Mattis: No Enemy Has Hurt US Military as Much as Congress

He's talking sequestration, which is bad policy, but there are other things he might have mentioned as well. I always think of Harry Reid's "This War Is Lost" as symbolic of the willingness to destroy morale in favor of partisan political advantage.

Escaping the Leftwing Bias in Technology

Jon Del Arroz at the Federalist discussed the left-wing bias and influence of the big tech organizations, from corporations like Google to non-profits like Wikipedia. He then offers alternatives.

A couple of things he mentions are interesting. Former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich is leading development of the Brave browser. I use Firefox a lot because it has certain extensions I consider important. However, Brave looks like it might be a good alternative when I'm just surfing for fun. I've been using Vivaldi for that, and I like it. However, it also lacks the extensions I need. Looks like I'm stuck with Firefox for some things.

Vox Day, meanwhile, has forked Wikipedia and now offers an alternative at Infogalactic. I'm not sure what to think about that. I'm not convinced that Wikipedia is irredeemably biased, but even if it is, I question whether an organization led by Day is the right corrective, if for no other reason than the controversies that surround him.

I tend to think we just need to get a bunch of non-left editors over to Wikipedia. Why not adopt a page or two over there on topics that you know about and start tracking, writing, and editing? The way Wikipedia is set up, I think that over time we could have a reasonably fair encyclopedia. It would take patience; it apparently takes a track record of reasonable editing to get higher level permissions, but it's doable.

There is one company that is not included in Arroz's article that I would like to ask about. Patriot Mobile markets itself as a conservative alternative in mobile service. Has anyone here used them? Or can you comment on them?

The reason I'm asking is a recent change in my current cell service. First, they turned on their news app to feed into my notifications feed. (I had it turned off.) Then, several times a day I got "current headlines" that were consistently anti-Trump headlines from the WaPo, etc. I left it on for a couple of days and never saw one headline for an article that was not an attack on Trump. I turned the news feed off again, but since then I've seriously been thinking about switching providers.

A Pattern of Violence

The Political Insider lists 36 incidents of Trump supporters / conservatives being attacked or receiving credible threats of violence over the last 11 months. Sources are linked for each item on the list.

Update: Joshua Hersh has an article at VICE News on rising left-wing violence as well: Extremism Experts Are Starting to Worry about the Left. (H/t The Daily Wire)

A bit late, I think, but it's a beginning.

With Apologies to Cassandra...

...who hates memes.

Justin Johnson: Driving It Down

Georgia's Escaped Convicts Captured

They made it as far as Tennessee, but a homeowner caught them trying to steal his truck and held them at gunpoint for police. There's a crisis over, and thanks to an armed citizen acting in a citizen's role to defend the common peace and lawful order.

Man's got a point

Ouch.  Musings from Putin, via Wolf Howling at Bookworm Room:
It sounds very strange when the head of the security services writes down a conversation with the commander-in-chief and then leaks it to the media through his friend … How, in that case, does he differ from [Edward] Snowden? That means he is not the leader of the security services, but a human rights defender. And if he faces pressure, then we are happy to offer him political asylum, too.

Coming soon

If this isn't me and all my friends yet, it will be before long:

Reasonable Accommodation

I once defended a prospectus on Ash Wednesday, which entails a much less strict fast than the Ramadan one. I was successful, but about an hour in I really began to notice that my brain wasn't hitting on all cylinders due to the lack of food.

Thus, it strikes me as completely fair and appropriate for professors who wish to do so to offer Muslim students the chance to take exams once they've eaten. That seems like a very reasonable thing to do.

Stars Are Born in Pairs

A fascinating new theory.
The new assertion is based on a radio survey of a giant molecular cloud filled with recently formed stars in the constellation Perseus, and a mathematical model that can explain the Perseus observations only if all sunlike stars are born with a companion.

"We are saying, yes, there probably was a Nemesis, a long time ago," said co-author Steven Stahler, a UC Berkeley research astronomer.

"We ran a series of statistical models to see if we could account for the relative populations of young single stars and binaries of all separations in the Perseus molecular cloud, and the only model that could reproduce the data was one in which all stars form initially as wide binaries. These systems then either shrink or break apart within a million years."...

Using these data, Sadavoy and Stahler discovered that all of the widely separated binary systems - those with stars separated by more than 500 AU - were very young systems, containing two Class 0 stars. These systems also tended to be aligned with the long axis of the egg-shaped dense core. The slightly older Class I binary stars were closer together, many separated by about 200 AU, and showed no tendency to align along the egg's axis.

Taking Sham to New Levels

Headline: "Report: Missing ‘Overboard’ Navy Sailor Found Hiding In Engine Room After A Week."

A Liberal Discovers the Death Penalty

In fairness, the Huffington Post had the sense to pull this article. It's now only available through archives.
Much has been made of the possibility of impeaching Trump, but this will not happen as long as Republicans maintain control of Congress. However, Trump’s impeachment and removal from office are no longer enough. The administration’s crimes against this nation fall under Article 3, Section 3 of the Constitution, which outlines the offense of treason... Trump’s firing of James Comey to impede the investigation into an act of war against our nation, and his assistance to ISIS in the form of providing them with propaganda for recruitment, both provide “Aid and Comfort” to enemies of the United States. It would be difficult to find a more grave offense among those Trump and his team have already committed against this nation and its people. But all involved must face justice....

And that’s why the impeachment and removal of Donald Trump from the Oval Office are merely the first steps in what must be a long-term policy to redeem the United States in the eyes of the world. They are certainly important steps in restoring the credibility of our government, our standing in the eyes of the world, and our very democracy. But they must not be the only steps, lest we still be left with Mike Pence as the acting president after Trump’s removal. No, to quote our new fuhrer, we must “drain the swamp.”

Draining the swamp means not only ejecting Trump from the presidency, but also bringing himself and everyone assisting in his agenda up on charges of treason. They must be convicted (there is little room to doubt their guilt). And then — upon receiving guilty verdicts — they must all be executed under the law. Anything less than capital punishment — or at least life imprisonment without parole in a maximum security detention facility — would send yet another message to the world that America has lost its moral compass.
Emphasis in the original, if emphasis were needed.

I mean, would it be the end of the world if Trump just went back to managing his casinos and hotels? He has to die for his offense against your sensibility? For firing James Comey? Because ISIS could think up a way to use him for propaganda? "To redeem the United States in the eyes of the world"? I keep hearing that Europeans hate the death penalty.

The fact that he wants them to have a trial before killing them is nice, I guess.


Richard Fernandez has an interesting argument.
Expect more, not less of this. The natural impulse of a political system in institutional crisis is to dig in. Too many institutions in the West remain decades after their birth, frozen in the moment of their creation. NASA, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the university system and the United Nations rule us from the past. Public life has become a museum of memes from which nothing can escape without a mummy hand dragging the fugitive back into the darkened interior. It is perhaps no coincidence the two most popular leaders of the Western left, Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders, might credibly impersonate Boris Karloff. They are here to lead us back to 1968.

Be grateful it isn't to 1848.
In a way that's a very anti-conservative argument, but it's legitimately Jeffersonian. Jefferson thought that periodic new constitutions would be necessary. "To ensure that each generation have a say in the framework of the government, he proposed that the Constitution, and each one following it, expire after 19 or 20 years." Madison was no fan of that idea, thinking it would produce political chaos every couple of decades.

Still, a number of our institutions need serious reform; another number need to be disbanded. New institutions are needed in some cases, and in other cases we could do without some of the old ones without replacement.

Bernie Sanders Condemns Violence

It's 3/3 with this shooter, the Portland stabber, and Reality Winner all turning to violence or, in the case of Ms. Winner, oathbreaking in the defense of their agenda. The Congressman himself is probably not a bad guy, though he has certainly been deeply wrong on political questions. Still, I think of his friendship with Jim Webb, obvious in the first Democratic debate of last year. He is capable of respecting his opponents, certainly enough not to try to kill them.

Clearly, that is not true for all of his supporters. Let's hope they listen to what he has to say.

Party of Science

"We lose 93 million Americans a day to gun violence."

Um, not even in the whole history of the country?

This'll Show 'Em

Apparently liberals think that today is the day that Republicans will realize that it's important for them to disarm. After all, people want to kill them. Doesn't that prove that it's a bad idea for them to allow themselves to have guns?

Republican Season

It should come as no surprise to learn that it's not rabbit or duck. The groundwork has been laid for some time. It's not a long hop from "Donald Trump Season" to "Republican Season."

Fortunately, at least for the moment, the opposition can barely shoot. That won't stay true. It's easy to learn to shoot.

What's hard is to learn self-control. It's the poisonous language, which follows from the poisonous politics, which follows from the absolute refusal to stop trying to control each other with the Federal government. We still could all get along, more or less. We don't have to do this.

Jeff Sessions is Perfectly Clear

"Appalling and detestable lie" is Southern for "the only thing keeping me from killing you in a duel for your lies is the pesky law against it."

Truthfully, though, nobody of serious mind ever believed that Jeff Sessions -- Jeff Sessions! -- sold out America to the Russkies. Whatever legitimate questions there are, that was never one of them.

Georgia Folks: Be on the Lookout

Apparently there are a couple of prisoners who managed to escape this morning, wrestling a gun away from a couple of cops and then killing them with it. It happened on a bus transport between facilities, after which they car-jacked a green Honda Civic and escaped.

The photos here aren't the most recent ones; it sounds like the younger man now has several facial tattoos, having joined a racist prison gang. So you won't find him too hard to spot, unless his companion has the good sense to shoot him and dispose of the body.

Is Philosophy Harder than Science?

Well, David Papineau writes in the Times Literary Supplement, partly science just is spun-off philosophy.
Still, if truth is the aim, where’s the progress? Wouldn’t philosophy do better simply to hand things over to science, with its proven track record? Well, one answer to this challenge is that philosophy has been doing exactly that for some time. According to the “spin-off” theory of philosophical progress, all new sciences start as branches of philosophy, and only become established as separate disciplines once philosophy has bequeathed them the intellectual wherewithal to survive on their own.

There is certainly something to this story. Physics as we know it was grounded in the seventeenth-century “mechanical philosophy” of Descartes and others. Similarly, much psychology hinges on associationist principles first laid down by David Hume, and economics grew out of doctrines first developed by thinkers who called themselves philosophers. The process continues into the contemporary world. During the twentieth century, both linguistics and computer science broke free of their philosophical moorings to establish themselves as independent disciplines.

According to the spin-off theory, then, the supposed lack of progress in philosophy is an illusion. Whenever philosophy does make progress, it spawns a new subject, which then no longer counts as part of philosophy. In reality, philosophy is full of progress, but this is obscured by the constant renaming of its intellectual progeny.
So what's going on with the questions philosophy retains, where progress is not so evident? Questions like free will, the basis of morality, the nature of knowledge, and the like?

Well, those questions are really hard.

Tune filching

I don't know if Ralph Vaughan Williams was a good composer, but could the guy arrange someone else's tune?  Boy howdy.  Pick up any Anglican-based hymnal and check out the hymns attributed to him.  He usually started with a folk tune, such as Kingsfold, one of my favorites.

Decades ago we vacationed on a tiny atoll with a few cabins and a little lodge where they served dinner, and listened to repetitive playings of a CD called "The Divine Feminine," with a lot of pretty, sad string music, including Barber's Adagio.  There was also "Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis," which I forgot about until I heard it again in the heartbreaking storm scene in "Master and Commander," not recognizing the source.  Today for some reason I got to wondering whether the movie music was anachronistic, because it sounded 20th-century to me.  It turns out to be a tune Vaughan Williams filched from a 16th-century composition by Thomas Tallis, which he used in an early 20th-century Anglican Hymnal before working it up into the "Fantastia."  Too bad it didn't get picked up in any of the American Episcopal hymnals that I've got copies of, not even my old 1942 edition, because it's a corker of a composition.  Here's a choral rendition, followed by the Fantasia arrangement with a scrolling score:

The Anglican Hymnal #92 version uses lyrics that begin "When, rising from my bed of death":

When, rising from the bed of death,
O’erwhelmed with guilt and fear,
I see my Maker face to face,
O how shall I appear?

If yet, while pardon may be found,
And mercy may be sought,
My heart with inward horror shrinks,
And trembles at the thought;

When Thou, O Lord, shalt stand disclosed
In majesty severe,
And sit in judgment on my soul,
O how shall I appear?

But Thou hast told the troubled mind
Who does her sins lament,
The timely tribute of her tears
Shall endless woe prevent.

Then see the sorrow of my heart,
Ere yet it be too late;
And hear my Savior’s dying groans,
To give those sorrows weight.

For never shall my soul despair
Her pardon to procure,
Who knows Thine only Son has died
To make her pardon sure.

Convention of the States

Jim DeMint is taking over the Convention of the States Project, which I tend to think will only become more popular the longer this period of intense political hatred of Americans by Americans continues. Indeed, it has long been my diagnosis that the hatred comes from the excessive power of the Federal government, which imposes one-size-fits-all solutions on the whole of a vast nation. Putting the brakes on D.C. and restoring a capacity for local variation will make Federal elections, and the Supreme Court, much less controversial because much less consequential. In return local and state elections will become moreso, but one can always move away from a city or state election if one is horrified by the result of it.

It's a long-shot for now, but it may not remain so. Consider the criticism of it raised by Andrew Malcolm:
It is, to be honest, a genuinely massive undertaking when, for instance, just Republicans have trouble getting their own congressional majorities to agree on measures.

But the current state of the nation’s capital and the widespread dissatisfaction in flyover country is also a massive reality. “I’ve finally realized,” DeMint adds, “the most important truth of our time. Washington, D.C. will never fix itself.”
The Convention of the States wouldn't be populated by the same people who make up the Republican Congress, however. It would be populated by people from the state level who have been struggling with Congress and the Federal government throughout their careers. It would be populated also with people who sought to serve as delegates just because they are motivated to shrink D.C.'s power. Of course there might also be delegates from states like California who wanted to derail that process, but then again maybe not: maybe California will be adequately alarmed by the Trump/Pence administration, and the shift to a conservative Supreme Court, to reconsider.

There are not now 38 states ready to vote for this, but someday there may well be.


From the American Suppressor Association:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House Committee on Natural Resources has scheduled a hearing for the morning of June 14, in which the Federal Lands Subcommittee will hear a discussion draft of the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act. The SHARE Act, which is being championed in a bipartisan manner by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Co-Chairs Representative Jeff Duncan (R-SC), and Representative Gene Green (D-TX), is a comprehensive package that covers a wide range of hunting, fishing, and outdoor related issues. Included in the legislation is Title XVII, a strengthened version of the Hearing Protection Act.
You may wish to contact your Congressfolk.

Lessons for Today from the Umayyid Invasion of Gaul

US Army Captain Thomas Doherty, an armor officer, has a piece on contemporary lessons from a historic campaign. The big takeaway:
As military officers we were taught the fundamentals of the offense and defense. However, as an instructor, it has surprised me that my students do not understand that the fundamentals of offense are applicable during defense and, of course, vice versa. This article gives a historical example of the symbiotic relationship between the offense and defense. In this example, the rulers of Gaul were on the strategic and operational defensive. Given this, they used tactical-level offenses to achieve victory.
I originally went to that site to read another piece, by a CPT Metz, that suggests that the Army is no longer the world's leader in combat operations at the company level. We've fallen behind, he suggests, due to a lack of "collective training and tactical proficiency at home station" as a preparation for larger training exercises.
Infantry companies and platoons struggle mightily with fundamental tactical movement, basic fire and maneuver principles, direct-fire control measures and troop-leading procedures. In fact, almost every American unit that comes to JMRC struggles with fundamentals. One example was when all three platoons from an infantry company conducted six platoon attacks as part of STX lanes. All six were executed as frontal assaults across open areas, even though in every case there was a clear concealed route for the assault element to take that would have allowed a 90-degree flank of the enemy. There was no bounding on the objective and little use of tactical formations because they had never trained as a platoon before coming to JMRC.
It's probably a tough criticism to take: the US Army is as battle-hardened as it's ever been, given the long war. As far as I know, there's never been a company or even a platoon-level fight that the Army has lost in all the battles in Iraq and Afghanistan. These fundamentals have dropped out of the infantry's mind because they haven't mattered. They have to feel like they know how to beat an enemy better than these fancy "multinational partners" who very rarely get out into the field against a real foe.

Nevertheless, they're the fundamentals for a reason, and there's no guarantee that you'll always be fighting enemies that aren't near-peers. That's especially true if you aren't the best in the world anymore.

Weapons Against the Grid

Russia's cyberweapons aimed at taking down power grids are getting better.

Poems "Every Man Should Read"

The Art of Manliness proposes a list. I suppose there's nothing wrong with reading these shorter works, some of which are very good. My favorite Yeats poem is "The Song of Wandering Aengus" rather than "Sailing to Byzantium," but they're short enough you can easily read both in the same sitting if you want.

For my money, however, the poems that "every man should read" are the epic poems.

The Iliad

The Odyssey

The Beowulf

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Some might add the Aeneid to that list, but Virgil was never my favorite. Among modern poets, Chesterton's Ballad of the White Horse is very much worth reading.

Thynghowe in Sherwood Forest

Before Robin Hood -- there were probably several Robin Hoods, dating to the period after the Norman Conquest -- Sherwood Forest played another important role. It hosted Viking conferences on a hilltop in the forest.
Nestled in Birklands wood, one of the many woods that comprise Sherwood Forest, and atop Hanger Hill, are a series of monuments known as Thynghowe. The spot is a “Thing site,” a meeting place where Vikings convened, enacted laws and policies, and settled disputes. Iceland’s Þingvellir (Thingvellir) is perhaps the most well-known Viking Thing site, as well as the location of the Alþing (Althing)...

Thynghowe is unique for its location, existing in an area where no other comparable sites have yet to be uncovered[.] [It featured] a “Thing mound” (policies might have been announced and dictated from this feature), a circular enclosure dated to the Medieval or Saxon era that could be a Viking “court circle,” pot-boiler stones not unlike those used by the Romans, according to Gaunt, and a linguistic link between the nearby village of Budby and the Norse phrase “booth farm” which suggests it may have been a settlement where Vikings attending assemblies at Thynghowe would have stayed.

Protests in Russia

They're not getting much coverage in American news that I've seen, but there are big protests against the government's corruption in Russia. Hundreds have been detained by security forces.

Edge of the World

Well, as close as you can get an hours drive from downtown L.A.  Not much is better than spending a Sunday hiking up to the tallest peak in the San Gabriel Range- 10,064' Mount San Antonio- with your fourteen year old son.  We started at the Ski Lifts base, which is about 6,400' above sea level, so that gets you about 3,600' elevation gain to make the summit, this in only about 5 miles.  This weekend the weather was cool, the June marine layer pushing inland all the way through the Cajon Pass into the high desert, and up the slopes of the San Gabriel Range at about 30 miles per hour.  Once you got above tree line, it was invigorating.  The Devil's Backbone trail has some pretty amazing vistas and geologic formations, looking on a day like today in spots like places straight out of the Misty Mountains.  This is part of why it's so hard to leave California.  Ah, well, a weekend well spent.
(couple more pics below the fold)