Speaking of decay

I can highly recommend Mary Roach's "Stiff," about cadavers.  She's a hilarious geek, sort of a morbid John McPhee.  I've now started on her "Grunt," about all the problems military personnel face other than the obvious.

I believe I'd like to be composted.

Home truths

We are complete suckers for home-buying, house-renovating, small-house-design shows of every stripe.  From "This Old House" to "Tiny House Nation," we watch them all.  Virginia Postrel ably captures part of their appeal:
Although budgets feature prominently, the network’s house-flipping shows aren’t really about money. Rather, they offer the thrill of watching something deteriorated revive. Replacing corroded pipes and shoring up sagging foundations is as important to the drama as ripping out hideous wallpaper or installing new countertops. The makeovers aren’t merely cosmetic. Something deeper than fashion is at stake. On HGTV, decay isn’t a permanent condition, and anything can be repaired. Things get better.
Ditto the car renovation shows. If something isn't working and a part isn't available, they don't just stare at the customer like a fish on ice, they pop into the shop and manufacture what they need. It's "can do" all the way down. Yesterday's "This Old House" had a terrific segment on marble mining. They showed miners cutting out a block of marble weighing many tons, as big as a garage. No one sat around saying, "Oh me, the marble's in the hillside, however will we get it out. Let's have another drink."

Postrel contrasts these popular shows, popular though unhip in their blandness, with "train-wreck TV," which I take to be the endless parade of series about people with horror-show families who are wedded to their dysfunction.

I have minor crushes on the carpenter and plumber from "This Old House."  I want to sit at their feet absorbing their knowledge.  They know how everything works, and can make it work better.

Decay is a permanent condition, but only in the long run.  We live in the short run.

Pondering the End of Christmas, and the Beginning of the Long Winter

The Twelve Days are already over, though by happenstance the Feast of the Epiphany waits for Sunday. We are getting our first real taste of the hard winter tomorrow, with snow expected early and then a plunge in temperatures compared to what is ordinary for Georgia.

Enjoy this reflection on an earlier Christmas, as seen from the Orkney Islands off northernmost Scotland. They make a decent beer up there, Skull Splitter Ale, named for a worthy Viking who appears in the saga that bears the islands' name. He also features in the Heimskringla.

DNC Refused FBI Access to Servers

Here's yet another reason not to feel very bad about the DNC losing its shirt to hackers -- not only did they hang up on the FBI when it called to warn them, it turns out they refused to let the FBI look at their servers when directly asked to do so.
The FBI “repeatedly stressed” the importance of accessing the hacked email server of the Democratic National Committee. But one senior law enforcement official now tells TheBlaze that DNC officials rejected its requests.

The news comes just hours after it was reported the FBI never examined the DNC server, which the bureau and multiple other U.S. intelligence agencies say was hacked by the Russian government...
Clearly, they wanted their secrets kept from law enforcement more than they wanted protection from law enforcement. That's OK. You're entitled to want that, as an American protected by the 4th Amendment.

Just, there's no whining when they tried to help you out and you told them to go take a hike.

Joltin' Joe Biden Rams Trump's Electoral College Certification through Congress

The Vice President, who is called "Mr. President" here because he is ex officio President of the Senate, has no patience for repeated efforts by members of his own party to disrupt the certification.

It would have been different if they had been able to get even one Senator to sign on. Apparently, no one wanted to be that person -- not Bernie Sanders, not Elizabeth Warren, not even Rand Paul.

Barrels of Crackers

More from USA Today, what's the world coming to?  Kirsten Powers gives us the down-home version of Charles Murray's "Coming Apart":
We really are two Americas. But it wasn’t always so. Dave Wasserman of The Cook Political Report points out that Donald Trump won 76% of counties with a Cracker Barrel but only 22% of counties with a Whole Foods, a 54-point gap. Yet in 1992, when Bill Clinton won the presidency, the gap between those same counties was only 19 points.
There is a sense among many “Cracker Barrel” Americans that they are not only expected to accept rapid cultural changes, but they are obliged to never even express a reservation or ask for more time to adjust. The choice is full-throated embrace or nothing.
I denounce myself. I confess that I'd love to have a Whole Foods here.  Actually, we don't even have a Cracker Barrel.

This is how you get more Trump

USA Today, to my amazement, has begun carrying regular OpEds by Glenn Reynolds.  This one reacted to a recent New Yorker cartoon showing an airline passenger standing up and announcing that he's tired of those smug pilots guiding the plane, and wants to know who's with him in taking the controls.  I know, right?  Next they'll be demanding a say in where the plane flies to, the little vermin.  Sean Davis of the Federalist responded:  "Do you want more Trump?  Because this is how you get more Trump."

Variations on Some Recent Themes Here

Grace and Chicago

The story of the autistic youth kidnapped, beaten, and scalped in Chicago has spread far and wide. It's easy to understand how it fits the current mood. The youth was beaten for being a Trump supporter. The attackers were black, the beaten youth was white.

What I think about, though, is the Charleston, S.C. shootings. None of us are as closely involved in this matter as the congregation of that church was, and so it should be easier for us to show a kind a similar -- lesser -- kind of grace. It would have been very easy for them not to do, but they did, and it touched people's hearts. In return, for example, the Southern Baptist Convention abandoned its longstanding defense of the Confederate flag at its next conference.

Abyssus abyssum invocat. Sometimes, however, the reverse can be true as well.


The ownership of real property is something we've discussed from time to time here. If a private citizen goes to own a piece of land, he or she can normally only obtain ownership in "fee simple." This is a form of feudal title, meaning that what we call an owner is really a feudal lord holding land from the sovereign. This is why eminent domain works: the land that the state is taking from you always really belonged to the sovereign state anyway. (Or so the legal fiction goes; this particular concept dates to early Medieval Europe, with the particular instrument of "fee simple" dating to Edward I).

What is harder to explain than eminent domain is this massive land-grab by the Feds. What makes it hard to explain is that the states opposed having their land seized by the central government, and it is not at all clear to me that the states aren't the proper sovereign for this purpose.
Obama unilaterally seized more than 1.3 million acres from Utah to establish the Bears Ears Monument, preserving it at the behest of conservationist groups and Native American tribes who claimed the land was sacred. Utah’s state legislature, however, opposed the unilateral land grab across party lines, with many speculating that Obama’s move is the latest in an attempt to limit efforts from incoming President Donald Trump to expand domestic energy production.

Obama also claimed 300,000 acres in Clark County, Nevada, as the Gold Butte National Monument, effectively closing the area off to future development for uranium mining, oil drilling or natural gas production.

While it's certainly nothing new, Obama's habit of unilaterally confiscating land has ramped up heading into the final stretch of his presidency. In the eight years he’s been in office, President Obama has seized more than 553 million acres of land and water (roughly 865,000 square miles) and placed it under federal ownership and control – enough square mileage to cover the entire state of Texas more than three times over.
This act defied a resolution by the state legislature in Utah opposing any new Federal land-grabs in their state. Utah's legislature doubtless feels a particular urgency about this, as 80% of the state has already been seized by the Federal government.

Among the constitutional re-thinking associated with the recent election has been a call to abolish the states, and run everything from the central government. This is (of course) exactly the opposite of what I think is the wise course. Nevertheless, I wonder if this isn't a functional means of doing it without the bother of a Constitutional amendment.

Self-government by the citizens of Utah now applies to only 20% of the land that is notionally within their borders. Why not 1%? Just as it has become common to set up "free speech zones" near political events (or on college campuses), why not restrict self-government to a couple of small towns or some other designated area? The few who care about living free could move, and the rest could continue to have their lives ordered by a friendly, distant Big Brother.

Perhaps we could call those last remaining free areas "Reservations." That would create a nice symmetry.

Pick 'em up trucks

Someone set a cat among the pigeons this week inviting America's elite to admit whether they knew anyone with a pick-up truck.  Around here, a more cogent question would be whether you know anyone without one.

Kevin Williamson leaped into the question by analyzing pick-up-truck ownership patterns in Houston, where apparently the usage is not authentically farm- or ranch-oriented.  Neither is ours, of course; we just like having a tow vehicle you can cart stuff around in.  I don't like driving it, and much prefer my SUV, which doesn't tow but works great for carting stuff around in.  We all keep track of who owns a trailer around here who will loan it to us to haul anything really big.

Williamson's piece ends on a nice note, though, which I thought I'd quote here:
Our politics is less and less about using the clumsy machinery of the state to try to mitigate the effects of this or that problem, and more and more about what kind of people we are, what kind of people we aspire to be, and — not least, never least — what kind of people we hate: effete Santa Monica liberals who don’t know where their food comes from, small-minded prairie bigots who shop at Walmart and have never visited Europe. We have a keen understanding for the vices of those who are unlike us. Their virtues, less so.
But the farmers and the bankers need each other. It is a big country, and there is room for both. A few years ago, there was a controversial Republican political figure who spoke to this under rather more intense circumstances: “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.”
The election of 2016 was divisive, to be sure. It wasn’t Appomattox. The Real America has been through worse.

For Grim

I don't know if you hadn't seen this, or had seen it but didn't care for it, but it seems pretty in your general wheelhouse.

Free Leonard Peltier

Here's an interesting headline: Leonard Peltier's prosecutor has written a letter asking for him to be granted clemency.

Peltier has been in jail for decades, following his conviction for killing FBI agents during the Pine Ridge shootout. The incident occurred during the American Indian Movement's heyday, when Vietnam veterans from the reservations came home and build up a movement to resist government authority where they found it corrupt and unjust. Naturally, this is the sort of movement that appeals to me -- unlike the Left, I like it just as well when the Bundy family did it as when the Lakota did it in 1975.

It is worth noticing that in both cases the fight was over what the government claimed as Federal land, but to which the other party also had a competing claim. The government would prefer you submit your competing claims to adjudication in its own courts, but the Oglala Lakota's claim on Wounded Knee is one that is bound up in a history that does not suggest reliance on Federal good faith.

Peltier's defenders maintain that he is innocent and never received a fair trial. There is something to be said for this, given that he was assigned two life sentences based on no proof that he ever shot anyone at all.
[The] prosecutor eventually admitted in court that the US attorney’s office “can’t prove who shot [the agents]” and claimed that Peltier was guilty of “aiding and abetting” in the shooting.

Reynolds was appointed US attorney in 1976 and oversaw the case’s appeal when much of the evidence that raised serious doubts about the government’s case were revealed.

The former prosecutor’s letter to Obama does not address the underlying conviction, and in an interview, he declined to say whether he believed Peltier is innocent. But Reynolds said it was wrong for Peltier to remain behind bars after 40 years, particularly considering that prosecutors ultimately considered him an accomplice in the crime. “You’re not really participating in the crime yourself. Just because you’re there, you’re going to get nailed.”
Even 20 years ago, it seemed like a bit much to me given that no one has proven he had anything to do with the actual killings. Nor, really, do the deaths strike me as properly-speaking murders in any case: it was a skirmish, in which the Federal agents were taking aggressive action and got caught in a crossfire.

It would be a shame for Barack Obama, to whom the petition was addressed, to have made friends with the Weathermen but to refuse clemency to Peltier. The Weathermen were actual terrorists. Peltier has paid a high price for a crime no one ever proved he committed. If the point was for him to serve as an example, surely forty years is example enough.

Taco Bell Gets Healthy

Business Insider apparently stopped in one recently, and noticed that it wasn't quite as they remembered it.
Unless you’re a hardcore follower of the chain, you may not have noticed the change, so we’re going to fill you in: Taco Bell has started to become one of the country’s healthiest fast-food chains.

It seems a little weird that a restaurant that offers a Doritos-shell taco would warrant that title, but it’s the gospel truth.

In the past year or so, Taco Bell has been restructuring menu choices from top to bottom, especially on the company website and mobile platform. The goal? To give consumers a choice. They can pig out on Crunch Wrap Supremes if they want, or they can go for a healthier option that’s still quick service and delicious.
The high-protein chicken "Power" burritos are not a bad choice if you have to eat fast food for some reason. When I travel I sometimes eat them. You can get a reasonably healthy dose of protein for around four bucks, even at an airport or a train station.

Showing Off That New Technology

Amazon's new "Alexa" has a lot in common with Mack.

I wouldn't have one in my house for other reasons, in any case.

Tough love

Everyone knows by now that you can sometimes hurt by helping too much.  So it should come as little surprise that some of the nation's non-profits, horrified by the Trump election, have doubts about helping too much.  Not that they're worried about helping the needy too much; the real problem is that, by ramping up private charity, they might be encouraging conservatives to think their preference for keeping government out of the charity business is a model that works:
Caleb Gayle, a former program officer at the George Kaiser Family Foundation, wrote an op-ed last week for the Chronicle arguing that the philanthropic sector shouldn’t spend more to make up for gaps in government funding.
“It should instead exercise strategic restraint,” he wrote.
Gayle is unabashed about his plan to put partisanship above helping people. “To many foundations, it might seem cruel to resist calls to spend more . . . But if grant makers start to far exceed the 5 percent annual minimum, they will validate the conservative desire to strip money from government antipoverty measures.”

Small gov

Let's make even the name smaller!  I'm just barely old enough to remember Goldwater's presidential campaign.  We thought the height of clever humor was to say his name stood for "urine."  Here he is on his political goals:
I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution, or that have failed their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is “needed” before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents’ “interests,” I shall reply that I was informed that their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can.

A natural act

From an AEI article by Frederick Hess on the education wars:
At root, teaching and learning are intuitive acts. Kids are naturally curious; they’re natural learners. The human mind is hard-wired to ask questions and seek out knowledge. And adults are predisposed to share knowledge, interests, and skills. When one feels confounded or overwhelmed by the challenges of educational improvement, it’s worth keeping in mind that teaching and learning aren’t the product of some mysterious alchemy—they’re deeply natural acts. Systems, structures, and bureaucratic rules designed to support and promote learning need to be scrutinized with an eye to whether they respect that truth.
We can all do a lot better to steer clear of words that have been stripped of meaning. School reform is filled with such words: “consensus,” “best practices,” “differentiation,” “21st century skills,” “rigor,” “effective teaching,” “accountability,” “empowerment,” and so on. Most of the time, it’s not clear what any of these placeholders really mean. They’re often just a way to skip past complicated questions. The problem is that mushy language leads to fuzzy thinking. When I use these words, I frequently realize that even I don’t know exactly what I’m saying.
I was lucky to have many first-rate teachers. One thing they avoided was buzzwords and empty process. They knew how to keep order (and were not undermined in this by their institutions), they knew their subjects, and they cared about nothing but making the intellectual contact necessary to get their knowledge and skills across. Some did this warmly and personably, others with a cool, demanding style. Some were didactic, others collaborative. They gave and demanded respect. They believed that what they had to teach was valuable and showed that they cared whether I got it.

The bad teachers were checking off boxes, warming benches, picking up paychecks, perpetuating fads, using their desks as a soapbox. If they knew their fields at all, they didn't get much of a charge out of communicating its content.

I honestly don't know what's supposed to be going on in education colleges.  There must be some training going on there that circumvents the thick fog of buzzwords; I'm sure some of my good teachers--the ones from public schools--had made it through without being ruined.  At worst they had some of their time wasted.

Scots-Irish Music in America

A documentary.


My neighbor who lurks here reports that her niece can't hear arguments against man-made climate catastrophe; she fends them all off with the assumption that they're funded by the Koch brothers.  If she could listen, this would be a good place to start:  a fair-minded fellow who tries to make basic, non-threatening points to a group of nice college kids.  The Q-and-A session afterwards suggests that not much got through, but you never know.  For every well-meaning question posed with a confused lack of rigor, there may have been several kids quietly wondering if the whole thing makes as much sense as everyone's been telling them it does all these years.

It's very discouraging to me that it's so difficult to concentrate anyone's attention on the failure of our climate models to make verifiable predictions, let alone on more difficult questions like "Even assuming you're correct about the probable severity of the problem, is the policy you're proposing to cure it actually likely to cure it?" and "If so, at what cost, and how does that cost compare to the benefit?"

ERB: Teddy versus Churchill

It's worth comparing this with the recent Tolkien vs. Martin post by Thomas, if you're interested in the format. (Language warning.) They both feature an English legend against what is presented as a blowhard American. The effect, however, is quite different.

I'm curious as to why, given the political leanings of ERB, they treated the Spanish American War as kind-of glorious, and outright ignored Churchill's contributions to Britain's colonial wars.

I think they think that Churchill won this one as convincingly as they set up Tolkien to win over Martin (which of course he should have done, were the thing real). I'm pretty sure that's not true. The Bull Moose looks to me like he came out well on top, given the way that Churchill presents his argument.


Aristotle Generally Has A Point

Glenn Reynolds responds to an article in the Washington Post in a way I find is not uncommon, but is ill-advised. The article cites a passage from Aristotle's Rhetoric, which I'll give in full in a minute. Reynolds responds:
Given the change in military technology and the state since Aristotle, I’m not sure the quotes are apposite.
That is doing Aristotle poor justice. He is not talking about military technology or the state here. He's talking about persuasion, and in particular in persuasion by example. So here's the citation:
The “example” has already been described as one kind of induction; and the special nature of the subject-matter that distinguishes it from the other kinds has also been stated above. Its relation to the proposition it supports is not that of part to whole, nor whole to part, nor whole to whole, but of part to part, or like to like. When two statements are of the same order, but one is more familiar than the other, the former is an “example.”

The argument may, for instance, be that Dionysius, in asking as he does for a bodyguard, is scheming to make himself a despot. For in the past Peisistratus kept asking for a bodyguard in order to carry out such a scheme, and did make himself a despot as soon as he got it; and so did Theagenes at Megara; and in the same way all other instances known to the speaker are made into examples, in order to show what is not yet known, that Dionysius has the same purpose in making the same request: all these being instances of the one general principle, that a man who asks for a bodyguard is scheming to make himself a despot.
A position I've long defended in this space is that this kind of reasoning is analogical. It would be easy to read this as a kind of logical reasoning instead. "Instances of one general principle" sounds like there is a single thing of which this is an instance; a type of which this is a token, to put it in the way contemporary philosophers prefer.

But that isn't Aristotle's point. Here's what he says next:
There is an important distinction between two sorts of enthymemes that has been wholly overlooked by almost everybody-one that also subsists between the syllogisms treated of in dialectic. One sort of enthymeme really belongs to rhetoric, as one sort of syllogism really belongs to dialectic; but the other sort really belongs to other arts and faculties, whether to those we already exercise or to those we have not yet acquired. Missing this distinction, people fail to notice that the more correctly they handle their particular subject the further they are getting away from pure rhetoric or dialectic.
As a point of pure rhetoric -- which is what he was talking about -- the charge by example that a bodyguard implies tyranny is an effective tool. As a point of understanding the real world, that is not the case. The more correctly you understand your subject, the less you're doing rhetoric, and the more you're doing arts and science, certainly to include military and political science (which are more properly sciences on Aristotle's terms than on the contemporary understanding of what a "science" is).

The thing about analogies is that they always break. The question about analogical reasoning -- which includes all forms of the example -- is whether the breaking point comes before or after the thing you're talking about. If you're using rhetoric to try to understand the world, that's the thing to keep in mind.

If you're just trying to persuade someone of a point you'd like them to adopt, well, this is a perfectly good rhetorical argument. It's not that Aristotle didn't understand enough to give you good guidance. It's that even the people who read him rarely read him closely enough to understand what he was talking about. Here he's just talking about persuasion, creating the impression that a single real principle is governing disparate events. In fact, that is never the case: analogies always break. It is my contention that Aristotle knew this perfectly well, and defends it as a governing principle of ethics and politics in the early Nicomachean Ethics. (1094b12-28, for those who are serious about following along.)

Gratitude for 2016

Though it is quite common to view 2016 as a particularly bad year, I found that it contained a number of very high moments. Of course, my list of what was good about it matches other people's list of what was bad about it in part. Still, overall there are some things about the year that were unexpected and good.

I'll list them in chronological order, where the chronology is 'as I remember it' rather than me looking it up to confirm I have the dates right.

1) The end of the Bush family dynasty in Republican politics: nothing against the Bush family, but everything against family dynasties in our Republic.

2) Brexit, which offers many reasons for hope.

3) The discovery that the Republican party was not really controlled by the elite that tried to run it, but that it was a genuinely small-d democratic party that would live with the will of its voters. That was quite surprising and unexpected.

4) The absence of violence at the RNC in spite of predictions.

5) The revelation of the corruption of the DNC, not because it was good that it was corrupt, but in the hope that it might be a corrective in the future. There is a minority element of the party, centered around Bernie Sanders' supporters, that is committed to such reforms because they are still young enough to genuinely believe in democracy. Maybe they'll win. Even if they don't, maybe they'll break some of their chains. Their naivety may finally fail, and their starry-eyed leaders become corrupted by power -- but on the other hand there's little power left, outside California, so there's a chance that their idealism may succeed. Who would want to corrupt them, outside California, where they have nothing to offer in return?

6) The end of the Clinton family dynasty, which is an unalloyed good for America.

7) The survival of the United States Constitution as a document that might possibly limit government powers, rather than as a document that licenses the government 'to do good things.' The conservative view of the Constitution would have passed away forever with a 5th progressive vote on the Supreme Court.

8) Suddenly it became important to be concerned about the health of our democratic forms, and limits on executive power, and other things that some of us have been talking about this whole time.

9) A revival of interest in Federalism, although nascent, as a means of controlling a Federal power that is suddenly frightening to the American left.

10) Some of these potential cabinet appointments look good -- especially Mattis, but not only Mattis.

11) A chance to revisit and reform numerous Federal policies and agencies. So far it's just a chance, and it may be squandered or it may fail in spite of diligent effort. Nevertheless, there would have been no chance at all otherwise.

There's a lot to do now, but these things were good things from my perspective.

Civil Rights and Terror

A historical parallel:
Thousands attend their rallies, claiming widespread discrimination. They wrap themselves in displays of “interfaith” cooperation. National, state, and local officials pay them heed. Words that “offend” them are removed from movies, newscasts, and even official government reports. All the while, the men who lead this organization have appeared extensively on FBI wiretaps and are known to federal law enforcement to be involved in a national criminal conspiracy.

You could be forgiven for thinking this describes the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR)... But no. The year is 1971, and the pressure group is the Italian American Civil Rights League (IACRL). Its founder, Joe Colombo, is known to federal law enforcement as the head of New York’s Colombo crime family...

It may seem like a punch line now but, in the 1970s, the effort by gangsters to don the mantle of activists and wrap themselves the flag of “civil rights” was taken semi-seriously. Many prominent Italian-American elites (prominenti in Italian) endorsed the call, throwing their influence behind the grievance-mongering.
There's a line to walk here, as groups that legitimately exist to protect civil rights are often co-opted into going along with groups like these. That provides an additional complication, as it is necessary to disaggregate the legitimate groups from the ones that exist to provide cover for dangerous organizations. It wouldn't do to run the Anti-Defamation League out of business along with CAIR, even though they frequently end up going along with CAIR. That makes it more difficult, but still necessary, to criticize effectively.

A lengthy aside, that may serve as an example: ADL has other conceptual problems, too, such as listing the Celtic Cross as a "hate symbol," along with Anglo-Saxon and Norse runic writing. The Celtic Cross is one of the most common expressions of Christianity in much of the United States, as well as of course in Ireland. Runic writing is of great interest not only to neopagans, but to lovers of J. R. R. Tolkien and medieval history in general. The fact that somebody somewhere used a symbol in a hateful way does not make the symbol itself a form of hate.

In fairness, ADL does clarify a few cases in which "interpretation" is important. I would say they understate the case, and that such a symbol should only be taken as an expression of hate if no interpretation is required to see that it is intended as one -- it's not as if the KKK or the Aryan Brotherhood are shy about what they think. The attempt to ban or constrict speech and expression is not desirable, nor is it wise to yield up powerful symbols to the hateful. Far wiser would be an effort to reclaim those symbols, by contesting that the legitimate use of them is the one fully proper use. I raise that criticism of the approach, however, without wishing to undermine the cause of rejecting Anti-Semitism.

To return to the main point, it can be difficult to disentangle the group you want to expose as a front group -- CAIR -- while not undermining the legitimate group that has adopted exactly similar rhetoric, and that appears at some of the front group's events. Likewise, when prominent people are suckered into playing along, you can't help but frame your criticism of them in a way that is going to make them look foolish (at best). The alternative is to let bad actors get away with disabling necessary security work.

Our outgoing administration has erred significantly in the one direction. It remains to be seen if the incoming administration will get the balance right, or if it will err in the other direction. At the moment we've gone so far down the one road that even an error in the other direction would be corrective. Still, it would be best by far to get the balance right.


A Deadly Few Weeks

We are entering into a dangerous passage, a period of great uncertainty that will last several weeks. You're doubtless aware of the transitional period between administrations with very different world views, which is one problem. But another problem is that, for the first time since World War II, we will have no carriers deployed at sea anywhere in the world.

As former President Bill Clinton said, one of the first questions that comes up in a crisis, from a tsunami to an invasion, is "Where is the nearest carrier?" The answer for a little while is going to be: "There isn't one."