Schumpeter Thought Otherwise

Pointing out a UC Berkeley class on destroying Israel and erasing its Jewish history (and, presumably, population), a hopeful author writes:
But good will come of this. Since there are no constraints on what universities do, they are increasingly moving toward the extremes. In doing this, they undermine their own legitimacy and their bogus claims of serving a societal good or promoting civic virtue.

Eventually, such a system will collapse because the larger society will recognize that it is paying for its own delegitimation and destruction through courses that view America and Western Civilization as the roots of all evil in the world.
The great economist Joesph Schumpeter thought the opposite. He believed that this very feature of the university's education of the rising elite would eventually destroy the West and capitalism itself.

We seem to me to be closer to Schumpeter's vision with every generation. Indeed, in Schumpeter's day Marx was recognized as disproven; now the Marxists are resurgent, and whole fields that are utterly Marxist in their frames of interpretation and criticism often do not even realize how wholly they have been subsumed.

The Second Must Not Be A Second Class Right

A piece at National Review by John Yoo, part of a series on restoring constitutional order, addresses the issue.

Everyone here knows my position, which I see no need to repeat after 15 years of blogging. If you don't know what I think about it, or just about anything else, it's in the archives. As a matter of fact, I could probably stop writing this blog just anytime, returning to it only when I change an older opinion for some reason. My opinion on the 2nd has not changed at all.

Good Advice Democrats Will Ignore

Joan C. Williams more-or-less accurately explains what Democrats need to know about attracting non-elite votes. To whit, stop treating economic concerns as pure racism; stop playing up race and gender issues, and focus on helping ordinary people; stop thinking that you and your fellow elites are so much less racist than ordinary people anyway. (Williams doesn't quite have the courage to go beyond 'ordinary white people,' and explain that racism is more or less universal and just as unhelpful in every demographic; but maybe The Atlantic isn't ready for that yet.)

Stop, in other words, focusing on demographic change as a solution. Quit telling white working class voters that you plan is for them to die so they stop being a problem for your agenda.
[P]eople on Twitter ask whether I’m finally ready to admit that the white working class is simply racist. What my Twitter friends don’t seem to recognize is their own privilege. If elites cling to the idea that working-class whites are perpetrators of inequality, rather than both perpetrators and victims, perhaps it’s because they want to believe that they are where they are because they’ve worked hard and they’re the smartest people around. Once you start a conversation about class, elite white people have to admit they have not only racial privilege but class privilege, too.

Acknowledging this also requires elites to cede yet another advantage: the extent to which they have controlled Democrats’ priorities. Political scientists have documented the party’s shift over the past 50 years from a coalition focused on blue-collar issues to one dominated by environmentalism and other issues elites cherish.

I’m one of those activists; environmentalism and concerns related to gender, race, and sexuality define my scholarship and my identity. But the working class has been asked to endure a lot of economic pain while Democrats focus on other problems. It’s time to listen up. The only effective antidote to a populism interlaced with racism is a populism that isn’t.
Needless to say, she is being totally ignored.
Democrats thinking about running for president in 2020 are dramatically changing the way the party talks about race in Donald Trump’s America: Get ready to hear a lot more about intersectionality, allyship, inclusivity and POC.

White and nonwhite Democratic hopefuls are talking more explicitly about race than the party’s White House aspirants ever have — and shrugging off warnings that embracing so-called identity politics could distract from the party’s economic message and push white voters further into Donald Trump’s arms.
I'm pretty sure that ordinary people -- and not just white people -- will be very impressed by intersectionality. Negatively impressed, but deeply impressed all the same.

Biker In Chief Stares Down Putin

The President is a little soft-hearted for my tastes, but for whatever it is worth, our VP is solid.

Men of the North

A longstanding question of the Hall, posed rhetorically but meaningfully, has been 'where are our Wagners, our Beethovens, today?' One of them is Jeremy Soule.

Soule writes for Bethesda Softworks, and produced some few years ago one of the greatest orchestral pieces since Wagner.



If you have the nearly-four-hours, it is well worth your time throughout. The songs, echoing Tolkien, are in an invented language originally belonging to dragons. Although the game is an adventure, most of the music is peaceful rather than stressful: mostly it focuses on the beauty and wonder of creation, rather than the strife between creatures. But when it does consider conflict, it rises into the epic scale.

He has a new album out this year, which is symphonic sketches on the same scheme. It does not aspire to epic, and so it is not quite as powerful, but it is also well constructed.

An Interview with Paglia

Definitely the most interesting voice currently participating in that movement broadly called 'feminism,' Camile Paglia has given one of her periodic long and wide-ranging interviews. They are usually worth reading, and this one is no exception. For me there is always much to disagree with, but surprising points of commonality. For an example of the latter:
Claire Lehmann: You seem to be one of the only scholars of the humanities who are willing to challenge the post-structuralist status quo. Why have other humanities academics been so spineless in preserving the integrity of their fields?

Camille Paglia: The silence of the academic establishment about the corruption of Western universities by postmodernism and post-structuralism has been an absolute disgrace.... Most established professors in the 1970s probably believed that the new theory trend was a fad that would blow away like autumn leaves. The greatness of the complex and continuous Western tradition seemed self-evident: the canon would surely stand, even if supplemented by new names. Well, guess what? Helped along by a swelling horde of officious, overpaid administrators, North American universities became, decade by decade, political correctness camps. Out went half the classics, as well as pedagogically useful survey courses demonstrating sequential patterns in history (now dismissed as a “false narrative” by callow theorists). Bookish, introverted old-school professors were not prepared for guerrilla warfare to defend basic scholarly principles or to withstand waves of defamation and harassment.
It's hard to find anyone in academia now who will openly proclaim that the Western canon represents something categorically superior to, well, anything else. Western philosophers will still quietly murmur to each other their recognition that what they are doing is both categorically different from, and better than, what goes by the name of "Eastern philosophy." But they won't say it in public, and in private only among trusted friends.

"Fix it, Facebook"

I've been following the most recent flap over Facebook in a desultory way. I assumed if I clicked on a few articles I'd find one that explained what FB was supposed to have done wrong this time.  Instead, I found article after article that assumed I understood the obvious crime(s), and lots of increasingly desperate acknowledgements by FB that it can and should "do more."

Particularly interesting were the sprinkling of references to FB's failure to "do more" to stem ethnic violence in Myanmar.  Wait, what?  Did something just happen in Myanmar?  When I click through on the Myanmar references I get more comments about "doing more," but no dates or particulars.  Even FB's 60-page white paper on "doing more" fails to explain what happened in Myanmar before it drifts off into an extended discussion of the history of censorship and repression in that country.  Finally a general search for "Myanmar Facebook" took me to reports of a violent flare in 2014 said to be connected to someone's publishing a deliberately false rape report in a FB post in an apparently successful attempt to stoke racial violence in that benighted country.  It seems that FB did not already have Burmese-speaking moderators in place on the night the false allegations were made, despite its clear responsibility for understanding how dangerous communication can be in a country with a history of such iron repression.  After failing to reach FB executives in the first few hours of the crisis, Myanmar officials simply disabled FB in their country, which apparently caused things to calm down by morning.  Those terrible people at FB, however, took more than a year to put its Burmese-speaking moderation operation into place, complete with operatives well-versed in the entire social and culture quagmire that is Myanmar.  And in the meantime FB callously allowed the Myanmar people to continue communicating with each other.

So why the sudden interest in FB late in 2018?  The New York Times apparently is investigating again, and--as helpfully summarized by the San Francisco Chronicle editorial page--this time has discovered that FB is engaged in denial and deflection.  It hired consultants to discredit its critics, mostly in the context of the Russian influence on our 2016 election, but Myanmar keeps getting thrown in the mix, too.  FB downplayed the seriousness of reports from its own executives about something apparently related to these concerns.  It deflected blame onto its rivals.  It sought special favors from politicians.  (These are nearly direct quotations; I'm not removing any references to specifics.)  And it took these unprecedentedly vile measures to escape blame for--what, exactly?

Well, it seems FB isn't taking its trust, transparency, and privacy problems seriously.  FB is not doing enough to combat false news and information on its platform.  Its failure in Myanmar four years ago shows that it's not willing to be an aggressive defender of human rights.  Its shaky steps to improve transparency haven't been thorough or consistent.  It uses contractors to hit back at critics.  Social media platforms are being used to sway and divide people, and the new House Democrats are thinking of doing something about it, so FB had better get with the program.

I feel an unwilling sympathy for Zuckerberg, trying to punch back against this amoeba.  I can't wait to see what the incoming class of representatives are drafting up.  It shall be a federal crime to operate a social media platform when your head isn't in the right place?

Way back in 2014, someone apparently had the bright idea of pursuing a successful criminal prosecution against the woman who first published the deliberately false rape claim in Myanmar.

Obsession

I'm not sure it's healthy for someone like me to watch a video like this.  It's like dangling heroin in front of an addict.

"Democracy Failed Georgia"

So says Ms. Abrams, as she admits defeat.
She did, however, announce plans for a "major federal lawsuit against the state of Georgia for the gross mismanagement of this election and to protect future elections from unconstitutional actions."

Even in acknowledging defeat, Abrams insisted her speech was not giving a concession and instead delivered a series of sharp criticisms of Kemp....

"Under the watch of the now former secretary of state, democracy failed Georgia," Abrams said of Kemp, who served as the state's chief elections officer for nearly a decade before resigning after overseeing his own contest.

"Make no mistake, the former secretary of state was deliberate and intentional in his actions," Abrams said. "I know that eight years of systemic disenfranchisement, disinvestment and incompetence had its desired affect on the electoral process in Georgia."
So no hard feelings, then. We'll just shake hands and carry on.

You made a good bargain, Georgia. You don't want to be governed by someone with this much anger inside them. Kemp's a scoundrel, and you'll need to keep a watch on him. But he'll only cheat you. He won't set out to punish you.

One Afternoon on Twitter

In which a sitting Congressman threatens to nuke the territorial United States if citizens don't peacefully surrender their firearms.

Democrats Always Win Recounts That Change Election Results

It's a statistically insignificant number, though: three, out of all the thousands of statewide elections between 2000 and 2015.

Joe Bob Briggs: Resist the Campus Speech Nazis

He's happy because a group from Colorado State came down to one of his recent shows.
Colorado State may not be high on your list of trendsetting institutions, but anyone who follows political-correctness battles is well aware of it. To use just one example, the “Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Associated Students of Colorado State University” (yes, that’s a thing) recently said that students shouldn’t use the phrase “Long time, no see,” because it’s offensive to Asians....

That’s why the Colorado State students and professors and ex-students who came to my show mean so much to me. You don’t come to one of my shows if you believe in any of the “diversity and inclusion” rules. You don’t come to one of my shows if you believe in censoring social media or kicking people out of school because they hold unpopular views. You don’t come to one of my shows if you believe that anytime someone says, “You triggered me,” we should all stop talking and hug the complainer. This makes me think that much of the campus political-correctness movement is just intimidation of people trying to get through college without getting called out. It makes me think they all know it’s bullshit and just ignore it like you ignore a loud preacher on the subway. It makes me think that most people still believe in letting every American say whatever the heck every American wants to say, using whatever words he wants to use, and to hell with the public scolding.
There's a lot more at the link, including some hilarious examples.

Sore Losers are Still Losers

The Abrams campaign prepares a very novel lawsuit to try to force Georgia to hold an entirely new election, since she now appears to have lost the last one.

She's alleging massive voter suppression efforts, but frankly those are not in evidence. Kemp set up a system that could be easily cheated, which is why I've been very critical of his performance as Secretary of State. But if he were going to cheat, he'd have given himself a comfortable margin of victory that would have forestalled this recount/lawsuit approach. He could have cheated, certainly. The evidence strongly suggests that he did not, though he remains at fault for having set up a system in which we can have so little confidence.

Georgia should fix its systems for the next election. All the same, it's time to call this one. He's almost twenty thousand votes ahead of the runoff number, and more than fifty thousand votes ahead of her. That's ballgame.

UPDATE: 'Georgia's governor's race "stolen,"' according to Democrats. The Post author explicitly treats similar Republican claims as "baseless" and "without evidence," while saying these claims are being made on much stronger grounds. I concede Kemp's dubiousness; but I notice that "without evidence" is a stick that the press is increasingly using against conservatives, frequently in error (or often, I suspect, maliciously).

Trump-Appointed Judge Sides CNN

It's just the temporary restraining order, but I find the logic amazing all the same.
The judge also found that Acosta suffered “irreparable harm,” dismissing the government’s argument that CNN could simply send other reporters to cover the White House in Acosta’s place.

The suit by CNN alleges that Acosta’s First and Fifth Amendment rights were violated by suspending his hard pass. While the judge didn’t rule on the underlying case, he signaled they were likely to prevail in their claims.
Having spent a fair part of my life going into and out of secure facilities, I find it stunning that a judge would rule that someone has a Constitutional right not to be forbidden from one. Revocation of a prior clearance to enter falls, surely, under the authority of the executive branch. Article II of the Constitution says "[t]he executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America." If Trump were to give the order personally, I can't see how it could be outside the scope of the President's authority; but were he to delegate it, well, that's how all executive authority works. If a base commander can revoke your clearance to enter his base, whoever is delegated similar authority over journalists can do it.

Nor do I buy that it does 'irreparable harm' to a journalist to be reassigned, which is all that would result if this one permanently lost access to the President. OK, go cover the UK Prime Minister instead. CNN does both, and having been kicked out by Trump would only improve Acosta's standing in the eyes of European leaders he might be assigned to cover instead. What's the harm?

Supposedly there's some due process issue, but I can't think what it would be. Secure facilities have a right to refuse entry to anyone, or to remove anyone, prior to whatever process of review there is for that decision.

The judge isn't a partisan against Trump, being a Trump appointee. I make no such accusation; but what an amazing decision to have reached, even on the temporary order. He has to make a judgment that success in the main suit is likely, and I can't see any basis for thinking it at all likely.

The Battle of Hastings, Oversimplified

Plus background and how it changed the English language.

Changing the Rules

Florida keeps rolling in scandal.
A day after Florida's election left top state races too close to call, a Democratic party leader directed staffers and volunteers to share altered election forms with voters to fix signature problems on absentee ballots after the state's deadline.

The altered forms surfaced in Broward, Santa Rosa, Citrus and Okaloosa counties and were reported to federal prosecutors to review for possible election fraud as Florida counties complete a required recount in three top races.

But an email obtained by the USA TODAY NETWORK-Florida shows that Florida Democrats were organizing a broader statewide effort beyond those counties to give voters the altered forms to fix improper absentee ballots after the Nov. 5 deadline. Democratic party leaders provided staffers with copies of a form, known as a "cure affidavit," that had been modified to include an inaccurate Nov. 8 deadline.

One Palm Beach Democrat said in an interview the idea was to have voters fix and submit as many absentee ballots as possible with the altered forms in hopes of later including them in vote totals if a judge ruled such ballots were allowed.

U.S. Chief Judge Mark Walker ruled Thursday that voters should have until Saturday to correct signatures on ballots, a move that could open the door for these ballots returned with altered forms to be counted.
I guess it's fine to set aside the rules established by the state legislature if some judge says so. Until some other judge says otherwise. Why do we have laws at all? We could just ask a judge to rule on any conflicts that occur, since they're apparently going to set the laws aside whenever they feel like it.

Aristotle tried to warn us about that.
Now, it is of great moment that well-drawn laws should themselves define all the points they possibly can and leave as few as may be to the decision of the judges; and this for several reasons. First, to find one man, or a few men, who are sensible persons and capable of legislating and administering justice is easier than to find a large number. Next, laws are made after long consideration, whereas decisions in the courts are given at short notice, which makes it hard for those who try the case to satisfy the claims of justice and expediency. The weightiest reason of all is that the decision of the lawgiver is not particular but prospective and general, whereas members of the assembly and the jury find it their duty to decide on definite cases brought before them. They will often have allowed themselves to be so much influenced by feelings of friendship or hatred or self-interest that they lose any clear vision of the truth and have their judgement obscured by considerations of personal pleasure or pain. In general, then, the judge should, we say, be allowed to decide as few things as possible.

SEAL Accused of Various Improprieties

According to the newly unearthed charge sheet, dated Oct. 2, Gallagher faces charges of premeditated murder for allegedly stabbing the wounded ISIS fighter "in the neck and body with a knife" on May 3, 2017. He's charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon for shooting two noncombatants, one male, one female, with his firearm on separate occasions in June and July of that year.

In three charges of novel specification, Gallagher is accused of posing for a picture with a human corpse, completing his reenlistment ceremony next to the corpse and operating a drone over it, according to the charge sheet.

These alleged crimes are charged the same day he is accused of killing the detainee; Task and Purpose reported that evidence introduced by the prosecution includes photos appearing to show Gallagher posing with the murdered man and the knife he allegedly used to kill him.

Gallagher also allegedly used Tramadol Hydrochloride, a prescription-only pain reliever, and possessed Sustanon-250, an injectable testosterone, according to the charge sheet.
This is one of those occasions when the military justice system is quite different than the civilian one. If he were entitled to a trial by his peers -- meaning by other special operators -- I suspect that the 'shooting at noncombatants' charge wouldn't have a chance. You just don't know who the combatants are in places like Iraq.

The murder charge? I'm not sure that one would fly either. If it can make sense to put a 'security round' in a fighter to make sure he doesn't blow a hidden suicide vest, or come at you from behind once you've moved past him, it could make sense to knife him down too. Depending on the circumstances, that could be an appropriate thing to do. It would be wrong to torture a wounded man to death once the area was secure; it might be right to finish him off while the area was not secure and the operation was ongoing, especially if stealth was a concern.

Discipline is the soul of an army, as Washington said, and it's important to hold people to standards. It could be that on a full account of the circumstances his fellows would convict him. There are at least some readings of the most serious charges, though, that I could see a jury of peers accepting under some circumstances.

That isn't how the military system works, though.

"Facebook Betrayed America"

The New Republic is not happy with Team Zuck. And they are swinging for the fences: the allegations don't stop at treason, but include also complicity in genocide.

Bikers and Fake Ballots

The source for this story is Gateway Pundit, which Wikipedia's community has decided to call "a far right fake news site." Still, they're also a very plausible source for a story that originates with Bikers for Trump. I'm going to bold what I take to be the crucial facts alleged.
According to the letter sent by [Bikers for Trump leader] Cox’s lawyer Derek A. Schwartz, while outside the Broward Supervisor of Elections main office, Cox and other members of Bikers for Trump learned of twelve colored plastic zip tie tags that were each stamped with a seven digit serial code.

“The tags were discovered by other citizens on the ground near the loading dock area outside the BSOE building,” the letter explains. He then went on to provide the serial numbers and the color of the tags.

“It is my client’s understanding and belief that these tags may have been used by the BSOE to secure and seal ballot boxes and/or bags on the night of the election prior to transporting the ballots to the BSOE office. Based on where these tags were found, my client believes these tags were likely illegally removed from the ballot boxes and bags prior to being delivered to the BSOE’s office,” the letter continues.

Schwartz goes on to state that “if these tags were used to seal ballot boxes and bags and improperly removed, then the chain of custody of the ballots in the boxes and bags was broken and the ballots were subject to tampering and manipulation.”

It goes on to request that Bondi’s office immediately determine if any of the tags were used to secure ballot containers, that they find out who removed them, as well as who authorized the removal. The letter additionally requests information about how many ballots were related to the tags, what the serial numbers correspond with and which polling locations they came from.

“My client believes that each ballot box or bag can hold up to 2,500 ballots. Based on having 15 tags, that could mean that approximately 37,500 ballots have been tampered with,” the letter states.
What's of interest to me is the specificity of the claim. Assuming GP is accurately reporting a real letter, then the claims being made are quite actionable. There should be a list of serial numbered tags assigned to various sites, so it should be possible to determine relatively quickly whether tags with those numbers were in fact assigned to this county.

If it's a completely false report, that should also be immediately obvious to prosecutors.

There's middle ground, I guess, where you could have taken note of the tags used on election day, and then made up a report about having found those tags in the loading dock area. Then the prosecutors would quickly discover that the tag numbers were legitimate, but might find that tags corresponding to those numbers were accounted for at the end facility. Then you'd have a big problem, as you'd have to try to investigate a false theory that fake tags had replaced the real tags, and that would be impossible to disprove. It's the kind of thing that could ground a conspiracy theory that the election was stolen.

Of course, it could be true that there's a ploy to counterfeit these tags. The fact that you couldn't prove it wasn't true wouldn't prove that it was, but you might possibly prove that it really was true. Then people should be going to prison.

Well, keep an ear out, and remember the source.

UPDATE: Some of you have been suggesting that Florida needs a Battle of Athens moment. It occurs to me that there are some similarities in having Bikers for Trump staking out this voting area.

By the way, the Washington Times has confirmed the story, and has a photo of the tags.

Another "Break Up America" Story

While reading this I was thinking about the WWI videos that Tom posted below, which (like last weekend's WR Mead article) reminds that in Eastern Europe the breakup of the old empires into nation states was a liberation. Just as Huns or Poles might have viewed the end of the old empire as a kind of liberty, so too might Californians appreciate being freed from the tyrannies of a disproportionately-rural US Senate. So too might Alabama's residents enjoy being cut loose from the kind of liberal courts that impose such strange rules upon it all the time.

There are definitely things I would miss, especially the ease of travel and the freedom to move anywhere in what is now America. But it might be that at least some of those things could be retained in a new arrangement.

Strange Days, II

A school district punishes a teacher for what we used to call 'doing the right thing.'
A Florida school district allowed a self-described transgender female student regular access to the boys’ locker room, with no advance warning to the boys or their parents. The first time she walked in, she caught “boys (literally) with their pants down, causing them embarrassment and concern by the fact that they had been observed changing by an obvious girl,” says a complaint letter to Pasco County School District from Liberty Counsel, a pro-bono constitutional law firm.

With a “gag order,” school administrators forbade teachers from talking about the change, and ordered a male P.E. teacher to supervise the potentially undressed girl in the Chasco Middle School locker room, the letter says. When he refused to “knowingly place himself in a position to observe a minor female in the nude or otherwise in a state of undress,” administrators told him “he will be transferred to another school as discipline for ‘not doing your job in the locker room.'”
I note that the law firm mentioned has been placed on the SPLC's list of hate groups. I checked because they used the phrase "an obvious girl," which is so big a violation of PC-speak that I figured they'd be there, and they are.

Strange Days

A judge at a Naturalization ceremony tells the new citizens to boycott the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the nation they just elected to join.
Her speech to the new citizens, to the extent that I could hear it, was appalling. Sounding like a Democratic Party ward boss, she urged the new citizens to vote as soon as humanly possible. She made voting sound like a tremulous act of self-defense against the country they had just joined. The exhortation, needless to say, gave off a strong anti-Republican, anti-Trump whiff.

Then she started in on some ludicrous riff about the First Amendment, encouraging the new Americans to exercise that right as robustly as possible, including by “taking a knee.” Huh?

So here we have a federal court judge, who just turned a room full of foreigners into American citizens, and her first piece of advice to them is: boycott the American flag you have just been handed. It was depressing and infuriating as hell.

In the past, a judge who dispensed such nihilistic advice to new Americans would be impeached.
Congress will have a lame-duck session before that becomes impossible.

Against Sins of Openness

The American Mind proposes an interesting reading:
The postwar era has been characterized by a de-regulatory consensus. This has a cultural dimension. In the 1950s, mainstream liberal writers bemoaned “organizational man” and wrote about the “lonely crowd.” More and more people came to reject legally (and socially) enforced racism—the epitome of bad cultural regulation. These concerns about intrusive and unsustainable regulation intensified in the 1960s.... Sexual liberation was but one part of a much larger project of cultural de-regulation, championed mostly by the center-left, but often with the center-right’s cooperation. (See the history of no-fault divorce....

The de-regulatory consensus also had an economic dimension. In 1945, sixty-five percent of American GDP went to the war effort. Our economy was regulated by production goals, price controls, and all manner of central planning. From the time Truman released Detroit from military production quotas, the American economy has been on a trajectory of de-regulation.... As the Soviet empire was crumbling in 1990, George H. W. Bush addressed the United Nations. He urged a global effort to create a future of “open borders, open trade, and, most importantly, open minds.” This formulation could well serve as the postwar era’s catechism, which, again, I must emphasize rested upon a center-right and center-left consensus. By the time Barack Obama had become president, Bush’s formulation was thought to express a metaphysical truth...

Today’s populism rejects the de-regulatory, “openness” consensus. Building the “beautiful wall” was one of Trump’s most effective campaign slogans. It is the image of closure, not openness. Trump backed this up not only with promises to combat illegal immigration, but to also rip up free trade agreements and build a wall of economic protectionism. All of this was laced with un-nuanced, pro-American rhetoric. Meanwhile, Trump addressed social conservatives with blunt directness. He did not reiterate conservative pieties about appointing judges who will “respect the constitution.” Instead, he said he would appoint pro-life judges. He did not promise to protect religious freedom; he promised to say “Merry Christmas.” He repeatedly, pungently, and unapologetically violated the canons of political correctness, which is the police arm of the cultural de-regulation project.
I would have said that political correctness was the police arm of a regulatory project: it doesn't intend to stop people from judging, but to pass judgments (sometimes quite harsh ones, which can destroy careers or ruin lives). Still, there's a point to be made here:
Conservatives like the word “freedom.” That’s a better word than “open,” which has utopian connotations of limitless and borderless existence: we are the world! But we need to learn from Trumpian populism. At the end of the postwar era, the meaning of “freedom” has become libertarian and de-regulatory, almost a synonym for “open.” As a consequence, conservative voters — voters who want to renew and restore something solid and enduring in America — no longer thrill to our rhetoric of freedom....

The postwar era is ending. The center-left politics of cultural de-regulation no longer commands widespread support, which is why it has to rely on a punitive, hectoring political correctness. The center-right project of economic de-regulation is losing its appeal, especially in its global aspects. Voters are rebelling. They want national reconsolidation, cultural stability, and relief from ever-intensifying economic competition. We see it in Europe. It’s happening in the United States. I say, thank goodness.

A Lost City of Trojans

Following the Trojan War, the victors forced captured Trojans to build themselves a new home south of Corinth. It prospered, but was lost sometime after Rome destroyed Corinth during its capture of Greece. Now it has been found:
On Tuesday, the Greek culture ministry announced Korka's team had found "proof of the existence of the ancient city" of Tenea. An image of the excavation site released by the ministry depict stone walls, the remains of what were likely houses from the settlement nearly 3,000 years ago.
More at the link.

An Almost Nuclear Iran

The seized Iranian intelligence cache proves to contain some explosive details (pun intended, though I suppose this is no laughing matter).
“The U.S. was issuing statements that it would take a year at least, perhaps two years, to build a deliverable weapon. The information in the archive makes it clear they could have done it a lot quicker,” said Albright. He added that the French government, which was then saying Iran could achieve a weapon in three months, was much closer in its estimates.
If Iran goes nuclear, we'll finally find out if that "Death to America" and "Death to Israel" stuff was just rhetoric, I suppose.

A Message from Tracey Ullman

Ullman's message is brought to you, on this occasion, by Jessica Valenti.

WW1 Oversimplified

This fellow has a series of videos that are mostly educational but also comically oversimplified. In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1, here's his take on that:

Part 1


Part 2

Nationalism and WWI

Wretchard is discussing the question of whether nationalism or internationalism was responsible for the First World War. I'm old enough to have been educated by confident teachers in both propositions. 'Nationalism caused WWI' was taken to be the definitive argument some decades ago; as Wretchard points out, we understand a little more about it now.
It might be argued it was the international system with its entangling alliances and secret treaties that dragged the world kicking and screaming to slaughter of the trenches.... a world without firebreaks can internationalize a local incident that might otherwise have remained isolated. It was precisely the telegraph, railroad and even the invention of corned beef that made "some damned fool thing in the Balkans" able spread like wildfire. Once the finger of Serbia had been caught in the mangle the entire European arm was pulled into the meat grinder, inevitably and inexorably.
The focus on nationalism as an evil was made more plausible to teachers as the educational establishment moved left, for the great Soviet cause was internationalism. Nationalism, in the absence of entangling alliances and mobilization plans that thrust British troops to the German front, might well have turned there as here into isolationism. It might have inclined the Brits as the Swiss to avoid the war, because it wasn't their people's business and they would prefer to be left alone.

Imperialism, another Soviet bugaboo, is a better candidate for blame than nationalism. The British people could sit out a world war, but the British Empire couldn't.

In any case, Wretchard points out (as our Eric Blair has long argued) that WWI destroyed the foundations of Western civilization; we may yet die of it. I saw someone post something yesterday to the effect of, 'if we don't have nations, if we don't have children, if we don't have borders: they all died for nothing.' Maybe that's right, as Wretchard notes:
It's instructive to note that even a century has not proved enough time for Macron's EU to recover its religious, national and erotic confidence. In the quartet of leaders formed by May, Macron, Merkel and Trump only the Donald has children. To Macron at least, national ideals have become demons. And as for religion -- perhaps that is a subject best left untouched for the present.

Veterans Day

Have a good one, you who have earned it.

Advice For House-Breakers


From the Saga of Burnt Njal, when some house-breakers decide to go after Gunnar:
Now when they were come near to the house they knew not whether Gunnar were at home, and bade that some one would go straight up to the house and see if he could find out. But the rest sat them down on the ground.

Thorgrim the Easterling went and began to climb up on the hall; Gunnar sees that a red kirtle passed before the window-slit, and thrusts out the halberd, and smote him on the middle. Thorgrim's feet slipped from under him, and he dropped his shield, and down he toppled from the roof.

Then he goes to Gizur and his band as they sat on the ground.

Gizur looked at him and said—

“Well, is Gunnar at home?”

“Find that out for yourselves,” said Thorgrim; “but this I am sure of, that his halberd is at home,” and with that he fell down dead.
(I substitute 'halberd' for 'bill,' both of which are English weapon-names that are sometimes used for the atgeirr, and neither of which is quite right: see this article. My guess is that it was somewhat like the Lochaber Axe, which is another weapon similar to a halberd but not quite, and which may be descended from the atgeirr.)

It's worth noting that, though the house-breakers did finally kill Gunnar, they didn't get him until his bowstring broke. House-breakers facing more reliable artillery may want to rethink their whole approach to life.

Toleration Doesn't Work That Way

Arabic-language 'vloggers' go around mocking LBGTQ culture in the West. Vocativ wonders why a people of a faith potentially subject to discrimination wouldn't be more tolerant.

That's not how toleration works. Toleration is a decision to accept something you dislike in order to obtain benefits, especially peaceful co-existence. That is why religious toleration came to be. It came to be in order to end the religious wars.

If there's no penalty for intolerance, there is no reason to tolerate things that you despise. These folks know they're already protected by the PC culture they're mocking. They know it can't really turn on them. It just has to hope they'll someday agree to be the allies the PC hope they'll become.

Allies against me and you, of course. That's ironic, since I long ago adopted Hondo's rule:
"[A] long time ago, I made me a rule. I let people do what they want to do."
You might think that this rule opens you to abuse from the abusive, but as you can see it tends to work out if backed up with the right spirit.



Problem we've got is that nobody is willing to let people suffer the consequences of doing what they decided they wanted to do.

No Confidence

Corruption in the "counting of votes" sounds highly likely down Florida way, especially given the history of that particular official who is overseeing it.

Georgia and Arizona remain in similar places, with Democratic parts of the states continuing to "find" new votes. We used to say "If it's not close, they can't cheat." The corollary to that is that, when it is close, they certainly can try.

Empathy is Overrated

Matt Y says he 'cannot empathize' with Tucker Carlson's wife, who was frightened last night when Antifa's DC chapter "Smash Racism" busted in her front door after surrounding her house. The move wasn't 'tactically' wise, he says, but it doesn't affect him on a human level.

Empathy in politics is generally unhealthy; it leads to injustice fairly reliably, as it makes the person we feel for more into a victim who deserves redress, or the person they're accusing into a villain who deserves utter destruction. Or, if we should happen to feel for the violator, it makes his crimes minor things that should be brushed away, and his victims persons of no special account. Whenever people tell me they wish there was more empathy in politics, I assume that means they are the sort of person who should be humored rather than heeded.

That said, Matt raises another good point about empathy by his lack of it. We can't rely on people to have empathy for those that they think of as enemies, and Carlson's wife -- whose name he probably doesn't even know, and who has done nothing other than be married to a guy whom he hates -- is going to get tossed in that camp. Whatever happens to her, eh, that kind of thing happens to bad people. They have it coming. Divine justice, he'd have said back before the Party mandated that people stop talking unironically about God (with a few specific exceptions).

An appeal to empathy is overrated. Patrick Henry knew where to appeal in such cases:
Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne. In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope.

If we wish to be free... we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us!
Henry was right. It might be your house, next.

Forcing Another Bite at the Apple

In Georgia, the Abrams campaign continues to refuse to concede defeat; the candidate says that, if only counting the provisional ballots can lower the margin of victory of her opponent's below 50%, she'll be entitled to a new election under state law. In Florida, a recount is already being required in spite of some highly irregular activity in Boward County, which is "still counting" and refuses to disclose how many more votes they still have to count (as many as necessary, one assumes). Marco Rubio is on the latter case.

"Orange Man Bad"

Molly Hemmingway apparently said on FOX last night that Democrats and Never-Trumpers were united around their idea that "Orange Man Bad."

Turns out that's a frame from the NPC meme we were discussing not long ago.



Speaking of NPC Conan, he's back on today -- with an orange theme, even.


It's not true that 'few would call Conan smart,' by the way; in Howard's stories he is respected as an intelligent and savvy tactician even by his worst enemies.

The Results Come In

This post’s comments thread is the place for election discussion, if anyone is interested in that.

Come down now they'll say

Last night I watched "Homecoming," a Julia Roberts production on Amazon Prime.  Typical antiwar, anticapitalist politics aside, it was an affecting story about the death of identity we court when we numb a painful memory.  The soundtrack to the final scene was this song "The Trapeze Swinger," with its insistent chorus of "Remember Me."  In tracking it down I found I also liked "Such Great Heights," a cover from the same artist.  Actually most of his songs are pretty similar, but dreamy and effective.



In Parting: Georgia Governor's Campaign

As I was saying at AVI's place, I think that Republican candidate Brian Kemp has performed disgracefully in his current role, and I don't trust him nor think that you should either. I don't repose any trust in the voting system he has built, and I can't see why anyone would. His insisting on sitting atop that warped system while the vote is counted -- even saying he'd preside over his own recount, if necessary -- could hardly be more well-designed at destroying whatever confidence remains that Georgia will have a fair vote according to democratic norms.

No, wait... he's found a way to make it worse.

That said, it is a noteworthy irony that his Democratic opponent is talking about door-to-door confiscation of 'assault weapons' on the same day that her New Black Panther Party allies are posing with her signs -- and such weapons.

As of the move last spring I am no longer a citizen of Georgia. I will not return but to visit, though it was the beloved nest of my childhood and young adulthood, and the place where I was educated. I cannot but wish Georgia well, and there are some parts of her that will always be parts of me too. Still, her destiny and mine must now diverge, and her new citizens will have to decide what to do with her and her painful heritage.

As a parting gift, I might endorse a path, as final advice to Georgia from one who loves her. I wish I could do so in earnest. Neither of these characters deserves the office: the one because he is an insincere scoundrel, and the other because she is completely sincere.

The scoundrel will likely do less harm. He'll feather his pockets, he'll abuse his power, but he won't take hammer and tongs to the foundations.

That's the best I can offer. Do what you will.

Coalitions

It may not be in time for Tuesday, but the NYT allows a rare conservative voice to point out that Donald Trump has put the band back together.
[T]he party that President Trump has remade in his image is arguably less divided and in a better position to keep winning the White House than it has been at any time since the 1980s. What Mr. Trump has done is to rediscover the formula that made the landslide Republican Electoral College victories of the Nixon and Reagan years possible. Mr. Trump’s signature themes of economic nationalism and immigration restriction are only 21st-century updates to the issues that brought the Republican Party triumph in all but one of the six presidential elections between 1968 and 1988.
Heck, who knows about Tuesday? But should the left spend the next two years flogging for open borders and socialism, 2020 should look to rebuke them.

Governance up close

I'm not in office yet, not even officially elected until Tuesday, though I'd have to muck it up by the numbers to fail at this point, as I'm running unopposed.

But although I won't be sworn in as a county commissioner until next January, I've begun easing into my role by spinning up on a few projects that were begun under the current commissioner for my precinct, a neighbor and friend, and will still be in full swing when I take office.  One of these is the paving of a nearby road dedicated to the county but not yet accepted into its construction and maintenance program.

This business of a road's appearing in the plats as a "county road," but not yet accepted by the county, is a potent source of public confusion.  In Texas (and maybe elsewhere) they're called "paper roads."  They may be nothing but sand and an easement.  The dedication by the developer appears in the surveyed and recorded plats, but the effect is a standing offer to the county, which in later years it may or may not accept.  If it does accept, under state law it has no obligation to pay the cost of building the road, though once it accepts it, it does take on the obligation to maintain it unless the road is formally abandoned.  In practice, this county follows the usual path of offering to cover a portion of costs if the homeowners unite in requesting a road to be built.  The usual split here is 2/3 homeowner, 1/3 county.  The process of petitioning the county and taking a homeowner vote and collecting the cost over a period of several years seems quite flexible and humane.

It comes as a shock to many of the homeowners, however, who believe that a plat showing a "county road" means that someone promised them something, and they're not very inclined to be precise about who that was.  The idea that they may have a legitimate quarrel with their seller, or their title company, but not the county, is foreign, nitpicking, abhorrent. They are less fascinated than I by the state law that carefully restricts the county's ability to throw largesse around, a product of many years of experience in the crony deals that would result in taxpayer money being spent to build nice streets for the county judge's brother-in-law.

In the current case, a very short piece of residential street became an urgent problem in this fall's extraordinary rains--over 20 inches in October--and is as much a drainage issue as a paving one.  The county does take on the responsibility of improving drainage, more or less, subject to available resources.  Yesterday's meeting featured mostly homeowners who were fairly content with the message that the county probably could do something to improve the specific drainage problem on their small street in the near future at no cost to themselves.  They also seemed happy to learn that the county could build pave their street next summer at the cost of about $2,200 per lot payable over three years, after which the county would maintain the street more or less in perpetuity.

A few struggled hard with the idea that they should have to pay for any of this.  The county engineer bent the rules a bit some weeks back and dumped some gravel on a specially low and damaged spot, but didn't have enough off-budget material lying around to cover the whole street.  The reaction, as one might have guessed, is that people on the rest of the street felt they'd been given an unalterable right to the same largesse.  They reacted furiously to the notion that they ought to pass the hat and buy a few truckloads of gravel to tide themselves over to next summer.  One fellow argued that the drainage problem stemmed from further up the nearest cross-street and somehow was the county's fault, meaning the county owed him a free solution.  I noticed that the current commissioner and engineer simply heard him out patiently, a good lesson for me.  He wasn't carrying the crowd; no one wanted to hear a rebuttal.  There was talk of how engineers in the Panama Canal Zone solved drainage problems caused by 7 feet of rain, without much consideration given to how unusual conditions have to be before we are well-advised to spend tax dollars hardening against them.  The money comes from us, guys!

Those of us living in the unincorporated area of a small and not very rich county mostly do not assume the county will provide us with any services to speak of.  A few have an abiding faith in their right to demand expensive services from government.  They've elected me after a campaign in which I told anyone who would listen that my first instinct is to limit government's powers, not to ensure government services, but of course I know most weren't listening at all; few even voted.  Clearly a commissioner's job is to do what we can to spend the county's limited resources solving the most urgent problems in the fairest way we can manage.  Part of the job is to help people understand how the government works, given that whatever problem they're bringing to my attention could well be the first time they've tried to get the county government involved in a problem.  Most have never thought much about how it should work, let alone grappled with difficult questions about how to balance freedom, security, and convenience.  My first instinct always is "Why should I have to take your input into account in what I want to accomplish on my own property?"--but often what I hear from neighbors is more like "Why should I have to pay for anything that benefits me?"

It's likely to be an interesting four years.

Stand back, I'll handle this

A commenter at Maggie's Farm nailed socialism, the system that correctly identifies capitalism as so effective that only the experts can be allowed to operate it:
The left wants socialism which of course still must depend on capitalism but where only the state gets to practice capitalism.

Waylon Jennings on a Friday Night

This Vegan Thing Is Getting Out of Hand

I can almost see threatening a stranger who is cooking meat if you're a vegan, or some non-Italian if you're a leftist who thinks they're guilty of cultural appropriation, but your own mother for making the sauce you were raised on?
The meaty dish, ragù, is an Italian staple, but it was enough to set off a massive disturbance that ended with the mother being threatened with a kitchen knife by her vegan daughter, an Italian court heard.

The daughter told a court she’d long had “no sensory nor olfactory contact” with animal products before she went back to living with her mother.

Frustrated by the smell of meat sauce simmering for hours in their small apartment, the vegan woman grabbed a knife and threatened her mother.

“If you won’t stop on your own then I’ll make you stop. Quit making ragù, or I’ll stab you in the stomach,” she said, according to the mum’s civil complaint.
I might have to make some tonight myself, in appropriational solidarity.

Tribal Epistemology

Vox is worried about you.
Conservatives have descended almost entirely into what I call “tribal epistemology,” wherein the distinction between what is good for the tribe and what is true collapses entirely — in which “true” simply comes to mean “our narrative.” They do not defer to any transpartisan standards of evidence or reasoning; they do not believe any such standards exist. Attempts to invoke such standards are, in their view, just one side’s way of trying to outmaneuver the other....

The two sides share almost no factual premises, so they are no longer able to coherently argue with each other. Their enmity is total, and the country is becoming ungovernable. Politics is becoming a pure contest of wills, of power.

That’s the crisis. I first wrote about it in reference to Robert Mueller’s investigation, raising the question: What if Mueller uncovers rock-solid evidence that Trump colluded with the Russians or committed financial crimes, and ... it just doesn’t matter? What if he finds something, but the Americans who get their news from conservative media simply never find out about it? What then?
The thing is, I read liberal stuff all the time. I know what they think and why. Do they have any idea what I think, or why? I'm pretty sure not.

That aside, it's a hard problem to address. The post two down from this one links an article that gives some pretty solid reasons to doubt their claims to knowledge from journalism, which I don't think they've adequately considered. FOX News may be no better, but that doesn't answer our epistemological problem: it just leaves us with two sets of wrong information. Blogs were supposed to be the answer, or a part of the answer, because they'd allow people with direct knowledge to comment on the facts. Sometimes that works -- sometimes even Twitter manages that, in spite of its poisonous atmosphere and algorithms designed to elevate people who are part of the problem over the small person with few followers but direct knowledge. Blogs are better than algorithmic sites for getting this right, but finding the right blog in a timely way can be a hard problem too.

The Feast of All Saints

Today is the feast day for all saints, but originally especially for martyrs. I wonder what the Church's position is on the Jewish victims of the weekend's shooting? They are not Christians, obviously, and thus not Christian martyrs; they certainly are martyrs for their own faith. Jews have a special status that I don't quite understand. But if this statement the Vatican put out in 2015 is accurate, I'm not supposed to understand it:
How God will save the Jews if they do not explicitly believe in Christ is "an unfathomable divine mystery," but one which must be affirmed since Catholics believe that God is faithful to his promises and therefore never revoked his covenant with the Jewish people, it says.
The ability to appeal to 'unfathomable mystery' is one of the explanatory advantages of religion, although one finds it in philosophy too: Kant's noumena are essentially the real facts about the world, which are by the nature of human experience unfathomable and destined to remain mysteries. Kant's got a pretty good argument for this, so the fact that one must sometimes admit unfathomable mysteries into one's ontology shouldn't be upsetting even to quite rational thinkers.

In any case it's on my mind, although I haven't written about it here before now. Perhaps this is even the right day for it.

A Good Piece on Turkey

Lee Smith points out that the Turks have been acting like the Harlem Globetrotters against America's press, which has willingly taken the role of the Washington Generals.
The U.S. media meshed seamlessly with Turkish information operations because our journalists have become habituated to their new role as political assets. For two years the press has been breathlessly reporting thousands of stories sourced to unnamed U.S. officials and promising that the latest development—Russiagate, Stormygate, etc.—was certain to topple President Donald Trump. Whether you admire or disdain the so-called #resistance, the fact is that a press labeling itself as such on Twitter is one less interested in reporting facts than shaping political outcomes....

Arab papers are widely known as platforms for the views or goals of a particular regime, political figure, or intelligence service. It’s not a free press in any meaningful sense. But taking these many outlets as a whole, it’s possible to piece together a relatively accurate picture of the political game board.... U.S. reporting about the disappearance and death of an Arab journalist who pleaded for media transparency in his own society marks another chapter in the ongoing transformation of what was once the freest press in the world: America’s.
They sometimes also fall for sucker plays even when they aren't trying to do so. But even then, they rarely correct themselves once it becomes obvious they were played. For example:
A gullible and inexperienced press corps can’t help but be taken advantage of by savvy political operatives, especially when they’re working in foreign lands. Most reporters don’t know Arabic, which is why the press mistranslated, for instance, a statement from the Saudi Justice Ministry saying that it had received the Turkish government’s claims that the Khashoggi murder was premeditated and was further investigating. The press reported instead that the Saudis had admitted it was premeditated.
I'll bet you've heard that claim if you've been following the case at all, and not the clarification (emphasis added).

The Feast of the Dead

Apparently the dead like chocolate and peanut butter.


Happy Halloween!

Selective Demons

CNN’s Lemon:

“We have to stop demonizing people and realize the biggest terror threat in this country is white men, most of them radicalized to the right, and we have to start doing something about them."

Related.

UPDATE: An additional wrinkle to Lemon's comments: "'There is no travel ban on them... They had the Muslim ban; there is no white-guy ban,' he added. 'So what do we do about that?'"

It's hard to know where to start with this. There was no "Muslim ban"; there was a temporary ban on entry from certain countries, identified by the Obama administration, but hardly including all of (or even the majority of) the Muslim world. Second, it was a bar on entry for non-citizens, who have no right to enter the United States. Lemon is talking about a bar on travel for citizens, who do have a right to come home if they should go abroad. The US ban didn't interfere with anyone's travel around their own nation, either, which Lemon sounds as if he might like to do.

His comments are not only outrageously biased, they're ill-informed and ignorant of basic facts. Why is this guy on television?

Early Thoughts on Birthright Citizenship

I don't want to fall into the trap of discussing an issue as if I had an authoritative opinion when it's still quite early. This one is breaking today, but it's in reference to a piece Michael Anton published back in July. Anton published a response to criticisms of his idea in another venue a bit later.

One thing that seems clear to me is that an Executive Order isn't adequate for this action. Andy McCarthy gives a good account of why it wouldn't be:
The problem as I see it is twofold. First, the legal landscape is not limited to the 14th Amendment. Congress has enacted a statute, Section 1401 of the immigration and naturalization laws (Title 8, U.S. Code). In pertinent part, it appears merely to codify in statutory law what the 14th Amendment says: included among U.S. citizens is any “person born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” But that means the issue is not just what jurisdiction was understood to mean in 1868 when the 14th Amendment was adopted, but what it meant in 1952, when the statute defining U.S. citizenship was enacted (it has been amended several times since then).

Secondly, even assuming the meaning was the same, Congress’s codification of the 14th Amendment — which it did not need to do — is a strong expression of Congress’s intent to exercise its constitutional authority to set the terms of citizenship.
I think that's roughly right on both points, although I'd suggest that the 1952 statute can't override the 1868 Constitutional Amendment's meaning -- otherwise we could by statute redefine any Constitutional term. Congress can't re-issue the Third Amendment by statute with a legislative statement to the effect that "quartering shall only mean permanent residence of troops in private homes, i.e., greater than ten years' duration," and thereby remove the Third's prohibition. Thus, the 1952 understanding can only alter the 1868 understanding in a fairly limited way; Congress might broaden the Third's protections, as by forbidding 'quartering' within 100 yards of a private home, but not limit it. Here, Congress might not be able to alter the 1868 understanding at all by mere statute.

However, SCOTUS might find that the 1868 understanding wasn't so obvious that a later Congress acting in accord with a later President might not define it more clearly. If so, then what the Congress of 1952 can do, the Congress of 2018 or 2019 can also do. Sen. Graham is proposing to get the ball rolling on that. If the Republican Congress hands Trump a bill that reinterprets this clause formally, and he signs it into law, that would do whatever the 1952 law did to define the terms.

That might be nothing at all; SCOTUS may well say that mere legislation can't alter an amendment's terms, and that it feels that there is a clear enough record of intent from 1868 to apply. That's originalism, which many of us have long argued for as a judicial philosophy. You have to take the good and the bad of that. Birthright citizenship may simply be something we're stuck with pending a new Constitutional convention. Perhaps not, especially if they find the 1868 language unclear or in need of further exposition from the legislature. I think this expresses the range of constitutional possibilities.

Social Contract

Jeff Sessions responds to protesters: "I don't believe there's anything in my theology that says a secular nationstate cannot have lawful laws to control immigration ... not immoral, not indecent and not unkind to state what your laws are and then set about to enforce them"
There's a reasonable argument that the 'social contract' we hear about is not a defensible philosophical concept: most of us never asked to join the polity, never consented to the terms (which pre-existed us), and probably joined as a consequence of a decision made by some ancestor of ours rather than by ourselves alone. There are several approaches to the consequences of that argument.

But one class of people do explicitly consent to join something like the 'social contract' of a nation, and that is the class of first-generation immigrants to that nation. They really are making an election to join a polity, and presumably this entails a contract they personally make with that polity to abide by its terms.

It's not unreasonable for a nation to refuse to accept those who will not make this contract, and abide by it. Why on earth would they do so? Yet, as Sessions' reply suggests, the public discussion has run entirely in the other direction. He is defending the idea that he isn't religiously required to accept people who reject the terms of the contract; that morality doesn't obligate a polity to accept people who refuse any obligation to abide by its terms.

That's madness, yet it has clearly passed into the realm of commonly held opinion.

Who's in charge of you, anyway?

From Jim Geraghty:
What do the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter, the Florida mail-bomber, the angry young man who drove a van into a crowd on a Toronto street in April, and last year’s shooter at the congressional baseball field have in common?
* * *
It’s almost always the same, isn’t it? Few or no friends, no relationships, estranged from family, difficulty holding down a job, and a lot of time spent online on chat boards and sites that reinforce growing paranoia, scapegoating, and hatred. It’s safe to assume this shooter’s life, like the others, did not turn out the way that he had hoped.
All of these men shared an inability to face the possibility that the problems in their life were a result of their own decisions and actions. They retreated to the flattering conclusion that only a vast conspiracy of powerful forces could possibly have brought them to this state of perpetual disappointment.
The good news is that very few of us walk around thinking like this. If all it took to turn someone into a homicidal maniac was a Donald Trump speech, or a Bernie Sanders speech, or an anti-Semitic website, or a rant against women, then the world would be nonstop massacres.
* * *
But if one of the preeminent arguments in our society about the power of the individual — whether we are the captains of our fate and masters of our soul, or whether the quality of our lives is heavily determined by broader societal factors outside of our individual ability to control, influence, or overcome — then the conspiracy theorists are just a more extreme form of a pretty widespread anti-individualist philosophy.

Archaeologists Discover 15,500 Year-Old Weapons in America

Early photograph:


No, not really: these were spears.

Merkel Out

The EU project has been holed by BREXIT, but even more by the fallout from Merkel's decision to throw open the floodgates where refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, and elsewhere were concerned. For years she's been trying to put that genie back in the bottle. Now she's preparing to step down and leave those problems to somebody else.

Brazil Gets On The Tropical Trump Train

A decisive win for a candidate who got stabbed, then won anyway. It’s kind of like that time Teddy Roosevelt got shot by a would-be assassin, but stayed to finish his speech.

UPDATE: Police in Brazil have begun raiding college classrooms, seeking electioneering materials that Brazilian law forbids in those settings.
The raids are part a supposed attempt to stop illegal electoral advertising. Brazilian election law prohibits electoral publicity in public spaces. However, many of the confiscated materials do not mention candidates. Among such confiscated materials are a flag for the Universidade Federal Fluminense reading “UFF School of Law - Anti-Fascist” and flyers titled “Manifest in Defense of Democracy and Public Universities.”
I happen to have a couple of friends who are Brazilian academics, at least one of whom has been posting some of these materials online. Here's a screenshot. Look familiar?


The major difference between this flag and the one used in the US is that this one foregrounds the red. It is a more honest flag, in other words.

Our Boys Uphold American Honor

A US military deployment to Iceland drains the capital city dry.

A Public Service

Hey kids! Why not steal your parents’ guns and turn them in to agents of the state? We mean your teachers, of course, who will have no reason to view your producing a firearm in their classroom as anything but good citizenship.

What could go wrong?

Trust but verify

A poll examines the trust gaps between the nation's main political parties:


Americans are united in their trust of the military and Amazon, and in their distrust of Facebook, political parties, and Congress.  Both parties are lukewarm on state and local government, philanthropy, non-profits, and the courts. They differ sharply in their trust/distrust of the executive branch, local police, organized labor, the FBI, religion, Google, banks, big corporations, the press, and academia.

It Does Have A Certain Track Record

Adopting the Benedictine Rule.

The Nazis and FOX News

I can understand Democratic concerns that they don't control as much of Congress as they'd like, or that the Supreme Court may have slipped out of their grasp, or that the Presidency is a very powerful weapon they'd prefer to wield than to have wielded against their interests. You'd think they'd be satisfied with the media, though. Over ninety percent of journalism directed at Trump, which is a shocking amount of the total journalism being constructed today, is negative in its treatment of the President and his interests. They control every major news agency but one.

However, the existence of that one is seen as a great and terrible problem.
Another parallel exists between the Nazis' skillful use of propaganda and state-sponsored media and Trump and the Republican Party's relationship with Fox News.

Fox News is a privatized ministry of propaganda. Under the Nazis, Joseph Goebbels was a key adviser to Hitler. They conversed a great deal. In a sense, Sean Hannity and Donald Trump have that same relationship. It is symbiotic because it works both ways, where Fox News is not just Trump's personal news outlet and propaganda arm but Trump also gets his inspiration from watching Fox News. It is a very reciprocal relationship.
I don't watch television, so I never see broadcast news of any sort unless it's a clip put online for some reason. This is a pretty intense criticism, though, which I have trouble imagining is well-grounded.

Ivy Diversity is a Racket

Diversity in general is, I suppose, but the Ivy Leagues are at least as bad as others. Harvard is in the crosshairs today.
An attorney for the plaintiff asked why a white boy in, say, immigrant-rich Las Vegas with a score of 1310 would get the letter, while his Asian classmate with a 1370 would not. Fitzsimmons responded with generalities about the need to recruit from a broad array of states to achieve diversity.
There's another fudging mechanism they use too: sports scholarships.
By the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s own estimate, 61 percent of student athletes last year were white. At elite colleges, that number is even higher: 65 percent in the Ivy League, not including international students, and 79 percent in the Division III New England Small College Athletic Conference, which includes elite liberal-arts colleges like Williams College and Amherst College....

All applicants to Harvard are ranked on a scale of one to six based on their academic qualifications, and athletes who scored a four were accepted at a rate of about 70 percent. Yet the admit rate for nonathletes with the same score was 0.076 percent—nearly 1,000 times lower. Similarly, 83 percent of athletes with a top academic score got an acceptance letter, compared with 16 percent of nonathletes.
If any of you know a junior in high school who would like to go to the Ivy Leagues, there's still time to get them into a sports program. It'll help if they're not Asian.

Mobs, Then and Now

Also, "then" was three days before "now."

My personal theory about all these non-exploding bombs is that they are the work of a civic-minded individual trying to illuminate to the recently pro-mob crowd just why they really don't want to go down that road. If so, it's working.

UPDATE: On reflection, Democratic leaders decide to reject the call for sensible behavior.

UPDATE: Andy McCarthy on the subject.

Trying Something New

North Carolina's solution to the student debt crisis: lower tuition.

Good news


Unclear on the concept

From Coyote Blog, on Texas U.S. Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke's proposals for encouraging entrepreneurship as a path to social justice:
Amazing. We are going to promote entrepreneurship by showering the economy with regulations (1000 new bills a year in progressive CA) and making sure many of the returns from an entrepreneurs' money and effort go to other people. This is like saying we really want to promote the growth of the rabbit population and we are going to do it by putting out lots of rabbit traps and making sure all the carrots the rabbits are eating are given to others.
Ted Cruz is so personally unpopular that I was worried about his campaign for a while, but Beto seems to be taking care of it. I think Trump's "stone-cold phony" description struck a chord here.

Flag-Burners Unite

It's a little odd to run for Governor of a state when you've a history of burning that state's flag, but such is the new normal.
Abrams has been a vocal critic of Confederate imagery on state symbols.

Shortly after white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Va., she called for the removal of the carving of Confederate war leaders from Stone Mountain’s massive granite face. Noting the state-owned site’s link to the Ku Klux Klan, she said we “must never celebrate those who defended slavery and tried to destroy the Union.”
As noted below, I was just at Stone Mountain for the annual Highland Games. The site has been tied to the Klan since 1915, when it was privately owned and chiefly used for rock quarries. One of the owners was tied up with the re-founding of the Klan, and offered the site as a location for the ceremony. In 1958, a Georgia government then intensely interested in defending segregation purchased the mountain specifically to be a monument to the Confederacy. The flag Abrams was burning dates to the same era, being adopted in 1956.

What few seem to realize is that the current Georgia flag is just as much a Confederate symbol as the one people got so upset about in the 1990s. I suppose that, if elected, Abrams would want to change the flag again. Maybe this time they can just put Dr. King's face on the flag and leave it at that.

As for the mountain, it is maintained by the Stone Mountain Memorial Association, a state agency that is not supported by taxes but by usage fees and the like. When I go camping in the park, I help maintain the Association. The Highland Games, the annual Cherokee-led Pow Wow, and similar cultural events do likewise. So too does the use of the golf course, the lakes, and so on. They have contracted out theme park attractions and similar services, and get a cut of the profits from all of those things. What they don't control is the carving; the State Legislature would have to approve legislation to remove it.

I hate to see such a beautiful place continually mired in ugliness and controversy. This feud is a feud about honor, specifically, about whom we will honor and whom we will treat as shameful. The Confederate leadership included some men who merit honor by virtue, but many who did not -- especially Jeff Davis, who is on the memorial carving. The Confederacy itself deserves little honor. The Klan deserves none. Perhaps there is a compromise position that can handle all that, but so far I haven't seen it.

"Caravan"

Wretchard wonders if there isn't something off about the global order.
Open borders advocates wait with bated breath as central American refugee "caravans" headed for the United States in a replay of the migrant crisis that changed the political landscape Europe.... Ironically the caravans could wind up boosting Donald Trump the way the European refugee flows crippled Angela Merkel. Her position as "Leader of the Free World" now seems over as "her junior coalition partners, the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), saw support in Bavaria halved." It would be one more hint that liberal policy analysts miscalculated badly.

Just how weak the globalist orthodoxy has now become was illustrated by Italy's budgetary defiance of the European Union. "In what is becoming a dangerous game of chicken for the global economy, Italy’s populist government refused to budge on Tuesday after the European Union for the first time sent back a member state’s proposed budget because it violated the bloc’s fiscal laws and posed unacceptable risks." The Atlantic notes that far from being fearful of Brussels the Italians are raring for a fight. The Independent suggests that Rome's open revolt is now a bigger threat to the EU than Brexit. "It could finish the euro ... Add the migrant crisis" and you have a perfect storm.

The chief challenges to globalization now stem from the cascading failures of the system itself principally in the effect of China, Russia and MENA's refusal to democratize. With hostiles inside the wire Western political parties are realizing that they are no longer complete masters of their own house. Russian collusion and Saudi influence are but different names for foreign influence now rampant in what used to be domestic affairs.
There is more, including a report on Chinese money in Canada.

Random Bee Stings

This infographic is going to leave a mark: How to Tell a Modern-Day Nazi from an Antifa Member

On Gender, Left Steps Up Effort Against Notorious Hate Group: Reality

What Should You Wear to Church? A handy guide for each denomination

Report: First Star Destroyer in Space Force to Be Named 'USS Civility'

Random Philosophy Links

Psychology research by philosophers is robust and replicates better than other areas of psychology

I didn't know there was a field called "experimental philosophy."

Philosophers Name the Best Philosophy Books

The War on Reason - A very interesting article by psychologist Paul Bloom that argues for a place for free will against the assault by sociology and psychology. It is long and wide-ranging and I found it thought-provoking. Plus, brief mentions of Aristotle.

The Theory of Mind Myth - a challenge to the idea that we can understand another person's mind

Update: Does reading give us access to other people's minds?