On the Road Again

Be gone most of the week.

Underpaid Girl

When last we discussed "Fearless Girl," the Wall Street statue of a girl staring down a bull with apparently no sense of physics, I was defending the proposition that the statue might be thought improperly derivative of the work of another artist. It turns out it's also a hypocritical attempt to distract from the fact that the contracting firm doesn't live by the values it supposedly espouses.

But hey, that's par for the course.

How to Write a Dressing Down

I think you're all familiar with the subject of this particular dressing down- the recently infamous commie Cadet- but this conclusion from a sworn statement from LTC Robert M. Heffington may just have you breaking out in applause.  I wouldn't change a word.

At best, Cadet Rapone’s online ideological screeds reveal the philosophical infatuations of a precocious adolescent, rather like a high school boy who cannot stop spouting off about Nietzsche.  The “misunderstood” and “persecuted” young genius shouts truth to power by cobbling together ideas and quotations popping up in chat rooms or on Facebook walls, certain that his provocative and shocking proclamations will, based solely upon their vehemence and sarcasm, demonstrate both the profound sincerity and the unassailable correctness of his viewpoints.  This phase tends to be ephemeral, the erstwhile young firebrand eventually emerging from the self-adulatory fog after eye-opening encounters with equally brilliant people articulating cogent, well-supported, and entirely contrary arguments, or having gained sufficient life experience to illustrate the fundamental interpretive emptiness that renders any strictly Manichaean worldview emotionally unfulfilling and analytically bankrupt.  At worst, however, Cadet Rapone’s statements bespeak either a severe mental or psychological disorder, or a genuine commitment to values and ideals wholly at odds with those of West Point and the Army.  If the former is true, he is dangerously unbalanced, and therefore not suited to military service.  If the latter, is true, he is a coward, and a hypocrite who refuses to discontinue his association with an institution that, as he sees it, is a tool of an inherently unjust, immoral, and imperialist state.  He may at some point grow out of this phase, but the Army does not have the luxury of allowing him the opportunity to sort out his beliefs while charged with the sacred duty of leading American Soldiers.
If you're interested in what led to this conclusion, the rest is available at Bring the Heat.

'Have the White Supremacist Government Disarm Us!'

A pretty good point, really.
The US government is systemically racist and, through it’s inaction, seems willing to allow innocent, black citizens to be murdered by its police force. Furthermore, the judicial system is often rigged to protect the evil, racist officers by never punishing them for those murders. Additionally, the very same government is now in the hands of a fascist, incompetent criminal who, not only hates blacks and Latinos so much that he is willing to let the latter die of starvation and thirst rather than deliver humanitarian aid to them, but also calls the former “Sons of bitches” for protesting the racist country he oversees....

Maybe it’s me — and I have only my own perspective from which I can analyze this — but if I really thought this country was so evil and so racist and could fall into the hands of an incompetent fascist… I’d want to hang on to a few guns. And if I thought that government was either so incompetent or so evil that they would let their citizens starve during a crisis like a hurricane, again, I think having a few guns in that kind of scenario would be a wise thing. And, I certainly wouldn’t want that evil, fascist, incompetent and racist government to determine who could and could not arm themselves.
It's actually a little stronger than this phrasing, because "its police force" and "the judicial system" are aspects of the alleged racist, white-supremacist government. So the argument really isn't that 'by inaction' the US government is permitting murder, which then the judiciary gets away with not prosecuting fairly. The argument is that the US government engages in systematic murder as a part of its social control against blacks. Keeping them permanently aware of being immediately subject to murder by police at the slightest provocation is supposed to be an important part of our social structure. Far from a passive thing that happens because we have low-quality police, this is (on the forwarded analysis) a structural feature of the American system.

If that is what you believe -- and arguably, such a system really did exist in the Jim Crow South -- why on earth would you give up your guns to that system? You should join these political figures in thanking the NRA for defending your capacity to stand up and be free.

Bang Bang, My Baby Shot Me Down

In the song, of course, 'shot me down' just meant 'left me without explanation.' Quentin Tarantino used the song in the opening to Kill Bill, where a more literal shooting-down was intended.

The question implied by the thing Ms. Sinatra was responding to ought to be answered by her reply. The NRA keeps Americans safe by preventing firing squads run by Cultural Revolutionaries. The NRA's main job isn't 'keeping people safe,' but defending the American way by ensuring that Americans have access to the tools and the training to defend it. Along the way, though, that can help keep people safe.

Trump to "Wipe Out" Puerto Rico's Debt

That will be a huge move, if he follows through on it. I am not sure if he has the power, though: can a President (note indefinite article) wipe out the debt of a US territory? Can Congress, other than by paying it off? What's the mechanism for that?

DB: WWII Vets Gather to Be Reminded to Check Their Privilege

These guys at the DB hit some winners sometimes.
The few remaining survivors of “The Greatest Generation”, who fought and bled in defense of democracy and freedom during World War II, were reminded to check their privilege today at a ceremony at The University of California at Berkeley.

The annual ceremony, sponsored by the Marginalized-Victims-of-Repressive-Oppression-by-White-Male-Capitalists-Over-Six-Feet-Tall-Student-Campus-Alliance (MVROWMCOSFTSCA), was intended to “send a message to all World War II veterans,” the group’s Facebook page said, “that no matter how many of your friends died right before your eyes, the fact that you were even there, only worried about dodging bullets and not violent speech, shows just how privileged you really were.”

Moonbeam Cinnamon Smith-Mustafa-Rodriguez-Gluten, the group’s organizer, shouted into a handheld loudspeaker at the dwindling crowd of aging veterans, noticeably smaller than last year’s group.

“You old, rich, privileged white men have no idea what the daily fight on the streets is like, what the struggle against an oppressive regime bent on domination is actually like,” she said.

The Great Tree of Life

An interesting representation of the evolutionary frame as we currently believe it to have happened.


We were just talking about that movie the other day. Now this:
Wealthy homeowners in one tiny Fort Worth suburb say their neighbor’s decision to park a World War II-era tank in front of his multimillion-dollar home is making them nervous.

At least that’s what attorney Tony Buzbee, a history buff who purchased the WWII tank for $600,000 earlier this year, learned when his neighborhood homeowners’ association sent him a letter saying the tank “impedes traffic” and causes a “safety issue” and “serious concerns for neighbors."
It's all right. If the movie is any indication, the tank provides an important hedge against corrupt Southern law enforcement officers.

DB: Rudyard Kipling gives your weekend safety brief

‘Fore ya drink yerself stupid
Well, stupider than ya are
Make sure ya got a DD
‘Fore gettin’ in the car
Make sure you ain’t drivin’
On this your career’ll ‘inge
Make sure the cherry has the keys
On porter and pie you’ll binge


(Yeah, there are three more stanzas, but not as good as one would have hoped for Kipling. I actually suspect an imposter wrote it.)

France to Enter Permanent State of Emergency

President Emmanuel Macron has pushed for the bill to follow through on a campaign promise to end the state of emergency.... Lawyers and activists have warned that the legislation would essentially make all the state of emergency measures permanent.

It would turn warrantless property searches and house arrests into common police practice. Banning protest marches, shutting down places of worship suspected of sharing extremist views and electronic tagging for surveillance purposes are other powers police would be granted under the legislation.

You Can't Trust People

I'm always suspicious of these 'see something, say something' efforts. They always seem to turn out like this.
In April, the Trump Administration launched what it called the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) hotline, with a stated mission to “provide proactive, timely, adequate, and professional services to victims of crimes committed by removable aliens.” But internal logs of calls to VOICE obtained by Splinter show that hundreds of Americans seized on the hotline to lodge secret accusations against acquaintances, neighbors, or even their own family members, often to advance petty personal grievances.
They're targeting Trump in the article, because of course they are, but 'if you see something, say something' was an Obama-era phrase, adopted by the Feds in 2010. They even trademarked it, as if the government had something to fear from copyright infringement. It was part of the "Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative," which could hardly be a more ominous name. I'm guessing "Spy On Your Neighbor" must have been taken.

Ah, Yes, the "2nd is Racist" Argument Again

This nonsense first came around in 2013, in a better and more developed form. It's still wrong; militias were used for very many purposes, from resisting Spanish incursions from Florida to protecting settlers from Native American raids. The militia didn't have just one purpose, in other words; it was the most effective security available to a frontier civilization not yet possessing the means for sustaining a large police force, and having very good reasons to suspect the wisdom of maintaining a large standing army.

In an environment in which terrorist violence arises in many contexts and without warning, the militia still plays a role in national self-defense. Even with well-organized and effective police, there is going to be a delay in response. Sometimes -- not last weekend, but very often -- an armed and disciplined citizenry can find and fix such terrorists until the police can respond.

Of course, as you all noted the last time around, gun control really does have demonstrably racist roots. Indeed, the NRA was founded in part to help freedmen defend themselves in the post-war South.

Viking Deforestation to be Reversed

The Outer Hebrides are going to be restored to an earlier condition, thanks to a project by Scotland.

High-Powered, You Say?

Among the guns and ammunition police found the in the room being used by Paddock were some high-powered rifles considered capable of penetrating police armor.
These are also just called "rifles."

DB: Female Infantry Bring Big Changes

A recent Department of Defense study on infantry units revealed that gender-integrated units smelled 237% better than non-integrated units....

Male unit members denied any changes in habits that could have led to the differences, though one was seen kicking a bottle of body spray under his rack as the research team inspected living spaces.

“Nah man, I mean Ma’am, I ain’t changin’ my style just cause we got girls around now. It’s probably all their scented lotions and soap and junk that you smell,” said Cpl. Juan Suarez.

“Yeah, they’re always leavin’ that Moonlight Path shower gel and Warm Vanilla Sugar scrub all over the unisex head, but I have NOT used it,” said his rackmate, Cpl. Steven Walsh, whose skin had a curious soft glow.

American vs. UK Political Divisions

An interesting comparison. I had not realize the numbers were like this. As the numbers in the paragraph below indicate, you can get references for these figures at the link.
In the US, the number of Americans identifying as liberal reached a record high of 24% in 2015 in comparison to the conservative 38%. [1] Britons are almost evenly divided between left and right. [2] Women are generally somewhat more likely to be left-leaning than men [3] but very many are not. 47% of African Americans identify as liberal and 45% as conservative. [4] In the UK, the Conservative party claimed 33% of Black and Middle Eastern voters in comparison to Labour’s 52%, with Black Britons being most likely to vote Labour, whilst among the Asian community, Hindus and Sikhs are more likely to vote Conservative and Muslims to vote Labour.[5] British LGBTs are as likely to be right-wing as left-wing [6]whilst American LGBTs are much more likely to be left-wing,[7] almost certainly because of the religious nature of the American right and its implications for LGBT equality.

Calls for Firing

So, the Vegas situation has at least yielded some hard evidence of something we were debating last week. That discussion got surprisingly heated, but perhaps this is a good occasion to simply show that the thing being discussed does in fact happen.

On this occasion, a CBS reporter wrote on Twitter that she had little sympathy for the victims because they were the kind of people who oppose gun control, or, as she put it, "Repugs" who were "gun toters." This led to calls for her to be fired, echoed across the right-wing side of Twitter today, which led to her in fact being fired by CBS.

I am as I said willing to forgo this kind of vengeance for expressing unpopular sentiments; maybe we even would benefit from a rule protecting private political expressions from employer reprisals. But either we would, or we would not; there can't be two standards. This time, a left-leaning journalist ended up having to play by the one most often applied to the right.