Who Could Have Predicted This?

Instapundit is right.

The people who thought that was a meltdown haven't spent enough time around the folks who were making the arguments. It was never a stretch to say that they'd be after Washington and Jefferson as soon as they got rid of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson -- Virginia secessionist slaveholders all. Actually, if you view American history primarily through the lens of slavery, Stonewall Jackson may have been the best of the four. Washington isn't going to get a break: his slaves fled to the British for protection.

Al Gore Too?

Maybe this "Me Too" thing was worth doing after all, just to make clear the scale of this problem. It's starting to look like this bad behavior is rampant in places of power -- now Al Gore is being accused by multiple women. I suppose finding out that both halves of the Clinton administration are guilty is unsurprising, given that the boss sets the tone for the workplace. Nor are Republicans well placed to say much, I guess, with Trump at the head of the party.

Do you suppose that the worst people seek power, or that the power makes them worse?


From Newsweek, anti-Irish, anti-Catholic prejudice of the sort you haven't seen in decades.
Once the biggest names, faces, and voices on television were Huntley and Brinkley, Cronkite, Murrow, even John Chancellor and Dan Rather, all sober, serious Americans—and all Protestants too.

Now we have angry loudmouths with names like O’Reilly, Hannity, Buchanan, and, lurking back there with his Cheshire smile, the dissolute but scary Bannon.

Yet no one has noticed this obvious fact, and the sheer lack of attention may be the most important thing about it. Why has the ascent of a bunch of people who in an earlier period might have been called Micks drawn no notice at all?
The piece isn't really coherent; the author can't decide if it's important that these guys are all Irish, or if in fact they aren't very Irish. That allows him to finish on the PC note of 'embracing Irishness,' which is apparently really about being a Communist.

Congress Is A Law Unto Itself

Congress forbids staffers from pursuing lawsuits about office harassment without committing to months of "counseling" first. They're also required to subject themselves to a mediation process to try to settle the business out of court.

No doubt that process produces far better results than the transparency and accountability of an open court would. I mean, that's what I would expect, wouldn't you?

"Fair Market Value"

I'm always suspicious of attempts to determine a 'fair market value' for properties other than by seeing what they'll bring on the market. What if we determine that the market itself isn't fair?
Just a few months ago, Lopez had a contract in place to sell her 1,200-square-foot home for $265,000 so she and her daughter could move to a bigger house nearby.... Just days before the home closing, Lopez was told her home was part of an affordable housing program that Denver created in 2003.... That meant [her home] could only be sold to buyers who qualified as low income....

Lopez could only sell her home for $186,000, $79,000 less than her buyers were prepared to pay, because the city only allows its affordable housing homes to appreciate 5 percent a year.
She's been ordered to relist the home in 30 days for no more than the mandatory maximum price. By the way, the city has been taxing her on the full value of the house -- not the 'value' they insist she's required to accept for it.

Poll: Only 51% of Democrats Support Investigating Trump

Meanwhile, nearly two thirds of respondents felt that the current investigations into President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia are hurting the country more than helping. Only 51% of Democrats felt the investigation was helping, with the other 49% arguing it was hurting.

Interesting Point

The point that drew my attention occurs early. Christina Hoff Summers: "It looks to me as though the way society used to police and monitor the lives of gay people, now it's moved to heterosexual males. They are under constant criticism and surveillance, and their normal sexuality has been pathologized."

This turns into an eleven minute conversation, some parts of which are more interesting than others. Camille Paglia's point that her generation fought for the right to risk being raped is phrased in a controversial way, but she's right: the focus on winning freedom for young women in her era was being fought against a protective instinct from colleges. I remember my mother talking about her college campus in just the way she does: that the women had to sign in and out, and be in by a certain hour.

The 'microaggression app' sounds unpleasant in the extreme.

JFK Assassination Declassification

The UK Independent has a live update page.

Meanwhile, the DB gets its licks in.


The NYT on Chief of Staff John Kelly:
For all of the talk of Mr. Kelly as a moderating force and the so-called grown-up in the room, it turns out that he harbors strong feelings on patriotism, national security and immigration that mirror the hard-line views of his outspoken boss.
Strong feelings on patriotism, you say? In a White House Chief of Staff? National Security, too?

I can see people worrying about immigration. Kelly's DHS developed a hard-core strategy of proving to illegal immigrants that they could rely on no safe havens anywhere in America. You see stories like this one about a 10-year-old cerebral palsy patient that Border Patrol agents followed to the hospital, and then arrested as soon as she was released. Clearly the intent is to communicate that there will be no mercy for illegal immigrants, and that they have to fear showing up anywhere: the hospital, court, school, anywhere at all. The government can't deport 11 million people, or 20 million people, and it doesn't even know if the true figure is 11 or 20 million people. If it can make living in America sufficiently terrifying, however, it might convince them to leave on their own.

Those are the hardball tactics that I'd expect from a Marine assigned to enforcing immigration law given the exigent existing circumstances. We'll simply never get back to an enforceable state of affairs otherwise: the choice is between hardball tactics or accepting this mass illegal immigration as a fait accompli. A lot of people will nevertheless be put off by the hardball play, as most people prefer feeling generous and kind rather than cruel and merciless.

You can't properly damn Kelly for taking this tactic if you are also one of those who supported the Obama and Bush II era policies that made this the only choice on the table. If Mr. Obama and Mr. Bush had done their job to ensure that the laws were faithfully executed, we would not now be in a case in which the only options are "accept that the law has failed" and "restore effective enforcement by horror." That is of course what we'll hear, though, because the idea is supposed to be that the law itself was always wrong; not enforcing it was always right. Enforcing it emphatically in ways that scare people is even worse than enforcing it gently in ways that allow many people to slip through the cracks.

Still, for what it's worth, that's how we got here. Kelly's DHS is doing this because literally the only alternative is accepting the 11 or 20 (or 30 or 40) million people who came here illegally. He was hired to get a handle on this problem, and this approach is the only functional way left on the table. The people who made that reality bear a lot of the blame for the fact that this approach has been chosen by their successors.

The Dark Continent

I never get tired of stories about people on safari into flyoverland, trying to understand the mysterious natives.

My own county is convulsed right now with hurricane destruction.  Although our house came through with flying colors, nearly every house in the county was damaged to some extent; a surprising number were totaled.  Not very many businesses are back up and running yet.  The county estimates that it's lost about 25% of its revenue base, a combined effect of devalued real estate and a huge hit to hotel/restaurant surtaxes and business sales taxes.

Naturally the County Commissioners have chosen this critical time to go full Nanny-State with construction permits, ostensibly in order to placate FEMA and the National Flood Insurance Program.  The timing is not ideal, given that FEMA appears to be universally loathed here.  Citizens were surprised to learn that it's difficult to qualify for FEMA benefits unless you're broke and uninsured.  Even if you seem to qualify, the application requirements are arcane or, at least, beyond the abilities of most broke and uninsured people.  Facebook has been boiling with horror stories.  I haven't run into anyone yet who got flood insurance benefits.  We suffered very little from rising water, almost entirely from high winds.

Nevertheless, we discovered (to the discomfiture of those small-governmentistas among us who should have been paying closer attention) that the Commissioners Court adopted a floodplain administration plan in early 2016 that instituted a construction permit process for the county's unincorporated areas.  On its face, it's not too horrible, in that it applies only to new construction or to repairs or renovations expected to cost at least half the value of the original structure.  Unfortunately, the Commissioners are now inexplicably taking the position that it applies to all repairs.  Naturally, this drives me nuts, not only the intrusion but the inability of a governmental body to think sensibly about whether they're really going to administer permits for everyone who needs to replace a window pane for the rest of time.

I'm very curious to see whether the citizens will put up with it.  The Facebook response includes a good bit of sensible outrage that nevertheless is disturbingly leavened with a certain amount of "but gosh, everybody should be forced to build properly, and naturally only the government can make that happen."  More to the point, because the Commissioner for my precinct just announced she will not stand for re-election in 2018, I have to decide whether to file for her position by the December 11 deadline.  This is not a job I want.  Still, I've always said that if you don't like who occupies most political offices, you should be willing to run for office yourself.

I'm trying to look at it as an experiment in whether residents of a largely unincorporated area of a deep-red Texas county are committed to small government.  If they're not, I'll be disappointed and less hopeful about the future of our freedoms, but at least I won't have to serve.  If I run and win, I won't be able to out-vote four other Commissioners, but I can make my voice heard, and I can certainly publicize their actions in a way that's actually calculated to reach the citizens, as opposed to meeting bare-minimum standards under the law.

Why the trial by ordeal was actually an effective test of guilt

Peter T. Leeson, professor of economics at George Mason University, has an interesting explanation of why trials by ordeal may have worked well. He starts out:

The only ones who know for sure whether a defendant is guilty or innocent are the defendant himself and God above. Asking the defendant to tell us the truth of the matter is usually useless: spontaneous confessions by the guilty are rare. But what if we could ask God to tell us instead? And what if we did? And what if it worked? 
For more than 400 years, between the ninth and the early 13th centuries, that’s exactly what Europeans did. In difficult criminal cases, when ‘ordinary’ evidence was lacking, their legal systems asked God to inform them about defendants’ criminal status. The method of their request: judicial ordeals.

He then explains how it could have actually worked. Pretty nifty, though whether his explanation is true or not is another matter, I suppose.

Mistakes Were Made

How do you get to the point in your professional life in which you have to write the following sentences? "Over the last few days, I have reflected on my appointment of H.E. President Robert Mugabe as WHO Goodwill Ambassador for NCDs in Africa."