Veteran's Day

All honor to the warriors. Some of them grew grey in the service, as this famous artistic treatment imagines.

George Washington, too.
At the close of the Revolutionary War in America, a perilous moment in the life of the fledgling American republic occurred as officers of the Continental Army met in Newburgh, New York, to discuss grievances and consider a possible insurrection against the rule of Congress.... Washington then took out a letter from a member of Congress explaining the financial difficulties of the government.

After reading a portion of the letter with his eyes squinting at the small writing, Washington suddenly stopped. His officers stared at him, wondering. Washington then reached into his coat pocket and took out a pair of reading glasses. Few of them knew he wore glasses, and were surprised.

"Gentlemen," said Washington, "you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for I have not only grown gray but almost blind in the service of my country."

In that single moment of sheer vulnerability, Washington's men were deeply moved, even shamed, and many were quickly in tears, now looking with great affection at this aging man who had led them through so much. Washington read the remainder of the letter, then left without saying another word, realizing their sentiments.

His officers then cast a unanimous vote, essentially agreeing to the rule of Congress. Thus, the civilian government was preserved and the experiment of democracy in America continued.
As Washington shows us, sometimes men grown grey can yet be of service.

Happy Veteran's Day.

Happy Birthday

The Marine Corps is 242 years old today. Felicitations are due.

Sometimes the Onion is Just Funny

WASHINGTON—Saying the financial risks and hours of hard work would pay off in the long term, former president Barack Obama revealed Thursday that he has sunk his entire life’s savings into the development of a tabletop game based on the American presidency.

Obama confirmed that over the past 10 months, he has spent the bulk of his family’s net worth to create Commander In Chief: Executive Power, a hybrid role-playing and board game about running a presidential administration. He has reportedly devised more than 50 possible storylines players may encounter while they work together to complete a term in the Oval Office, planning fiscally sound federal budgets, negotiating trade deals with foreign countries, and delivering aid to states struck by natural disasters.

“Once Commander In Chief hits the market, it’s gonna blow up just like Terra Mystica did, but right now funding is the biggest issue,” said Obama, sitting at his dining room table and showing off a prototype that included a 4-by-4 foot game board, stacks of handwritten index cards labeled “event” and “item,” and a set of polyhedral dice. “I drained our bank account to pay this specialty manufacturer to make the game components, and I’m hoping the Kickstarter money will cover the cost of renting warehouse space to store the finished product.”


Flatfoot 56 for Friday

We've Got Your Solutions Right Here

Headline: "DNC Unveils Clinton Institute For Campaign Ethics Reform In Response To Corruption Allegations."

A Promising Crisis

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is changing. Fast.

A Banner Week for Government Competence on Guns

The USAF simply failed to inform the rest of the Federal government that the Texas shooter was disqualified from own firearms. A government-run mental facility failed to inform on the same shooter, two strikes. (H/t: D29) And now, just to make us even more certain that the government are the only ones to trust to manage American firearms, this story:
In July, Robert Manson, a unit chief in the F.B.I.’s international terrorism section, had his Glock .40-caliber handgun, a $6,000 Rolex watch and $60 in cash stolen from his room at the Westin hotel in Charlotte, N.C....

Federal law allows agents to carry concealed weapons while off duty, but not while they are intoxicated.
One begins to wonder what the overlap is, in the Venn Diagram sense, between Federal police who are "off duty" but "not intoxicated."

UPDATE: TSA fails to detect weapons in undercover tests 70% of the time.

Wars Day-By-Day

Some fellow who goes by the moniker Emperor Tigerstar has put up a bunch of animated maps on YouTube showing the day-by-day conflicts for a number of major wars. Here's the Civil War:

Maroon = Confederate States of America and territories
Red = Areas occupied by Confederate forces
Pink = Gains for that Day
Dark Blue = United States of America and territories
Blue = Areas occupied by Union forces.
Light blue = Gains for that day
Yellow = Border states / disputed areas.

You know that train gonna come tonight

I need a break from horror and revulsion at the news and the perfidy of political opponents.  But I keep thinking about Judgment.

A Setup

So it looks very much like Fusion GPS set up the Donald Trump, Jr., meeting with a Russian national -- and had 3 of their people in the room. The Russian had been working with the Justice Department on an unrelated case for a year or so, and she met with a Fusion GPS guy before and after that meeting.

Looks like collusion, all right. Of a sort.

Al Jazeera: Gun Control is Pretty Racist

They're not wrong, although I'm not sure why the Qatari government is interested in American civil rights. They certainly aren't interested in advancing civil rights in their own country.

The NRA has a sterling original story here, but the criticism of their moves in the 1960s is valid. So too is the ongoing criticism of their lackluster response to the Philando Castile shooting, in which a legally armed man was killed for no good reason by a frightened policeman. I don't know that I think that the NRA is being racist in the latter case; I think they're afraid to be critical of police, who are a crucial group they need to lobby in order to pursue their main mission. All the same, Philando Castile should be alive, and the NRA should be out there defending him.

I Seem To Remember This Language

In fact, we all of us used it ourselves. It's as if we were always right in our depiction of the crime.
An early draft of former FBI Director James Comey’s statement exonerating Hillary Clinton from the email scandal contained much stronger, consequential language that would seem to indicate Clinton, in fact, violated the Espionage Act. What’s more, there is reason to believe the individuals involved in editing the memo were unduly influenced by political bias.

According to a report from The Hill, the wording of Comey’s statement was changed from saying Clinton had been “grossly negligent” in handling classified information to a softer accusation of being “extremely careless.”...

The relevant section of the Espionage Act, Title 18 Section 793(f), states:

“Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, note, or information, relating to the national defense, (1) through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed … Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.”

Olofsdotter is a Great Name

Another of Tex's 'Gorillas in the Mist' pieces on trying to understand what they are calling "Trump's America." Well, willing to vote for Trump, anyway.

Here was their first mistake:
On one side of Ambassador Karin Olofsdotter sat a former German defense minister and on the other a Washington think-tanker, a former Obama White House official who had organized the Trump country excursion.
Why would you get an Obama White House official to organize your trip to understand 'Trump's America'?
“Do the people who live in the Trump circles work in these high-tech companies?” Olofsdotter asked during her meeting with editors at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“It’s a little scary, but a lot of them work in the medical field,” one of the editors replied.
Yes, being completely terrified of these wild animals helps you understand them.

Now for their second mistake:
Soon they came to a stop at the public library, a new, two-story brick building, where the parking lot was full and the librarian was eagerly waiting for them by the front door.
Public libraries are like deep-blue monasteries in the reddest of red places. Go to Madison County, Georgia, and you'll find the only "Coexist" and "Clinton 2016" bumper stickers in the whole county on the two cars parked in the employee lot. These people -- who may be very decent, in most respects -- will not help you understand Trump voters.
“Do Trump voters go to libraries?” one of Smith’s former Obama administration colleagues, now a University of Pittsburgh professor, had asked her the previous day.
You're off to a grand start with your understanding tour.

Tone deafness

So, thanks to Ace, I found this article this morning and read it.  For those of you not willing to churn through a bunch of navel gazing about "why New Atheism failed" (surprising me both that there was a "new" atheism and that it's already been determined to have failed; given that I knew nothing about it in the first place), in short it wonders if this "new wave of atheists" failed to gain any traction in society because they were preaching "obvious truths" to like-minded believers (no pun intended).

And as I read it, it discussed the fact that 80% of Americans identify as "religious", 63% "claim" to be absolutely certain there is a God, and 46% think the Earth was literally created in seven days.  So I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop and for the author (who seems to be an atheist) to say, "you know, maybe mocking people who believe different things than we do is the reason we don't gain converts from among them".  And it simply never happened.

This person literally questioned everything about why the New Atheist movement (and again, my apologies, I never even knew this was a thing) failed to gain traction, and never once thought about the fact that by basically calling every person of faith deluded, wrong, and even stupid (in fact, the author goes so far as to say religion causes homophobia and terrorism), that they just might not be willing to give your philosophy a fair hearing.  One almost gets the feeling from the article that the author never expects to sway the other 4/5ths of their countrymen, and have written us off entirely.  Almost completely admitting that they don't actually care what the rest of us think.

Now, let me be clear, my very best friend in this world (besides my wife) is an atheist.  And unlike this author, he neither looks down upon or denigrates those who do not believe as he does.  I have even seen him take other (more militant) atheists to task for trying to berate someone for praying.  "You are the kind of person who makes atheists like me look bad", were his exact words.  I have no issues with someone who simply does not feel what I feel, what I have issues with is someone who demands that not only do I give up my faith, but that I (in effect) admit how stupid I am for having it in the first place.  The first is non-negotiable, the second is laughable.  "Molon labe" comes to mind.

Hard shells

In Texas, even if you shoot up a church on Sunday, you may find yourself taking return fire.

A horrible, horrible story, a number of young children among the dead in a tiny town that just lost nearly 10% of its people.  Sutherland Springs is a short distance southeast of San Antonio, almost in the middle of what was Eagle Ford shale boom country until quite recently.  It's maybe 100 miles northwest of us.

We know very little about the now-deceased 26-year-old New Braunfels man who was the shooter. I find myself wondering if he's going to turn out to have been on antidepressants.  It wouldn't prove much, since so many people are.  God have mercy on the grieving families.