
And a sound of souls that rend.

"So shall you earn a king's sword,
Who cast your sword away."
And the King took, with a random eye,
A rude axe from a hind hard by
And turned him to the fray.

For the swords of the Earls of Daneland
Flamed round the fallen lord.
The first blood woke the trumpet-tune,
As in monk's rhyme or wizard's rune,
Beginneth the battle of Ethandune
With the throwing of the sword.

"...And Hear The Lamentations of Their Women"

Newsweek hosts a mournful piece by Nina Burleigh, the kind of person who attended a celebratory dinner for Hillary before the votes were counted. I couldn't help but think of Conan's dictum on what is best in life as I read it. Burleigh thinks this was all about men voting down women, but reading her commentary -- so very smug and self-satisfied even in defeat -- the true source of the wave against the establishment ought to become clear.

Likewise, of course, her journalistic ethics: so much about the connection between Trump and allegations of abusive behavior, and nothing about Clinton's own role in silencing her husband's victims all these many years. Condemnations are surely due at least equally on this ground, assuming the truth of both Trump's accuser's remarks and Clinton's accuser's remarks. I do in fact assume the truth of both sets of accusations, which strike me as likely valid given the characters of these men, and Hillary's character as well.

So I can see why women might want a woman president, when the right one appears to take the office; but hardly this woman president. Burleigh's lamentations are sweet to the ear because they are the lamentations of someone who despises even other women if they do not submit to her allegedly superior wisdom. I am glad to see that class of people, who are sure they know so much better than we, disappointed in their hopes.

But, what to make of this?
Women voted against Trump by one of the most significant gender gap margins in history, but their support for Clinton was tinged with ambivalence. In fact, Trump beat Clinton among white women 53 percent to 43 percent, with white women without college degrees going for him two to one. The hoped-for “first”—and the lead-up to it—never produced the jubilation that greeted the election of the first African-American president in 2008, even though women waited much longer for this moment. The first female president, after all, would have been in the White House on the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage.
The 15th Amendment, which ensured that African-Americans could vote, was ratified in 1870. I'm not clear on how waiting 100 years is waiting "much longer" than waiting 138 years.

There's an obvious joke in there, but I won't tell it. I am, after all, a gentleman.

Gun-Owning for Liberals

The list of people who have suddenly asked me about buying a gun has expanded all week. If the readership includes any lurkers who want to discuss the subject, you can reach me privately at grimbeornr (note the final "r") at Yahoo.

If you'd rather just read an article, here's one constructed for you by a libertarian.

Liberty By Law

You missed it the first time, America. Try it again.

This is the point. This is the thing you should be aiming for. They sorted out the basics in Anno Domini 1215.

How about Jim Webb for Secretary of Defense?

Mollie Hemingway makes the argument over at the Federalist.

It's a bit difficult to excerpt, so I'll just link her article.

Music to my Ears

A Vox interview with Haidt:
We have to recognize that we’re in a crisis, and that the left-right divide is probably unbridgeable. And if it is, we’ll have to give up on doing big things in Washington, and do as little as we possibly can at the national level. We’re going to have to return as much as we can to states and localities, and hope that innovative solutions spring from technology or private industry.
At least on this one point, the left-right divide is not unbridgeable!

Voting for Obama Anyway

It's worth revisiting this article as we encounter people who are wrestling with the question of how anyone could have voted for Trump.
Reagan Dems and Independents.... Yes, the spot worked. Yes, they believed the charges against Obama. Yes, they actually think he's too liberal, consorts with bad people and WON'T BE A GOOD PRESIDENT...but they STILL don't give a f***. They said right out, "He won't do anything better than McCain" but they're STILL voting for Obama....

The next was a woman, late 50s, Democrat but strongly pro-life. Loved B. and H. Clinton, loved Bush in 2000. "Well, I don't know much about this terrorist group Barack used to be in with that Weather guy but..."
What I took from that at the time was that people probably were going to vote for any Democrat against any Republican that year. This year, any Republican -- and Trump really tested that premise -- was probably going to beat the Democrat.

But it probably doesn't represent a permanent realignment of the sort people are talking about, hopelessly or breathlessly as they imagine it relating to their own preferences. Likely as not, the electorate will prove just as unreasonable again in four years, or eight, or twelve. It seems to come up now and then that they just decide to make a change in party control, regardless of how good or bad the particular candidate from that party happens to be.

(Still) On the Road

Just back from Dallas. Only I'm not all the way back, as I got rerouted part way home to another bit of business. I did like Texas, though. I'll have more to say later.

UPDATE: One of the things I did out in Dallas was meet up with our own Thomas Doubting, who drove in from Oklahoma for the occasion. During a long and winding discussion, I referred him to this old series on The Saga of Burnt Njal. Unfortunately, the discussion of the saga among members of the Hall has been lost in the Great Comments Disaster. That was the worthy part of the affair, but the saga itself remains rewarding.

UPDATE: While there, my wife and I made a trip to Stroker's Dallas, a custom motorcycle shop, tattoo parlor, roadhouse, and live music venue. We also went by a custom bike shop called Dream Machines, which had a magnificent collection of fine bikes for sale. We walked by, but did not have time for, a place in Deep Ellum called Reno's Chop Shop. It looked like fun too. There were lots of bikers in Deep Ellum, an old blues and jazz center that has turned into what I guess is the Brooklyn of Dallas.

I'll have a bigger post on a WPA park when I have time to upload photos.

Those nuts in the other half

The executive editor of "Cracked" Magazine has at least a glimmer of where all those crazy Trump voters are coming from, though he's careful to explain that he left the compound a long time ago and is enlightened now.


The news of Trump's election took me almost entirely by surprise.  Just in the last few days I had begun to wonder faintly if the polls had been that far off all along, or if perhaps things were shifting.  Caught flat-footed, I barely knew how I felt about the result.  I know the man will drive me crazy, and yet he's already won my heart by proposing a climate skeptic for EPA chief.  I always said I'd like some small fraction of what he did, which put him head and shoulders above Hillary F'in' Clinton.  Maybe this week I'm like the guy passing the 22nd-floor window on his way down:  "So far, so good!"

Something else that surprised me, but may have been evident to everyone else, is that the anger I thought had faded a bit, or at least been tamped down, is in fact still roaring.  I was refusing to make myself miserable concentrating on it all the time, but it was unabated.  All it took was 50 or so funereal Facebook posts by friends and family members who weren't sure they were ever again going to be able to get out of bed in face the day, to awaken a fearsomely vengeful spirit in me.  After several startlingly un-self-aware messages from my sister, I broke down and replied with the question whether she was actually aware that she was communicating with someone for whom the last couple of presidential terms had been sickening, maddening, embittering calamities.  (About which response in me, I didn't add, she had given not a single rat's patootie, not even when the lying little thief's law confiscated my health insurance.)

OK, that last line brings me to the point:  until recently, I could be irritable about bad government and economic policy, but I never let it knock me very far off balance.  I certainly couldn't sustain rage for years at a stretch, or much personal animosity.  I have to acknowledge that these people had never before made me feel afraid and vulnerable.  They'd never figured out a way to take away something that was deeply important to me and that I was afraid of not being able to replace.  Since then, my reaction has been more personal and more ugly.  I can work every day on not gloating openly, but the truth is that every weepy text message makes me incandescently angry.  I want to text back that I'm exactly as sympathetic as they were when the tables were turned, and I'm completely uninterested in any more theories about how I feel this way because I'm a racist.  Just bite me, that's all.  I have completely had it.  For the most part I restrain this impulse and answer noncommittally or not at all.  To my sister, I've taken to answering that I know how she feels.

On a happier note, we just got back from a reunion in Houston with our old commune buddies.  I see some of these folks from time to time, but there were some I hadn't seen for decades, and it was rare to see more than one or two at a time.  Eschewing politics, we did my favorite thing in the world, which was make music and sing along in 2 or even 3 parts, including many of the old songs we used to do nearly every night after communal dinner.  I'm terribly fond of the two guys who were playing guitar--then suddenly it came to me that these two guys had mocked up a big cardboard wedding cake for my bachelorette party in 1983, then jumped out of it in their underwear.  Who knows how either of them voted?  I love them both anyway.  In that moment I reached some kind of transcendent state of happy nostalgia and harmony with the world.  It was a lost moment of youth I never thought I'd feel again.

Don't let it be

Lockstep's appeal:
The problem is that while conservatives see “Live and Let Live” as a useful if imperfect instrument of civil peace, progressives view “Live and Let Live” as a distinct moral evil. It is less important to them that California is allowed to be California than that Texas should be forbidden to be Texas. Progressives have since the time of Bismarck had a mania for uniformity, because they believe that uniformity is necessary for their larger project: managing society as though it were a single factory and its people were widgets. You cannot package widgets eight to a box if they vary in size or shape.
The way it was explained to me in law school was that progressive policies sucked wind until their proponents found a way to make many of them uniform nationwide, typically via the Interstate Commerce Clause. That way, you didn't have to watch the people who objected to the new policy vote with their feet. Cuba and North Korea operate on that principle as well.  It is a large part of the appeal of global fair trade initiatives as well.