Suns Out, Guns Out

Georgia's governor, Nathan Deal, signed this year's campus carry bill into law. I'm surprised that he did so, after vetoing it last year, but the effect is to have produced a much more complicated law.

In related news, the NRA is trying to recruit a more diverse membership.

John Lewis on AHCA

Rep. John Lewis of the Great State of Georgia is not a fan, not at all.
Today we are facing a crossroads in the history of this nation. One day our children and our children’s children may turn to us and ask, 'Which side were you on?' In the aftermath of this vote, members of the House will have to look their constituents, their friends, their family and even their children in the eyes and tell them the painful truth.

The House Republican bill, H.R. 1628, does not rescue health care. It is an attack on the poor, the sick, the elderly and the disabled. It punishes hard-working women and men, and it uses their resources collected in the federal Treasury as a pipeline to line the pockets of big business and the wealthiest people in the world.

Never ever in my years in the U.S. House of Representatives have I seen such a betrayal of the public trust. Never have I seen legislative action that reveals such clear disdain for the human dignity of the most vulnerable among us. Never have I ever seen such a willingness to disregard what is right in favor of what is so wrong.

People from all around the country begged their elected representatives to vote against this despicable bill. Instead, my colleagues chose to serve themselves and their rich friends and leave the rest of us to fend for ourselves. H.R. 1628 proves this White House ushered in a government of the rich, by the rich, for big business, and people will pay with their lives for it.

If this bill becomes law, at least 24 million Americans who can see their doctors today will be turned away tomorrow. Those who are sick will suffer, and some of them will die. People with pre-existing conditions will have premiums so high most will not be able to afford care, and any state can deny healthcare to their citizens at any time.

This is a shame and a disgrace. May God have mercy on us all.
This is a good example of the problem I was discussing below, where politics is more aggressive than ethics at dividing people. Lewis, whose skull was broken at Selma, is a man devoted to a particular politics in which the proper role of the Federal government is to do good things for people -- especially poor people and, as a remedy for historical unfairness, minority groups. He reads this bill as an attack on the poor and the sick.

It is possible to untangle opposition to this model of the proper role of the Federal government from opposition to the poor living good lives, or opposing respect for the poor and the sick in general. But there isn't any political advantage to making that leap; in fact it derails several very useful rhetorical tools. And it's emotionally attractive, too, to view your opponents as wicked and evil rather than as simply having different views.

Can we have a debate about the various ways in which Federal money chasing health care services actually raises the cost for everyone, just as increased demand always raises costs given a steady supply? Theoretically, sure. But practically, once you've equated morality with using government to provide goods, opponents to the provision of goods are immoral. Of course it's proper to treat the immoral with disdain. Isn't it?


I've spent part of the evening reading through the bill. It is not, in fact, either a repeal or a replacement of the ACA; its relative brevity depends on the fact that it is mostly a modification of that law. A true repeal could have been much briefer; a true replacement would have had to have been much longer.

There are some good things about it, although some of them are trivial. It is clear that the Congress has been listening to the states and taking advice on what works and what doesn't, which is good. Some of that advice has been silly, like the insistence on a provision allowing states to strip Medicaid from high-dollar lottery winners. That's one of those problems that may look bad in the papers, but it can't possibly come up often enough to really merit anyone's attention. Still, trivialities aside, clearly Congress consulted with the states about the problems they'd faced implementing the ACA, and incorporated those thoughts into the bill.

Bad things appear to be included as well, although it's hard to say how bad they really are. I'm seeing equally confident exclamations from left-leaning sites that the AHCA's costs cannot be known, because the CBO hasn't scored it and nor has anyone else reputable; and also that the cost of various "pre-existing conditions" will go up by this-or-that very precise figure. Probably the first of these is true, and the figures are all made-up.

That in turn suggests that the Republicans did not learn the most crucial lesson of the ACA, which is that you should never pass a major piece of legislation whose effects you haven't taken the time to fully understand. Bad consequences are almost certain, and any consequences -- or even accidents that can be painted as consequences -- will now belong to the Republicans, or anyway will if they manage to get this through the Senate and signed by President Trump.

On the first pass, I'm not really sure what to think about it. On the one hand, Obamacare has been terrible for rural America. Breaking the seal on making changes to it would be worth doing, even if the changes aren't great. Henceforth Democrats won't oppose any changes because they're trying to 'preserve the Obama legacy'; they can support changes in terms of 'replacing/repairing Trumpcare.' Thus, we would be freer as a nation to think and adjust to the bad aspects of this bill as well as the Obamacare legacy bill.

On the other hand, a lot of this looks like it's unlikely to reduce anybody's health care costs -- though it will cut taxes for some, and raise costs for others (especially the sick and the poor). I think the Feds should get out of the health care game more or less entirely, even turning the VA into quiet grants to veterans to let them pursue private medical services. This is not a step in that direction. It's also not a step in the direction of single-payer, though, and there's a chance it will at least open the game back up to easier future adjustments as necessary.

So I'm not sure what I think right now. What do you think?


In a collection of 12 maps of Scotland, the map of place names in the Orkney Islands is my favorite.

The One Ring

The feminist philosophers I know are of the rising generation, and they are very decent people whom I've not seen engage in poisonous rhetoric of any sort. Watching the destruction of the career of Prof. Rebecca Tuvel, however, I can't doubt that there is a problem of some sort at work in the field.

I wonder if it isn't a more general problem of American political philosophy, though. Typically, it is very human to respect those who live moral lives according to your sense of what "moral" means, and to respect people less if they don't. It's ordinary even to despise people who live lives that are immoral by one's own lights. The problem in political philosophy is that despising your opponents destroys the process of reasoning together. Yet we -- and not just feminists at all, but Americans in general, Democrats and Republicans and others as well -- seem to be locked into a cycle of despising as immoral those with whom we disagree politically.

Oddly enough there isn't a similar problem in ethics, at least not usually. There are several basic roads to ethics that are all thought acceptable even though they diverge. I tend to believe in virtue ethics, for example, and find utilitarianism to be fairly implausible. But I don't despise utilitarians. Nor do they despise virtue ethics, nor does either group despise deontologists. So it's possible to disagree on even the most basic questions of morality without falling into mutual disdain.

Probably it's just the question of power. In ethics, I decide for myself what is right and do that, and mostly that affects me and a few others who have chosen to associate with me (and are free to choose otherwise). In politics, decisions on moral questions are inevitably impositions. It's no longer a question of respecting a difference; it becomes a question of resenting being forced to accept things that you yourself find immoral.

I suspect that any attempt to redress this problem would also give rise to a complaint (again, from all sides) that it is ridiculous to ask them to respect people who want to impose immoral agendas upon them. Which means that their opponents must be driven from politics, somehow, since imposition is inevitable.

For 13 years now, I've been trying to convince people that the right way to resolve this is by finding a way for Americans of different moral views not to exert power over each other. Mostly I have argued for restoring the 10th Amendment and devolving powers from the Federal branches to the states. Then the power concerns fade, as there will be 50 different ways of living available to all.

Sometimes people can be convinced while they are out of power, but I have yet to observe many who remained true to the path should they gain power. It's a quandary: one must have power, and substantial power, to make a change like this. Having gained the power, though, why would you want to break up its very source?

Transiting Sex and Race

If someone can be 'transgender' or 'transsexual,' why not 'transracial'? A young feminist scholar made the mistake of asking. It's likely to destroy her career.
I hope that Prof. Tuvel consults a lawyer about this defamation; and while it looks to me like defamation per se (i.e., damages are presumed since the critics are impugning her competence in her profession), I would imagine showing damage would not be hard. How can Prof. Tuvel, for example, now use this repudiated but allegedly peer-reviewed article as part of her tenure process? Indeed, how can her department or college support her for tenure when she has been so vilified as a scholar and professional by people who work in her fields? I wonder did any of those professing solidarity with those who specialize in taking offense consider the very tangible harm they are doing to the author of this article?...

We have been living with an "atmosphere of reckless attack" in philosophy (as one correspondent put it to me in 2014) for awhile now. I hope this proves to be the final straw, and that the community will finally stand up and denounce this misconduct that should be anathema to a scholarly community. If Prof. Tuvel does decide to seek legal redress for what has happened to her, I will organize fundraising on her behalf. It really is time to stop this madness.
More here.

The thing is, as everyone knows, sex is a huge biological fact that impacts everything about us. Race is, at most, a heuristic way of talking about genetic differences in groups; more likely, it's a fiction largely created to sell early Modern Europeans on being OK with re-introducing slavery. It has a big social reality, but refers to nothing that is biologically real. Thus, if one can 'trans'it sex, one could surely 'trans'it race. To say otherwise is to hold that this social fiction has more impact on us than what is probably the single most important biological characteristic.

I suppose one could argue that this is in fact the case: that race, even without a real biological referent, is socially so important that it does indeed trump sex. Charles Mills, cited in the hated article, might make that argument; his latest book points in that direction. (I should note that I have met Charles Mills and heard him speak, and whatever you think of his subject matter, he is a consummate gentleman and unfailingly courteous.) I doubt that argument would pan out, but one could make it.

No one is bothering to try. The intent is simply to put this woman's head on a spike, as a warning to others. It has already worked with the board of the journal that, after double blind peer review, published her work. They are cowards, of course, but that is only to be expected of them. Only cowards survive in their field.

As said by Sir William Francis Butler: "The nation that will insist on drawing a broad line of demarcation between the fighting man and the thinking man is liable to find its fighting done by fools and its thinking done by cowards." Well, there you go.

Corruption and Esteem

A scathing criticism of American liberalism, which ends by asserting that the corruption is completely understandable. Well, perhaps it is; but it is corruption, is it not?

Rights and Wrongs

I've heard this proposal before, but I think it was coming from a sophomore. In High School.
The main problem with the notion of self-defense is it imposes on justice, for everyone has the right for a fair trial. Therefore, using a firearm to defend oneself is not legal because if the attacker is killed, he or she is devoid of his or her rights.
Everyone has a right to walk down the public street without being robbed or killed, too. Any citizen has the right, and something of the duty, to try to stop such a violation when he or she encounters it in progress. Whether this is a case of "self-defense" or defense of a fellow citizen is immaterial.

A polity exists in part in order that its members might defend each other from just such violations, whether by criminals or by Vandals. It is the mark of a very strange set of priorities to suggest that citizens ought to prefer protecting the rights of the Vandals to protecting each other. The reason to protect rights even for Vandals, after all, is that such protections serve as a further fortification of the rights of the citizenry. To throw aside the citizens' rights in favor of the Vandals' is to miss the whole point of why Vandals' rights are protected at all.

Beltane Fire Festival

Out Edinburgh way, they had quite a night last night.

'Oss 'oss, wee 'oss!

The Padstow Day Song ("Unite and unite, oh, let us unite, for summer is a-coming today") and Night Song ("Oh, where is King George?  Where is he oh?") are the traditional May Day songs for Padstow in Cornwall.  The Hobby Horse (the "Old 'Oss") is a giant cylindrical black  creature that tries to capture young women under its skirts, meaning they'll be married within the year.

This is my favorite rendition of the songs.  'Oss 'oss, wee 'oss!  'Oss 'oss, wee 'oss! 'Oss 'oss, WEE 'OSS!

The Merry Month of May

The joy associated with May in the old tales may be associated with the more northern climes in which these songs were written; here, it was April in which everything broke into riotous flowers. Now, summer is here if you judge by the trees instead of the stars.

Still, May and October often have the best weather of the year even here.

The change of season provokes thoughts about the importance of using time well.

Here is a song about the first of May from a medieval troubadour and, later, knight.

I hope the day finds you well.

On Station

Well, this week wasn't as much fun as I had hoped, but it was eventful. I have learned, for example, that in addition to the two things that I knew could cause power steering to fail -- burst hydraulic lines, and a failure of the pump/reservoir -- a third thing that can happen is for a solid steel bracket to fail for no apparent reason and drop your alternator on the whole assembly.

Since the bracket may be attached to a major component of your engine, such as the timing chain cover, the cost of labor could make repairs prohibitively expensive. You would, after all, have to take apart a large part of the engine to install a replacement -- if you had a replacement.

Because the failure was due to a design flaw (you engineers should know better than to use a thin single point of cast rather than forged steel to hold an alternator, which is under tension from the belt driving it), you'd think there would be a recall. However, as Fight Club explains, AxBxC=X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, the company won't do one.

Just because the cost of a recall can involve repairs that are each individually prohibitively expensive, often times they aren't done. But the part you'd need to repair the vehicle, were you inclined to pay the prohibitive cost, will be discontinued. Thus, not only is it prohibitively expensive, it's nearly impossible.

So anyway, I bought a used truck this weekend. It's a Ford. The old one wasn't. That's all I'm going to say about it, but you can take that for what it's worth.


I have no words to describe how wonderful was the Sacred Harp two-singing I attended this weekend.  These videos aren't from that event, though they are from the same location four years ago, and both feature songs we did.  This is very much the same sound:

There were 80 people present on both days, including at least 40 or 50 active singers. Even better, the active singers included a hard core of old-timers expert in their singing. Almost best, a dozen very young children got up to lead. Some were so young they couldn't quite remember that they were supposed to call the song by its number. Some stood up with an adult to support, but others got right out there on their own. I've been attending these singings for nearly 30 years; I see no sign at all of their decaying.

At certain points in the program people stand to announce singings in other locations, not only here in Texas but all over the country. (There were singers present from a dozen or more states this weekend.) One old fellow announced his Alabama church's upcoming annual singing as its 179th or some such wild number, then explained that the number for "consecutive" annual singings was a little less than that; there was a period of a couple of years when they weren't able to have one, during the 1860s.

Schlichter: I Am a Victim of Your Hateful Hate Crimes, You Hate Criminals

I've often thought that the right needs to turn the left's rhetoric against lefties, and Schlichter takes a good swing at it. He begins:

As a person of absolutely no color who embodies an intersectional reality that includes my utter lack of genderfluidity and my unemployment-questioning, differently-veteraned, and non-pagan experiences, I am totally oppressed by progressivism’s hegemonic power structure. I am also the victim of a systemic system of hostile paradigms that denies my truth regarding my phallo-possessory identity. 

Now, some may consider this a form of sarcastic reductio ad absurdum. I, however, see it as a new paradigm of discourse when talking to those on the left who have already reduced themselves to absurdity. When in Absurdistan, do as the Absurdis do, right?