Memorial Day Weekend

I wish you all the best on this solemn occasion. Enjoy it, though, partly in memory and in part because it's what they would have wanted.


President Trump issued three executive orders chipping away at some of the crazier aspects of the federal civil service.
The first executive order aims to strengthen accountability for federal employees and makes it easier to fire poor performers in the federal government.
The second executive order creates a federal labor relations working group to analyze union contracts with the federal government. It also makes it harder to pay federal unions to appeal firings and to lobby Congress.
The third executive order, focused on federal unions, is aimed at reducing waste and expenditures and requires federal employees to spend at least 75 percent of their time working on the job they were hired to do, as opposed to working on federal union work. It will also allow the federal government to start charging unions for office space in federal buildings.

DB: Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Spend wisely this holiday weekend.

Good Question

Noting that Philadelphia has barred Catholic Social Services from handling foster children, Bethany Mandel asks: "If the State has determined that you cannot be a foster parent if you hold these Catholic views, at what point do they determine that you are an unfit parent for holding them too?"

Michael Stoner

"The original family name was Holsteiner."

Old American, however German: mentioned alongside Daniel Boone in the great old records. Johnny Cash memorialized him. If you don't know him, learn of him.

A Strange Inversion

This debate over whether or not to refer to MS 13 members as "animals" has weirdly reversed the positions of the left and right. The left has normally taken themselves to be the descendants of the heroes of the Scopes Monkey Trial, and thus has argued that it is good for us to recognize that humans are merely another kind of animal. Seeing humanity as separate or special leads to 'anthropocentric' thinking, they normally go on to argue, that blinds us to the fact that animals are much more like us that we are prepared to admit. Vegetarianism and veganism, as well as animal rights arguments, rooted in this basic approach are far more common on the left than otherwise.

The right, meanwhile, has normally advocated the orthodox Christian position that humanity is categorically different from animals: that we, alone of creation, were made in the image of God. In addition to serving to ground laws that tend to follow Christian doctrine, this tends to root right-leaning doctrines of conservation (rather than environmentalism), good husbandry (rather than veganism), and the like. The idea that man is special, and placed on earth with authority over it, arises here.

Of course these days everything is about Trump, and the fact that he said it means that one group must defend it and the other oppose it. Principled arguments are not as common as once.

An Unwise Protection

Reason magazine is correct here: this is a bad idea.
Last week the House of Representatives, by a margin of more than 10 to 1, approved a completely gratuitous, blatantly unconstitutional bill that would make assaulting a police officer a federal crime.... The Protect and Serve Act prescribes a prison sentence of up to 10 years for anyone who "knowingly assaults a law enforcement officer," thereby "causing serious bodily injury," or "attempts to do so." Such conduct is, of course, already illegal in all 50 states, and there is no reason to think local law enforcement agencies are reluctant to arrest and prosecute people guilty of it.

Nor does the problem addressed by the bill seem to be on the rise, notwithstanding all the overheated talk of a "war on cops." The number of law enforcement officers who are feloniously killed each year is small and volatile, but according to the FBI it dropped by 30 percent last year, and the average for the last 15 years (51) is lower than the average for the previous 15 (65).

In any event, the Constitution does not give Congress the authority to fight local crime.... The Protect and Serve Act explicitly allows federal prosecution of someone who is acquitted in state court, or who is convicted but receives a penalty the Justice Department deems too light....

These issues should be familiar to anyone who has followed the debate over federal prosecution of hate crimes, which occur when the victim is picked "because of" his "actual or perceived" membership in a protected group. The Senate version of the Protect and Serve Act takes that analogy and runs with it, targeting assaults and attempted assaults committed "because of the actual or perceived status of the [victim] as a law enforcement officer."

Under that bill, someone who takes a swing at a guy he mistakenly thinks is a cop has committed a federal felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison—even if he misses.
Resisting an unlawful arrest is protected behavior, but this would seem to create a loophole that would allow them to send you down for a decade anyway. After all, you need only show that they "attempted" to cause "serious" harm, not that they actually caused any harm. Ten years for that?

Crisis in Constitutional Government

I think VDH is correct in his surmise that they simply don't see it.
While we understand those on the left refuse to believe that a constitutional “legal scholar” like Obama would even think of allowing the executive branch to go rogue, it is indeed strange that in almost every NeverTrump attack on Trump’s conduct, there is almost no recognition or indeed worry that we have been living through one of the great challenges to constitutional government in our history.

Does anyone remember that the Obama Administration allowed Lois Lerner (“Not a smidgen of corruption”) more or less to weaponize the IRS to help the Obama 2012 reelection effort? Does anyone remember Eric Holder’s surveillance of the Associated Press... the strange treatment accorded to investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson by U.S. intelligence and investigatory agencies... the Benghazi pseudo-video narrative and the strange jailing of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula...?
There's a lot more.


Another article, more examples.
Enemies of the Constitution are now hiding in plain sight....

Who can forget the editorial by Georgetown Law Professor Louis Seidman in the New York Times called “Let’s Give Up on the Constitution.” After all, as he put it, “a group of white propertied men who have been dead for two centuries and knew nothing of our present situation and thought it was ok to own slaves disagreed” with what progressives want to do. This is in the New York Times by a Georgetown Law professor.

Then, getting closer to my area of expertise – election law – there was a law review article in the Stanford Law and Policy Review by an election law professor -- University of Michigan’s Ellen D. Katz -- "Democrats at DOJ: Why Partisan Use of the Voting Rights Act Might Not Be So Bad After All."

When I say they hide in plain sight, these are the things I mean.

Looking for Nessie

A new approach: looking for DNA in the environment of the loch.

2nd Look: Love and Honor in Porco Rosso

2nd Look has a reasonably good discussion of these themes in the movie. Big spoilers ahead!

Overall, I appreciate his analysis, but I do have a quibble. I question his claim, beginning around 6:05, that Porco had planned to marry Gina before the war, but decided not to because she was Austrian. He claims Miyazaki said that, and it may be true, but he doesn't give his sources.

What is stated in the movie is that Gina was married to Porco's best friend Bellini two days before Porco and Bellini were sent to the front together. Also, I haven't seen any hint that Gina is Austrian in the movie, though maybe I've missed something.


I won my election!  You may now address me as Madame Commissioner Tex99.

Porco Rosso

Tonight and again on the 23rd are your chances to see Porco Rosso on the big screen. It's about an ex-fighter pilot-turned-bounty hunter, and it takes up the themes of the brotherhood of war, honor vs. loyalty, honor vs. celebrity, Old World vs. New, genius vs. experience, and, of course, love. The early part of the movie is more for kids and is rather comic. For me it is an odd juxtaposition with the more serious themes that emerge later in the film. I guess, then, another theme would be the heart of a child vs. the heart of a combat veteran.

Being able to see it in theaters is due to the efforts of GKIDS, the distributor for some anime in the US. Last year, GKIDS sponsored Studio Ghibli Fest, which put one Studio Ghibli animated movie in theaters each month. It was apparently pretty successful, so they are doing it again this year. Studio Ghibli is Hayao Miyazaki's studio, the most famous Japanese anime studio. It created films like Totoro, Castle in the Sky, Princess Mononoke, and Spirited Away.

If you are interested, you can see if any theaters near you are playing it by going to the Studio Ghibli Fest website, scrolling to Porco Rosso, and putting in your zip code.

Rule of law

Andrew McCarthy has written another in a series of articles digging into the bizarre misinformation campaign spinning out of the behavior of the FBI:
If you or I had set up an unauthorized private communications system for official business for the patent purpose of defeating federal record-keeping and disclosure laws; if we had retained and transmitted thousands of classified emails on this non-secure system; if we had destroyed tens of thousands of government records; if we had carried out that destruction while those records were under subpoena; if we had lied to the FBI in our interview — well, we’d be writing this column from the federal penitentiary in Leavenworth. Yet, in a feat of dizzying ratiocination, Director Comey explained that to prosecute Mrs. Clinton would be to hold her to a nitpicking, selective standard of justice not imposed on other Americans.
So it was that the New York Times, in this week’s 4,100-word exposé on the origins of the FBI’s Trump–Russia probe, recycled the theme: Government investigators were savagely public about Clinton’s trifling missteps while keeping mum about the Manchurian candidate’s treasonous conspiracy with Putin.
As we contended in rebuttal on Thursday, the Times’ facts are selective and its narrative theme of disparate treatment is hogwash: Clinton’s bid was saved, not destroyed, by Obama’s law-enforcement agencies, which tanked a criminal case on which she should have been indicted. And the hush-hush approach taken to the counterintelligence case against Donald Trump was not intended to protect the Republican candidate; it was intended to protect the Obama administration from the specter of a Watergate-level scandal had its spying on the opposition party’s presidential campaign been revealed.
But let’s put that aside. Let’s consider the disparate-treatment claim on its own terms.