A glimmer

I give this Dutch writer a bit of credit for acknowledging that not all skepticism of popular scientific orthodoxy is an artifact of conservative troglodytism. He forces himself to admit that skepticism of GM foods and vaccines can come from all ranges of the political spectrum--implicitly even the left, though he never comes right out and says so.  Instead, he notes that suspicion about vaccines correlates with concerns about the morality of naturalness, while suspicion about GM foods is associated with ignorance.  He throws "religiousness" in there, but appears to means something like concerns about morality in general, and notes that whatever it is he's measuring probably is confounded with general ignorance.

Climate change skepticism, however, clearly has no explanation other than political conservatism. I doubt the writer even entertains the private suspicion that anyone with his eyes open would be a bit skeptical of many aspects of climate alarmism, and that the common thread there is the political bias (hint: not conservative) that prevents nearly everyone he associates with from closely examining the subject.

The writer finds it natural to gauge trust in science in large part on the basis of how enthusiastically someone supports federal financing of scientists.  How else would you know, right?

Even a Blind Squirrel Finds a Nut Now and Then

Ted Rall, very much not my favorite cartoonist, finds a point:

A Partial Answer to the Previous Question

James Comey:
All who believe in this country’s values must vote for Democrats this fall. Policy differences don’t matter right now. History has its eyes on us.
Really? Anyone who votes Republican this fall is un-American, according to the former head of the FBI?

UPDATE: Is Joe Lieberman un-American too? He's arguing against voting for the Democratic nominee this year.

Who Do They Think They Work For?

A question that has been much on my mind lately as well.
Who Do These Guys Think They Work For?
What was fascinating about Strzok’s behavior and demeanor last week was his defiant, smug, arrogant, biased, catch-me-if-you-can attitude. It was almost as if he felt he was protected and above the law, but most assuredly, he felt he was untouchable and above Congress.

Yet the FBI, as a division of the Department of Justice, is subject to the oversight of Congress. Congress established the Justice Department in 1789—and it could unmake the Justice Department if it wanted. Congress provides funding that allows the department and the bureau to operate, and Congress has not only the right to oversee the actions of the FBI but also the obligation to ensure the bureau acts within its legal authority. What we saw Thursday was a smug bureaucrat who clearly has forgotten that in a constitutional republic, power flows from the people to their duly elected representatives who are to do the people’s business, which includes funding—with the people’s tax dollars—the various departments and agencies, followed by oversight of those departments.

So when you see Justice Department lawyers and federal agents arrogantly suggest that Congress go pound sand and wait around for the FBI, they’re not just telling Congress off: they’re telling the people off. They’re also communicating that an institution, a creation of our constitutional government, is greater than the Constitution and more sovereign than the sovereign people.
There is more, but that is for me the central point.

"Trump is Right to Doubt Obama Intelligence Community"

A piece by a right-leaning journalist named Jordan Schachtel. I met him once on one of my trips to DC, and he struck me as committed to the mission of journalism, by which I mean that he's definitely trying to advance his political agenda (which is at the core of journalism: 'comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable'), but that he's not willing to sell out his credibility to do it. If he publishes something, he has some reason to think it's defensible.

That said, the Nunes report concluded many of the same things as the Obama-era "consensus" report, which were reaffirmed by the recent indictments announced by Rosenstein. The timing of the announcement of those indictments is surely political, and intended to bracket the President during his Helsinki meeting: indictments that will never lead to arrests, such as these, could be announced at any time or never. The President's refusal to be bracketed in this way by publicly doubting the community attempting the bracket is going to cost him politically, but makes a kind of sense. Yet the similarity of the Nunes report's findings mean that the facts are probably not going to stray too far from the ones laid out in the indictments.

What that says to me is that there's a real attempt by the so-called "Deep State" to break out of its constitutional limits, and control the man whom the voters via the Electoral College appointed over them. Their refusal to investigate the servers, mentioned by the President in his controversial answers yesterday, is proof that they are defying the constitutional order. The move to bracket a president in foreign policy is out or order, no matter how much wiser the lesser bureaucrats in fact may be than the President. Even if their assumption of superiority is entirely correct, this is not their proper role.

It also says to me that the President should probably climb down a bit on his rhetoric, and accept that the question of Russian attempts at meddling is reasonably settled. The fact that they tried these various methods of influencing our elections is as reasonably well established as it probably can be in such a contentious environment, and there is a severable question of securing our elections that should be taken seriously apart from the machinations of the insurgent bureaucrats. Both problems need solutions, not one or the other.

UPDATE: See discussion in comments on the division; the President seems to be 'revising and extending his remarks' along these lines in front of Congress today.

Cyberpunk 2020

It's just about on schedule.

Calls for a Coup

This isn't even the first time.

Anarchy as God's Law

This is an interesting argument, not so much the Biblical interpretation as the basic claim that Ancient Israel represents an anarchy made possible by the moral law codified by Moses et al. He goes on to suggest a religious interpretation of history in which having a king is a kind of divine punishment made necessary by the lack of the internal moral code that would enable society to function without a king; and having 'the stranger among you rise up to rule over you' is an even harsher punishment arising from an even deeper rejection of the moral law.

So the thing to aspire to is something close to anarchy; and the way to get there is through genuinely moral behavior, so that internal restraints take the place of externally imposed controls. I certainly like the idea. I wonder how plausible it is, however. My internal moral restraints won't stop a foreign army from rolling over me. Internal moral restraints might, if they are held widely by the population rather than by an individual, enable the kind of political friendship that would allow us to pull together to defy a foreign invader without needing a powerful government to direct the effort.

Of course, the kind of resistance that would enable would be insurgent, and therefore would resemble a slow repulse of a conquering power rather than the ability to prevent the conquest. Consider Scotland in its war of independence from 1286-1320s, say: think of the army that knelt at Bannockburn before Edward II: "They ask mercy, king, but not of you." So you still end up with the ultimate punishment of being ruled by the stranger, but with a means to restore the blessed condition of independence.

The Scots happened to do this in part by choosing a king, rather than accepting the one they were told was appointed over them: and that idea that a people had the right to choose a king was revolutionary in itself, at the time. It was an important step on the road to America, and to wherever the road leads after America.

Obama Apologizes for his "Utter Lack of Shame"

At least, I assume that's what he meant to say here. I'm still enjoying that plan he told me over and over that I could keep, except that it was canceled and the closest equivalent now costs me five times what the old one used to cost.

FOX News Grills Putin

One thing I noticed in yesterday's press conference is that the Russian media was there to advance their national agenda, while the American media was there to put their President on the spot. They succeeded in doing that, and he answered in a way that was as bad a fit as possible for the context he was in. He'll pay a price for that, I imagine, although raising the issue of why the Department of Justice won't examine the DNC or Congressional servers in that context may force an actual answer to the question.

FOX News, though, sent Chris Wallace to advance the American agenda in another context. He was quite effective, though Putin remains a master of propaganda.

Snitch culture

A pseudonymous ex-SJW writes about how the mob he helped create came for him:
Within the world created by the various apps I used, I got plenty of shares and retweets. But this masked how ineffective I had become outside, in the real world. The only causes I was actually contributing to were the causes of mobbing and public shaming. Real change does not stem from these tactics. They only cause division, alienation, and bitterness.

Neo-Neocon: Strzok and the Otter Defense

I think Neo-Neocon has correctly identified Strzok's inspiration for his performance before Congress.

What they been sayin

The press seems more impressed with the information in the Mueller indictments than they did when it came out in a Nunes report.

It's worse than we thought

The Babylon Bee discovers the real scandal.


What do fathers do for their children? Hardly anything, we’ve learned.
Children with involved fathers are less likely to break the law and drop out of school. Guided by close relationships with their dads, these kids disproportionately grow up to avoid risky sex, pursue healthy relationships, and hold down high-paying jobs. They’re unlikely to become homeless or rely on welfare and more likely to have higher IQ scores than their peers by age three. Longer term, they suffer from fewer psychological problems and may be less prone to obesity.
It’s like these masculine hangers-on in the childrearing process don’t appreciate that they are useless. Can’t they just make way?

A Child Beheaded by the Sinaloa Cartel — in Norcross, GA

Norcross. I’ve been to Norcross many times. It’s a nice little suburb. On Friday nights in the fall, they like to watch their kids play football. The local high school football stadium has an air raid siren it blows when they score a touchdown.

We need to send a message on this one that the cartels will understand.

No King but the Law

Adam of Bremen described the Vikings out of Iceland as having "no king but the law." So too we. The Trumps raise hackles among monarchists at the Washington Post. As the fellow says, we are not her subjects. There's a story about that some us were remembering long about, oh, ten days ago. Maybe you missed it.

Any American is the equal of the Queen of England, formally. She is a sovereign; we are, collectively, sovereign. We have no masters, and no laws but our own.

All the same, if you meet Queen Elizabeth you should be nice to her, not because she is the Queen of England but because, as the Queen of England, she had her Coldstream Guards play the Star Spangled Banner after 9/11 -- and sang along. Such an act of honor and friendship deserves to be remembered.

A Song of the Sea

Not one I've heard before, either.

Further Thoughts on a Proper Upbringing

Since I was just mentioning John Wayne, Cahill, US Marshal is on this weekend according to his fan club. They include a clip to help you decide if you might want to watch this movie, one in which he expresses a certain sentiment about the virtues that attain to a proper upbringing.

Two on Bayesian Probability

Bayesian probability holds, among other things, that probability is sticky: once the probability of an event rises to 1 or drops to 0, it stays there forever. Your weather forecaster defies this when they tell you that the probability of rain is 95% when it is already raining. But there is a lot more to Bayes, whose theories underlie much of our contemporary algorithms and science. Here's an introduction to his life:
For most of the two and a half centuries since the Reverend Thomas Bayes first made his pioneering contributions to probability theory, his ideas were side-lined. The high priests of statistical thinking condemned them as dangerously subjective and Bayesian theorists were regarded as little better than cranks. It is only over the past couple of decades that the tide has turned. What tradition long dismissed as unhealthy speculation is now generally regarded as sound judgement.
And here is a piece on application.
Bayesian statistics is two things: a useful technology and a bundle of mythology. A Bayesian data analyst almost never, and I mean almost never, inquires as to her degrees of belief: she makes mathematically convenient and not absurd assumptions and goes on. She tests the resilience of the outcomes she obtains by varying those assumptions—the prior probabilities, the penalties in a model score, etc.. Essentially, her “prior probabilities” are just a measure to guide through a search space of alternative possible values for parameters in a model or models. The measure is adaptive, in the sense that it alters (by Bayes Rule) as data are acquired. It is subjective, in the sense that there is no best adaptive measure for guiding search, but there are better and worse adaptive measures. Generally, the measures are nobody’s degrees of belief.

Rodents Eating Cars

Paul Ryan's Suburban was eaten by woodchucks. According to a Chevy mechanic I was talking with a while ago, this is an increasingly common occurrence. The reason (he said) is that the EPA has instituted regulations that require a certain number of car parts to be made out of organic materials rather than plastics. These smell like food to rodents because, in fact, they are food for rodents.

His recommendation to me was to make cheesecloth baggies full of mothballs, and attach them around your engine compartment with wire twist-ties where they won't cause problems with engine function. I don't know if this actually works, but it sounded plausible at the time he said it. You might give it a try.

Espionage is Illegal

At least, it breaks somebody's laws. The NSA and CIA do worse to the Russians every day than the stuff announced today by the Deputy Attorney General, in plain violation of Russian laws.

But OK, it's formally still a crime, and I suppose it's fine to charge people even though you can't actually arrest or try them. So, do these guys get to send lawyers and demand a day in court like the Russian firm that was indicted? Or do they have to appear in person to demand a day in court?

UPDATE: An interesting catch -- possibly a US citizen who might end up charged after all?

A Song for George Will

This apparently refers to a famous diatribe George Will wrote against blue jeans. It ends:
This is not complicated. For men, sartorial good taste can be reduced to one rule: If Fred Astaire would not have worn it, don't wear it. For women, substitute Grace Kelly.

Edmund Burke -- what he would have thought of the denimization of America can be inferred from his lament that the French Revolution assaulted "the decent drapery of life"; it is a straight line from the fall of the Bastille to the rise of denim -- said: "To make us love our country, our country ought to be lovely." Ours would be much more so if supposed grown-ups would heed St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, and St. Barack's inaugural sermon to the Americans, by putting away childish things, starting with denim.

(A confession: The author owns one pair of jeans. Wore them once. Had to. Such was the dress code for former Sen. Jack Danforth's 70th birthday party, where Jerry Jeff Walker sang his classic "Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother." Music for a jeans-wearing crowd.)
First of all, John Wayne wore a lot of things that Fred Astaire never did, including denim, and these are perfectly fit things for an American man to wear.

Secondly, I love that song. It's one of those songs for those of us from the country who enjoy laughing at ourselves sometimes.

Such a sense of humor never hurt anybody.

A Brutal Attack in London

Two teenagers, a young man and woman, are under arrest after the brutal beating of Sir Christopher Meyer. Meyer is a former ambassador to the United States, and has been talking up the need to get along with President Trump during the run-up to the state visit there. Police say this does not look like a robbery.

Of Course It Does

The Democratic bill to #AbolishICE contains this provision:
Pocan’s bill explicitly requires the commission to “[i]dentify appropriate means of ensuring that total Federal employment is not reduced with the abolition of ICE.”

CNN Report: Millions of American Voters May Have Colluded to Elect Trump

Babylon Bee, of course

A Christian's Job Interview

Tracy Ullman does something I didn't expect.

Silly Twitchy, Who Wouldn't Swim with Nurse Sharks?

Some fellow going by Greg P. over on Twitchy is making fun of a woman who got bit while swimming with nurse sharks:
PHOTOS: Instagram model thought it would be fun to swim with nurse sharks in the Bahamas and YOU’LL TOTALLY BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED NEXT
Well, this is also a common tourist thing, and most do not get bit. I have fond memories of swimming with nurse sharks, as it happens. Their skin feels a bit like fine sandpaper.

Yeah, she'll have a scar on her arm, and how cool is that? "Oh, that? Shark bite," will begin a number of interesting conversations.

Beware That, When Punching Nazis ...

Chris Ray Gun, of "Ain't No Rest for the Triggered" fame, gives us "Punch a Nazi."

Travel News You Can Use

A list of the oldest bar in every state. I have eaten (and drunk) at the Pirate's House in Savannah. It's a first class restaurant, especially if you like the local sea food.

Masks and Street Violence

The South has anti-masking laws already because of its attempt to limit the power of the Ku Klux Klan. A Federal law that proposes to do the same thing is drawing fire from Antifa, which resents the comparison between themselves and the Klan. Well, anyone would resent such a comparison. However, the state's interest in prosecuting those who organize for the purpose of violence and political intimidation is the same, even allowing for all relevant differences in ideology.

All the same, they have a novel defense.
In the current political climate, antifascists who speak out against fascism, racism, xenophobia, etc. are routinely harassed, threatened, and attacked by the far right, often supported by the police, who are notably exempted here. Families and friends of antifascists also become targets of far right violence. The wearing of a mask is an act of self-defense often necessary to ensure one's right to free speech.
I accept the validity of the claim that the police should not be allowed to mask themselves either. Just as with badge numbers, police officers should be identifiable in order to hold them responsible for the manner in which they use the power entrusted to them by the public. We should always be allowed to film the police, to know their names and ranks and offices, and to hold them accountable for any misuse of the authority they bear.

Is it really the case, though, that America is such a place that one must wear a mask to be able to exercise free speech? That is surely not true. No one is stopping either these or the far right from organizing rallies or marching. They are free to make their points, in person or in writing as they prefer. If they elect to make their points by punching people, say, or setting fire to cars, say, then there might be some legal consequences. But the state is unlikely to recognize a legitimate self-defense right for speech acts of this kind.

Still, there is a sense in which anonymity or pseudonymity is indeed defensively useful and can encourage better and fuller speech. It can also encourage abuse, and that needs to be robustly handled in order for it to remain worthy. But it's the same sort of idea as is at work here, where most of us communicate through a pseudonym in order to speak our minds freely in the age of Google. It's not obviously a ridiculous argument for public speech acts like rallies either. I wonder if there is a way to address it without empowering groups like the Klan.

Adventures in Obstructing Oversight

Congressional Democrats appear determined to ensure that Peter Strzok does not have to answer questions. Why would that be?

UPDATE: Contempt of Congress for Strzok. Well, many of us hold Congress in contempt, at least informally. The question is whether or not there are any consequences for doing so formally. Eric Holder was held in contempt; so what?

If Congress does not wish to be held in contempt they will have to learn to uphold their honor. As long as they do not, contempt of them will flourish.

Ancient Egyptian Curse to Finally End Trump Administration

Via Red State.

What Happens if a Leftist Tries For Common Ground

Author Caitlin Johnstone:
One year ago today I wrote an article titled “Lefties Need To Stop Being Shy About Working With The Anti-Establishment Right”, and Left Twitter exploded. To this day there are still some social media echo chambers in which this article is the primary thing I am known for.

I still think it was a decent article, and I stand by it. It was about how anti-establishment leftists can collaborate across ideological lines on specific points of mutual interest without compromising their principles, which to me is just an obvious no-brainer, and that people can trust themselves to know how and to what extent that collaboration can take place. Over the following few weeks, the actual contents of my article were falsely spun by Progressive Army, Counterpunch and a few other lefty thought leaders as “Caitlin Johnstone wants us to align with Nazis.”

None of the journalists or activists fanning the flames of this conspiracy theory ever reached out to me for comment, or even to try to convince me of the error of my ways. Not one private message, email or Twitter DM was ever sent to me (apart from one particularly virulent hater after I pointed this out publicly). This is because these people weren’t interested in my actual ideas or what I was actually saying, they were interested in advancing and controlling a narrative: Caitlin Johnstone wants leftists to become Nazis/facilitate Nazis, and anyone who ever suggests venturing outside their impotently small political faction to get things done is pulling a Caitlin Johnstone. My reputation in those circles now serves as a head on a spike warning off anyone from ever suggesting that leftists ever collaborate on any agenda with anyone besides (A) other leftists and (B) the centrists who are intrinsically opposed to ideas which run counter to the interests of America’s unelected power establishment.
She has had some successes, though, with outlets that are on the fringe right but certainly not "Nazis," such as Ron Paul's people.

Another Take on Civility

From an author who called Trump a "fascist" two years ago, a surprisingly sane take.
The presence of armed thugs in service of a political agenda is a key indicator of rising fascism, one that is completely absent today. There are no Brownshirts in America in 2018. Trump has no paramilitary organization. There are no militias that guard his events or beat his opponents. The 2016 election was contentious and hinged on unlikely electoral math and was possibly tainted by foreign meddling, but it was not marred by street violence.

The militias and the gun-rights advocates of 21st-century America are far too libertarian to ever fall into lockstep behind an emerging American tyrant. The neo-Nazi riot in Charlottesville last year was troubling but, so far, was a one-off. Left-wing street violence from groups like AntiFa has been more common than from right-wing counterparts.
Also, no Reichstag event:
Emergency decrees, legal changes to the constitutional order, and the abolition of checks and balances among branches of government are key indicators that authoritarianism, totalitarianism, and fascism are taking root.

There has been no large-scale terrorist attack in the United States since Trump took office. The closest would be the truck attack in New York on Halloween last year that killed eight. Trump did not propose and the Republican Congress did not pass any amendment to the U.S. Constitution and made no changes to the balance of power between branches of government before or after that attack. There is no provision for an emergency suspension of the Bill of Rights, which remains in full force.
Conclusion as regards civility:
On balance, the times still call for civility. The trends, while troubling, are developing within a still-functional democracy.... It is important to discern the moment rightly. The left is in danger of creating the very situation they oppose by overreacting. If they jettison all semblance of democratic norms, if they give up on the process and insist on its fundamental illegitimacy, they will only add fuel to the fire. They will give Trump and his successors every pretext they need to go further down the road towards authoritarianism and worse.

This is true even if Trump, or the next nationalist president, really is a fascist.
He isn't, really. The closest things to fascism that Trump attains to are moves like his recent attack on Harley Davidson, which is responding to European tariffs by shifting production overseas. Trump would like the corporation to show a kind of loyalty to the American nation, which is similar to but distinct from the fascist idea that all corporations should be aligned with the goals of the state. Trump wants Harleys built here because he wants jobs for Americans, not because he wants to use American corporations to extend American power. In fact, a far clearer example of an attempt to align corporations with the state occurred under Obama with the NSA's program to enlist social media giants in its international spying agenda.

Most of the things people object to are problems with the Federal government, in other words, not the President. If you think ICE should be abolished, understand that ICE isn't 100% made up of Trump supporters. The same DOJ that is celebrated for investigating Trump is defending ICE's moves in court. The same Health and Human Services that runs all those beloved social programs is running the Office of Refugee Resettlement that's doing things that cause people on the Left anger and fury. These people aren't Trumpists, they're government bureaucrats. Careerists. Your real enemy, those of you who oppose Trump as a fascist, is the Federal bureaucracy. It's a government with too much power, too many overstretched claims to authority, too many police exercising too much control. It isn't the right that put those structures in place.

Indeed, civility might be helpful in identifying some points of commonality. If you do get around to wanting to dismantle much of the Federal government and its power, we could get together on that. I'd be up for a minarchist version of the Federal government, one that did what Jefferson described envisioning as the Federal government's role in his letters: looking out, to relations between nations or in cases of issues that really were between two or more American states. You still have to have borders, and an army and navy to defend them, but we could do without Health and Human Services. Or the IRS. Or the FBI's law enforcement functions, as opposed to its counterintelligence mission. In fact, we could do with a whole lot less government all the way around.

Probably those who oppose Trump don't want that much less government. In fact, I suspect they really want more -- they just want to run it, so they can be the ones using these 'fascist' levers to force compliance with their vision of right and justice and goodness. If so, we aren't going to find common ground. The conclusion that the government is too powerful to be entrusted to your enemies ought to lead you to defang it, rather than simply to trying to ensure that your side always wins. The former conclusion is one we could all live with. The latter is going to force conflict.

Pliny the Elder was Right!

About orcas, anyway.

Some Appropriate Music

Merle Haggard apparently changed his mind about this song when he grew older. There was a long period of peace and prosperity brought on by the victory, which made this seem churlish and combative in retrospect. I suppose. I wonder what he'd think about the people 'preaching about some other way of living' these days. The same way, of course. The old beast, hiding behind new bright and smiling faces.

Roger Scruton on Trump and Conservatism

Scruton is always worth considering, although I have a few thoughts that run counter to some of his points here.
When describing the history of an idea, one naturally looks for its best expression. A history of liberalism will have a lot to say about John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, somewhat less to say about Hillary Clinton. A survey of the conservative idea will dwell at length on Edmund Burke and Thomas Jefferson and devote only a paragraph or two to Margaret Thatcher.
On the other hand, Mrs. Thatcher, and to some extent Mrs. Clinton, are known for invoking the great figures of political philosophy and for showing an educated awareness that “ideas have consequences,” as the American conservative Richard Weaver expressed the point. In Mr. Trump we encounter a politician who uses social media to bypass the realm of ideas entirely, addressing the sentiments of his followers without a filter of educated argument and with only a marginal interest in what anyone with a mind might have said.
"Anyone with a mind" is insulting, which is a minor point, and too strong to be accurate, which is a major one. The fact is that all of the Trump voters have minds, and have thoughts. Their thoughts aren't necessarily shaped by a great deal of education, but they are shaped by experience. I obviously value education highly, but experience is often the better teacher. Education frequently teaches things that aren't true, but that captivate the mind -- Marxism, for example, has been enrapturing to many highly educated people. Experience may beat one down, or it may help one learn how to transcend certain kinds of adversity. It is possible to draw the wrong lessons from experience. But at least the experience itself is real, and thus the lessons are grounded directly on reality.
Americans are conscious of their constitutional rights and freedoms. These assets are not guaranteed by human nature and exist only because Americans have fought for them. And they have fought for them as a nation, facing the future together. National identity is the origin of the trust on which political order depends.
This is a fundamental truth that I wish more people grasped. It is also an illustration of my previous counter-point. This is the heart that drives not only Mr. Trump's political fortunes, but many others across the world. It is a truth that apparently has to be learned by experience, since the intellectual world is largely dead-set on denying it because that world wishes this thing was not true.

So too this:
Those first words of the United States Constitution do not refer to all people everywhere. They refer to the people who reside here, in this place and under this rule of law, and who are the guardians and beneficiaries of a shared political inheritance. Grasping that point is the first principle of conservatism.
So there is much to agree with, but also things to dispute. In addition to his hostility to Trump voters, one might point out to Dr. Scruton that he is quite wrong about this part:
But as Edmund Burke pointed out in one of the founding documents of modern conservatism, his “Reflections on the Revolution in France,” we must “reform in order to conserve.” Institutions, traditions and allegiances survive by adapting, not by remaining forever in the condition in which a political leader might inherit them.
Here he is guilty of underestimating just how much of a reformer Trump has proven to be. Look first at the scale of his regulatory reform program, which has repealed vast swathes of Federal interference with ordinary economic activity, while pursuing the appointment of justices who are suspicious of the legitimacy of the regulatory state's claims to authority over these matters. That alone is a vast change, and while another President can re-institute repealed regulations, the judges are lifetime appointments.

The Times doubtless would not have published a piece that wasn't insulting and dismissive of Trump and his voters. There is much to criticize in the President -- especially in terms of the chaotic leadership he provides, which has made it difficult to draw many talented people, and difficult to retain the talented people he did draw. There are many things he could be doing better, and some things he does that are insulting and wrong.

All that said, there is more to the man -- and his voters -- than even the great Roger Scruton apparently can see from his intellectual height. These may be small men and women, but they are not thereby despicable. They have reasons for what they do, even if they are not polished at understanding them or articulating them clearly. Democracy is finally about respect, and especially the respect owed by the great to the small. Dr. Scruton should remember that this, too, is a conservative principle. It is what grounds a nation in not departing on some grand intellectual scheme, as Marxism does, without checking to see if those whose lives are going to be turned upside down by that scheme really approve of the undertaking.

A Pardon for the Hammonds

Trump ends the saga, for now. The tyrannical acts of the Bureau of Land Management will likely go unpunished, but at least the punishment visited on the family -- one of whom is 76 years old -- will halt for a while.

UPDATE: The AP says this move "rais[es] concerns that it will encourage others to actively oppose federal control of public land, which is a sensitive issue in the U.S. West where the federal government owns almost 50 percent of the land."

Concerns, or hopes, as the case may be.

Mob Rules

There are limits to what can be endured civilly, as we were discussing below. This is definitely beyond what ought to be endured.
One protester yelled "turtle head!" at the Senate Majority Leader a few times (a weirdly accurate comparison), along with jeers of "we know where you live, Mitch." According to the DSA, whoever was behind that "turtle head" burn wasn't affiliated with the organization.
"We know where you live" is a threat, not merely an uncivil word. "Turtle Head" is not civil, but it could be ignored. Direct threats cannot be. Yet for some reason, it was the 'turtle head' thing that DSA chose to deny being affiliated with rather than the threat.

Shouldn't They Be Happy About This?

This is not a confirmation; it's not even a denial. But it's being read as a confirmation.
Asked repeatedly if some sort of deal between Trump and Kennedy was struck before Kennedy announced his retirement, Shah dodged, saying things like “I’m not going to read out private conversations that Justice Kennedy had with either members of the White House or the president,” and, “Justice Kennedy can speak for himself.” But what Shah didn’t do is deny that the NBC report is accurate.
If it were true, this would mean that those worried that the new Justice will radically depart from Kennedy's own line of thinking could reassure themselves. Rather than Donald Trump, bomb-thrower, having appointed Kennedy's replacement, Kennedy himself would have chosen someone in whom he had confidence to preserve his legacy.

I'd think this would be pleasing news.

Civility and Its Limits

I came across an interesting piece on the currently hot issue of civility that points out, properly, that civility is not a virtue in itself, but a social contract to make it easier to get along in groups.  It also points out that we have certain obligations in maintaining the social contract:
"When someone targets one of your people over something that turns out to be innocuous, it’s the accuser that needs to be disciplined. Anything less is a betrayal of the good people for whom we are responsible. You cannot conserve civility by constantly acquiescing to the uncivil."
Civility is a tool, not a end in itself, therefore proposing that we are beholden to it is inappropriate.  We are obligated to stand up for one another, though.

It's quite good. Give it a read.

At Least We're All Taking This Seriously

I don't have a fully formed opinion on the Supreme Court nominee to share. But apparently that's not an issue that should slow me down!

How does that work again?

Am I missing something?  If vulnerable Democrat Senators in Red States want to be re-elected in November, they have to consider voters' reaction to their voting to block a Supreme Court candidate.  I can understand that they might hope that voters will agree with them on the litmus-test issue of abortion, so that they might be re-elected if they reject an open proponent of overruling Roe v. Wade.  It's risky but carries an important up-side.

But Dick Durbin appears to be making an argument based on principle, that Red-State Democrat Senators should shoot down a Supreme Court candidate because protecting Roe v. Wade is more important than being re-elected.  Sure, it might be, by their standards, but where does that leave them?  The strategy is based on the assumption that the lost seats are a foregone cost they will willingly pay.  If Durbin is right, they will have delayed confirmation of a Supreme Court nominee only to make the nominee's confirmation more of a cake-walk after the November elections.  It's not as though stopping a particular confirmation strikes a blow for all time.  The same candidate can be proposed again, or another who is basically indistinguishable.

I suppose Durbin might be trying to say that he hopes voters will react in his party's favor, and that it's worth the risk to find out if they will--because if voters will tolerate the destruction of Roe v. Wade, the Democrats might as well give up all hope of controlling the Senate anyway.  If so, abortion truly has become One Issue to Rule Them All.  And yet only something like 1/4 to 1/5 of Americans favor completely unrestricted abortion, while a similar small fraction oppose all abortions.  Everyone else can probably get comfortable with eliminating Roe v. Wade and punting the issue to the state legislatures, most of which will end up allowing at least some abortions.

Almost Heaven

I’m passing through West Virginia this weekend. That song makes more sense when you see the place. The mountains aren’t as high or rugged here as they are elsewhere, but what a beautiful place.

"Things that Happen in Silicon Valley, and also the Soviet Union"

A highly amusing thread, recommended by our old "Winds of Change"-era friend Armed Liberal.

The "Scars" Shown by Full Employment

This piece from the Atlantic hits the high notes from yesterday's piece, but it tries really hard to find a downside. Employers are "desperate," and the ability of workers to demand higher wages 'exposes the scars that even a hot economy is unable to heal.'
Plus, though central Iowa’s low jobless rate has helped workers of color, less-educated workers, younger workers, and others who face discrimination in the labor market, it remains true that it is the best-off that have done the best.
They have to work pretty hard to find that downside, in an economy in which wages are rising faster than ever, and even the convict they interviewed -- who couldn't get hired for years due to his past -- now has a job he loves, making $21/hr plus benefits.


Z-Man discusses how not to be boring.  It's an engrossing topic for me, not only because I don't like to be bored ("conversation rape," one of his commenters calls it), but because I have just enough self-awareness to know I too can natter on pointlessly when I'm uncomfortable and oblivious.

One commenter described his father:
Once I called him on having told a story many, many times before and he seemed genuinely shocked that this wasn’t the first time I’d heard it – this being a story that he’d told me maybe two or three times a week since I was five years old or so. That was when I realized that he wasn’t talking to communicate to me, but for some internal reason, maybe as a form of talk therapy. Whatever the case, it turned out that he was paying even less attention to what he was saying than I was.

Affordable housing

Manhattan Contrarian:
On Monday, [New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA)] housing officials unveiled the staggering price tag to remedy the conditions and restore Nycha’s infrastructure to good working order: $31.8 billion over the next five years. . . .
Now we're closing in on $200,000 per apartment. The Zillow website gives the median value of a home in the U.S. as $216,000. So it looks like, any day now, it will be cheaper for NYCHA to buy each resident family a median home somewhere in the U.S., rather than trying to fix the deteriorated mess they have made for themselves.

Service Guarantees Citizenship

If I were in a position to do so, I would probably support something like a Starship Troopers model of citizenship: not a birthright, nor something easily gained, but something that is won by military or other physically arduous service. Something that demonstrated commitment to the American way, not just an accident of birth one way or the other. After all, as we were recently discussing, some of the best Americans are first-generation immigrants; and, too, some of those who despise America and its traditions most are native born Americans.

So, I believe I oppose this move. One never knows if the media is painting it accurately, but if so it's a problem.
Some immigrant U.S. Army reservists and recruits who enlisted in the military with a promised path to citizenship are being abruptly discharged, the Associated Press has learned.

The AP was unable to quantify how many men and women who enlisted through the special recruitment program have been booted from the Army, but immigration attorneys say they know of more than 40 who have been discharged or whose status has become questionable, jeopardizing their futures.

“It was my dream to serve in the military,” said reservist Lucas Calixto, a Brazilian immigrant who filed a lawsuit against the Army last week. “Since this country has been so good to me, I thought it was the least I could do to give back to my adopted country and serve in the United States military.”

Some of the service members say they were not told why they were being discharged. Others who pressed for answers said the Army informed them they’d been labeled as security risks because they have relatives abroad or because the Defense Department had not completed background checks on them.

Spokespeople for the Pentagon and the Army said that, due to the pending litigation, they were unable to explain the discharges or respond to questions about whether there have been policy changes in any of the military branches.

Eligible recruits are required to have legal status in the U.S., such as a student visa, before enlisting. More than 5,000 immigrants were recruited into the program in 2016, and an estimated 10,000 are currently serving. Most go the Army, but some also go to the other military branches.
Spokespeople from the Army may not be able to comment on this to the press due to litigation, but they can answer to Senators. If you're inclined to call yours, you might press them to make an inquiry here and find out whether or not this is as bad as the story implies.

UPDATE: AVI wins the prize for this one. The lawyers behind the story are Perkins Cole, a notorious firm of Clinton-faction Assassins. It looks like the program was suspended as early as 2014, and largely killed in 2016 as it generated a backlog the Army couldn't handle. Which makes it an Obama-era problem, spun up as an anti-Trump story.

That said, I still like the idea of service-guarantees-citizenship. Figuring out how to make it work could be worth doing.

The Declaration of Independence as Hate Speech

It is a document that endorses violent revolution, I guess. And it has some very harsh things to say about King George. And after all, other symbols of America like the Gadsden flag are said to be hateful, even racist.

Vocational Training

The booming economy needs more skilled labor. That means wages are going up.
"Pressure is building for employers, and both hard data and anecdotal reports indicate that wage pressures are building,” Jim Baird, chief investment officer at Plante Moran Financial Advisors, said in a note. “With the economy still humming, employers are able to justify stronger wage increases to retain or attract talent, but it’s becoming a more challenging proposition.”
A 'skills mismatch' is exactly what we have been told to expect for decades as automation changes which jobs do or don't need to be filled with people. So you need to retrain people for the jobs you have now, not the ones they did before. There are a number of ways to address that challenge. Labor unions do a lot of training, in spite of the negative press they tend to get on the right. So one option for companies who need electricians (say) is to go to the IBEW. In return for a collective bargaining agreement, the union can make sure that skilled labor is available as needed. Of course, that means higher wages and benefits -- but from my perspective, higher wages and benefits for US workers is an ideal outcome.

Alternatively, a company may decide it doesn't want to bargain with a union. It can then invest in its own training program. Workers who come to work for such a company won't necessarily receive higher wages or benefits, but they will receive marketable skills. Once they have satisfied whatever contractual obligation the company puts on them in return for their training, they can compete for higher wages and benefits using those skills.

And of course, vocational schools can allow workers who have access to some capital to invest in themselves, recouping their training costs by competing for wages directly. Companies can also ally with such schools, covering the costs for training (and probably bidding for a lower tuition rate in return for regular business) in return for a worker's commitment to work for them for a period of time.

These are all solvable problems. They're good problems to have. All the solutions -- except one -- point to a more skilled, better paid American worker. The only thing to avoid is allowing these companies to import labor at higher rates, so that they can avoid paying higher wages, higher benefits, or for training more skilled American labor. If we can do that, our working men and women will begin to see their lives getting better.

Except for Maduro, I guess

Don Surber notes with amusement that the new President of Mexico's post-election rhetoric is not an exact match for his campaign-trail rhetoric:
AMLO. Kim. Putin. About the only communists who are not willing to negotiate with President Trump are the Democratic Party.


Jill Abramson writes in the UK(!) Guardian, "Justice Clarence Thomas leading the US supreme court? A scary thought."

She winds up her screed, "And a Thomas court is exactly what people who truly value the constitution and human rights must fight to make sure we never see."

I will grant that there is a plausible reading of 'truly valuing human rights' -- e.g., for those who think abortion could somehow be a human right -- for which that makes sense. How can one 'truly value' the Constitution, however, and object to an originalist like Thomas? Why not just admit that you're more attached to your view of 'human rights' than to the Constitution, and want to see the Constitution modified or subordinated accordingly? After all, you're already a citizen of the United States criticizing your government for a foreign newspaper. A British newspaper, even. And the week of Independence Day.

Socialism in the People's Paradise of Venezuela

Stephen Green: "That the world’s most oil-rich nation has to import crude oil, and that a semi-tropical country can run out of water, should tell you everything you need to know about socialism."

Democracy at Work

“Abolish ICE” isn’t a solution, argues my colleague Ed Morrissey at the Daily Beast today, it’s a slogan. Indeed, and that’s being generous. It started as a Twitter hashtag, per HuffPost. As the phrase started showing up more online, desperate opportunists like Kirsten Gillibrand who are looking for an angle to shore up their left flank in the 2020 primaries glommed onto it. Just like that, the hashtag #AbolishICE had become the slogan “Abolish ICE,” which had in turn become a semi-serious policy proposed by a semi-serious U.S. senator. And once it did, other supposedly serious 2020 contenders had to keep pace with Gillibrand by proposing it too.

Suddenly Democrats have a problem.
How big a problem? Richard Cohen:
The socialist label, combined with the demand to obliterate the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, is the nitro and the glycerin of a bomb that Trump can throw at the Democrats. It combines the bugaboo of socialism with the irrational fear of immigrant hordes rampaging through the countryside.

The latter fear is not to be messed with. In Germany, it may yet bring down Angela Merkel’s government and has already made doughty Denmark mad with anti-immigrant regulations that reveal a nation demented by cultural paranoia.
Yeah, you're definitely winning back Rust Belt voters by describing people who share their views as "irrational" and "demented." And this is the sane part of the Left, the part that isn't openly advocating abolishing immigration enforcement and opening the border. They may still want to do it, and consider any opposition to doing it crazy and/or racist. But they're at least sensible enough to know not to say it out loud.

Back to Allah:
Overall, across the total population, “abolish ICE” sits at 21/44 — and that’s the more encouraging of the two recent polls for progressives. The other outfit to poll this question, Harvard-Harris, found trainwreck numbers for liberals when it asked if ICE should be disbanded...
So what should be done instead? The polling on this is pretty clear, too.
“Do you think that people who make it across our border illegally should be allowed to stay in the country or sent home?”

Sixty-four percent -- 83 percent of Republicans, 47 percent of Democrats and 66 percent of independents -- said they should be sent home. Only 36 percent said they should be allowed to stay.

Penn then asked: “Do you think that parents with children who make it across our border illegally should be allowed to stay in the country or sent home?”

“The presence of children made little difference in the result,” York stated before noting that “61 percent -- 81 percent of Republicans, 40 percent of Democrats and 66 percent of independents -- said they should be sent home, while 39 percent said they should be allowed to stay.”
This shouldn't be that surprising, because our actual laws say the same thing as these supermajorities. Crossing the border away from a port of entry is illegal; it's a misdemeanor, but nevertheless a Federal crime. Smuggling a child across the border is a felony. The laws haven't changed, and it is pretty clear based on last week's song and dance in Congress that they aren't going to change. The laws aren't going to change because the laws already say what most Americans want them to say.

In fact, given the strength of the polling numbers, what should be surprising is that we're discussing the issue so hotly. One suspects that there is a coordinated campaign to try to create a controversy where, in fact, the American public has a large degree of consensus. Who would benefit from such a controversy?

NNT on "Fake News"

The piece is over a year old, but it just came across my desk this morning. Nassim Nicholas Taleb argues from his own experience that "The Facts are True, the News is Fake."
In the summer of 2009, I partook of a an hour long discussion with David Cameron, who was in the running for, and later became, the U.K. Prime Minister. The discussion was about how to make society robust, even immune to Black Swans, what structure was needed for both decentralization and accountability, and how the system should be built, that sort of thing. It was an interesting fifty-nine minutes around the topics of the Incerto and I felt great communicating all the points in bulk for the first time. The room in the elegant Royal Society for the Arts was full of journalists. I subsequently went to a Chinese restaurant in (London’s) Soho to celebrate with a few people when I received a phone call by a horrified friend. All London newspapers were calling me a “climate denier”, portraying me as someone part of a large anti-environment conspiracy.

The entire fifty-nine minutes were summarized by the press and reported from a tangential comment that lasted twenty seconds taken in reverse. Someone who didn’t attend the conference would have been under the impression that that was the whole conversation.
It turns out the reporter's understanding of the comment he did make was exactly backwards, but the only thing he heard during the whole hour that grabbed his interest. The news suggested both that Taleb was hotly advancing an agenda he wasn't, and that advancing this agenda was crucial to his argument.

Taleb goes on to make recommendations about how to handle this. Aquinas is involved.

George Washington's Rules for Civility

Washington wasn't so civil that he wouldn't fight a war over a political point -- aye, and win one. But he was a man who aspired to gentility, and he set out to make himself a man of manners as a result. Given the current talk about civility, it might be worth looking over his rules.

The collector notes:
Many of these “rules” are outmoded etiquette, many are baroque in their level of detail, some should never go out of style, and many would be mocked and derided today as “political correctness.” Brookhiser “warns against dismissing the maxims” as mere politeness, noting that they “address moral issues, but they address them indirectly.
The first rule, for example: "Every action done in company ought to be with some sign of respect to those that are present." That's an issue of honor, but honor has significant moral consequences.

Street Brawl in Portland

Looks like a fun weekend on the Left Coast. Communists describing themselves as anarchists attacked a march called the Patriot's Prayer march, which is the one carrying all the flags. (What a collection of flags, too: US and UK and Polish flags, plus a host of historic ones including a black-and-white rather than white-and-black variation of the Culpeper rattlesnake flag). As you can see from the progression of the flags once the explosions start going off, the communists were not prepared.

Not that they didn't bring weapons. Here a masked Communist loses his metal baton to one of the guys he wanted to beat up. I note that the masks seem to be worn only by one side here, which might indicate something about which side intended to lawfully protest, and which side came to do unlawful things to the other.

CBS news (top link, above) quotes a radio station interview with the leader of the Patriot's Prayer march, where he claims that -- as has happened in several other marchers in liberal cities -- the police stood down and allowed the attacks to go on unmolested.
Patroit Prayer organizer Joey Gibson told KOIN the clashes "good in terms that we showed that there's a political move right now to have the police stand down in order to impact free speech in some of these big cities."

"Portland's the last city on the West Coast that's doing that, so we just have to keep hitting it -- I don't see what else to do other than that," Gibson said. "We'll make Portland so ugly in terms of how they allow these protesters to charge us when we have a permit. The police stood down, we were told they would not stand down, so we have to challenge it."
It does seem like this is a recipe for disaster. I think that local governments that order their police to allow protesters to be beaten and attacked are asking for a mess of trouble, and they're likely to get it.

Stop Hyperventilating

Worries in the New Yorker about what a "brazen conservative majority" on SCOTUS would produce.

I for one doubt that Donald J. Trump, of all people, is hot to use this opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade. Donald Trump has affairs with porn stars. If the Left had succeeded in impeaching and removing him from office, and Mike Pence was picking the next Justice, then I'd think that overturning Roe was a priority. But c'mon. Donald Trump is not the guy who is going to impose a chaste sexual morality on the United States.

Trump, also, was openly pro-gay-marriage well before Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton were. Like 2005 earlier -- ask the NYT.

Conservatives of all stripes are glad to have Trump rather than Clinton picking the next SCOTUS justice, but not because we expect an activist. I don't even want an activist. I want an originalist, textualist Justice who will attempt to understand what the ratifiers of the Constitution or its amendments intended to enact, rather than attempting to impose a meaning that the Justice might prefer. I want someone who will be very disciplined about that, even though that means there are cases -- 16th Amendment cases, for example -- where the Constitution does not say what I would wish it might say.

The reason I want that is the same reason I always wanted it. We can change the Constitution through Article V processes, but those require a large degree of consensus. Attaining that degree of consensus before altering the basic law of the nation means that the result is stable. Imposing rapid, radical changes on society without that degree of consensus results in the instability and anger that we see in our politics today.

That is not to say that strictly interpreting the Constitution might not produce radical changes in and of itself, especially where the 10th Amendment is concerned. Those changes will push power down to the people in the States, though. That means that liberals will be able to live as they wish in many states, especially the highly populous ones they tend to dominate. It will protect their interests where they tend to live; and those who do not live there now are free to move.

Be at ease, liberals. It won't be that bad.

Stop Feeling Guilty

In point of fact, it would be healthier for our politics if people would stop "feeling" their way to answers all together. I should make bumperstickers: "Stop Feeling, Start Thinking!"


From the NYT: "Some liberals now say that free speech disproportionately protects the powerful and the status quo."

What do you think regulated speech will do? Who regulates things? The powerful, right? Those in charge right now? Thus, the 'status quo'?

I know these people are not idiots, but they sometimes seem dead set on convincing me otherwise.

Enemies of the people

I yield to no one in my contempt for much of the press, though of course I hesitate slightly in emphasizing it this week, for sadness about the Maryland shootings.  Nevertheless, I enjoyed this National Review piece:  The First Amendment is not the "Be Nice to Journalists Act of 1791":
Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; nor shall any president troll Jim Acosta or describe Katy Tur as “little”; nor shall any president draw undue attention to honest errors committed by the press in their noble pursuit of speaking truth to power; nor shall any president say the New York Times or Washington Post are failing when they totally aren’t; nor shall any president fail to ensure White House briefings are televised to maximize exposure of journalists who have put a lot of work into their hair and makeup; nor shall any mouthpiece of any such president bestow undue prominence in said briefings to reporters from Newsmax or the Daily Caller; nor shall any president be unduly mean to the press in general.

Should we fear Amazon?

The Financial Times straddles the fence:
So: Amazon competes hard and invests heavily, just the things that make capitalism work as it should. Worries that Amazon is a threat to competition — and many people do worry about this — may therefore seem quixotic. The concern is that when the Amazon steamroller has flattened the industrial landscape, it will be free to raise prices and, more importantly, either crush or buy out any innovative rival to its established franchises.
To waive this away on the grounds that one day a new competitor will unseat Amazon, just as Amazon unseated Walmart, seems naive. Amazon has not only a huge edge in physical infrastructure, as Walmart once did. It also enjoys technological network effects to rival Microsoft’s and a trove of consumer data that would make Mark Zuckerberg blush.

Resurrecting other great ideas from the 1930s

Remember the "switch in time that saved nine"?  Why not trot it out again?  It's the Gandhi gambit:  it works only when you're up against an opponent whose principles can be turned against him.  Not, in other words, against the Second Coming of Hitler.

As a corrective, an example of more grown-up ways to resolve disputes:

My Facebook feed (now consisting largely of residents of my county who are involved with me only because of the recent election) is full of zhizzhing and dripping over who started all the incivility, and whether civility has a place in a world where whatever.  Lot's of talk about how we can't win ("any more") by being nice.  One neighbor even complained that people seem to think snowflakes just sit around singing "kum-bah-yah."  I don't think that's anyone's idea of a snowflake:  it's not their niceness that they're famous for but their thin skin, and there aren't many illusions about what's under the thin skin.  What is ever under thin skin but Old Adam?

Everything is Hitler-Eleventy

Feedback mechanisms: some tactics contain the seeds of their own destruction:
Rage is hard enough to direct, rage against everything is impossible to control.
And here's Trump-as-Hitler-Eleventissimo. Any minute now, he'll start murdering political rivals. He's already got ICE, which is just like a fascist militia, right?

Stuff that just has to be true

A blogger called "The Money Illusion" examines five widely held assumptions about important economic events of the last few years, and concludes that we too seldom re-evaluate our assumptions in the light of what later events should be teaching us:
Let’s consider 5 popular hypotheses:
1. The mortgage interest deduction has a major impact on the housing market.
2. The NASDAQ was obviously wildly overvalued in 2000.
3. Switzerland was forced to revalue its currency in January 2015.
4. The US housing market was obviously wildly overvalued in 2006.
5. Brexit would cause a recession in the UK economy.

Fake news

As Mollie Hemingway says, if a poll shows that 53% of D's, 79% of I's, and 92% of R's believe the press lies to us on purpose, and then the press reports only that 92% of Rs don't trust them, that's an example of fake news right there.

The figure works out to 72% of everyone put together.  The press couldn't even get the support of a majority of Democrats, for Pete's sake.  CNN's ratings have dropped below those of the Food Channel.  Yet somehow commentators don't conclude that Trump gets support from people disgusted with the press, they conclude people are disgusted with the press because Trump undermined their sterling reputation.

Update:  Sheryl Attkisson's 52 times the press misrepresented the news about President Trump.

Be careful whom you sue

Mueller's PR stunt of filing charges against Russian companies unexpectedly pitted him against flesh-eating lawyers for a client with nothing to lose.  The prosecution is horrified by the prospect of having to turn over Brady material to the defendants.

Candlemakers vs. the Sun

Basquiat poked fun at protectionist trade policies by pretending to petition on behalf of French candlemakers for an end to the importation of below-cost sunlight.  The only flaw I can find in his argument is that we can't see any plausible way one of our trade competitors can cut off our sunlight after we come to depend on it.

Lately, if I understand the President properly, he's taken to saying he'd actually prefer zero tariffs, and is imposing tariffs only to show other countries the cost of the ones they impose on us.  Is this really like saying we should shut out the sun because other countries are doing the same to themselves?

Whether this really is a flaw in the President's economic theory or not, however, it does seem as though the strategy can work.  Trading partners do respond to the threat of tariffs, sometimes, by agreeing to moderate their own.

The Flight 93 Campaign

I missed this Michael Anton essay from shortly before the 2016 election:
2016 is the Flight 93 election: charge the cockpit or you die. You may die anyway. You—or the leader of your party—may make it into the cockpit and not know how to fly or land the plane. There are no guarantees.
Except one: if you don’t try, death is certain. To compound the metaphor: a Hillary Clinton presidency is Russian Roulette with a semi-auto. With Trump, at least you can spin the cylinder and take your chances.
To ordinary conservative ears, this sounds histrionic. The stakes can’t be that high because they are never that high—except perhaps in the pages of Gibbon.
The story has a happy ending:
Michael Anton ... was a senior contributing editor of American Greatness from July 2016 until January 2017. He currently serves as deputy assistant to the president for strategic communications on the National Security Council.

Wild Irish Rose

Some of you might be celebrating a bit this weekend. Here's a faithful companion for you... well, a companion, in any case.

There's too many of these songs to include them all. Some are old, and some are very sad, but it's a well-known theme.

Another narrative buster

The man early reports were itching to identify as some kind of alt-right NRA nut shooting up the liberal press turns out to be a shotgun-toting guy with a Hispanic surname, no obvious political connection, basically a disturbed young man with a history of scary obsessions.  Here's the lawsuit that started his vendetta against the Annapolis newspaper in 2011.  He believed the newspaper painted him in an unfair light after his guilty plea on an internet harassment charge.  His terrified harassment target has long since moved out of state and sleeps with a gun by her bed.  It's a shame no one at the newspaper office was similarly armed.

As ithers see us

HotAir looks at a poll on how Rs and Ds misperceive each other:

If you replace "Agnositcs or atheists" with "unaffiliated," the Rs are a little less off:  the portion of Ds would be 26%.

Might Be Fun

An alternative reality fiction called Vikingverse. I don’t know anything about it beyond what’s at that page, but it could be of interest to some.

Am I ever out of it

Real Clear listed 19 female characters that "changed TV or movies forever."  I'm kind of into this sort of thing, but I'd never heard of a surprising number of them:

1.  Princess Leia, Star Wars: OK, I at least noticed her as an early attempt at a female who was more than a prize or a McGuffin.

2.  Jane the Virgin: I may have heard of her, not sure.

3.  Clair Huxtable: I've heard of her but never watched The Cosby Show that I can recall.

4.  Mary Richards: I did watch some Mary Tyler Moore show episodes as a kid.  Did they fill me with the conviction that I could make it on my own?  I can't recall.  I guess it's possible.

5.  Sophia Burset, Orange Is the New Black: Heard of it but never watched it, no idea who she is.

6.  Jessica Huang, Fresh Off the Boat: Never heard of it or her.

7.  Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games: I think I watched it, but it made so little impression I'm unsure.

8.  Annie Hall, Annie Hall: I certainly remember her.  Perhaps she made an impact as a not-entirely-unfair take-down of a bit of a ditz who was afraid of spiders and ended up the kept woman of some soulless Hollywood mogul.

9.  Letty Ortiz, Fast and Furious:  I'm almost sure I watched this movie, but I retain no memory of her.

10.  Coffy, Coffy:  Never heard of it or her.

11.  Elle Woods, Legally Blonde:  I'll give them this one.

12.  Hermione Granger, Harry Potter:  I at least noticed her, without experiencing much impact.

13.  Annalise Keating, How to Get Away with Murder:  Never heard of it or her.

14.  Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman:  I know the character but not the movie.  Not particularly my thing, even as a kid when the comics were popular.

15.  Olivia Pope, Scandal:  Never heard of it or her.

16.  Mulan, Mulan:  I've heard of her, never saw it, can't remember what it's about.

17.  Rebecca Bunch, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend:  Never heard of it or her.

18.  Minda Lahiri, The Mindy Project:  Never heard of it or her.

19.  Ellen Ripley, Alien:  I'll give them this one.  I genuinely identified with her.

No Sarah Connor?  Emma Peel?  The Geena Davis character in The Long Kiss Goodnight?  Not even, maybe, G.I. Jane?  I was quite taken with the Patricia Arquette character in True Romance, as well as Riff Randell from Rock'n'Roll High School, even Rosalind Franklin in The Race for the Double Helix. I am truly a lost demographic.

Goodnight, Anthony Kennedy

The Justice is retiring at the end of July. If the Republicans in the Senate can get their act together, they should have plenty of time to confirm President Trump's chosen replacement.

Soon we will hear the sound of lamentations.




Where did the union money go again?

HotAir helps us with the hard math:
If you want a better look at how “balanced” things are in terms of union support for Democrats and Republicans, why don’t we just look at the entity being sued in this Supreme Court case? It’s the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). How well do they spread their money around between the two parties? For that answer, we need look no further than Open Secrets to see what proportions of the more than $10M they spent in the 2015/2016 election cycle they spent where. Let’s take a peek at their outside money spent for or against candidates in those years, shall we?
Independent Expenditures: $8,340,618
For Democrats: $2,661,233
Against Democrats: $0
For Republicans: $0
Against Republicans: $7,562,498
Electioneering Communications: $0
Communication Costs: $1,883,204
Let’s see… the total spent for Democrats or against Republicans adds up to $10,223,731. And the amount spent for Republicans or against Democrats adds up to… hang on. Let me get my calculator out here. (carry the two…. six gozinta 14…) There we go. It adds up to zero. Zilch. Nada. In more technical terms found in post-graduate math classes, that’s known as bupkis.
So would you care to explain to me once more how this is an issue which hits both parties? I’m a bit slow and wasn’t really a math major so you may have to use small words.

Maxine Waters, campaign gold

I really thought Maxine Waters was giving Trump a gift earlier this week.  I keep saying, "Louder, and in front of more cameras!"

When socialism works

Tim Worstall argues that socialism can work as long as it's voluntary.  (I've always said it works great under my roof.)
But the two important words there are voluntary and sometimes.
For example, an employee-owned integrated steel company is going to be a rare beast. It’s unlikely that 10,000 workers are going to have a couple of billion in capital to build one, and if they did, they’d be fools not to diversify.
Employee ownership should, in theory, work well when it is human capital that is the vital ingredient in the recipe, but less so when it is physical such which matters.
The voluntary part should be obvious. If people desire to organize themselves into less and more communal forms of production, then good luck to them.
... What we need is a method of sorting through what works best when—and that’s where the market comes in.
The decision about what is the best form for a specific task is not something to be derived from theory in advance—it’s emergent from market competition.
There's that crazy notion again: finding out what works.

Not Winning in Reality

Five years and change in Federal prison for one Reality Winner.

I hate to see a free person reduced to chains and cages. I wish we had a better system for the few laws we really need to enforce, and fewer laws by far that demand to be enforced. Nevertheless, there are some laws that any nation has to enforce if it is to remain free and sovereign. It has to defend its borders, and it has to punish treason. Five years in prison is not a gentle punishment, but once this would have been seen as a capital crime.

What doesn't kill us

The New York Times is admirably upbeat about how unions will emerge from the destruction of their extortion-and-bribery circular financing system stronger than ever before.  "The more you tighten your grip, Lord Vader . . . ."  According to the Grey Lady,
Still, the more interesting question is whether the unions, whatever the blow to their ranks and finances, will be substantially weaker.
Union leaders insist that they won’t — that the crisis posed by the case, Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, has brought more cohesion and energy to their ranks.
“No one wanted this case,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. “But the gestalt around the country has been to turn an existential threat into an opportunity to engage with our members like never before.”
That's the spirit.  It was never about the money!  Now that we can't force you to give us money, can we engage?

Getting Excited About Smaller Government

Democrats everywhere have suddenly gotten the bug! Instead of hearing about what parts of the state they want to expand or deepen, Democrats everywhere are talking about what they want to abolish.


They haven't gotten as far as an "Abolish" hashtag yet, but the discussion on #ElectoralCollege is pretty negative too.

The other Loretta Lynch bombshell

I thought the rap against former Attorney General Loretta Lynch was the July 2016 tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton, at which they would like us to think they discussed nail polish and fantasy football rather than how to save the Clinton campaign from the email scandal. Inspector General Horowitz tells us, however, that the Russians ostensibly intercepted a Debbie Wasserman-Schultz email to a Soros operative.  In the email, DWS supposedly quoted Lynch's assurances to the Clinton campaign that the feds would go easy on Hillary Clinton:
What is known, based on press leaks and a letter Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley sent Lynch, is that in March 2016, the FBI received a batch of hacked documents from U.S. intelligence agencies that had access to stolen emails stored on Russian networks. One of the intercepted documents revealed an alleged email from then-DNC Chairwoman Wasserman Schultz to an operative working for billionaire Democratic fundraiser George Soros. It claimed Lynch had assured the Clinton campaign that investigators and prosecutors would go easy on the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee regarding her use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state. Lynch allegedly made the promise directly to Clinton political director Amanda Renteria.
The FBI apparently took the document seriously but never interviewed anyone named in it until Clinton’s case was closed by Comey in July 2016. The next month, the FBI quizzed Lynch informally about the allegations. Comey reportedly also confronted the attorney general with the sensitive document and was told to leave her office after getting a frosty reception. No other parties mentioned in the document have been interviewed by the FBI.
The current theory is that it was this intercepted transmission, rather than the tarmac meeting, that led Comey to go off the reservation and cut Lynch out of the loop in his decision to go public with investigations of Clinton.  He claims to have begun worrying about Lynch in September 2015, when she asked him not to refer publicly to an "investigation" of Clinton but instead to call it a "matter."  Comey presumably didn't know any more than we now know whether the intercepted message was real or a fabricated Russian ruse, but he obviously found it credible enough to support his pre-existing doubts about Lynch.

I don't know quite what to think of Comey.  The man blew his ethical obligations six ways from Sunday, but he does not seem to have been operating as a straightforward Clinton or even Democratic operative.  I wonder if even he knows exactly what he was up to.  My guess is Lynch did, though.