A Hero in Quebec

Untrained, unprepared, but brave in heart, Aymen Derbali ran to the sound of gunfire and thus saved many lives.
"I have no bad feelings or bitterness," Mr. Derbali says. "This hasn't changed my vision of this country. I'm proud to be Canadian. What happened could have happened anywhere in the world."

Still, there are times when he has reason to wonder if the world has moved on. His act of bravery has gone uncelebrated. He has not received a single note or visit from a politician since arriving at the rehabilitation centre in July. "I'm surprised," he admits, choosing his words carefully.

One day – no one is able yet to say when – he will leave the medical centre. He cannot return to the family's fourth-floor apartment because it is not adapted for his wheelchair. The family of five will have to find a new home. Where will they go? How will they pay for it? Calls for help to city and provincial officials have gone nowhere, Mr. Derbali says.

I love this guy

In retrospect, the powers that be probably made a mistake letting this guy get his hands on a foreign education.  And Stanford University probably should have strangled him in the crib, too.

Genocide in Chicago

An idea seriously suggested by a Cook County councilman: deploy UN peacekeepers in Chicago.
President Donald Trump’s implicit threat to put the National Guard on the streets of Chicago to tackle the city’s violence problem attracted widespread ridicule earlier this year.

But if the soldiers were instead wearing the sky blue helmets of United Nations peacekeepers there might not be such a problem, according to Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin, who flew to New York on Thursday to discuss what he described as a “quiet genocide” in Chicago’s black community with the U.N.’s assistant secretary-general for peacebuilding support, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco.

“The United Nations has a track record of protecting minority populations,” Boykin told Inc. before his meeting. “There was tribal warfare between the Tutsis and the Hutus in Africa, and they deployed peacekeeping troops there to help save those populations and reduce the bloodshed. We have to do something — black people in Chicago make up 30 percent of the population but 80 percent of those who are killed by gun violence.”
It's amazing to me that anyone would trust the United Nations' blue helmets in their community, given their track record.

"Rough Justice"

The anti-harassment revolution claimed its first female, feminist victim.
Ramsey, a 56-year-old retired business executive from Leawood... was running with the endorsement of Emily’s List, a liberal women’s group that has raised more than a half-million dollars to help female candidates who support abortion rights.

Ramsey will drop out on Friday, her campaign said.

“In its rush to claim the high ground in our roiling national conversation about harassment, the Democratic Party has implemented a zero tolerance standard,” Ramsey said in a statement Friday. “For me, that means a vindictive, terminated employee’s false allegations are enough for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) to decide not to support our promising campaign. We are in a national moment where rough justice stands in place of careful analysis, nuance and due process.”

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has not endorsed anyone in the race, said in a statement that members and candidates must all be held to the highest standard.

“If anyone is guilty of sexual harassment or sexual assault, that person should not hold public office,” said committee spokeswoman Meredith Kelly.
When equality is your only principle for justice, it is satisfied both by treatment that is equally good and by treatment that is equally bad.

UPDATE: It won't do to suggest that women are equally responsible for sexual dynamics, of course.

Behold, Your Judgment is Upon You!

Well, no one around here, but this does give us a chance to revisit a favorite song...

Math Problems for Fun and Not Much Profit

But some, perhaps, if working through them improves your mind for a while. The exercise might do you good, and they certainly are fun to think through.


Wretchard is theorizing. You have to read from the bottom.

So the concept is that Hollywood and D.C. failed to hold themselves to standards, so they're kicking the problem out to us. That complicates our lives, because, well, these failures aren't really reflective of the most of us -- they're reflective of these power elites. We're being asked to take responsibility for them, which means accepting a higher degree of public overwatch on ourselves in return for exercising authority over these elites.

There are two questions to ask about this.

1) Is this right? Did the most of us have a good handle on this, such that this is really an elite problem? A partial answer can be found in the relative ease with which corporate America is disciplining wrongdoers, compared with the way that political elites are less capable of being held to standards. It could be that most of America has adjusted already; corporate elites have avoided adjusting, but are deeply exposed; and so only political elites are so far protected.

So maybe it's right. But maybe not: there are other interpretations, which I invite you to explore.

2) Is this a good deal? Ordinary citizens having power over elites is in the right lane for a small-d democratic outcome. On the other hand, a vastly increased policing of sexuality has significant negative consequences. There's a big downside to accepting a moral right to pry into our private lives. Don't forget the two rules of business:

That's a principle that's really worth defending. It's not that it doesn't admit of exceptions.

I don't particularly want to have to concern myself with these scoundrels, and I definitely don't want them to feel free to concern themselves with me. On the other hand, they're much in need of correction. It would be to the common good.

What say you all?

UPDATE: Outside of the Hollywood field, two different polls are now suggesting that majorities want President Trump to resign over being accused of similar behavior. Quinnipac, which didn't ask about Trump but about "elected officials accused of sexual harassment" found a majority even of Republicans want a resignation in such cases; 66% of adults overall agree. PPP specifically asked about Trump, and finds that a majority of registered voters wants a resignation (but not of Trump voters, who back the President staying in office). Both polls presume no trials, no recall elections at which voters formally consider the question, just straight to resignation based on multiple accusations. That suggests a very high degree of willingness to believe such charges, and to purge people from office on the basis of that belief.

The Fields of Athenry

I ran across some interesting renditions of this Irish song. The first is the traditional version by the Dubliners, for those who prefer that Irish folk sound. The second is the Dropkick Murphy's version, for those who like a little electric guitar with their pipes. The final video is of Irish soccer fans singing the song at a game in Spain. It's obviously a pretty popular song in Ireland, and the lyrics go back to English occupation and oppression. The lyrics are at the end.

The Feast of St. Lucia

Today's the day.

Raw Eggs Make You Strong

Raw flour, though... that stuff can kill you. Well, apparently.

Like all of these food safety claims, it's somewhat overstated. Food is so safe in our country right now that this sort of warning is overkill. You could also make sure that you consume raw cookie dough only alongside adequate amounts of rum-flavored eggnog, I suppose.

Bits 'n' Pieces

The Real Story of 2016

According to Andy McCarthy:

“I think we’re ultimately going to find that the real collusion story of the 2016 election was the way that the Obama administration put the law enforcement and intelligence arms of the administration in the service of the Clinton campaign.”

Video at the link.

'I'd Do -Anything- For a Campaign Contribution'

"It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first."
- Ronald Reagan

Reagan's joke occurred to me today as Senator Elizabeth Warren decided to engage a dispute between Senator Kathy Gillibrand and President Donald Trump. Trump said this:
Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office “begging” for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 12, 2017
Warren said this:
Are you really trying to bully, intimidate and slut-shame @SenGillibrand? Do you know who you're picking a fight with? Good luck with that, @realDonaldTrump. Nevertheless, #shepersisted. https://t.co/mYJtBZfxiu

— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) December 12, 2017
Warren is not alone in reading this as a sexualized insult, although that is not explicit in Trump's remarks. However, even if you grant the sexualized reading, this becomes a version of Reagan's joke. Warren's complaint seems to be that you shouldn't call out a female Senator for doing what, you know, Senators do. 'Don't shame her for being a...' is another way of saying that 'being such is OK.'

Reagan was, of course, joking about politicians as a whole: his joke doesn't personalize the issue by pointing at a particular politician, let alone a female politician. Arguably the joke is fine in its asexual, universal form but offensive when pointed at a particular woman (if, again, we grant that Trump intended to do this). Of the two, I think it is really the female rather than the universal criterion that makes it offensive. You could make this joke about a particular male politician without it crossing a line.

That, though, raises the issue of whether women need special protections in order to engage public life -- and if so, to what degree they should be thought of as the political equals of men in public life. The idea is that women have less power, and therefore need the special protections in order to create a practical equality that does not otherwise exist. But right now we are in a moment in which that premise is surely in need of examination: a large number of powerful men have recently been stripped of their careers, and some of them stand in peril of losing their freedom, because women have merely raised accusations against them. Women are not powerless, if ever they were. Indeed, Sen. Gillibrand is trying to force Trump's resignation even now. That is how the dispute started. She is trying to do to him what has been successfully done to numerous others. She might even succeed at it, for all we know.

If the power differential has changed -- or was never quite what it was said to be to begin with -- then the argument that women need special protections to craft a practical equality needs to be re-examined. It is no insult to say that a woman is a prostitute if she is one; and if we are in the habit of analogizing politicians to prostitutes, then it is no special institute to include a female politician in the analogy. (It may be an insult, of course, but it is not a special insult: and I'm not convinced, where the Senate is concerned, that it isn't the prostitutes who should be insulted by the comparison.)

Of course we would all be better off if we had a respectable class of political leadership, such that respect flowed to them naturally because they deserved it. In fact for all I know Sen. Gillibrand is such a person; I don't follow the Senator from New York's career closely enough to say. Of the Senators I do follow, including especially my own, I'm not sure Reagan's joke isn't entirely on point. They happen to be men, both of them.

UPDATE: The Daily Caller points out that Trump made an attack on Mitt Romney that was of the same order: "Romney “would have dropped to his knees” to help with his campaign in 2016." So, good for the goose is good for the gander? Not that it's good, in the strict sense. But it's treating people equally, for whatever very little that is worth.

One Good Thing about the Alabama Special Election

It'll be over soon. Although, maybe that'll mean doing this all over again in two years. Ugh.

Since we're here, though, I'm interested in what everyone thinks about how to handle the kinds of claims Moore has faced. I've read a number of Republican / conservative writers who find the claims credible, but they haven't really explained why. Sheer numbers? Moore's responses? "Believe all women"?

My evaluation goes a bit like this. The claims all came out 40 years after the fact, they all came out after Moore ran for national office, and they came out after news media started digging for dirt. Moore's been in the public eye for some time. He's been a controversial figure for years. Why are the accusations coming now? That's kinda suspicious itself; it smacks of political motivation.

Numbers alone don't prove anything; copycats are common. There are copycat serial killers and copycat suicides, no doubt there may be copycat accusations, especially when there are people out there trying to dig up accusers in a Senate election.

So, for me, the claims might well be plausible, but I wouldn't use the term credible for any of them.

Also, I have a strong sense that people should be considered innocent until proven guilty, though maybe too strong. Maybe my standards of evidence are too high. Michael Graham thinks I'm an idiot.

But how would you evaluate the credibility of the claims against Moore?

To further complicate things, the passing of 40 years during which Moore seems to have displayed pretty good behavior, including being faithfully married, mitigates the effect of the claims even if they are true. People change. Let's say the claims are true: Then Moore WAS a dirtbag 40 years ago. But "once a dirtbag, always a dirtbag" isn't something I believe. I think a few decades of getting it right means something.

Should we ignore the last 40 years?

(Of course, if they are true, Grim made a good point that Moore hasn't confessed and repented but merely denied, so there's that. And, of course, there are other reasons to object to Moore, including his attitude towards the rule of law and the Constitution.)

In any case, I'll be glad when it's over.

Dropkick Murphys with Liza Graves

Graves is lead singer for the punk band Civet. There's no real Celtic influence discernable in their music, but Civet has apparently toured with the Murphys, so I'm guessing that's the connection.

And after the dirty glass, some dirty water.

Old school

From Daily Time Waster: "An AR with a 60-round magazine would be better, but a Viking with an axe is just old school."

2017 Army vs. Navy Game National Anthem

Sounds About Right

I am the type of American they want to go away....

I know the Democrats there hate me because I’m a straight, white, Christian, Southern conservative and the people that run the Republican Party today would only care what I think if I had hundreds of thousands of dollars to give them. That’s why if I can make trouble for either group, I’m game.

Second Sunday of Advent

An appropriate news story: approximately 100 years in the making, America's largest Catholic church is now completed.

Their own website is here.
The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, is the largest Roman Catholic church in North America and is among the ten largest churches in the world. Designated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops as a National Sanctuary of Prayer and Pilgrimage, the Basilica is our nation’s preeminent Marian shrine, dedicated to the patroness of the United States, the Blessed Virgin Mary under her title of the Immaculate Conception.
One of the most noteworthy features of Medieval cathedrals is that they were constructed over generations. Architects and stone masons did work on these shrines knowing they would never see them finished, nor their children, nor possibly their grandchildren. The unity of purpose that kept generations working on the same goal tied them together in a common and glorious purpose. Likewise, the adults who laid the foundation stone for this likely now have great-great-grandchildren alive to see the work finished.

Freedom of Speech & Assembly

Legally protected, but culturally under assault. The "White Nationalists" being discussed here are odious, but that is where we often first see signs of the suppression of rights.
In fact, the white-nationalist movement had been so effectively de-platformed and delegitimized, and become so frightened of drawing protesters like the ones who turned out to mock Spencer from the audience at the University of Florida, that NPI’s executive director, Evan McLaren, refused to tell reporters the conference’s new location until half an hour after the meetup was scheduled to start on November 19.

When I finally arrived at the organic winery and cow-and-hog farm in Poolesville, Maryland, an hour outside of DC, I learned that NPI had not even trusted its own attendees with the conference location. Instead of allowing its followers to drive to the winery themselves or even learn its name, NPI made its adherents leave their cars behind and hand in their cell phones so they could not see where they were going and inform others. Instead, NPI monitors drove them in 10-person vans to Rocklands Farm, which turned out not to have known that the white supremacists were coming, either....

When the farm’s owners discovered they were hosting a white-power group, they immediately asked NPI to leave. Though Spencer told the media afterward that the cancellation had come halfway through the event, in fact NPI was far less lucky.... There was only time for one conference session.... Spencer himself gave no major speech. Swedish fascist megapublisher Daniel Friberg, who’d been announced as a headliner along with MacDonald and Spencer, couldn’t appear because the United States had barred him from the country following Charlottesville.
The rest of the article is kind of interesting, as it points out that their agenda is not particularly right-wing at all: it sounds a lot like socialism. It's just "National" socialism, rather than international socialism.

That's the Spirit!

Gurkhas and Paratroopers, "two of the most elite infantry units in the world training intensely."

Curve blindness

This is a remarkable optical illusion.