I've Been Chewed Out Before

The Navy punished the SEALs who flew the Trump flag from their Humvee.
According to the documents, the commanding Seals officer directed a teamwide remedial training on safe convoy operations and partisan political activity.
Yeah, I've seen that movie.

Jury Rules on Malheur Militia

A jury refused to convict on any Federal charges in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge case last year. This year, on a different set of charges, the jury came to a split decision. The decision is a little strange, but at least one felony conviction came back against each participant -- even though the minor players seem to have gotten off worse than the leaders, and people who plainly did the same things were sometimes convicted and sometimes not.


A Viking re-enactment society in Norway is building a Viking village in a truly beautiful setting.

Hemingway: Commie Spy

Apparently he even had a KGB code name -- "Argo."

Fortunately, he wasn't any good at it.

DB: "Black Hawk Down" Reboot

Changes to the original story include adding a number of LGBTQI+ soldiers to the cast who try to make friends with enemy fighters instead of shooting them, while Medal of Honor recipients Master Sgt. Gordon and Sgt. 1st Class Shugart will be played by Chinese actors....

Still, the film will include nods to the original film [including] a version of the compelling speech given by the character "Hoot," who explains why he serves in the Army at a time of war.

"When I go back home, people ask me, 'why do you do it, man? Why? Are you some kind of war junkie?'" the character says in the new film. "I just tell them no. War is a terrible thing and nothing good ever comes from violence."
I imagine it'll do as well as the Ghostbusters reboot.


It's never a good sign for the IRS when the judge's very first step is to compare their conduct to Caligula's.

Batman Meets Galadriel

Understanding the Left in One Picture

I Guess If You Were Going to Play One Leningrad Cowboys Song for Lent

... it might be this one.

But probably not these ...

The Political: Not So Personal

Hot Air looks at a study on the recent campaigns for President, and it finds that Hillary Clinton's was run in almost entirely personal terms. Oddly enough, the Trump campaign was far more policy-oriented both in its positive message and its criticisms of its opponent's.

The CIA's Bad Week Continues

This will do wonders for American-French relations.

Be grateful the lights are on

Jordan Peterson is a Canadian psychologist with a conservative bent.  From Maggie's Farm, this is a lovely short clip in which he explores the idea that life includes a good bit of irreducible suffering, and maybe our job is to quit pretending there's a world in which that won't be so if everyone stops oppressing us, and if we can finally fractionate down to the very last citizen exactly where we all fit on the oppressed-victim spectrum so we can calculate the reparations we are due.  Then we can get to work trying to pull ourselves together and make small, incremental improvements in how we act.  We can control whom we oppress, in other words, though we can never control who oppresses us--only our response to them.

Best Amazon Reviews EVER

Reasons to Vote for Democrats: A Comprehensive Guide

The blurb:

The most exhaustively researched and coherently argued Democrat Party apologia to date, "Reasons To Vote For Democrats: A Comprehensive Guide" is a political treatise sure to stand the test of time. A must-have addition to any political observer's coffee table. "Thorough" --Ben Shapiro, nationally syndicated columnist and New York Times bestselling author

Here are a couple of shorter reviews:

A phenomenal piece of literature. Knowles really captures the heart of the reader with his background as a black, gay Grammy and Oscar award winner. A must read for all Americans. And liberals, too. -- Amazon Customer

I gave it four (4) stars. While I appreciate that I was able to read the whole book AND make it to my local "Day Without A Woman" protest by 10:30 am, the cover contains an American flag and American flags are a trigger for me. The ass who thought it would be a good idea to put the American flag on the cover forced me to retreat to my safe space for a half-hour to compose myself. I ended up being late and I didn't get my favorite spot at the protest. -- Mandyesque

Here's a snippet of one of my favorite longer reviews, by Coriolis:

A few years ago, as I was studying for my master's degree in engineering, I had the inspiration to sit in on a Women's Studies lecture. Never in my academic career have I been so profoundly affected. Truly, the depth of logic, critical thinking, and openness to challenging views displayed by the professor was unlike any other educator I had ever encountered. Having been exposed to the quality of scholarship one can only find at my university by auditing one of its Women's Studies lectures, I knew I would never be able to truly comprehend the subject because of my thrice-be-damned white cis-gendered male heterosexual privilege. Wallowing in full-time employment and chained to my role in the patriarchy as a husband and father, I had given up on ever truly grasping the profound moral and philosophical core behind the modern social justice movement, progressives, and those who understand the true worth of pursuing diversity for its own sake. ...

There's nearly 1,200 reviews right now. This should be days of good reading.

We Should Encourage This "Day Without Progressive Princesses" Phenomenon

It was interesting perusing the comments to Grim's post about this year's International Women's Day strike. Although I hesitate to offend any regulars at the Hall, let me suggest you are viewing this event through a certain, well, myopia.

You see, when all of these Progressive Princesses (and I use that title with its full measure of royal respect), these Social Justice Warrior Womyn, are absent, it leads to reflection on the part of those of their co-workers who suffer a certain lack of Progressivity or SJ Warriory-ness. Yes, this denial of Progressive Princess presence engenders a certain bittersweet sensation somewhat reminiscent of ... well, vacation.

In their absence, one feels the weight of freedom, the sense that it might be possible in some plebeian utopia to discuss world affairs out in the open, like free men and women, without triggering tearful displays of reality denial at the words "President Trump," or snippy reminders that some of us feel deeply oppressed, or the sotto voce jokes about incipient fascism that we're not supposed to hear but are. It makes one pensive.

So, allow me to suggest that we ... empathize with these courageous Womyn Warriors, praise them, even. Suggest, if we may, that they make this a quarterly event, even a monthly one, because womyn are worth it, yo!

Well, no, we couldn't join them; we are too mired in the internalized oppression of the patriarchy, you see. We could never do that! But we are inspired by them! In fact, because of the obvious strength they displayed with their absence, we even felt a little tug to break free ourselves ...

Responsible Blue-State Government

The Rhode Island Statehouse is full of drunk legislators doing shots inside the capitol, newly elected Providence Democratic Rep. Moira Walsh alleged this week....

“I am probably gonna get in a lot of trouble for saying this but the drinking, it is the drinking that blows my mind. You cannot operate a motor vehicle when you’ve had two beers, but you can make laws that affect people’s lives forever when you’re half in the bag?” she said. “That’s outrageous.”

When asked to clarify if lawmakers are drinking during session Walsh demurred, though she did say they took shots together on the floor on at least one occasion.

“Dude they put shots on our desk for the Dominican Republic day and we all just did shots on the floor,” she offered.

Rolling Stone: This Russia Story is Dangerous to the Press's Credibility

The magazine that gave us Hunter S. Thompson has begun to publish queasy second-thoughts about all this Russia stuff.
This is the former Director of National Intelligence telling all of us that as of 12:01 a.m. on January 20th, when he left government, the intelligence agencies had no evidence of collusion between Donald Trump's campaign and the government of Vladimir Putin's Russia. Virtually all of the explosive breaking news stories on the Trump-Russia front dating back months contain some version of this same disclaimer....

Setting all of that aside, look at the techniques involved within the more "legitimate" reports. Many are framed in terms of what they might mean, should other information surface. There are inevitably uses of phrases like "so far," "to date" and "as yet." These make visible the outline of a future story that isn't currently reportable, further heightening expectations....

These constructions are an end run around the [NYT']s own reporting standards. The Times by itself could never have run that "explosive" Steele dossier, or mentioned the "embarrassing videos" – because the dossier material can't be confirmed....

[W]hat if there is nothing else to find?

Reporters should always be nervous when intelligence sources sell them stories. Spooks don't normally need the press. Their usual audiences are other agency heads, and the executive. They can bring about action just by convincing other people within the government to take it.
In the extant case, whether the investigation involved a potential Logan Act violation, or election fraud, or whatever, the CIA, FBI, and NSA had the ability to act both before and after Donald Trump was elected. But they didn't, and we know why, because James Clapper just told us – they didn't have evidence to go on.

Thus we are now witnessing the extremely unusual development of intelligence sources that normally wouldn't tell a reporter the time of day litigating a matter of supreme importance in the media.
There is a real danger to the press in proving the spirit of Trump's accusations against it: that it is an enemy, if not of 'the People,' certainly of him personally and his administration in general. Credibility is the currency, and the media's is in grave danger here. If it becomes obvious that they allowed themselves to become the willing puppets of administration opponents within the security state, the press has a lot to lose.

I Love This Plan

We've heard the sanctimonious "Blue States pay more in taxes!" arguments for more than a decade now, and of course the moralizing about how Red States are full of losers is old hat. Still, the actual plan here is wonderful.
We give up. You win. From now on, we’ll treat the animating ideal on which the United States was founded—out of many, one—as dead and buried. Federalism, true federalism, which you have vilified for the past century, is officially over, at least in spirit. You want to organize the nation around your cherished principle of states’ rights—the idea that pretty much everything except the U.S. military and paper currency and the national anthem should be decided at the local level? Fine. We won’t formally secede, in the Civil War sense of the word. We’ll still be a part of the United States, at least on paper. But we’ll turn our back on the federal government in every way we can, just like you’ve been urging everyone to do for years, and devote our hard-earned resources to building up our own cities and states. We’ll turn Blue America into a world-class incubator for progressive programs and policies, a laboratory for a guaranteed income and a high-speed public rail system and free public universities. We’ll focus on getting our own house in order, while yours falls into disrepair and ruin.
That's fantastic. In return, let's cut Federal taxes to the bone so that it has the money it needs to take care of the military and its other few explicitly Constitutional functions. That'll leave more money for blue states to redirect to all those local projects.

Frankly, I think much of that spending done in Red States is harmful anyway. The opioid epidemic is paid for by Federal welfare money: poor people can't afford all those pills. However, they get food stamp money that can launder, and they get subsidized pills thanks to Federal medical aid. So ending all those transfer payments would ultimately be of benefit to our society: the transfer payments and welfare schemes often cause harm, however much they are intended to do good. Likewise, I don't worry too much that industry will flock only to blue states (with their high state taxes) and avoid red states (with their far lower ones).

This is what I think of as "true" Federalism -- the Federal government has a few, specific, explicitly stated duties. It has all, but only, the powers it needs to do those few things. Everything else is reserved to the states, or to the people, as the 10th Amendment plainly says.

So by all means, let's get to work on this new idea of theirs.

"Preach what you Practice"

A reasonable point on the virtues of the virtuous:
Murray’s upper-middle-class professionals are not the callous and un-American “Davos Men” of Steve Bannon’s rhetoric. They’re guilty of some mostly benign neglect, but in general their lifestyles are fairly admirable.

They’re disciplined and hard-working. They embrace healthy life habits. They are conscientious parents who get involved in their (bubbled) communities. It’s also interesting to note that Murray sees his upper middle class as a genuine cognitive elite.... In short, Murray in “Coming Apart” seems to regard the residents of “Belmont” as fine exemplars of many core American values. He doesn’t want to see them deposed. He just wants them to try harder to reach out to their less-fortunate compatriots, which is especially critical because “Fishtown” needs some help in this regard....

We don’t have to choose between a theory suggesting that “Fishtown” needs more and better professional and educational opportunities, and one suggesting that Fishtowners need more discipline and better life habits. These claims can easily both be true.

But if they are both true, then we won’t be able to lift “Fishtown” up just by tearing “Belmont” down. Populism likes to lionize the common man, but that wasn’t Murray’s impulse. He wanted the elite to “preach what they practice,” negatively judging Fishtowners’ misbehavior for their own good and the good of our shared society.
It's fair to draw a distinction between decent 'elites' and the "Davos Men" (and women, including especially the recent Democratic candidate for President). But let's not lose the fair criticism, either: how many of these don't preach what they practice? How many preach that the traditional family structure is a kind of trap for women and children, or that marriage is a very fluid concept, or that really it's fine if the best jobs go to strangers overseas? They don't practice this way. They practice as if their marriage and family are sacrosanct, and their children need to position themselves to get the increasingly few good jobs that exist in a changing economy.

They say the popular things to say, not the hard things. If the poor and the weak hear these things from the righteous and successful, how many of them will find the heart to say that the righteous and successful are wrong? Well, they are wrong: not so much in what they do, but very often in what they say. Very often, likewise, in what they consent to their government saying.

Down the Rabbit Hole

A secret Knights Templar cavern, discovered in just that way.

This is a Strange Day for this Argument, Comey

Default powerful encryption "breaks the bargain" between citizens and government, argues the head of the FBI.

I'm pretty sure we just this week had it confirmed that you have backdoor capacities to turn on the microphones in like everything we own, which means that encryption of voice calls is useless. Malware that lets you read keystrokes captures data before the start of the end-to-end encryption process, and if you can seize control of the computer you can read the data on the other end anyway.

Besides, encryption is a branch of mathematical logic. You can't ban it any more than you can ban people from doing math. If you made it illegal to manufacture commercial encryption, anyone with a computer could still brew it up if they bothered to learn how. At least this way you can bribe the tech companies to give you a backdoor or to leave vulnerabilities for you to exploit in the system (as the Vault 7 documents claim your friends at CIA have been doing).

If anyone has a right to complain about the bargain being broken, I would think it was the citizenry. The right to be secure in 'person and papers' without your having to get a warrant seems to be fading in this technological age. If there remain ways of defending yourself from intrusive surveillance, good.

SoA: Celebrating the Kurdish Female Peshmerga

Spirit of America has chosen to celebrate "International Women's Day" with this series of interviews. By virtue of necessity, 40% of the Kurdish fighting force is female as they struggle against ISIS and are surrounded by regional aggressors.

NSA Wiretap Whistleblower: Of Course Trump Is Right

Eat the rich? No, we eat everything.

He's almost twenty years out of date as a man in the service, which either makes this better or worse. If a 36 year member of the service says this is plausible based on nearly 20 year old data, then it's way more plausible today. On the other hand, he's been out of the game for a long time.

Pineapple Pizza

I once bought a friend a pineapple pizza that he didn't eat at all, because he hated the stuff. I meant it kindly.

This happened in Iraq, in 2008 or 2009. My friend was a Warrant Officer in the US Army, and I had recently observed him -- on a trip to Victory Base Complex, where there were multiple Pizza Hut trailers as well as a real-life pizza restaurant on the west side -- to bring back several pizzas, including a Hawaiian pizza. This kind of pizza is not really Hawaiian. It's actually Canadian.

Anyway, I assumed he wouldn't have bought the thing if he didn't like it, so the next time I got over there I brought one back for him. He thanked me very kindly, and never once mentioned that he hated the idea of pineapple on pizza. I only found that out later. I felt bad at the time, although the only sad thing was that I guess the pizza was wasted. He appreciated that I'd tried to do something nice for him, and that was the really important thing.

I personally like very many things on pizza. This attitude is described by the author from the first link as proper to "[o]thers from pizza wastelands such as Australia and Atlanta [who] extolled the virtues of complementing pineapple and ham with even more revolting toppings such as... jalapenos." Why, yes, I would also like jalapenos on that pizza.

I mean, where pizza is concerned, I'm fairly broad-minded.

In any case, I didn't bring this up to offer a binding opinion on the question of what ought to be on a pizza. I was just appreciative of the occasion to remember a friend I haven't ever seen since he boarded a helicopter on FOB Falcon, to rotate back to Germany after a long and honorable service in Iraq. I hope he's doing well.

Anybody 'On Strike' Tomorrow?

I asked my wife if she knew that she was supposed to be on strike tomorrow. She said, "No, what's tomorrow?"

"International women's day," I said.

"That sounds like some UN Commie bull****," she might have said.

"Well, you're supposed to refuse to go to work tomorrow," I told her, "and also not to do any work here around the house. It's a way of protesting Donald Trump."

Her response to that was unprintable.

What about those of you around the Hall of the feminine persuasion? Don't take my ferocious wife to be off-putting. Thomas, who met her recently in Dallas, can tell you that she's a woman of her own mind (as well she ought to be). If you've chosen to strike, that's just fine. Feel free to tell us about your reasons, assured of a respectful discussion according to Hall rules.

Georgia Legislature Update

Religious freedom is dead this year, having been referred to languish until it was too late to act upon. Last year it passed and was vetoed by Governor Deal. Support for religious freedom is even weaker in the legislature this year, while corporate opponents of religious freedom have proliferated.

SB 49, the 'redefine what a knife is' bill, also appears not to have managed to "cross over" to the House by the required deadline. It will not become law.

However, three gun related bills did cross over, and are still in the running. This includes this year's version of Campus Carry, HB 280. You will remember that Governor Deal, who is still the governor, vetoed that bill last year as well. However, Rep. Powell of Hartwell, Georgia, says he believes this year's version addresses the governor's concerns. We'll see, maybe.

USMC Scandal, Continued

American Military News has interviews with some female Marines, at least one of whom appears in the database of nude female Marines. At least the ones they spoke to all agree that this is a problem with male Marines, period. At no point do any of them appear to entertain any idea that there's any additional discipline that might be imposed on the exercise of sexuality in general.

Maxmilian, the creator of Terminal Lance, agrees. The idea that discipline should be imposed on sexuality is right out:
To the first point, everyone sends nudes in 2017. There are so many photos of my modestly large penis out there that you could fill a 7-ton if you printed them out. The argument that women are asking for it is rapey as hell and straight up victim-blaming. Nude photos sent or received, unless otherwise specified, have a pretty clear implication of privacy involved in it.
That's a pretty big generational shift. Even 20 years ago, the mere existence of nude photos -- physical ones, which couldn't be instantly transmitted around the globe -- was pretty racy stuff.

This is an area where the law is really not very helpful. In general, if I take a photograph that photograph is my intellectual property and I can share it if I want to do. If I share it with you and you, without my consent, publish it widely I can sue you for copyright infringement. But if you took the photo -- even if it's a photo of me taken without my consent, if I was in a public place at the time -- you can do whatever you want with it. It's your intellectual property.

One woman in another context tried to copyright the image of her own breasts as a method of using copyright infringement law to get her images taken down from 'revenge porn' sites. The method seems clumsy and impossible to extend to a broader set of cases, and may only have worked because she herself took the photos. If her boyfriend had taken them, it's not clear to me that she would have had a claim to copyright his photos (taken with her consent) even though they were images of her.

It may also be the case that copyright law, which is how we usually control images, really misses the point of what's going on here. We have stalker laws that punish what is otherwise perfectly legal behavior, for example, taking photos of someone in a public place. Perhaps the nature of the offense here is such that the ordinary laws shouldn't apply.

Maximilian speaks to this issue:
There’s an underlying reality that needs to be addressed, and that male Marines need to really internalize here.

Female Marines are female.

We can talk about one team, one fight and all of that, but at the end of the day they are still women.
He goes on to note that women are only 7% of the Marine Corps, and thus can't effect changes in the culture on their own. Male Marines will have to help them, if it is to be done.

Nevertheless, I still think that the coed combat arms are going to present a very real readiness concern that earlier integration did not. The Marine Corps' leadership was prescient about it, but they were told to shut up and stop thinking by Secretary Ray Mabus. Here are the first fruits.

UPDATE: The DB takes another swing.

A Little Revival

Big Stories, Small Time

There are two huge stories today: Paul Ryan's Obamacare-lite bill, which will surely die as it is opposed by CATO, the Club for Growth, Paul's libertarian faction, Cruz's conservative faction, all Democrats, but not Susan Collins. It deserves more attention, but won't get it because...

...of the second big story, Wikileaks' huge CIA dump. This purports to come from a leaker within the intelligence community itself, and to give away the store on the CIA's hacking techniques. Allegedly they can take over your car (or a big truck near your car) for assassination purposes, and listen in to your conversations through your iWhatever or smart television. This, likewise, is huge news if true and needs to be carefully studied, but we won't get to do that because...

...of yesterday's big story, the new EO on immigration and refugees. It is supposed to be a significant improvement over the first one, and Trump's legal team is in place to fight challenges as they arise. Opponents are swearing to combat it, but most of us won't have time to pay attention because...

...of the weekend's big story, on 'wiretapping' accusations, which threatens to turn into an all-engulfing war between the two leading political factions in America. This is likewise an intricate story that needs very careful parsing, but we won't get to do that because...

...of all the other stories, and the ones that will come starting tomorrow.


Gun sales down by double digits every month since Trump elected.

Privileges Abound

A couple of experiments that both involve switching the sex of a person to see how it impacts how people receive them. It turns out that, liberal though the professors and their audience both were, switching the sex in the second Trump/Clinton debate only proved why Clinton lost.

Clinton's mode of trying to smile off serious charges, backed with carefully-worded responses that are technically true but completely misleading, turns out to look even worse on a man. The audience described him as “really punchable.” The kind of smarmy 'I think I'm smarter than you so I'm going to give you an answer you know is false but can't prove is false' mode is completely unacceptable from a man, so much so that it provokes the impulse to give him a sock in the chops for trying it.

I wonder if it isn't only our society's very strong mores forbidding violence against women that allows someone like Clinton -- or Pelosi, or DWS -- to get away with this mode. Maybe Obama could do it, protected by a similar set of mores among educated Americans against similar lashing out at African-Americans. The protections extended to them, out of a kind of respect for the vulnerability of their position, can turn out to enable bad behavior. Not voting for one of them, though, isn't violence against them -- and it isn't sexist or racist, not if you'd reject the same mode in a white man (and indeed, even more strongly reject it).

The female Trump stand in, meanwhile, was not rejected (as the organizers expected her to be) for being too 'pushy' or outspoken. Instead, people were suddenly able to see in her answers what they had been unable to see in the same answers given by Trump himself.
We heard a lot of “now I understand how this happened”—meaning how Trump won the election. People got upset. There was a guy two rows in front of me who was literally holding his head in his hands, and the person with him was rubbing his back. The simplicity of Trump’s message became easier for people to hear when it was coming from a woman—that was a theme. One person said, “I’m just so struck by how precise Trump’s technique is.” Another—a musical theater composer, actually—said that Trump created “hummable lyrics”...

I was surprised by how critical I was seeing [Clinton] on a man’s body, and also by the fact that I didn’t find Trump’s behavior on a woman to be off-putting. I remember turning to Maria at one point in the rehearsals and saying, "I kind of want to have a beer with her!"
The second one is about a lesbian feminist who undertook the experiment without telling people she met she wasn't the man she was pretending to be. You've probably seen this one before, but it compares and contrasts nicely with the NYU experiment around Trump/Clinton.

Clarance Thomas on Civil Asset Forfeiture

“This system — where police can seize property with limited judicial oversight and retain it for their own use — has led to egregious and well-chronicled abuses,” wrote Thomas. “I am skeptical that this historical practice is capable of sustaining, as a constitutional matter, the contours of modern practice.”

Thomas went on to outline his concerns, noting that legal precedent ― most recently in the Supreme Court’s 1996 Bennis v. Michigan decision ― has been based largely on “early statutes” involving property related primarily to piracy and customs.
That's a good originalist objection: that the original justification for the practice no longer applies to the way the practice is currently being used. Piracy and customs involve things moving into the jurisdiction of the United States that, for example, you might have reason to believe were stolen goods. "Prove that these goods were not stolen if you want to bring them here" is much more reasonable than "prove that this money in your pocket was not stolen" when you and your money were always here. The burden of proof much more obviously falls on the government when the whole affair has happened within the jurisdiction of its courts and law enforcement officers.

Not your circus, not your monkeys

Or as Ace says, don't buy tickets on the crazy train.  He likens the psychic dislocations of 9/11 to those of 11/9.

Raising babies

Here's a theory that has a superficial appeal, especially to someone like myself with such ingrained anxiety about (and hostility to) dependence:
The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development has found:
Children in full-time day care were close to three times more likely to show behavior problems than those cared for by their mothers at home.
The more time in child care of any kind or quality, the more aggressive the child.
The result is young people who, a decade and a half after daycare, scream at the parent/State for not protecting them sufficiently. It is no coincidence that “safe spaces” resemble daycare centers.
Granted, I recognize the behavior, but I can't reconcile it with my own experience of motherlessness. Maybe you have to combine daycare with the other silly trends in child development, which my full-time working father and stepmother were, to put in mildly, not into.

I'm much more drawn to the approach of this sensible lady, Brene Brown, who has my number when it comes to the fear of vulnerability.

Irish Unification

Sinn Fein did very well in the recent Ulster elections, and is now the second-largest party in the North -- second by only one seat. But that's not enough. It's time to re-unify, says Martina Devlin.

A united Ireland, a free Scotland, a newly-liberated England and an end to EU international socialism. All thanks to Brexit.

UPDATE: Coincidentally, there's a new documentary on women of the Irish revolution.

Swords at Dawn

"As for me, I was in a place by myself; in a time by myself. I remember the water sparkling around our ankles as we fought. One part of my mind could not help admiring how so very picturesque it was. I remember my opponents eyes especially. They were yellow, like he was on drugs."

"Then I sensed, more than reasoned that I would die unless I ended this," he said. "So I stepped in and struck his arm. I didn't even feel the hit on my knee."
An actual knife fight, as metaphor for the current political feud. Wretchard, of course.

Media Moves to Make "Wiretapping" Purely About Phones

CBS: " Former president Barack Obama has denied President Trump's claims that the Obama administration wiretapped phones..."

Independent: "The FBI disputing Donald Trump's claim Barack Obama had his telephones tapped..."

AP: "President Donald Trump on Saturday accused former President Barack Obama of tapping his telephones..."

The FISA warrant apparently targeted a server, so it would be surprising if they tapped a telephone to find out what the server was saying to another server. I'm going to guess that the Obama team's careful denials, parroted by all these media outlets, mean that no actual telephones were "tapped." So we're only talking about internet traffic, servers being penetrated and covertly examined, maybe reading emails... but no, absolutely no "telephones."

The right thing to do would be to come clean on what spying was done, but of course they can't: all the information is surely classified at a high level. Still, some sunlight and honesty -- and not these carefully construed denials -- is the only way to restore any sort of trust.

That's How I Want Government to Work All The Time

Charles M. Blow at the NYT:
The American people must immediately demand a cessation of all consequential actions by this “president”.... no action to put this presidency on pause is extreme. Rather, it is exceedingly prudent.

Some things must be done and some positions filled simply to keep the government operational. Absolute abrogation of administrative authority is infeasible and ill advised. But a bare minimum standard must be applied until we know more about what the current raft of investigations yield.
Don't stop there! Let's adopt this as the model going forward: the Federal government should do only the bare minimum of things that absolutely have to be done. I'd suggest that we draw the line at "anything for which there is not explicit constitutional warrant." But if that's not good enough, I'll consider constitutional amendments designed to make the "bare minimum standard" for Federal action even tighter.

How Sauron Conquered Middle Earth

A short comic.

Of Course the Ambassador is a Spymaster

That is one of the principal functions of ambassadors.
“I don’t think they’d make the ambassador to the United States a KGB guy. It’s not really their style.”

That said, the job of any Russian ambassador is to oversee the rezidentura, or mission-bound spy station, putting Kislyak at the top of the pyramid of Russia’s security services in Washington. He would, therefore, likely have intimate knowledge of everything Russia's foreign and military intelligence operatives were up to in Washington and wouldn’t necessarily need to hail from the SVR or GRU or any of the other “power ministries" to cultivate assets and informants on foreign soil.
That is also how our own system works: the ambassador, in his role as Chief of Mission, leads and directs the Country Team. That team includes the CIA's Chief of Station. Though the COS reports back to Langley as well, the COM has the overall responsibility for directing US government operations in the country concerned.

That said, American ambassadors are often political donors -- especially ambassadors to countries without much need for aggressive intelligence collection. Still, this is a major part of their role, as everyone knows who has to deal with ambassadors in any official capacity.

UPDATE: Right on cue, Wikileaks sets out to prove the point.

Like Jesse James

Black Rifle Coffee

Another Mat Best & Company operation, they've recently posted their "hold music" online.

I'd post some of their videos, but... well, go see for yourselves if you dare. No warranty express or implied.

I mean, there's no excuse for this stuff.

Well, OK: maybe one excuse. If you're a Medal of Honor recipient, you can wink at this stuff if you want.

Orin Kerr, Troll Lord

I know Cass just said she hates this concept, but you have to give the man credit where credit is due.

Going To Have To Work On This

The USMC is having a bit of a scandal right now, over the existence of a Facebook group made up of Marines and former Marines that shared nude pictures of female Marines.

Oddly enough, it's the less-revealing images that are the greater concern.
In one instance, a woman corporal in uniform was followed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina by a fellow Marine, who surreptitiously photographed her as she picked up her gear. Those photographs were posted online in the Facebook group “Marines United,” which has nearly 30,000 followers, drawing dozens of obscene comments.
That woman, in her full dress, was victimized by being stalked -- and perhaps, again, by the commentary on her desirability. (I say 'perhaps' because it's unclear. Would she have been victimized if the comments had not been made public? Her identity is not public, so perhaps she doesn't even know herself what was said about her. Is she a victim of 'harassment' if she's suffered no mental harm? Maybe -- perhaps she could be victimized by being in a culture that was hostile to her even if she was completely unaware that it was hostile to her. On the other hand, a group of anonymous posters on Facebook is not her chain of command, so perhaps this group doesn't rise to the level of 'a hostile work environment.' I leave all that to others to sort out.)

The stalking is genuinely improper. On the other hand, what about this?
Many images appear to have originated from the consensual, but private, exchange of racy images, some clearly taken by the women themselves.
Here, the women consented to being photographed -- photographed themselves, even -- but not to having the images shared in a creeper database of which they knew nothing.

So... what exactly do you do about that? Presumably the woman has a right to take a photo of herself naked if she wants to, even though she's a Marine. She has a right to share it, arguably, even though she's a Marine (indeed, she's certainly not in uniform). So what do we say about the unauthorized sharing? Is it a copyright violation?

If you're sharing nude photos of yourself with other members of the Marine Corps -- not your spouse, I presume -- aren't you partially responsible for the collapse of good order that this represents? If you allow yourself to be videoed having sex by other members of your unit, aren't you partially responsible for the collapse of good order?

No, of course not. These are all "victims," and the PAO has put out a 10 page document in part devoted to explaining their rights under the law.

Meanwhile, the news stories about this are taking pains to paint this as a USMC failure, claiming that the Corps' hostility to the idea of integrating women into the combat arms is responsible for this whole incident. A gentle suggestion: is it worth considering that the leadership's hostility to the idea was built around the understanding that a collapse of good order and discipline such as this was highly likely? Doesn't this scandal prove the leadership's concerns about what this would do to their organization to have been fairly sound?

No, of course not. No one should ever think that.

UPDATE: Related.
The evacuation of pregnant women is costly for the Navy. Jude Eden, a nationally known author about women in the military who served in 2004 as a Marine deployed to Iraq, said a single transfer can cost the Navy up to $30,000 for each woman trained for a specific task, then evacuated from an active duty ship and sent to land. That figure translates into $115 million in expenses for 2016 alone.... [B]y August 2016 that number reached nearly 16 percent, an all-time high. The Navy reported that 3,840 of the 24,259 women sailors who were aboard Navy ships were pregnant.
The article goes on to note that the Navy has declared a policy of making sure that 25% of personnel on ships are women. That shifts this issue from a relatively easy to address situation to a front-and-center problem for the readiness of our warships. The Navy also grants a year of maternity leave (forced by former SECDEF Ash Carter to back down from 18 months, and vice 10 days of paternity leave), so it's a lengthy problem when it happens.

Like the nude photos that female Marines consented to having taken, or took themselves, female sailors have a right to get pregnant if they want to do so. If you want to solve this problem, though, you have to question the degree to which what we used to call 'liberated sexuality' is compatible with coed military service. You'll have to do more than crack down on predatory male behavior, though of course you should do that. You'll also have to reconsider what we currently believe are inalienable rights -- more inalienable to these female servicemembers than their right to free speech, for example, as that right is constrained quite a bit while in the service.

UPDATE: The DuffelBlog checks in.

A "Broader Point" About Truth

It's the last paragraph that marks out an interesting claim, but I'll give you enough of the setup to judge its worth in this context.
Obama and his surrogates–notably the slug (or is he a cockroach?) Ben Rhodes–harrumph that Obama could not unilaterally order electronic surveillance. Well, yes, it is the case that Obama did not personally issue the order: the FISA court did so. But even if that is literally correct, it is also true that the FISA court would not unilaterally issue such an order: it would only do so in response to a request from the executive branch. Thus, Obama is clearly implicated even if he did not issue the order. He could have ordered his subordinates to make the request to the court, or could have approved a subordinate’s request to seek an order. Maybe he merely hinted, a la Henry II–“will no one rid me of this turbulent candidate?” (And “turbulent” is a good adjective to apply to Trump.) But regardless, there is no way that such a request to the court in such a fraught and weighty matter would have proceeded without Obama’s acquiescence.

I therefore consider that the substance of Trump’s charge–that he was surveilled at behest of Obama has been admitted by the principals.

This episode illustrates a broader point that is definitely useful to keep in mind. What Obama and his minions (and the Democrats and many in the media) say is likely to be correct, strictly speaking, but fundamentally misleading. In contrast, what Trump says is often incorrect, strictly speaking, but captures the fundamental truth.
With apologies to the lawyers among us, whom I am sure are careful never to do this, this 'strictly speaking correct, but fundamentally misleading' bit is what people hate about lawyers. Sometimes also journalists.


From a comment at Maggie's Farm, referring to a link identified by the website as "Rebellion: Trump Takes on The Blob - Washington’s foreign policy elites are used to battling America’s adversaries. Now they have a new common enemy: the president."
The people rebel. The bureaucracy mutinies.